Best soft floor camper

Submitted: Saturday, Mar 17, 2018 at 16:48
ThreadID: 136429 Views:6459 Replies:9 FollowUps:16
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As per Tom’s earlier post, we are planning a 12 month trip around oz with the kids.

Keen on a soft floor camper for max space and min weight.

What are people’s preferred brands for soft floor campers?

Eg I’ve heard good things about Tambo, but not for a few years. Are they still good? Who else?

Happy to spend what it takes to get the right one - 12 months is a long time to spend in the wrong camper!


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Reply By: Member - peter g28 - Saturday, Mar 17, 2018 at 18:22

Saturday, Mar 17, 2018 at 18:22
Ok, I'll throw my 2c worth in to kick off this discussion.
Soft floor campers are and can be more spacious than hard floor campers and in some respects that is why soft floor camper are more "wanted" by families.
That said...there can be swings and roundabouts when using them, so be aware of this during you research.
You get the space...the bigger the tent and awning...more poles and guide wires...the longer the setup and takedown.
Depending on the type / weight of canvass you get...the heavier the tent / awning will be to work with....
There is a method for packing the canvas away and it will require initially 2 people..but once you get the "hang" of it...well being on the road it will become second nature.
The campertrailer industry has seen in the last 5 years more imported campers being sold by some Australian companies..
There have been plenty said about this...I will not go on about it.
If this fits into your and your families budget and future camping means you will have to do more detailed research...because what these campers achieve in price...may and I mean may, come back with initial quality and warranty
It may be the second hand soft floor camper trailer market will be another avenue into buying a soft floor do not dismiss this out of hand..there can be some bargains, to be had.
Disclosure: I bought a second hand australian built trailer and tent that was 10 years old prior to my purchase..that was 8 years ago and the trailer has not missed a beat and the tent has been through some tough wet and windy weather and still it functions well.
Tambo campers were a good camper and had a good reputation for quality trailers and canvass.

Why I mean quality......

Having a camper for a couple of weeks in a "Static set up" during school holidays 3 or 4 times a year can be done by many of the camper trailers being sold at present.
It is quite different being on the road, you will be setting up and breaking camp more frequently, so the campertrailer will be getting a decent there is the driving over all types of surfaces... including the weight you will be carrying.

Just a hint when researching..

If it is raining and pretty bad weather and there is a Campertrailer & 4wd show on...this can be the best time to go and look at the products, for you will see which are the quality campers..
I went to such show during bad weather about 3 years ago and it was an eye opener for me..

Good luck on your journey
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Follow Up By: oz doc - Saturday, Mar 17, 2018 at 19:28

Saturday, Mar 17, 2018 at 19:28
HI , I would like to second whatever Peter said above- looking at campers at a show during inclement weather gives you great comparative information. We chose our soft floor camper after walking through various set ups at a Perth camping show during a 40 degree day. We were impressed by how cool our choice was compared to others- mostly due to the design which allowed for fabulous ventilation and air flow. We hired our camper before deciding to buy and this gave us even more valuable information. Seeing how the camper looked after a year of continuous use by the general public reassured us on how robust it was. Hiring it also let us decide which features were really important for our style camping and which were superlative. For instance being able to utilise the kitchen without having to set the camper up has been a great feature for us. Pull over during a long trip, boil the kettle for a cuppa and toast a few hot cross buns for the kids. The shut the kitchen, climb back in the car and we are off again. Have fun doing your research!doc
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Follow Up By: EmilyP4 - Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 19:12

Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 19:12
THanks both! OZ doc what brand of soft floor camper did you have?
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Follow Up By: oz doc - Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 19:22

Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 19:22
We have a Challenge- the outback off-road model. Aussie made in south Australia. It’s the second one we have owned. Very strong construction and quite lightweight to tow. Not as expensive as some of the other brands. Suits our needs at this time in our life. I like some of the features of hard floor campers but they don’t seem to have the storage capacity of soft floor ones and when you travel with kids- there seems to be a heap of stuff you need to take. I like outdoor cooking also - so I get put off by thosewhich have indoor kitchens. You just have to allow for the fact that it can be very difficult in windy conditions.(if it’s windy we cook on the Weber baby q with the lid down??)doc
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Follow Up By: EmilyP4 - Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 20:53

Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 20:53
Thanks, that’s v useful. Sounds same thinking as us - keen on outdoor kitchen and seating rather than indoor. And need max amount of (easily accessible) storage for kids.

I can see benefit of all sleeping off the ground though - although surely good quality tent keeps you dry? our route is following the sun/dry season so hopefully we won’t get washed away.

Will look into the challenge. Thanks again for useful info guys!
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Follow Up By: oz doc - Monday, Mar 19, 2018 at 22:37

Monday, Mar 19, 2018 at 22:37
Em. If you look at the tent on the challenge- the waterproof heavy duty flooring comes up about 15 cm on the sides where it joins the canvas . The floor is permanently attached- so not a separate piece. We have camped in an absolute deluge with no issues. We pack the trailer body with plastic tubs- we can fit three across and two deep. The tubs make it easy to pack/ unpack quickly. Our current challenge came with a fridge slide but it didn’t suit our fridge or packing so I took it out. I found some campers had very fancy features- but in reality they didn’t suit our style of camping. The patriot certainly looks flash but I can see that it is not a good match for our needs .( and $45,000is a serious amount of money).so many choices out there. Doc
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Follow Up By: EmilyP4 - Tuesday, Mar 20, 2018 at 03:51

Tuesday, Mar 20, 2018 at 03:51
Thanks oz doc, that's really useful again.

I see Challenge no longer manufacture, so we'd be looking at the second-hand market which is probably too tricky for us to sort from such a distance. What other brands do you think are as good as Challenge?

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Follow Up By: oz doc - Tuesday, Mar 20, 2018 at 15:45

Tuesday, Mar 20, 2018 at 15:45
HI Em, I didn’t know they had stopped manufacturing. Shame. It’s been a long time since I’ve looked and compared campers. People I’ve bumped into whilst camping have been very happy with their Tambo or Johhnos camper. Last time I went to a camping show I was impressed by complete campsite but I’m not sure they do a soft floor one any more. I’m going to a camping show this weekend so will be perusing the newer campers out there. I have friends whom have purchased pmx and mdc- brand new, and both have been disappointed with the quality of their campers hope this helps. Doc
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Reply By: Michael H9 - Saturday, Mar 17, 2018 at 19:11

Saturday, Mar 17, 2018 at 19:11
I tend to associate soft floor campers with cheap and lower quality. I may be wrong there and stand to be corrected. You mentioned in the other post that you would be doing the CSR, that's no place for most campers on the market. I'd be looking at less canvas and higher quality like an Ultimate or a Tvan. Honestly, setting up and taking down acres of canvas in mud, rain and wind is not fun.
Do your homework on the tough tracks and make sure the trailer won't fall apart on it. You may not have driven a 1000kms of bad corrugations to really know what I'm talking about. It's an ordeal for the car, trailer and the travellers. I apologise if you are already familiar with the challenges involved.
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Reply By: Gbc.. - Saturday, Mar 17, 2018 at 22:00

Saturday, Mar 17, 2018 at 22:00
Metallian maxi was close for us. As was a step through such as the mdc Aussie Nomad - fully Aust built but no longer made.
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Reply By: birdnerd - Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 09:26

Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 09:26
Hi Emily,
We have had two soft floor camper trailers, both Johnnos Off-road models. We have done the Gibb twice, Cape York twice, Savannah Way, Strezlecki track with no issues at all. Yes it is longer to pack up if you put the annexe up but will be the same with most campers I would think.
For overnighters or even two nights you would not bother with the annexe. Once you have done it a few times it is very quick, it's actually removing all the stuff outside again that you put in there the night before! We have people come up to us all the time and say how quick they thought we packed up!
We have been very happy with ours, and we are off again on another road trip for 5 weeks in June this year. Everyone's situation and needs are different so go to the shows and have a play. Also one you purchase your camper take it away of a few short trips to get the hang of everything.
Good luck with the research....

AnswerID: 617660

Follow Up By: KevinE - Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 11:32

Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 11:32
"it's actually removing all the stuff outside again that you put in there the night before!"


Yes, that part gets old very quickly!

As does lifting the side of the camper to get everything out from under the bed before we put the tent up. Full innerspring Q size mattress makes accessing from under the mattress quite difficult when the tent is up.

But it's all a compromise!
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Follow Up By: EmilyP4 - Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 19:11

Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 19:11
Thanks, that’s v useful!
Unfortunately we can’t get to the shows as we live in the UK. I’m visiting Melb shortly so going to do the available showrooms there - patriot, tambo, Mdc I think. Otherwise we are limited to internet research....

One option were considering for easy one-night setup is a Patriot which looks (!) super-easy to a) put up and b) get to all your stuff, and then getting an extra tent for additional space (home schooling etc) to put up whenever we are staying in one place for a bit. Like an annexe I guess. Does that sound sensible?

Or would we look a bit ‘all the gear, no idea’ with a Patriot?!

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Follow Up By: Member - ACD 1 - Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 21:30

Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 21:30
Hi Emily

Yes you will look like "all the gear, with no idea' ... For about a week.

But no more than the "Four O'clock Circus" as some of the new caravaners roll into town and try to reverse, set up awnings etc etc.

The secret is for everyone to have their own job to do and making sure you do the same Job each time you set up. In a week you will have the fastest setup time and be the envy of other campers.

When we camp as a family, each of us have specific jobs and they get done without questioning. Even the youngest has the job of getting out the pegs and guys and setting putting them on the ground while the other son helps with the awning as the wife lays out the poles and spreaders.

The secret is to practice as soon as you get the trailer and plan who will do what. It will take a few goes, but you will get better with each setup. If everyone takes part it is quick, easy, fun and best of all you don't have to worry about where the kids are or stop them whinging.

All the best with your choice


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Reply By: wbsl - Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 11:43

Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 11:43
Hi Emily

Like some of the others here I have owned two soft floor campers. Both quality Australia made units, which were second hand when I brought them.

Both provided many years of god service and the only reason for updating them was to get better features for camping in adverse weather. I live in Tasmania and camp for a significant portion of the year.

One of the comments here was that soft floor campers are of a lessor quality and cheaper. I agree on the cheaper not so much on the quality. It depends on how much you spend on the camper. I believe the most important features are the quality of the trailer and the canvas.

Many of the soft floor camper come with a good quality heavy duty trailer and high quality canvas. The reason they are cheaper is they don't generally have all the expensive widgets and fit out of the hard floor models.

One of the other advantages is they tend to lighter and easier to tow and move around.

The biggest disadvantage is set up and pack up time on short stays. On longer stays putting up an annex on soft or hard floor is about the same.

Goodluck with your selection.
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Follow Up By: EmilyP4 - Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 19:14

Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 19:14
Thank you! What brands were your soft floor campers and would you recommend them?
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Follow Up By: wbsl - Friday, Mar 23, 2018 at 20:04

Friday, Mar 23, 2018 at 20:04
Hi Emily

Sorry about the slow response. Both our soft floor campers were made in SA.

Early model trakshak, with only one queen size bed.

Cameron canvas on a heavy duty trailer and 13 foot tent

Both excellent in there own-rite, however there are always compromises. Trakshak was using the kitchen in poor weather and the Cameron was huge.
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Reply By: Gazza70 - Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 12:26

Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 12:26
If you dont want to spend a lot of money and are fixed on a soft floor camper for a family, then have a look at the Trak Shak campers. Two pole principle set up and built like a German tank. Try and go one of the older ones though 1994-2000 as they were 100% Australian. How do i know? We had a 1994 model and dragged it over heaps of outback roads like the Gibb, Tanami and Savanah Way etc. Around 50000km all up and about 5000km on the types of roads mentioned above. We did not have one thing go wrong with it in the 12 years we had it.

Good luck with your search.
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Follow Up By: EmilyP4 - Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 19:15

Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 19:15
Thanks! Happy to spend what it takes to get the right one for us. Will take a look at Trak Shak
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Reply By: Kleg666 - Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 14:51

Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 14:51
We have a soft floor and It takes literally 2 minutes to unzip it, throw over the side fold and walk inside and put up the two poles that fit into the frame. Ready to sleep, with a queen sized bed on the trailer and the soft floor space available. We have a canopy permanently attached to the roof but often don't use it for an overnighter. If we do it takes us ten minutes max. to have it up and it doesn't use any ropes at all. Granted, I have seen some soft floors with more rooms than the Hilton chain but surely you don't need those every night. I think that some soft floors are slow to set up but to say they all are is a bit of a generalisation.
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Follow Up By: EmilyP4 - Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 19:04

Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 19:04
Thanks! What brand is your camper?
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Follow Up By: Kleg666 - Monday, Mar 19, 2018 at 20:48

Monday, Mar 19, 2018 at 20:48
It is a Complete Campsite Jabiru. Not cheap but excellent quality made in Gosford NSW. They have sales agents along the East Coast as well. We bought ours from Burleigh Heads. If you type the model into caravancampingsales you will see a few. I am very happy with ours. They are a well-regarded brand.
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Reply By: rumpig - Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 19:56

Sunday, Mar 18, 2018 at 19:56
As i mentioned in the other thread, have a look at Trackabout...not cheap but they had a good reputation for being a tough built go anywhere camper.
AnswerID: 617680

Reply By: Malcom M - Monday, Mar 19, 2018 at 06:16

Monday, Mar 19, 2018 at 06:16
We have had two Johnnos.
The Evolution off road model is far and away the best they make.
Totally Aus made and will take you anywhere your tug can drag it.
Johnnos ran an Australia wide rental business as well. You don't want to be recovering wrecked trailers.
We love them, set up in the rain in 5 minutes, heaps of room, great kitchen, relatively light weight, lots of inclusions, rave, rave, rave...
AnswerID: 617681

Follow Up By: Members Pa & Ma. - Thursday, Mar 22, 2018 at 12:17

Thursday, Mar 22, 2018 at 12:17
I don't mean to throw a spanner in the works here but we bought a very light soft floor camper trailer many years ago( I don't think the company makes them anymore) to tow behind our little Holden Astra.
We had heavier canvas & hubby reinforced the trailer. It was great.We still have it. Had one terrible experience because of the soft floor.
However. when we got our 2nd. hand 4x4 we started venturing to more tropical areas like the Kimberly and in one place struck trouble with the floor.
We went to a caravan Park which said we could choose our own site. Great! Very quiet & private people.
The groundsman got really upset because where he made us go we were putting a non breathable plastic over his grass & it would kill the grass..
We had chosen to park in a non grassed spot where he wouldn't let us go because he was watering in Urea with big sprinklers & they'd be w etting those cement areas. .
He went away to get some shade cloth to put under it which took him over an hour to return to us where he insisted that we set up extremely close to some one else',every one squeezed into one small area.
We weren't happy! with this but we could not shift.
The women next door went and complained in the morning & I copped it from the reception,hubby was away getting our fridge fixed.
It was the grounds man who forced us there!! & looked like reception pretended to know nothing of the trouble we'd had with the groundsman, because of the soft floor ,not a very pleasant experience.
The other thing is that when camping out in the rough with a soft floor is that you need a tarp underneath it to keep sharp rocks or big bindies from puncturing the floor. We used to carry a plastic leaf rake to rake the floor site as well.If you go to our profile you an see our little old campertrailer. We have now upgraded to a small offroad caravan second hand.
Hope you enjoy your trip.
Take care, safe travels. Ma.
The other thing is that you'll need overalls to pack it up. The under floor an become quite dirty. A dustpan and broom plus and old towel to wipe the underfloor if it is wet.
FollowupID: 889539

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