Buying a camper trailer

Submitted: Wednesday, Apr 23, 2008 at 11:19
ThreadID: 56919 Views:5701 Replies:7 FollowUps:9
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Hi to the forum.
My wife and I are looking at moving from tent camping to a camper trailer and currently have in mind the Lifestyle Explorer as this particular model is within our budget ($7-9k).
Residing in Sydney my problem is physically viewing all available camper trailers within my budget. Alot of my research is via the internet and talking to the manufacturers over the phone - this in itself is difficult to get non-biased info.
Read some comments about the Lifestyle campers and so far no issues but they don't go into detail about the specs, however I notice that the wall sides and floor of the trailer are not checker plate. Is this a concern?. Of those members who have a lifestyle how does the strength of the trailer compare? Might be hard to answer that one. Was hoping anyone can aid. If anyone in Sydney has one I would love to see it.
PS I missed the Rosehill show a few weeks back. I will get to the Penrith show in Sept but Lifestyle will not be there.
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Reply By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Wednesday, Apr 23, 2008 at 11:47

Wednesday, Apr 23, 2008 at 11:47
G'day, welcome aboard. You may get many opinions on "which C/t
is Best" from biased owners so your own research is important as well. You have expressed an interest in a certain brand... contact them, ask for full spec info & compare that with others. If they
dont supply..forget them & move on. Set yourself some basic
minimum standards from your research..stuff like drawbar size,
axle /spring setup, weight is a towing issue but necessary for
strength, wheel matching to tow vehicle is convenient, check
ventilation carefully. I was surprised to find many were too hot on
a cool day at a 4WD show recently. Many will argue that you must
have heavy Aust. made canvas, in your price range you are unlikely to get it. Dont worry, a silver tarp cures all that business.
The quality of seams & stitching, zippers is more important. Do your research & then go to Penrith & check them all out.
After doing what I have just told you to do, I bought a new off
road trailer, added a Chinese top off Ebay, Reg & insurance, matched wheels, built a kitchen...all for less than $5k, but that
wont suit everyone. Its been to Broome & back & works fine.
Good luck with your efforts...oldbaz.
AnswerID: 300050

Follow Up By: twenty47 - Thursday, Apr 24, 2008 at 10:16

Thursday, Apr 24, 2008 at 10:16
thanks Oldbaz...
Originally looked at the tent tops on Ebay but after looking at some of them in the flesh I decided it was worth spending the extra. Each to their own though. Having said that I also looked at the Oztrail which I believe are 8oz and they seem ok-although an extra $1-$1.5k will get me Aus made canvas. It's a compromise between the tent and trailer if on a tight budget.
Glad to hear yours has held up well.
FollowupID: 566384

Reply By: Member - len W SWANSEA (NSW) - Wednesday, Apr 23, 2008 at 12:07

Wednesday, Apr 23, 2008 at 12:07
hi there twenty 47 on May 23rd - 25th
Maitland Caravan & Camping

only a short trip up the road you should find what your looking for there ............ len
AnswerID: 300053

Follow Up By: twenty47 - Thursday, Apr 24, 2008 at 10:17

Thursday, Apr 24, 2008 at 10:17
Hi Len,

I believe though that Lifestyle won't be attending that show either but will confirm.
FollowupID: 566385

Reply By: guzzi - Wednesday, Apr 23, 2008 at 12:36

Wednesday, Apr 23, 2008 at 12:36
I have a Lifestyle Explorer +.
Canvas very good
Fit and finish very good
After sales service very good(but theyre only 1/2 hr down the road) I somehow broke one of the gas struts that hold the floor section open, John replaced BOTH with heavier units at no cost.
Everything that moves or pivots has a grease nipple.
All wireing covered where possible and grommeted where it goes thru panels.
The entire trailer is power coated, from A frame to tail gate.
Is the lack of checker plate on walls and floor an issue? Not in my opinion.
Strenght of trailer, I have had no problems, its been to Fraser Is 3 times , levuka, rover park etc I havent skull dragged at 110 kph over 30 cm deep corrigations for 2000km and really dont expect too. Mind you it would probably handle that as well as most other comparable trailers on the market, it has a triple draw bar and good welding throughout. I havent noticed any twisting or evidence of anything moveing as yet (18 months)
Tent frames are reinforced in the corners.
Tent has good ceiling height and keeps cooler in summer.
The annex fits well and is easy to fit.
The kitchen works.
Gas system simple and effective.
Pinchweld rubber seals on the tailgate and under the main hatch.

The suspension is IMO a bit stiff, but as you could probably carry 1.4 ton of dirt thats what its rated too, Im looking at removing a leaf or 2.
Get the electric brakes that will allow you to actually put stuff in it, mine has a dry weight of 700kg, fill the water tank and put in your camp chairs and you're over 750kg.

I looked at Lifestyle, Camel, Castaway, and Trakkabout for about 2 yrs before I bit the bullet, Lifestyles build quality, my intended use and John the owners attitude is what swayed me and they got my money. Trakkabout is a more heavily built trailer and heavier, but didnt have the size tent I wanted and is also a good unit.
Camel, canvas as good as Lifestyle, but in my opinion lifestyles trailer fit and finish is better, and Camels owner is an opinionated Seth Efrican, I didnt get along with.
Castaway, didnt appeal to me.
Haveing a look around at a show is a very good idea, you get to compare apples with apples next to one another.
Good luck with whatever you choose.
AnswerID: 300059

Follow Up By: Moose - Wednesday, Apr 23, 2008 at 13:21

Wednesday, Apr 23, 2008 at 13:21
G'day Guzzi
We too have a Lifestyle CT.
Agree with all you say re its qualities. An excellent trailer. If the Trakkabout is more heavily built then I wouldn't want one as I reckon the Lifestyle is plenty heavy.
Go ahead and remove two leaves - I did. l also removed those wavy bits of steel that supposedly help with the suspension. But then I do have shockies on mine. Gee it rides so much better now. The wheels actually move up and down like they're supposed to.

Hey Twenty47 I think Lifestyle now offer independent suspension which will avoid the leaf spring issues discussed above.
Have you looked up their website - specs are fully listed.
You don't need the checker plate.
They are very tough - I've towed it through places where I was sure it would suffer some sort of damage but it has come thru just fine. Good luck.
Cheers from the Moose
FollowupID: 566214

Follow Up By: twenty47 - Thursday, Apr 24, 2008 at 10:51

Thursday, Apr 24, 2008 at 10:51
Hi guzzi,
Quote:"Is the lack of checker plate on walls and floor an issue? Not in my opinion."
That's the bit I was not sure on because some people are telling me that checker plate gives more strength. Others had told me there is more 'flex' in non-checker plate floors.
I was thinking whether the trailer floor in the Lifestyles had the checker plate on the bottom (turned upside down)? Do you know the thickness of the trailer floor?
From my initial research it appears the Lifestyle camper trailers are better value, with castaway and ABL not far behind. Hence at this stage my desire to go with Lifestyle. Didn't appreciate the guy at castaway (name unknown) as he thought it was easy for me to get up there to look at them...down in Sydney working with family commitments not easy. Sure it would be great to visit Brissy over a weekend and check them out, but on my tight budget the cost of getting/staying up there i could put towards the purchase.

Hi Moose - yes looked at the specs just wasn't sure on the checker plate. Independent suspension would be great - hoping to win lotto before I actually purchase but at this stage no can do.

Just another question with regards to electric brakes can these be fitted afterwards? I was concerned that the Lifestyle Explorer (which don't have brakes as standard) once loaded as you say guzzi that i may need brakes.
Cheers everyone
FollowupID: 566389

Follow Up By: Moose - Thursday, Apr 24, 2008 at 11:01

Thursday, Apr 24, 2008 at 11:01
Yes - electric brakes can be fitted later. That's exactly what I did - but I suggest it would be best to get it all done by Lifestyle at the time of manufacture. I wish that was what I'd done.

Re flex - WTF are you intending to do with it? They are built like a bloody tank so I can't see flex being an issue. If you were to have to rely on the floor as the main structural platform I think that would be a bit of a worry. Surely the chassis strength is what matters.
Cheers from the Moose
FollowupID: 566391

Follow Up By: twenty47 - Thursday, Apr 24, 2008 at 11:29

Thursday, Apr 24, 2008 at 11:29
Moose - that's why I asked the question because some people tell me that non-checker plate floors give some flex due to the the thinner size as apposed to checker plate been thicker. This is from people making trailers because I originally looked at getting a trailer made up and buying the tent separately. So they tell me go with checker plate for its strength.
I'm thinking of the Explorer Plus which comes with the brakes as standard.
Moose which model do you have?

FollowupID: 566392

Follow Up By: Moose - Thursday, Apr 24, 2008 at 12:35

Thursday, Apr 24, 2008 at 12:35
G'day Twenty47
I'm fairly certain they recently changed their trailers names and specs. Mine's a couple of years old and back then we could chop and change so we had the top model minus some bits or the second model plus some - can't recall. For example I didn't want their kitchen and built my own. I think that now they are a fixed package, which is probably easier for them.
That stuff about flex still sounds like a poor trailer chassis being strengthened by the floor. But then I'm no engineer so what would I know. Have you asked John at Lifestyle about that? - he seems to be an honest sort of guy and I'm sure he'll enlighten you. I found him to be really good to deal with. I'm sure some will cut corners if they can and I feel that Lifestyle certainly haven't.
Cheers from the Moose
FollowupID: 566395

Reply By: Member - John M (QLD) - Wednesday, Apr 23, 2008 at 18:57

Wednesday, Apr 23, 2008 at 18:57
welcome to the club...... make sure that if you end up buying a lifestyle camper that you option for the independent suspension on the model you order as they cannot fit after manafacture, howerver if you do not require independent sus you could always buy ours.. (explorer plus with a few extra options) reply via e-mail and i will provide photos. trailer has only been used several times in the last 12 months. Regards john.

P.S they are a great camper and user friendly
AnswerID: 300129

Follow Up By: twenty47 - Thursday, Apr 24, 2008 at 10:52

Thursday, Apr 24, 2008 at 10:52
Hi John,
Where in QLD are you located?
FollowupID: 566390

Reply By: Best Off Road - Thursday, Apr 24, 2008 at 14:10

Thursday, Apr 24, 2008 at 14:10
Most Campers in the sun $10k rannge are little more than tents bolted to trailers with various options fitted. This I know because I build and sell them. However it is not our primary buiness.

If you would like to call me I can talk you through how to put one together, where to source the materials, and save yourself some serious money. It's not difficult if you're a bit handy.

03 9706 6527


AnswerID: 300258

Reply By: Member - John M (QLD) - Thursday, Apr 24, 2008 at 19:45

Thursday, Apr 24, 2008 at 19:45
twenty47 i am on the sunshine coast.........regards john
AnswerID: 300299

Follow Up By: macker0 - Sunday, Apr 27, 2008 at 22:14

Sunday, Apr 27, 2008 at 22:14
Hi John, might be interest in your trailer can you send me some details maybe photos
Ray 0405 103594
FollowupID: 566939

Reply By: Biglinz - Thursday, Apr 24, 2008 at 21:09

Thursday, Apr 24, 2008 at 21:09
I have a Tru-Blu and paid 9k new 2 years ago and am very happy with it. I think they have an agent in Sydney now.
AnswerID: 300316

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