Camper Trailers & small cars

Submitted: Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 15:30
ThreadID: 68012 Views:4788 Replies:6 FollowUps:9
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Hi Everyone,
I'm brain dead from trying to work out our options!We are a family of 2 Adults, 2 children (6, 11) and for nearly 10 years we have owned a "Gumnut" camper trailer (soft bottom) which we have loved but are now finding it a bit of a chore to set up: 1 to 1 1/2 hours- incl bunks for kids, table, stove, gas bottles etc - overnight stops really wear thin!
Our trips now tend to be touring- stopping a few days somewhere and moving on. However our last trip from Vic to Qld got us thinking about caravans! We only have a small car (Subaru S/wagon, 2.2 litre) so realise our choices are limited.
We are looking at the Jayco Hawk/Eagle set ups with the pop out ends & top.We are not serious off roaders but we do like to get off the main roads and outfit cost needs to be under $20 000 (2nd hand obviously!). We want something much quicker to set up, can prepare basic food in on the road out of sun & flies, gives more protection in wet weather, tows well, we don't require large/fancy living space. Help!!! Any idea??? What to watch out for ? Would appreciate any input.
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Reply By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 16:04

Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 16:04
We very rarely stop for longer than one night in one place on any trip. We have an Aussie Swag hard floor offroad version. It takes about 3 mins to setup the camper after stopping and about the same to close it down.

While we have awnings etc we rarely use them. The kitchen is a slide out gadget which can be accessed with the camper folded as can the under bed bed storage through the tail gate.

The only problem we find is using the kitchen in wind blown rain. Time to eat cold meal or find take away.

The unit is very dry and the hard floor means you can camp on stone, gravel etc which can be great to avoid dust or mud as you are above the ground.

It has been all over Australia and tows well. It weighs about 700kgs dry.

Maybe a secondhand one of these might do the trick.

AnswerID: 360354

Follow Up By: julie&bob - Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 17:15

Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 17:15
Hi Alan,
Thanks for info. - haven't come across the Aussie Swag so will follow that up. Is yours capable of sleeping 4?? I like the idea of dry feet in the above ground set ups.
FollowupID: 628167

Follow Up By: LeanneW - Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 17:55

Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 17:55
The Aussie Swag can sleep 2 people on the floor, but that would leave little room for 'living' if the weather is bad. Alternatively you can get a kids room that fits onto the end of the 'living' area, and it can remain attached and fold up with the rest of the canvas. I am sure that you could ring Aussie Swag campers and ask them to retrofit one to a secondhand Aussie Swag - but it may involve having the camper in their factory to be done. I'm not sure where in QLD you are, but their factory is in Brendale. There is another bigger 'kids room' option that fits to the side of the 'living' area, but it must be detached to fold the camper up.
Hope this helps.
FollowupID: 628179

Follow Up By: LeanneW - Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 17:57

Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 17:57
Sorry - misread - you're probably from Vic, not QLD.
FollowupID: 628180

Reply By: Member - Mottleman (NSW) - Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 16:45

Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 16:45
You'll get lots of very different opinions on this one. We are all different and what's important to one is minor to another.

We do mostly what you do, have 11 and 13yrs kids and love our jayco eagle outback. It has done way more than most people imagine it could/would/should .... but the main thing is it suits us perfectly.

Why not hire one for a while?

Any eagle questions, ask away.

AnswerID: 360363

Follow Up By: julie&bob - Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 17:20

Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 17:20
Thanks John,
One question that concerns me with the Eagle/Hawk is the narrower 2nd bed.
Do your kids both sleep on this (without nagging at each other to move over ?!)
I am investigating hiring one - it may be money well spent to decide either way.
How do the bed ends cope with a bit of rain ?
FollowupID: 628168

Follow Up By: PradOz - Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 23:50

Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 23:50
we have the Swan which is a larger version of the Eagle but same layout. it has more space inside and also in annexe, and a bit more cupboard storage too. we sleep 2 kids (now 11years son, and 16yrs daughter) on one bed and they have always been fine. other eldest daughter sleeps either on table folded down to a bed, or in annexe where she prefers to be. we have slept 7 comfortably with front lounge used as a bed too.

i would suggest that whatever layout you get, you have the fridge opposite the doorway for easy access on the road, and also for times when you may have packed up but forgotten to switch it over to 12V from 240V. real bugger for a fridge up the back, but easy opposite the door
FollowupID: 628231

Follow Up By: Member - Mottleman (NSW) - Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 08:06

Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 08:06
Our kids have shared the 2nd double up until the last month or so... one of them was sick so we set up the table to keep them apart and there is no going back now!! Our rule is they take turns and who ever sleeps on the table changes it back to a table for the day-time. Works well.
The bed end flys keep the canvas over the beds 98% dry so we always use them and can even push the bed ends away while under the flys.. sounds weird but works well.
We have done many trips that would be called "serious 4wd" but have driven to the conditions and always made it.
We have found it to be a good compromise for us ... but again everyone has an opinion. I agree with fridge comment above.
FollowupID: 628257

Follow Up By: julie&bob - Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 12:46

Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 12:46
Hi all,
Fridge position noted - good points
FollowupID: 628306

Reply By: LeanneW - Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 16:53

Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 16:53
Hi Julie & Bob,

My husband and I were looking at buying a Jayco Hawk/Eagle very recently. One thing that was brought to our attention was the roof - up until the 2009 models, it is constructed in two halves, and there have been some problems with the join parting (after someone has walked on the roof) and it leaking.
They still take a while setting up, but nowhere near the 1.5 hours like your old camper trailer. The Jayco appealed to me because of its spaciousness and comfort inside when set up (particularly if the weather turned bad).
We ended up buying an Aussie Swag camper trailer, mainly because we want to do some 4WD treks, which are not recommended for the Jayco.
I agree with the previous reply about hard-floor camper trailers being very quick and easy to set up, but you do need to be conscious of how much weight your Subaru can tow and its maximum ball weight.
Perhaps look at secondhand hardfloor campers such as the Aussie Swag, Cub, Kimberley etc and some secondhand Coromals to compare to the Jayco.
Good luck!
AnswerID: 360365

Follow Up By: julie&bob - Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 12:44

Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 12:44
Thanks for your inputs Leanne,
I'm finding this all very helpful & we will especially look out for that split roof issue.
FollowupID: 628305

Reply By: Member - Wayne David (NSW) - Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 16:57

Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 16:57
Gidday julie&bob,

I'm no expert by any stretch of the imagination. For the 2 of us a hard floor camper trailer seems best.

For you though with kids & your budget of $20,000 I'm wondering if you have checked out the trader section above. Try this link.

The unit seems like a pretty capable piece of kit, looks good for kids and parents, is $19,000 (reduced) and well worth a look.

Let us know what you think.
AnswerID: 360366

Reply By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 17:54

Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 17:54
Julie and Bob

The aussie swag has a double bed built in and others would sleep on the hard floor. 2 children would be fine but we have had two adults sleeping on the floor as well.

They need some padding which has to be picked up each day before closing. Sleeping bags etc all fit inside the tent.

Aussie Swag

The site will show you what they are like. New ones are getting expensive. We bought ours several years ago ($15000) so does not have all the fancy options of the latest models.

Ours is a Challenger offroad model. It has a water tank, rollout kitchen, gas bottles, pantry but no battery etc. It does have 240V wiring and 12V sockets inside. We use a col light in the 12v socket inside while connected to tow vehicle. We have an extension lead to join vehicle to trailer if we have disconnected the vehicle.

It sleeps very dry the couple of times we have been caught in pouring rain. The quick packup is really great if raining. We put plastice sheet on bed to protect from damp canvas and never never had a wet bed.

AnswerID: 360383

Reply By: HGMonaro - Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 11:23

Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 11:23
We have a wind-up (a Goldstream but the following points apply), our kids sleep on the queen bed end but we had the matress divided into two seperate 'singles' This way we make their beds individually... yes we use sheets and blankets/doonas (much easier to manage if the younger one had an 'accident' than a sleeping bag but thankfully those days are gone!).

We never wind it up completely for lunch stops but you could easy enough in fine weather. Would need to pull out the bed ends far enough that you could sit at the table (depending on layout) and erect the door to keep flies out. We just pop the lid enough to open the door and get at the fridge. We don't like making our lunch in the morning (silly in some ways as I do that for work most days!) but use the our drop down table on the exterior of the camper to make lunch and have somewhere to sit drinks. We also use the lunch stop as a chance to get some exercise into the kids, usually by kicking the footy around.

Setup time would be around 10-15mins. Something like.. park, move it cause the wife thinks north is 1 degree clockwise more than your compass says*, disconnect car, level via jockey wheel, check sideways leveling is within acceptable tollerance (esp if running fridge on gas), wind down stabilisers, errect bed flys**, wind up roof, errect bed end supports and fasten canvas, fit door, connect services if available, crack a tinny.

* - true! bloody farm girls!
** - optional but recommended. Obviously good in rain, but also good in sunny weather.

One aspect of wind-ups that is rarely discussed is the ability to open it up to let any breeze through. On a warm day you can open all sides and it's more like being under a shady tree.

Weight for your Suburu will be a problem, but maybe a Dove or Hawk might be possible. Still get the two bed ends (might be a bit smaller.. not sure of the specs), just the space between them is reduced so you can't fill it up with so much junk, thus it's lighter! :)

Cheers, Nige
AnswerID: 360498

Follow Up By: julie&bob - Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 12:39

Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 12:39
Hi Nige,
Thanks for all those hints!
I like the singles idea for the kids - will stop them kicking each others shins out!
I agree, I don't want to make the lunches in the morning either & are more likely to eat outside the van anyhow, depending on weather. I just want to have relatively easy access to make a hot cuppa !
10 - 15 mins set up ??!! LLLLLLLLLOVe that
FollowupID: 628302

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