camper trailers Vs trailer and tent(s)

Submitted: Tuesday, Jan 24, 2006 at 17:18
ThreadID: 30064 Views:12481 Replies:16 FollowUps:5
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Moving on from extended bush walking to camping , now with 2 kids under 5 ready to go.

Pros and Cons of these two options.......camper trailer ( hard floor or soft floor) compared to a trailer (for big trips) and tent (s).

"Light off road " only. Big "oz" trip in 3 years.

Also is it always possible to use a camper trailer in camping areas around Oz , with regard to access, Do some sites not fit camper trailers Eg. need to park and carry gear to a site making tents more suitable
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Reply By: Member -Dodger - Tuesday, Jan 24, 2006 at 17:35

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2006 at 17:35
My son has a camper van which is great for the two adults and the two anklebiters. So go that way as Mum will have a kitchen built in for those bad weather days. When you get to those irritating spots that will not let the van/trailor near the site turn it side on to the usual log rails and bingo. That's what my young bloke does.
I used to have a handle on life, but it broke.

Cheers Dodg.

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Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Tuesday, Jan 24, 2006 at 18:27

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2006 at 18:27

I used to tow an off-road trailer and load the tent and everything else in it.
It was OK but became a hassle in taking out the tent then setting it up, then getting everything else out. Worse thing of all, was no matter how hard you try, you will get dust and dirt in everywhere and everything, as soon as you go off road.
I travelled up the Birdsville Track and down the Strzelecki Track and by the time I got to the Flinders, there was dust in the jets of my camp stove which was in the trailer enclosed in a canvas bag.

The Camper Trailers, regardless of the type of floor, are designed with a seal around all openings, so they keep the dust out. Choice of floor is up to you. check out both types and see which appeals to you the most.
"Hard Tops" are generally a little quicker to set up, but are also much more expensive.
"Soft Tops" may take a little longer but fit the budget better and when set up are just as good IMO.

Either type will generally enable you to have things like the stove, cutlery, plates, etc. in the kitchen area and ready to use and include a built-in water tank. They also have bedding/mattresses giving you a comfortable sleeping arrangement.

Now mate, there is no such thing as "light off road".
If you are going to venture off the beaten track, so to speak, get a Camper with Off-Road suspension. You cannot always pick the quality of track.

Most people I know (except Willem so far) may start off with a trailer, but usually graduate to a camper trailer as they get more "senior".

If you get a chance, visit some dealers, or caravan and off-road shows and determine which type and budget suits your needs.

As far as camping areas, I have not come across any that have "fenced off" camping spots, although I know they exist. If I did, I would just move on a bit.


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Follow Up By: Member - Glenn D (NSW) - Tuesday, Jan 24, 2006 at 19:00

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2006 at 19:00
Why couldnt you get a hard top for the trailer like the utes getting around with gas struts and a seal . I am looking at all options at the moment but dont have 30G for the ducks guts camper trailer.

Look at the post afew days ago where the guy built a camper trailer in 4 days.

FollowupID: 404111

Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Tuesday, Jan 24, 2006 at 19:22

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2006 at 19:22

I guess you can. But why bother?

I think if you were designing it and building it yourself, you would always leave something out and in the end, you would have a "home made" and "home looking" rig with little resale value.

You can get a purpose designed soft top starting from around $5000 up.

Just my thoughts mate.

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Follow Up By: Member - Glenn D (NSW) - Thursday, Jan 26, 2006 at 22:38

Thursday, Jan 26, 2006 at 22:38
Sorry my own thoughts were to buy a trailer or get one made to suit and get a similar tent set up to put on top .

Doesnt have to look ' home made ' if you dont want it to !

Trailer < 2k

How much for a nice folding tent ?

Bet you have change from 5k.

Bet you get charged the most for the fiddly bits like making the kitchen or plumbing the sink !

FollowupID: 404773

Reply By: bogong - Tuesday, Jan 24, 2006 at 18:55

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2006 at 18:55
Thanks Dodger& Sandman,

Camper trailer seems to be it ( I'll look up the threads to explore more).

I guess by light off road I meet high range only...but as you said..."you never know".

I was also thinking that having a tent ( alone) would be good for weekend trips without having to tow....but a kitted out camper would be hard to resist even for short trips..add food and clothes and go!
AnswerID: 150605

Reply By: Twinkles - Tuesday, Jan 24, 2006 at 19:05

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2006 at 19:05
Hi Bogong.
I've had tents (big & small), camper van (Jayco) and now a camper trailer with a hard floor. The type I have is a 2001 Bushranger all terrain with electric brakes. It is quite light and high and I've had it into Wonnangatta, down Billy Goats Bluff, up to Darwin, etc. Tow it with a 3ltr turbo Hilux. Because of the hard floor it is super quick to erect if your tired or it's raining. I carry a fridge in the 4b and an esky in the camper or 4b. Kitchen in camper. It's great to have a hard floor if in heavy rain or uneven ground (easy to chock up, I carry some blocks of wood). In some heavy rain I would have been camped in puddles by morning, but was up off the ground. Has an axle with leaf springs and shockers, treg hitch. Will go anywhere I can tow it. With a name like Twinkles you probably realise I'm a female. I wanted a camper I could handle on my own even though sometimes out with my club.
Number for Bushranger, Narre Warren Victoria: 0407332001.
I purchased mine second hand for $7500 in excellent condition. Love it. There's quite a few brands to choose from out there.
I would go for a camper with a hard floor every time now.
AnswerID: 150607

Reply By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Tuesday, Jan 24, 2006 at 19:17

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2006 at 19:17

Been there and done that!

First we went to a large tent (Southern Cross with single pole in the middle) This tent is exceptional weather proof and worked well. It needed a fly across the door as it is built into the slope of the tent and the inside got wet when raining. It also required pegs in the ground to stabilise the tent. This tent was quite bulky and with 4 in the vehicle it had to go in the back if possible or on the roof. This meant lifting it onto the roof and this has become harder over the years.

Moving on from bushwalking packs meant using the 4WD to carry the passengers and load but it also meant being able to get out to places beyond bushwalking. As a left over from walking we do not like to stay in one place very long and usually camp somewhere different each night. This meant needing to be able to pack camp each morning and seting up again each night.

Enter the camper trailer - this gives us a ready made kitchen, water tank and of course a bed. We hired a softfloor for a couple of trips and this convinced us to go hard floor. The hard floor is very quick to setup. Undo a couple of clips, swing the floor over, tension the frame and hop inot bed. If we do stay for more than one night or the weather is sus we put up the awning (this does need pegs) The trailer has double bed and the hard floor allowed kids to sleep up off the dirt up out of water.

We love the CT (Aussie Swag) as it is quick to set up and pull down. I don't have to lift heavy tents. Easy to tow and wet canvas is not a problem. No wet tent floors either. The camper has water, kitchen etc but we keep the Engel in the back of the vehicle so if we leave camp we have our food with us.

Travelling out west it is great to not need to put in tent pegs. (often hard as concrete)

The change of campsites is amazing. Walking or in the tent we always looked for a nice green grassy level site. In the camper we look for rock slabs or gravel beds to keep dust down, not bogging vehicles and not needing to use tent pegs. Out west with little dew if any, the awning is seldom used. The CT is also fly proof which can help and is big enough to sit inside to eat food if we have to.

True the campsite has to be larger for vehicles but usually not a problem and on the odd occasion we are blocked out (posts) we usually move on.

We have taken our trailer out west, up north, flinders, gammon etc and found it to be very dust proof.

Hard floor campers are dearer than softfloors and they all seem to be evolving with more gear and better designs. We wanted to go out west so we went for an offroad trailer and I have had no problems in the 40000kms done so far with the majority on dirt. While mine was 15K i believe the same thing is now about 30K.

Trust this gives some food for thought.
AnswerID: 150613

Reply By: Taize - Tuesday, Jan 24, 2006 at 19:48

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2006 at 19:48

Your situation is the same as ours - bushwalking background but with 2 kids now. We've ended up with a trailer and a tent. Initially we were able to pack everything in the back of the Pajero so we did not need a trailer. With a second child and the need for a porta cot we started to have to use the roof to fit everything in. I dont like the idea of packing too much stuff on the roof so we started using a trailer. Initially we borrowed and hired off road trailers but eventually bought one as the guy we were hiring it off of was selling it.

Advantages of our set up - as the kids get older and need less stuff (porta-cot, high chair etc) we should be able to take less stuff and thus be able to fit everything in the Paj for weekend camps.
We have a trailer that we can use for other jobs (moving furniture etc)
Cheaper - we've been able to buy things over time rather than one BIG purchase
We can camp almost anywhere regardless of fences (important in NSW as a lot of campsites near Sydney are being fenced off)
Trailer is lighter thus less fuel is used

Cons - takes longer to set up - we're hoping that as the kids get older they can help
(keep in mind that its not much longer to set up and pull down - we were camping with friends with a camper and we left only 10min after them)

The trailer I bought has a solid lid and I've put a rubber seal on it to keep out the dust and water. I have not had a chance to test it but it should do a reasonable job.

Let me know if you want some pics of our set up or chat about how we find the setup.

AnswerID: 150622

Reply By: Jimbo - Tuesday, Jan 24, 2006 at 20:27

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2006 at 20:27

There are

Different styles
Different needs
Different comfort needs
Different equipment needs
Different set up times
Different costs
Different affordabilty
Different incomes
Different family size

It goes on and on.

The camper we bought just over a year ago was a revelation for us. In just a year we moved on to something more suitable.

You will never find a perfect camper.


AnswerID: 150638

Reply By: Member - Willie , Epping .Syd. - Tuesday, Jan 24, 2006 at 20:29

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2006 at 20:29
Hi Bogong ,
Like the other guys here , I have also progressed through many ways of "camping".
My wife and I started off with a small centre pole tent , then progressed to a CUB Drifter Six camper when we had our two young kids , then to an on-site van at Lake Eucumbene ( still with the kids ), then to a purpose designed off road trailer with a tent a Southern Cross centre pole tent ( still with the kids ! ), then to Ultimate swags and then to a Trak Shak camper ( kid free ) . Phew !
I like the CT for trips where we will be stopping for a while at each spot . We also take our swags and if we are only stopping for one night we swag it .
If my wife is not coming I leave the CT behind . But your wife will enjoy camping much more in a CT than a tent - I think . And a happy wife , means more camping for Bogong .
Cheers ,
Willie .
AnswerID: 150639

Reply By: bouncer - Tuesday, Jan 24, 2006 at 20:51

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2006 at 20:51
Hi bogong,
I too had the same dilemma as you a while back and decided on a trailer a small dome tent and a very large tent.

My reasons for this are as follows:

The trailer can be used for more than just camping.

The small dome tent takes about 2 minutes to put up and take down and is ideal for one night stays.

The large tent is great for extended stays and very comfortable as we bring all the comforts with us in the trailer.
AnswerID: 150645

Reply By: Member - Brian (Gold Coast) - Tuesday, Jan 24, 2006 at 21:34

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2006 at 21:34
Our experience;

Tent camping = 2 hours of setup time = yelling at the kids and SWMBO = frustration = tension = not much fun!

Progressed to a camper trailer; (Ours is a Cavalier Off Road with the 14 foot tent)

(Overnight stay) = 15 minutes setup, 20 including the kitchen = smiles at the kids and SWMBO

(Extended stay) = 45 minutes setup = smiles at the kids and SWMBO = relaxing with a cleansing ale a lot quicker.

Just my opinion
AnswerID: 150661

Follow Up By: Crackles - Tuesday, Jan 24, 2006 at 23:16

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2006 at 23:16
Brian.... sounds like you had a pretty poor tent set up to take 2 hours :-))
I send my wife & kids off to swim in the creek & set the whole lot up by myself in less than 15 minutes. (less stress that way;-)
I have a Freedom minute tent, self inflating mats & a custom rear storage system that has a place for everything. Ironically many with poorly designed camper trailers in our group are still going after 40 minutes.
I can however appreciate how a poor setup can lead to frustration
esspecially with those complicated dome & cabin tents (pole A joins to pole B) a network of guy ropes, air compressors to pump up mattress's all piled in the back of the 4by in plastic crates. Yep every camp ground has at least one :-))))

Cheers Craig..............
FollowupID: 404247

Follow Up By: Member - Brian (Gold Coast) - Monday, Jan 30, 2006 at 07:51

Monday, Jan 30, 2006 at 07:51
We used a dome tent, one of the most frustrating things ever manufactured IMHO...LOL... then two tarps, one over the tent and one large one for living space, and then the kitchen and living area furnishings and the air bed for us and the camp cots for the kids etc etc etc etc......... gives me a headache remembering it.

We arrived at our camp on Fraser Island last Wednesday and had the trailer and our living room, which is a OZ Trail gazebo set up including the coits and the kitchen in under 1 hour.


FollowupID: 405312

Reply By: Waynepd (NSW) - Tuesday, Jan 24, 2006 at 21:39

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2006 at 21:39

Jump into this site and find out all there is to know about campertrailers.
This list has been up and running for 4 years now and just about every question about campertrailers has been asked and answered there.

Friendly crew able and willing to answer all questions relating to trailers. There are a few members from Exploroz already there.

AnswerID: 150662

Reply By: kram remor - Tuesday, Jan 24, 2006 at 22:53

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2006 at 22:53
it seems that most people are pushing the camper trailer,
well i am for the tent
I have an oz tent which i can put on the roof of the car for weekend trips where i do not need to tow an elephant, but when i get serious and go for a long trip, i have a well set up trailer with all the mod cons( like a camer trailer). the tent kitted up was $1500 and the trailer around $4500 and i have the speed of a camper trailer with the flexability. oue family consists of 2 adults and 2 kids and it works well for us
AnswerID: 150695

Reply By: johannagoanna - Wednesday, Jan 25, 2006 at 00:06

Wednesday, Jan 25, 2006 at 00:06
I'll tell you of our little set up, which I love.

We have a tourer tent, with the extension out the back, takes literally 5minutes to put up. Plenty of room for double bed and two singles for the kids - we have self-inflating mattresses, so they take no time to pump up, but a few minutes to roll up in the morning. The kitchen is in the back of the car, with draws and fridge (custom made job happening soon, meanwhile just plastic draws), and water bladder. The kids have their sleepmats, sleeping bags, and backpacks at their feet, and we have our bags ontop of the fridge in the back. Bags stay in the car, on seats when we stop.

On the roof in the basket goes the table and the tent (1mx1m), in the tent bag goes the chairs too. Basically that is it. Yes we do travel light, but don't need much else! We are also investing in an awning that will attach to the side of the roof racks, simply pull out and put down poles - again only 5 minutes, if that, which will get rid of the tarp, poles and ropes!

Hope this helps! - Jo
AnswerID: 150716

Reply By: Member - Barry W (VIC) - Friday, Jan 27, 2006 at 15:33

Friday, Jan 27, 2006 at 15:33
We, too have moved along the many camping options, now we are "kid" free we find an easy to erect tent and no trailer for those times a trailer is inappropiate ie Vic High Country, but for most of the time a camper Trailer is by far the way to go
"Advantages" far out weigh "Disadvantages"
My theory is that if I'm going to tow a trailer - Why sleep on the ground ???
I don't at home !! I love my QS inner spring bed.
There are some very capable off road campers around all depends on your budget.
I do disagree with the comment regarding "Home Made" ct, I have made 4 off road ct over the years improving design each time to suit my needs and have never had any problems with resale
I found that people looking have done there home work and know what they want in the design, strength, and if you have built them properly you won't have any problems.
Just my thoughts
Good Luck with it
AnswerID: 151293

Reply By: bogong - Tuesday, Jan 31, 2006 at 08:28

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2006 at 08:28
Thanks for all the replies.......although there was no agreement on the best set up!!

Perhaps I need a 4 man quality bushwalking tent ( use for short trips and can take the kids on little overnight hikes....I'm probably dreaming here) and a camper trailer for the longer trips. Use common camping gear, which I have alot of anyway.

I had a look at a Tambo camper the other day.....impressed with the size and quality..much bigger than say a Freedom Family tourer.

One other question. Does anyone store their softtop camper outside ( I would have to do this currently) Can it cope with being exposed to the elements all the time?
AnswerID: 152011

Reply By: Member - Melissa - Tuesday, Jan 31, 2006 at 12:32

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2006 at 12:32
Hi Bobong,

I have to confess to being a huge fan of campertrailers. For family camping, you can't beat them for comfort and convenience. Like you we have two kids under 5. We're onto our 2nd CT, first was a soft floor, 2nd is a hard floor so I'll offer you my impressions of both:
- Cheaper to buy
- Usually side opening with plenty of floor space (varies depending on model). Don't go overboard for floor space though. I have seen some that are huge but too big to fit on the average site in a CVP or between trees etc when bush camping.
- Setting up will involve poles and pegging down same as a tent
- Kids sleeping on the ground unless you get them stretchers.
- Soft floor section still prone to same issues as a tent such as rocks, sticks, mud, water etc.
- More expensive to buy
- Most open off the back giving you the same area of floor space as the dimensions of the trailer body itself. By the time you put the kids beds down, not a lot of space left. Not really an issue if you're happy to pick the kids bedding up during the day and toss it on top of your own bed. An exception to this problem is the Camprite TL8 like ours which AFAIK is the only entirely hard floor CT on the market that can accommodate a family of up to 6 entirely off the ground.
- Unless you're setting up an awning/annex no requirment to peg down when setting up. Makes for very quick and easy set-up.
- Off the ground hard floor means you can set up comfortably on virtually any surface whether it is unlevel, rocky, sandy, muddy etc.
- Good hard floor models usually extremely weather proof.

General comments regardless of soft or hard floor...In 8 years of CT ownership we've never had to resort to the tent even though we kept it just in case. With the exception of 2 or 3 "backward thinking" national park campgrounds (who insist of putting bollards everywhere) we've never had a problem finding somewhere to park the CT. Even the NP's that I referred to had large campsites for vehicle and CT based camping - just not enough. Even so, we've always been able to manouver in somehow. It is simply not an issue with the Camprite as we can sort of park over bollards. Most hard floor campers don't really require any more space than a large family tent anyway. Lastly, if you can afford it, try to get a CT with the extras such as pull out kitchen, water tank etc and one that you can leave your bed made up. Without these features what you essentially have is a tent on wheels (and more storage of course) and you'll find setting up and packing up is just as time consuming and requires as much effort as a normal tent. It is these extra's that really make CT so popular, convenient and easy. Also have to agree with other replies, go for a robustly built off-road model, especially if you are planning a big trip in a few years.

Hope my comments are of some help.

:o) Melissa
AnswerID: 152045

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