Upgrade from the tent to a camper trailer?

Submitted: Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 10:47
ThreadID: 31239 Views:3944 Replies:15 FollowUps:8
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We have an Oz tent which is easy to erect, but putting it back into the bag & lifting it's 22kg bulk up onto the roof rack can be tiresome. I have often wondered whether I ought to spend some of the SKI money and buy an off road camper trailer. What is the general opinion?
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Reply By: Member - Bware (Tweed Valley) - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 11:04

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 11:04
Everything is a compromise, eh? Going for a trailer instead seems like overkill though unless you need a trailer anyway. We've thought about it but for the money we chose not to. We've got loads of camping gear and if we went for a CT we would want one well set up ie kitchen, extended living areas for crappy weather, water tank etc but we've already got all that stuff and it isn't easily adaptable to a trailer. Personally, I'd change to a dome tent which takes a little longer to set up but isn't heavy or bulky when packed.
AnswerID: 157483

Follow Up By: Bronco2 - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 14:16

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 14:16
I was like you in the early days...depended on swag/tent accommodation, however, I up-graded to an off-road camper/trailer, and have never regretted it for an instant! There are a lot to choose from, however, i had an idea of exactly what I wanted, and eventually had one tailormade for me. The whole thing takes exactly eight minutes to erect (gas assisted struts). Mine is fitted with about everything you could want, double king size bed, including a full slideout kitchen, water tanks, gas, 12/240 v outlets etc. Had mine made at Campertrailers, Mooroolbark, Victoria, so I guess there are outlets all over the place that could accommodate you. All up, fully loaded, mine weighs around 580 kilos, so towing is a breeze. Very dry, comfortable, and I have to smile to myself everytime I see guys erecting the old canvas tents..been there, done that!
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Reply By: Member - Reiner G (QLD) 4124 - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 11:16

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 11:16
We done lots of camping and mostly on two wheels ( Dirtbikes) so there is not much on options. But now we go 4WD camping and had a fair few camper trailers. They all have good and bad points but do make life easier.
I would hire a few different ones.... do some trips and find out which one suits you best.
Talk to other campers too.
Have fun searching :-)

AnswerID: 157488

Follow Up By: Atropos - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 11:22

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 11:22
I've just make the jump from tent to camper trailer but I went for a simple set-up (cub-o-matic/ kamaroo) which is basicly just a bed--all the other camping gear can still be used , I've have a large sportiva bungalow dome tent that has 3 rooms, its a great tent and lots of space but it does take a while to erect and for a quick weekend away 30 seconds to erect the camper is better than 30 mins or so for the tent, also with the camper we are off the ground in both the bed and living area's so it does not matter quite so much if its wet

I took all my camping gear in a little 6x4 trailer so we had no space problems, but we have and old tarago which for the two of us and the Jack Russell gives us heap of room for all the gear we need to take.

I do wonder if we will keep the big tent, its about 3 years old and in as new nick, but I suppose we would not get a great deal for it, so its probably a better idea to keep it incase the family want to come along anytime.

If you have trailer of your own you can get a camper kit to fit it and these can if you wish be removed so you can use the trailer for other things.. but again is it worth the hassle and a trailer is always a usefull item to have about the place

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Follow Up By: Atropos - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 11:51

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 11:51
Only one problem wiith the camper verses the tent.. I could have FOUR beers whilst putting the tent up, I'll be lucky if I get a lemonade when putting up the camper :-)
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Reply By: OldMike - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 11:29

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 11:29
Yes, it is all a compromise or horses for courses.
We camp by tent ( Southern Cross single pole) when our trailer ( Kanga Camper Big Red) is not appropriate, and yes it sounds like over kill.
The trailer will offer a bit more comfort and convenience, but at a price. There is the $$ price and the price of towing a trailer. Ours costs us about 2.5 - 3.0 litres of diesel per 100ks. You cannot take a trailer everywhere.
In the High Country of Victoria where we were this weekend a trailer can act like a big anchor. In and out of the Wonnangatta Valley for instance is not trailer country.
We do use most of camping extras for both, but do buy them with that in mind. Secret here is less is more. Do you really need that stainless steel sink?

I know this is not very conclusive, just what we have found touring Australia and hope it adds to your Info.

AnswerID: 157490

Reply By: Member - Shane M (WA) - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 11:37

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 11:37
We use a tent but had a camper trailer at one stage and while they are comfortable etc they limit what you can take with you.

Our tent is 30kg's so it's not light but we have a enclosed box trailer that we slip it in to once packed up so no real lifting involved, this allows us to take heaps more gear with us than we could with the camper trailer including an extra vehicle (motorbike).

I think a tent can be as good if not better than a camper if set up right however others will have different opinions and it boils down to what you want when out there, so do a bit of research for yourself, as suggested already hire a couple of campers and see what you think but make sure when you do you treat it just like a trip you do when tenting eg. If you go bush when tenting don't stay at a caravan park when using the camper, go bush that way it is a fair comparison.
AnswerID: 157491

Reply By: Boo - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 12:10

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 12:10
We've camped for years with tents, we have a variety of different ones that we have accumulated over the years, large canvas (very heavy), large dome (light weight) then theirs the smaller ones when we don't need the extra room. Last year we decided to upgrade to a CT and its the best thing we ever did. We can now leave everything packed in the CT and only add the food and clothes before setting off for a weekend.

A weekend getaway used to be a major event to prepare for, now it can be as easy as buy some groceries and pack the clothes and we're off.

It takes about half an hour to fully setup up our CT if we are putting up the annex as well, much less if we are just have an overnight stop.

Personally I wish we had bought the CT years ago, but now we've got it we are making the most of it and getting far more often than we ever did with the tent.

If you can afford one then I'd suggest looking into them, visit some of the 4x4 expo's, if your any where near Kembla Grange then theres one on this weekend, would be a great opportunity to have a look at a variety of them and get an idea of options you might want or not want.

Then when you have narrowed the field down a bit thats the time to maybe hire one or two and give them a try.

Don't rush into the purchase, we took about 18mths to research a lot of brands and ended up having our trailer custom made to our design and put an All Terrain Camper Trailer Top on it.

AnswerID: 157501

Follow Up By: FREEZER - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 18:58

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 18:58
Totally agree kerrie, We have had our CT for 4 weeks now, and have been awway for 2 weekend trips already(and the first weekend was the weekend we picked up so could not go that weekend) Now we deciding the weekends we have to stay home, and it a bummer when we have to. If you want to go to the beach on the weekend, why not pull into a caravan park and spend the weekend there, with a CT it is so easy. All your gear is packed , all you need is food and clothes. I would never had done that before with tents, to much of a hasslle, and if it rains you have to set it up when you get home, With a CT it takes 5 min to pull it out so it dries. They are about convenience, and the convenience of it gives you a better lifestyle, and if you have kids, it gets them of the playstations and out side. They are dear, but you will get years of enjoyment out of it, that itself is worth a lot.
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Follow Up By: Troopy Travellers (NSW) - Wednesday, Mar 01, 2006 at 09:37

Wednesday, Mar 01, 2006 at 09:37
Kerrie, You maKe a good point about having everything ready to go touring in the CT. I have all my camping stuff stored up in the garage roof. This takes me a few hours and a check list to get it all together. Then I have to unpack it all again when I get home. I like the idea of a central place for all the campig gear. Sparky
FollowupID: 412067

Follow Up By: Boo - Wednesday, Mar 01, 2006 at 11:43

Wednesday, Mar 01, 2006 at 11:43
Hi Sparky,

Thats exactly what we used to do, have all the gear stored in the shed and everytime we went camping we had to lug it all out, double check we had everything, load it all into & on the Patrol, then on our return do the reverse.

It was a major exercise to go anywhere, now we can decide at the drop of a hat that we will go away and its only the time it takes me to decide what food to buy and which clothes we need, and then we can be driving out the drive.

Since we bought the CT at the end of Sept 05, we have been averaging two weekends a month away. That was unheard of before. The kids are getting to the beach all the time and loving it, and we're getting some bush camping as well.

I truly believe its the best investment we could have made for our lifestyle.

Currently planning on a 4 week trip around central oz and the simpson desert mid year so this has necessitated our staying home a little more at present to do some mods to both the camper and Patrol, but as freezer mentioned above its now a matter of planning which weekends we will stay at home rather than when we can get away.

Do your research, and get exactly what you want, their not cheap but from my observation, they seem to hold their value.

Good Luck

FollowupID: 412098

Reply By: Member - Steve (ACT) - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 12:13

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 12:13
We had a campertrailer, sold the camper set the car up for tent based camping and never looked back!!

Once well set up, I think it's easier than the camper!

Try a lighter tent, perhaps a little more time consuming to put up, but still spend the money on fuel instead to take more holidays!!

But if your heart is set on a campertrailer, hire one for a weekend decide what you do and don't like, then look for something that suits.

Happy camping

AnswerID: 157503

Reply By: Member - Duncs - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 13:35

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 13:35
Years ago our camping gear outgrew the car we had so we started packing it in a trailer. After a couple of trips I started to think that if I was towing I might as well be comfortable and quick so we bought a camper trailer. (Anybody want a really good 13' x 9' Carlton Canvass tent in as new condition?)

Shane suggested they limit what you can take but I think if that is the case Shane had the wrong camper. I have a space 7' by 4' and 24" high to pack gear into before I start putting anything on top or sides of the camper. If you need more gear than that you are taking too much.

My camper sets up in less than 10 min we are very comfortable and have everything we want. We have carried push bikes (3) and friends with the same camper carried a tinny on top. Much easier to reach than the roof of the car.

For touring around Aus there is not much you can't do with a camper. (I'll get an argument about that statement) If you are exploring steep mountain country then the trailer will limit you a little. Mine has been through the Vic High Country and spent plenty of time in the Blue Mountains. I don't know if the tracks we did in Vic were the easier, more difficult or most difficult but the trailer simply made me think a bit more. I do know that in the Blue Mountains my camper went places behind the GQ that I would not have taken the old MQ on its own.

Take your time shop around, when you think you have seen them all, look again and get one that suits you, or don't. We love ours because it suits us, rather than limit us it has opened up many oportunities to see this great country.

AnswerID: 157522

Follow Up By: Moose - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 14:36

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 14:36
G'day Sparky
We're the same as Duncs. We used to take all the gear in a box trailer whenever on a trip where towing wasn't an issue. Otherwise trailer stayed home and roof rack went on. It does get harder to throw stuff up there as one gets older. We've made the decision to get a CT (still being made at the moment so can't comment too much about camping with a CT) - so tent on trailer instead of tent in trailer! However we still have the tent and the roof rack and the decision as to what to take will depend on where we're going. Sometimes I reckon a trailer is a hindrance and should be left at home. Some will disagree - I know a few who just can't go camping without their CT and they believe there is nowhere it can't go. One guy really got the bleep $ with me when I banned towing anything on an Easter club trip I ran.
Cheers from the Moose
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Reply By: Darian (SA) - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 13:38

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 13:38
We had tents and liked them, but thought we would move to the CT (www.campomatic.com.au) just to see - we love it - as the others have wisely said, whatever you have, there are a bag of compromises involved. The trick is to ID the compromises that sit best with your plans. Lots of people who don't do that often have to sell up at a loss later - I like the above idea of hiring in your "undecided" circumstances. Overall, we are much more comfortable in the CT, we have a fancy kitchen, and can carry more fuel and water than if tenting. Up off the ground - foam mattress (can be innersprung as an option in CT's). Its not far removed from the caravan priciple too, in that it works well in caravan parks, as well as the remote bush. Wired for 12V and 240V. The only sig minus for me is the inability to go in some geographically, or politically sensitive places.... but we still get into the remote areas to an extent that satisfies us. Jol Fleming in the Alice has a page on where trailers can go - interesting (http://www.direct4wd.com.au/staff/jol.htm).
AnswerID: 157523

Reply By: Des Lexic - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 13:58

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 13:58
We made the move a few years ago from tent to Roof top tent (Shippshape). We recon it's the ducks nuts but to each his own.
It sound's like your already set up and the transition wasn't very big. Basically, the tent is permanantly up top and is very simply to set up and pack down. The rest of your camping gear stays the same.
If you have mobility issues, then it's not for you
AnswerID: 157529

Reply By: cloughie - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 14:28

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 14:28
We mounted a Howling Moon rooftop tent on an off road trailer base complete with awning etc.When we go where we can't take the trailer we put the tent on top of the patrol. I have made it so it is an easy changeover.The time needed to set up and pack up this as compared with our previous soft floor camper trailer is about a tenth of the time. We still need the trailer to carry all our camping equip as the children still accompany us.
AnswerID: 157534

Reply By: Member - Andy Q (VIC) - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 15:33

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 15:33
G'day Troopy Travellers, As for our preference, well the camper is the way to go, I can pull off road to the designated site, wind up the camper (pull out a few things) turn the gas on and in the time it takes the kettle to boil I can either have a cuppa or a beer. This is whether it's hail, rain or shine this is why after 35 years of tents, trailers(6x4) we decided on comfort with the ability to go off road when the mood takes us, so we bought a Jayco Outback, never look back!
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Reply By: Laura B - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 17:00

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 17:00
either way its going to have good and bad.....camper trailer means youve gotts tow it and its another 2 tyres to look after yet you just throught everything in it and away you go + theres not lifting but with the tent ( we have a Black wolf turbo 300 - same thing - up in 1min in - bag really easy thought!!) there is no towing etc......

We prefer the tent because of the money - and we are youngish and fittish so we can handle a bit of physical work plus we used to it!! - we also didnt want to tow and look after another 2 tyres and have a trailer to register - not that its much , but with that we'd have to register that and 2 bikes + the 4b!!gotta draw the line!!

its really what makes the whole camping experience easier and more relaxing - if you think that a trailer could be easier on you physically then go for it........couldnt recommend one .... too many ....

i can recommend our tent - the black wolf - made by the guy who did the oztents-long story - but its the same deal - heavy but its easy to put in the bag...

Good luck....id stick to the tent but thats cos im young and stupid/fit!!

Laura B
AnswerID: 157572

Reply By: Ruth from Birdsville Caravan Park - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 17:08

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 17:08
Hello there Troopy Travellers - since you were here Ian built us a camper trailer (that what you do in the summer-time here - build things). He decided he needed to get up off the ground (swag/tent floor). He's going to build more when we finish with the park - hopefully, more refined. That's getting away from your query - I think nearly everyone covered it well above. Our idea is to always carry the tent in the car or the camper trailer so that we can always have options - I've only had one night in the camper so far (he's taken it fishing a few times) and I must say it's wonderful to have so much room/fantastically comfortable bed/big kitchen/screened loungeroom-kitchen away from the b.......flies (especially when filleting the fish). The only thing is it seems big and cumbersome after prowling round the sandunes with just the vehicle. This camper will never go over the dunes or into really rugged places, but a lot of them can.
So when we go away (and I think you would probably be a bit like this) we can go by swag, go tent, go camper - or backpack (not) every time we go away. Don't worry about feeling old/infirm - spend the SKI as we've done and be incredibly comfortable. LOL.
AnswerID: 157578

Reply By: Lone Wolf - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 17:10

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 17:10
I reckon, you'll be able to split ALL of your answers right down the middle. Either way, if your mind is made up, then no amount of advice is going to sway, or deter you.

I have done both, as have most of the others here.

For my money, it's a swag, followed by a tent. The hassle of stuffing a tent into a bag, is NOTHING, compared to fussing with a trailer.

Buy a bigger tent bag...

AnswerID: 157579

Follow Up By: Member - TPM (SA) - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 20:34

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006 at 20:34
If you find the tent heavy buy a light weight modern material tent.

I have a coleman and its a bloody fantastic tent. 10 - 15 mins its up. it has a annex off the front where you can cook or get out of the rain and flies.
The extra cost of fuel, tyres, insurance, rego , trying to find a park if in a town just doesnt work for me. The wife and I have the routine down pat now and you can still drink a beer while setting up.
Maybe eventually I will get a camping trailer, but a tent is easier to set up in small camps. Plus you can get in around shrubs or trees where a camper wont for shelter.

Some damn good arguements for both styles here !
Enjoy your travels with whatever you get !! : )
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Reply By: Member - Ian W (NSW) - Thursday, Mar 02, 2006 at 21:06

Thursday, Mar 02, 2006 at 21:06
Chris and I camped for years with a variety of tents, from the cabin style to the dome and then the single centre pole type. Each have their benifits. However the best thing we ever did was changing over to a camper trailer, we certainly took our time researching and visiting all the various shows befor we found the unit that fullfilled our own particular requirements. We spent something like two years befor we were prepared to commit.
We have found that it is now so much easier to get away on the spur of the moment , weekend trips are so much easier to make happen and this comes about because of the type of camper we happen to have.

If we decide to go away tomorrow morning we merely need to grab our clothes, toiletries, pillows etc: and then we pick up food items on the trip. Already in our camper is a made up bed with linen etc: a full water tank, fridge/freezer and gas bottle, tea, coffee, sugar, pepper/salt, cutlery, crockery, vegemite , peanut butter, matches, toilet paper, paper towel, insect repellant, electrical externsion lead, electric light, gas lamp and all those other rotten bloody items you forget to pack and never think about untill you need them.

I would suggest you give serious consideration to a camper, just don't rush it! Do plenty of research and when you narrow the list down to no more than three, preferably two, then make an investment by actually visiting the manufacturer and asking them to explain the feature and benefits of their paticular product, and see just how flexible they are in meeting your needs.

We saw what we thought was a fantastic trailer and contacted the manufacturer looking for a price and were sort of thrown off balance when the guy told us it was hard for him to give us a price until we told him what we wanted, it turned out that vitually every trailer he built differed from the one befor it. we then found that it really did not cost all that much more to have what we wanted built as against taking what someone just put on the showroom floor.

AnswerID: 158175

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