camper trailers

Submitted: Saturday, Jan 25, 2003 at 16:38
ThreadID: 3088 Views:2030 Replies:5 FollowUps:4
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I am thinking of buying a Jayco Wind up van like the finch or dove for my outback trip. However I am concerned about taking it off road to places like the Gibb river road and to Mitchell plateau. I was wondering whether I should buy one of the offroad trailers like the Cavelier.
Has anyone taken a van or trailer along the Gibb river road or other similar tracks? How did it go? What are most people towing ( if anything) along the rough track?

thanks John
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Reply By: Member - Peter- Sunday, Jan 26, 2003 at 08:32

Sunday, Jan 26, 2003 at 08:32

We've towed firstly a Campomatic and then an Off Road Cub Supamatic all over the Kimberleys and in fact most of Australia (except for the CSR, vehicle only) over the last twenty years and there are a few things that you should take into account before purchase.
We also had a Jayco Swan extensively modified for outback touring and it was a dismal failure after using the smaller camper. Too heavy, too big, too wide etc etc also wasn't camping as you went inside and shut the door!
You don't say what vehicle you are using and this will affect what size camper you take. We had diesel Landcruiser for most of our trips and did try a Hilux for a couple of years, but the camper was too much of a strain off road.
We have found that the flip over style of camper is the best as you can camp anywhere even in mud as you are off the ground, you can camp on slopes by digging a wheel in and using wooden blocks to pack the roof rack/floor off the ground, they are light, can be manhandled by two people in a recovery situation and impose no real restriction on where you can take them.
Any trailer for off road use should have the same track as the towing vehicle. I don't agree that it should have the same tyre/wheel combo though as all of ours have used 14" wheels with 8 ply light truck radials which have proved to be tougher that the tyres on the truck on occasions. A trailer strong enough to take the unsprung weight of 15 or 16 inch tyres and wheels gets you on the weight versus strength merry go round.
Also make sure that the trailer is fitted with shock absorbers, a solid axle, and has an articulated hitch like a pintle hook, no tow balls!
The hitch, chassis and rear tow hook on the camper/trailer should also be strong enough to be used to snatch or winch the whole rig off in a recovery situation.
A box trailer based camper that sits on the ground can take a large flat area to erect which is not that common when bush camping.
You also have to worry about burrs and sharp objects damaging the floor.
The other problem is that people tend to put too much gear in the trailer, the vehicle is the best place for heavy gear it is designed to take the pounding, trailers are not despite manufacturers claims.
All we carry in the camper is bedding, clothes, and some tinned food. All the water, fuel, food and cooking gear goes in the truck, the camper loaded with a spare wheel, a tyre case on the roof rack and all the bedding etc weighs less than 500kgs.
A lot of these fancy trailer based campers weigh close to a tonne before you load them up and are impossible to move by hand on flat ground let alone off road when you are stuck!
Talk to as many people (owners not salesman) as you can and decide whether you want a de facto caravan or a tent on wheels, all we do in ours is sleep 2 adults and three kids off the ground and out of the weather. We also tend to travel rarely stopping more than a few nights in one spot and also bush camp except for the odd night in a camping area to catch up on the washing and shopping.
Secondhand flip over campers can be quite cheap too, $4-6K will get you a basic supamatic with annexe, ours is the bare bones model no water tank, frig or cupboards just two bunks and space. As I said earlier all the gear is in the truck.
What suits us may not be for everyone but we have found the ideal for our type of holidays.
AnswerID: 11866

Follow Up By: Oziexplorer - Sunday, Jan 26, 2003 at 10:17

Sunday, Jan 26, 2003 at 10:17
Peter I have always been surprised the Campomatic and Supamatic have not been more popular. The flip over lid/floor I have always regarded as the best and ideal system for the reasons you state.
Some great advice in your post, especially about the trailer wheels weight - there is no substitue for experience.
FollowupID: 6783

Follow Up By: Greg - Monday, Jan 27, 2003 at 12:01

Monday, Jan 27, 2003 at 12:01
John I have used a camper trailer for 30 years and if you intend to take it on the rougher roads (corrugated rough) then the lighter and stronger the better. Any of the hard floor models as mentioned above are great but they can fail. Also don't expect to take it across the Simpson or Canning although people do. The extra work required to take one in extreme conditions is not worth the effort and only damages the track for others. For general touring the Jayco's are great and will stand a little bit or hard work but not a lot. Go for the Campomatic, Kimberley or Aussie Swag if you can afford a new one. A cheap second hand one should be throughly checked.
FollowupID: 6807

Follow Up By: John - Monday, Jan 27, 2003 at 13:39

Monday, Jan 27, 2003 at 13:39
Peter, thankyou very much for your reply. You have given me some valuable information. I have a 2.8L diesel Pajero ( non turbo) 1994 wagon. I guess I will need to think about how much I want to go offroad versus the extra comfort a wind up caravan provides. My two daugters that Iam taking will have school work etc to do and I will be on my own ( single dad) so I want to make it as easy on myself as possible while still being able to see most of the good spots.
Thanks again!
FollowupID: 6812

Reply By: Member - NOBBY - Monday, Jan 27, 2003 at 18:23

Monday, Jan 27, 2003 at 18:23
AnswerID: 11935

Reply By: Member - Greg - Tuesday, Jan 28, 2003 at 07:55

Tuesday, Jan 28, 2003 at 07:55
John,suggest you look up this group has over 400 members and most of them have asked the same question as you have.The web site is in the process of being remoddled .
Regards Greg G
AnswerID: 11973

Reply By: Member - Melissa - Thursday, Jan 30, 2003 at 14:42

Thursday, Jan 30, 2003 at 14:42
Hi John,

Definately go to the Campertrailer site mentioned by Greg above. This web-site is the "front door" to this group. Plenty of valuable info there.

We're onto our 2nd offroad campertrailer. First one was a rear opening soft floor which was fantastic for 2 adults, but too small once our son came along. Current trailer is a Camprite TL8 Offroad camper which incorporates a double and 2 single beds, living space and swing away kitchen all off the ground.

We carry most everything in the trailer except for the fridge, recovery equipment, electronic & photographic equipment and personal items. In my opinion, not utilising the storage space within the trailer defeats a major part of the attraction of a trailer. Just make sure you stay with the GMT of the trailer and ball weight specs of your vehicle. Also use your common sense as to weight distribution when packing etc.

If you are planning some geniune offroad trips such as the GRR I would look more to the purpose built offroad trailers as opposed to pop-tops/wind-ups etc. Their "offroad" ability is a term used rather lightly in my opinion and is really limited to good gravel roads. They are notorious for coming apart under corregated conditions. Just have a look at the interior is stapled in place. The framework is quite light and exterior sheeting has been known to pop out of the frame. One bloke I know had to rebuilt the interior drawers and cupboards and reinforce all the panelling on his Jayco.

Hard floor rear openers are very good, quick and easy to set-up and pull-downand off the ground. The downside is they are not as roomy as side openers. This might be something you need to consider with 2 girls to accomodate. Our old trailer was a soft floor rear opener so size was comparable. Simply too small for our growing family. Of course, this may not be an issue if you are prepared to put up an annex. Another option worth considering is double bunk beds for the girls. Even triple bunks which would leave one bunk free for them to put all their stuff on. This would save floor space.

Think about getting a trailer with a pull-out or swing-away kitchen. These make life very easy and I wouldn't be without one.

Getting a trailer with matching track to the car is a plus but not absolutely necessary. Matching wheels and tyres also has benefits but again, not necessary. At the very least though, I would look at getting the same stud pattern so that the wheels and tyres are interchangable at least. Even if they are a different size to the car, they will get you out of strife in an emergency.

Hope this is of some help.

:o) Melissa
AnswerID: 12171

Follow Up By: John - Thursday, Jan 30, 2003 at 23:25

Thursday, Jan 30, 2003 at 23:25
Thanks Melissa for all the information you have provided. It has really made me stop and think about the camper trailers rather than the Jayco's. I know there will probably be times when I want to go offroad but won't be able to if towing a Jayco. I will check out theat website.
Thanks again!
FollowupID: 7077

Reply By: Meggs - Friday, Jan 31, 2003 at 00:02

Friday, Jan 31, 2003 at 00:02
John have a search through the archives as this question has been asked before and there are a different set of answers it may help you to either make up your mind or thoroughly confuse you.
AnswerID: 12227

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