Light weight Off Road Camper Trailers

Submitted: Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 13:16
ThreadID: 57068 Views:6276 Replies:5 FollowUps:10
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Hi all,
Following-on from the very good advice that I received earlier, I have started looking into Off Road Camper Trailers with a view to drafting a submission and asking my live in 'bean counter' to approve it when she returns from her 'Good time Charlie' in Sydney.

Investigating has been great fun. Crikey there's some wonderful camper trailers out there that really get me excited.

But then I had a thought (yes it does happen occassionally) and it related to the issue of 1. weight and 2. how much stuff do campers need to take before it ceases to be 'camping' any longer.

Now please don't get me wrong here, just as a tough old Blue Healer dog still enjoys a soft lounge chair, so too do I enjoy certain comforts. The question is where to start and when to stop.

Seems to me that more creature comforts = more & more weight. More weight means that something than can already be a wee bit of an anchor (think of a CT being dragged along sandy/muddy track) can become a real limiting factor AND far more expensive to tow (fuel isn't likely to go down in price).

So far I seem to be making sense. Mmm must be the coffee.

Now my question to experienced hands is about should one be keeping it simple & light. Surely a light trailer will go further & easier than one that is loaded up to the gunnels?

With Off Road Camper Trailers appearing to start at around 950 kilos before water, fuel & food (I think they the 3 main heavies), that's a fair amount of 'anchor'.

Question 1. Is my weight concern valid? Or perhaps once rolling along 1 ton & 1.5 tons are very similar?

Question 2. Any suggestions on how to keep the weight down?
Remembing that at present I have a fairly humble on road camper trailer (soon to be pensioned off) that I'd guestimate at around 750 kilo. It has no hot water, gas bottles, solar panels & a simple 60L tank & a Coleman fuel stove (I said it was humble).

Please feel free to offer opinions & suggestions and remember while this is a CT question, I imagine many caravanners will be considering the same issues.

Cheers - WD
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Reply By: Member - Michael J (SA) - Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 13:38

Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 13:38
G'day WD,

Food for thought, I saw an aluminium CT in town last week.

Had a quick look and it appeared to be reasonably made, however not too sure as to its longevity if used in really rough terrain.

Might be worth a look at tho'

AnswerID: 300934

Follow Up By: Wayne David - Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 18:01

Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 18:01
Hi Michael & thanks for the tip,

Aluminium trailers seem a good idea for reducing weight. I wonder if they are.

I notice a well known manufacturer from Cairns builds with aluminium too. My Land Rover Defender is made of the stuff and while there's no rust, there does seem an issue with electrolisis or something like that, where steel meets aluminium.

So I think it's swings and round-a-bouts.

Cheers - WD
FollowupID: 567080

Reply By: Vivid Adventures - Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 14:41

Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 14:41
Well mine - a gear trailer (not a camper trailer) is ally and has done about 50,000k's of RRS (really rough stuff) with not a sign of trouble (except I seem to have vibrated the jockey wheel to bits...)

It has been across the Simpson a few times, up and down the Tanami, through the Kimberley a few times including to Kalumburu and Mitchell Plateau, and into the Great Victoria Desert to name a few.

But then it was custom built and built tough...

You can see it at: Trailer Gallery

It is for sale as I want to make another one just a little bigger.

It is probably 300kg lighter than equivalent in steel and arguably stronger.

If you're interested, drop me a note and I can provide the details of the manufacturer who has made them as camper trailers for the camper manufacturers in Adelaide.

AnswerID: 300944

Follow Up By: Wayne David - Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 17:56

Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 17:56
Hi there Andrew,
I was able to see your trailer on the Trailer Gallery bizzo. Nice trailer & nice pics too.

When I tried to see your profile for an email address the sign came up 'This page is currently being maintained'.

So yes I'd really appreciate all I can get in the way of tips for my next CT.

Is it okay to post those details on here?

Cheers for now - WD
FollowupID: 567078

Follow Up By: Vivid Adventures - Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 18:41

Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 18:41
Hi there WD,

Strange about the profile... - you can email me andrew at vividadventuresdotcomau

Anyways, you can read a lot about it in my Trader Ad

and with a little nous you can read into it the design principles...

FollowupID: 567088

Reply By: Captan Sparkles - Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 15:15

Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 15:15
Hi WD,
I used to be a camper but now a caravanner.No 1 rule is always have a comfey bed at the end of the day, a nice warm shower and carry a good engel fridge freezer to keep the food and drinks chilled to keep you primed for the next day ahead.
Solar / batteries/ gas is the way to go with hot water and cooking
AnswerID: 300950

Follow Up By: Wayne David - Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 18:09

Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 18:09
Good evening Captain Sparkles,

Nice nick name by the way. Is that because you have a comfey bed, warm shower & a good fridge?

After a week or so away without any of those 3 key comforts that you identified, I think you may well have hit the nail on the head.

May I enquire into why you went from camper to caravan? Was it because the CT could not provide enough comfort?

I well recall my Dad's order of things, started with small canvans tent, hire small caravan, buy larger caravan, trade to even bigger caravan, trade to Hilux campervan. Still we all had a ball no matter what we were sleeping in.
FollowupID: 567082

Follow Up By: Captan Sparkles - Tuesday, Apr 29, 2008 at 11:41

Tuesday, Apr 29, 2008 at 11:41
Never owned a CT .We made a sleeping quarters in the back of a nissan tray back and the kids under a tarp and then later the kids got a tent.We made up a kitchen area along side the vehicle with a tarp cover shading a eating area and shade for the kids.
We've always liked bush camping.
We upgraded to a van when 2 of the kids left home. I remember
the day when we bought the van home and our youngest son (whose was 16 at the time), asked where he was going to sleep.
I quickly responded by pointing to the door.They all still come camping with us and bring their own sleeping gear.
Our friends who we travel with had a CT and did a few trips nth
qld and after a while you got so sick of travelling fron town to town/parks for showers and setting up every day.It became quite obvioius to them that it wasnt the kind of set up they wanted to have ( they roughed it worse than us for many years), so they upgraded to a van and we followed 6 months later.
We have had the best trips together.Did Birdsville races,Strez desert,Innaminka 17 days, bushed camped all the way.Been to Airlee,Canarvon Gorge ,Broken hill down to the murray River and central west and heading off to nth Qld Normanton,Lawn Hill, Mt Isa in August .The trick to travelling is to have good company and dont live in eachothers pockets.
We have our van packed all the time, ready to go in 1/2hrs notice.Just fill the tanks with fresh water and a bit of food in the cupboard and off we go. Just love life and get out and see Australia
FollowupID: 567208

Reply By: Member - Craig M (QLD) - Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 18:29

Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 18:29

Been there with a camping trailer, and now a camper trailer but not yet a carryvan (spelling mistake intentional). Mine weighs in at about 950kg full to the gizzards and takes 3 adults away for a couple of weeks with no problems.
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It has a king size bed with annex. Kitchen on the back tailgate 60lt water 40 lt fuel or extra water, 1, 2, & 4 kg gas bottles gas fridge, solar panels and battery. It is a 8x5 gal 500mm high sided steel trailer with electric brakes. It has done about 400,000k (mostly off road)before we got it and the only thing that has been changed is the springs and tyres. (the ancestors used to own it).
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We find that if you limit the crap that you allow to be taken away then it has a self limiting effect on the weight problem. Our rule is if it doesn't fit in the trailer then it doesn't go. And, all gear to go must be at the trailer 1 hour prior to departure. Loadmaster's (me) decision is final.

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Another point is to calculate the closest point to the campsite that you can fill with water. Carting an extra 100kg can make a difference.

AnswerID: 300998

Follow Up By: Wayne David - Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 19:50

Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 19:50
Greeting Craig,
Thanks for the info. I'll mull over those tips and try to figure out how to become....what was it??........Oh yes THE LOAD MASTER.

Often when important titles are dished out, I find that my status remains at the bottom of the ladder, as the Missus has me beat in the brains department. So she gets to lug around a piece of paper while I heave & hoe with tarps, water, etc. Bugger!

By the way, that's a fine looking piece of kit that you're towing. And she's done some serious k's too. 400,000 and mostly off road? How's that possible? Did your 'ancestors' have an aversion to the black stuff (er by that I mean bitumen) or something?
FollowupID: 567107

Follow Up By: Member - Craig M (QLD) - Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 20:14

Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 20:14
Hi Wayne
Put together a retired CFA fireman who retired at 50 with no hobbies who would basically travel across the country at the drop of a hat, and a new disco and camper trailer and there is your recipie for the k's. Only bloke I know who went from Bribie Island to Melbourne via Darwin. The camper has been up the cape, down the prom around the rock across the desert, up and down every mountain, high country and low country, Arnhem land to the west and east, you name it, he's been there. The slide nights bear testimony (yawn)

As far as bitumen goes, if there was a long way to get somewhere, they took it. The camper is 10 years old.
They wore out 2 Discos and a Rodeo doing it!

FollowupID: 567116

Follow Up By: Wayne David - Tuesday, Apr 29, 2008 at 08:23

Tuesday, Apr 29, 2008 at 08:23
Howdy Craig,

Thanks for the beaut follow-up. A very good story and nicely told.

What a shame we didn't have a camp fire & a few ports, as I'll just bet it could have been spun out to be a great yarn taking one or two refills.

Cheers for that - Wayne
FollowupID: 567189

Reply By: guzzi - Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 18:35

Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 18:35
Weights a bugger isnt it.
Which trailer and how heavy it is depends on
1 what exactly do you plan to do with it
2 and where exactly do you plan to take it
3 Size of the tent, 8ft, 9 ft, 10 ft, 12 ft ,13 ft etc
4 Very basic or ALL the bells and whistles,ie kitchen, 2 water tanks, 2 9kg gas bottles, room for 15 jerrys ,2 spares, jack, shovel annex etc You know all the stuff they say you have to have to get out of the suburbs( bloody marketing) etc etc.

If your planning an expedition over 1000's of km of corrugated roads, no water or fuel within contemplation, need to sleep 4 to 6 bodies, then yes it will probably be the best part of 1000kg empty and 1300 to 1700kg full loaded.
If on the other hand it will see some offroad use, some dirt road and beach use, these seem to start from 350 kg for a basic off road with no fruit through to 700kg with everything dry weight.
So with a 700kg dry trailer by the time you add water, annex,poles/ropes, chairs, shower tent, bedding, clothes, eating /cooking stuff etc etc etc call it a 1000 to 1100kg loaded.

Work out what you really need it for and go from there
AnswerID: 301000

Follow Up By: Wayne David - Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 19:58

Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 19:58
Cheers guzzi,
Wow you've really made me realise that I probably don't plan nrealy well enough.

Up until now I've just had a kind of attitude of 'let's see where this road takes us'.

Of course I've only done Eastern states kind of stuff & no where near desert country. Even I would start to think about fuel & water.......and death then.

But I really do reckon that 'travel light' has a lot going for it just not over doing it.

"Where's the toilet paper Wayne"? .....she asks "Sorry sweetheart we're travelling light".
FollowupID: 567110

Follow Up By: guzzi - Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 21:52

Monday, Apr 28, 2008 at 21:52
"Where's the toilet paper Wayne"? .....she asks "Sorry sweetheart we're travelling light".

I reckon at about that point, you and death would be but cm apart............
FollowupID: 567136

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