Side- or rear-fold CT for caravan parks

Submitted: Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 19:07
ThreadID: 76897 Views:5727 Replies:12 FollowUps:8
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Hi folks,

Have been reading the forum for a few months now and thought I should finally join and post. We are looking to purchase our first camper trailer, and are having a dilemma as to whether we should go rear fold or side fold.

We are a married couple with two small girls (4&2). Would be after a 10ft or 12ft tent with full annex, kitchen, etc and found a few we like, though we're planning on mainly tourist parks, Big4's, and the like for at least the next few years.

Am interested to know how you set up your side-fold camper on a caravan site that has a slab?

A rear-fold in my mind would be easiest, as the trailer would be parked with the drawbar facing the road and the tent would fold out away from the road onto the grass. Any annex would then fold out to the right, aligned with the slab.

With a side-fold, my mind just can't place it. If we parked the CT with the drawbar facing the road, the tent would fold out to the side and would be on the slab fine, but then when we put the annex on, it would be facing the back and would be half on the slab and half on the grass.

OR, do you position your drawbar so it is parallel to the road (to the left), so the side fold tent comes out onto the grass away from the road, and then the annex can be positioned completely on the slab to the right? Is there room generally to position the drawbar parallel to the road instead of facing? Or would the drawbar encrouch on the site next door?

Side-fold gives us much more purchasing options, but rear-fold just seems more practical for caravan sites. Unless I'm missing something.

Thanks in advance
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Reply By: dirttracker - Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 19:21

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 19:21
Hi Kylie,
We had a side opening camper for five years and travelled extensively throughout Oz. We stayed in a huge variety of sites, even caravan parks vary enormously, and so the issue of slab or not doesn't always come up. We positioned the camper so that th one flip opened over the slab, we always put down closed cell foam to protect it from holes whether on grass or concrete, with the kitchen opening/annex only on the grass. It is better under foot and, if you have a mat, the dirt/sand can more easily fall through.

Just a thought.
AnswerID: 408973

Follow Up By: sassenach.girl - Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 19:36

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 19:36
Thanks for the reply Martin. Your flipover on the slab makes sense, thanks for the tip re: the foam!
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Reply By: Mandrake's Solar Power- Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 19:23

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 19:23
We have a side fold unit and we don't use caravan slab parks - use a powered site or a grassed en-suite if available ... And sometimes un-powered grass sites .



AnswerID: 408974

Follow Up By: sassenach.girl - Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 19:38

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 19:38
Thanks Steve. Some of the parks I've looked at do have powered grassed sites which would be perfect. However most of the ensuite power sites are slab-based (from what I've seen, though not all) so I was stuck wondering how a slide fold would position re: the slab.
FollowupID: 678950

Reply By: Ozhumvee - Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 19:30

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 19:30
Forget both and get a hard floor, no more worry about what the surface is like, much quicker to erect and pack up, no stuffing around with acres of wet canvas and fitting the tonneau to seal it all up which can be a pain if you are short.
I've led extended outback trips for our 4wd club and several have had a mix of both soft and hard floor campers, every time the soft floor brigade have come home and swapped their camper for a hard floor.
But it depends on what and where you wish to camp, if on the move and including only short stays in van parks where grass is the usual then a soft floor might be ok but if considering outback travel then a hard floor is a better option IMHO.
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Follow Up By: sassenach.girl - Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 19:40

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 19:40
Thanks Peter. Have looked in to the hard floors and I agree that if we were looking to go outback, they would be in for consideration. Though at this stage as newbies and with two young girls, we'd prefer to try our luck with parks etc while we get used to the whole idea.

One thing I didn't like about the hardfloor was the limited room off the bed .... whereas with soft floors, you have all that extra room depending on the size of the canvas. Each to their own though!
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Reply By:- Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 19:56

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 19:56
Hi Kylie,

We have a side fold which we use mainly in the bush however we do use caravan parks also. Most of the time you will have a choice of slab or no slab and some have double slabs. We have positioned ours every possible way depending on the room available around the slab; some parks have less room than others.

Our friends have a rear fold and it does set up nice when the slab is even to the ground however if not they end up with the kitchen closer to the ground and their heads touching the annexe roof.

Each type has its pros & cons.

It may be more of a question as to how much space you need sleep everyone comfortably and also storage space given there are 4 of you. The side fold generally has a larger tent area and of the rear folds I have seen they don't have as much storgae space in the trailer itself. Some would argue this to the contrary.

Don't rule out camping in the bush at a later stage. although it may not be appealing now, hopefully the bug will get you and you will be looking for those more isolated bush spots where space and slabs don't matter.

At the end of the day enjoy the outdoors and be happy with what you choose.

AnswerID: 408978

Follow Up By: sassenach.girl - Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 20:10

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 20:10
You've convinced me Ev that I'm worrying about nothing :) I think given there are 4 of us and there is more choice and room if we go side fold, that we're better off with a side-fold for sure.

Oh we haven't discounted outback travel, just not planning it yet. I am dreaming about my round-Australia trip still!

Thanks for your reply.
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Reply By: Rangiephil - Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 20:25

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 20:25
I have a 97 Camp'o'matic hard floor .
I just love it for many reasons

Quick setup takes about 30 seconds if the awning is left over the top in fine weather.Only about 5 minutes if the 3 awning posts are used. Pack down takes a little longer as you have to stuff the canvas inside the seal.

I recently went through 2 extreme storms in Victoria without a drop in. The water was running 3 inches deep in the annex but completely dry inside. BTW in my travels I have only found one elevated slab in Halls Creek and it wasn't a big problem.

We met some people in Bodalla with a soft floor and they lost a lot from water damage through the annex/tent in the storms only a few weeks ago..

My hard floor is well sealed for dust. I just did 18KK including Plenty, Tanami, GRR, and very little dust in and any in was on the outside of the canvas.

There are soft floors and soft floors. Make sure you check how many pegs are needed to set up, as some need 20 or so. I was camped next to one at Uluru and the annex had so much windage that I spent all day repegging the guys annex in a 20-30 Kmh wind..
The down side?
For you with 2 kids it will be cramped inside . We take up about 30% of the inside floor with nylon boxes of clothes/pots pans/ etc.

A double bunk at the end could work or a little tent if they are old enough..

I would not hesitate to buy another hard floor and you can get them cheap if you look around. Older Camp'o'matics are IMHO among the best and toughest you can get and everyone else I have met with one is rapt. I would personally avoid Cubs if using on dirt.

Regards Philip A

AnswerID: 408984

Follow Up By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 20:44

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 20:44
Ditto to Phil - our Campomatic Ranger M3 was a great unit over the 5 years - tough, capable, and easy to use - slept in ours every night for 10 weeks on a WA trip in 08. As Phil said though, if the weather is 'inclement' and you need to be inside, the hardfloor camper is really for 2. As I recall, something like the TrakShak layouts (soft floor but) more suit the 2 + 2 family.
FollowupID: 678961

Reply By: Member - Scoey4 (SA) - Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 20:28

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 20:28
Greetings Kylie,

Another consideration - side fold outs mean someone has to climb over the other to get in or out of bed - rear fold out avoids this - we have had both and rear fold out is much easier.


AnswerID: 408985

Follow Up By: MattyA_LC105 - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 18:03

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 18:03
Spot on Scoey,
That was one of the main points an old hand mentioned to me proir to our first CT purchase, trying to climb over the person besides you can get annoying not to mention a few nasty looks at 5am for a toilet run. Fold out the back and then annexe is out the side on the concrete pad for meals etc.
FollowupID: 679073

Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 20:37

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 20:37
We had a side opening soft floor CT for 5 years, then went upmarket with a rear opening hard floor, also for 5 years - can't recall ever being seriously compromised in CP's with either. Seems that in virtually all cases, the staff will find a spot that suits the camper in question - most CP's seem to have a mix of space types to choose from (unless there is a convention in town :-o)....opting for unpowered often exposes the best spots in the CP ... grass, shade, water and space ! Most travellers want power !
AnswerID: 408986

Reply By: Member - Josh (TAS) - Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 21:55

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 21:55
Hi Kylie,
We lived in an Obriens soft floor trailer for almost 3 yrs while travelling around oz. The only time we had trouble in caravan parks was when the slab was way higher than the ground. We parked our trailer beside the slab so the tent set up on the slab. The annaxe went across the back 1/2 on 1/2 off the slab. The kitchen area was off the slab and more comfortable to stand on than concrete, we put mesh down to keep dirt to a minimum. Our table sat on the slab so was level to sit at. Also by having the tent area on the slab the girls bunks sat level. We also had a kids room which zipped onto the front beside the draw bar. If on a slab this would set on up on the grass in front of the slab. Side fold I think will give you more room. In the whole time we were on the road I think we only had troublw 2 or 3 times, mainly cause the slab was 5" higher than the ground. In those cases we simply asked to be put somewhere else. We travelled in the bush, in the outback, on sand, gravel, grass etc. We carried some shade cloth to put down under the floor of the trailer. It helped to protect the floor and keep dirt of the canvas. When looking at trailers check if you can pack them up wet. We could pack ours up with wet canvas and not get water in the trailer. Our bed did not get wet when we packed up as some do. Also another tip is make sure you can access the kitchen area when all packed up, handy for road side stops. We have some photos and info on our website
I would not worry about side or rear fold to much, Get what suits you as far as lay out and room goes, That is more important.

AnswerID: 409002

Reply By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 22:14

Monday, Mar 15, 2010 at 22:14
We had a large soft floor 14ft side flip with annexe for several years then as our kids started to grow up and start to leave home traded up to a KK, a rear flip hard floor (also with annexe).
To me with two young children, especially girls who tend to stay put more so than boys and I was primarily going to be in CP I would take a side fold every time.
They simply offer far more ROOM (yep shouting for a reason) than you can get in any hard floor rear fold.
Unless you are staying in a very cramped CP, you will work out how to park your CT. Side flips are light enough for any able bodied bloke to manouvre by hand. Most CP now have "CT" sites anyway.
Do your research, you can get rear flip soft floors.
Side or rear flip would be the least of my worries. Value for money, what type of kitchen, how big a tent, what bed access you are prepared to put up with are far more relevant.
Unless the ground is ordinary, slabs aren't a huge drawcard for us. Good grass under our shade cloth was ofen preferred.
No way we would go back to a soft floor side flip now, but as I said our family is older to yours.
Best of luck hunting there are so many to choose from.
AnswerID: 409010

Follow Up By: sassenach.girl - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 08:59

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 08:59
Hi Mark, Thanks for your thoughts, especially considering our two young girls. We are now considering a soft floor side flip as I agree the room is the biggest factor for us as the girls are so young ... and we want them sleeping near us at least for the short-term (ask me again in 10 years!!).

We have a local CT hire and sales place (Bayside Camper Trailers) so I think next is to hire one and see how we fair.
FollowupID: 679017

Reply By: sassenach.girl - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 09:00

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 09:00
Thank you everyone for replying. I was amazed at how quick the replies started coming in. This is a great forum :)
AnswerID: 409044

Reply By: Member - Duncs - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 10:59

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 10:59
Mine does both.

I have a Trak Shak which folds off the side and then out the back. My biggest problem in CV Parks is that they often want to put me on that little site that no one else will fit on. The TS needs about 8m x 5m for a comfortable set up.

The TS has a soft floor so I avoid the slabs and simply ask for a powered site, preferably with grass.

We have camped all over Oz. In the bush on the beach in CV Parks and in friends back yards. Have a good look at the site and work out what best suits the situation and never be afraid to go back to the office and ask for a different site.

AnswerID: 409067

Follow Up By: Member - Duncs - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 11:03

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 11:03
Oh forgot to mention that we did Fraser Island when my son was 5 months old.Flinders Ranges and the west coast when my youngest daughter was three.

Don't hide behind the kids, get out there and do it.

No offense intended, but my biggest regret is the excuses (some of them were really good) I came up with for not doing things.

FollowupID: 679028

Reply By: Member - Captain (WA) - Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 19:23

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 at 19:23
Hi Kylie,

Another option is the Camprite, its neither a side fold, rear fold or hard floor, but a bit of everything at once! And I reckon its the best Camper Trailer for a family. You have your kids inside on their own beds, you are off the ground, no pegs to put up (only when you put up the awning) and a very quick setup. As for concrete slabs at caavan parks, just set up on top of them :) Check out My Profile, plenty of pics of the Camprite there if you have never seen one before.


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