Suggestions needed on camper trailer options

Submitted: Sunday, Feb 26, 2012 at 09:42
ThreadID: 92107 Views:7044 Replies:11 FollowUps:11
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I need some help from my learned and esteemed travellers. I'm writing down my thoughts and hoping someone may put forward some suggestions as to what is on the market that may meet my needs.

I have tried tenting, I have tried a conventional camper trailer, I have tried caravanning and I have had some experience with a pop out camper (Jayco Hawke style) but I still don't feel I have found what works for me.

The plan for using the perfect rig is ultimately about using our long service leave to do the mighty lap including some out of the way places. I imagine this will involve stints of travelling day in day out (one night stops) as well as extended stays at certain points. Other than that, a rig that we can use comfortably for a week or two vacation to the beach in the Chrissy holidays, or a weekend here and there in the bush is what the general use would be.

So, from all my experience to date this is what I would like:
*3 berth (2 adults & 1x13yo teen) preferably without having to set up a stretcher bed
*Off road capable (towed by 2009 Pajero)
*Easy set up for overnight stays (nothing where the minimal set up involves tent poles, pegs and ropes)
*Roadside access to kitchen/fridge
*Internal kitchen option including adequate storage for cooking equipment
*3 way fridge
*Adequate storage for chairs, table, bbq etc
*Dual power options (240/12V)
*NO shower or toilet

I have previously loved the experience of touring in our camper trailer, but the downsides of one night stops included the set-up/pack-up times (especially in wind or rain), having to set up a stretcher bed for our child, and biggest of all for me - external kitchen only, which meant having to put up the annex roof in order to cook if the weather was bad (or sunny) which means, poles, ropes, pegs.

We bought a caravan to counter these problems (which it did wonderfully), but then had the problem of slow, heavy towing (it is an old van, but was bought as an 'experiment') and limitations of where we could go - even just pulling in to a supermarket during our travels was a challenge! My experience with a pop out camper is the slow set up pack up times getting the bed ends sorted, especially packing away wet canvas. On the up side, good storage and better towing are big drawcards.

I thought we had found the right solution in the Ultimate Camper but I just worry about the on board storage capacity, especially internally accessible storage. I have watched all the demo's and they do seem very quick to set up, but are they like that in real life? They are an expensive rig for what they are, yet from my research, there is little on the market that is similar, so you are paying for 'uniqueness' of the design.

What do people think? Is there something that exists to fulfil my dreams, or am I just dreaming??

All suggestions and feedback greatly appreciated.
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Reply By: Member - Rob D (NSW) - Sunday, Feb 26, 2012 at 10:54

Sunday, Feb 26, 2012 at 10:54
We have had an Ultimate for about 6 years now and just love it.
We can stop for quick over-nights without disconnecting the truck from the Ulti.
We towed it up the Canning Stock Route without any problems.
We have been away for 3 months at a time and find that there is plenty of room for storage.
The third person can sleep on the lounge which transforms into a bed, or else you can get an under-bed kids tent that attaches to the folded out bed of the Ulti.

The ability to cook internally out of the rain and insects is essential as my wife is allergic to sand-fly bites. You have shelter under the bed area if you have to cook outside in the rain.

Once you streamline the setting up and making the bed it becomes very simple and quick. I timed myself one day after reading negative comments on this forum from people who had no idea. It took me 3 minutes and 50 seconds to set up the canvas, make the bed and set up the lounge. This was after the trailer had been levelled.

If you buy a second hand Ulti, you will get close to the same amount back when you sell it in years time.

Good luck.
If you relax at a faster pace you can get more relaxation in for a given time.
Regards Rob

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Follow Up By: Member - Gordon T (NSW) - Sunday, Feb 26, 2012 at 12:04

Sunday, Feb 26, 2012 at 12:04
What you are asking is a matter of strong personal choice based around affordability, efficiency, towability and liveability. For me, after several years of research I came up with the Track Trailer TVAN Murranji … a very compact hard shell camper trailer with a hard tent floor – a good compromise between a tent camper-trailer & a small caravan but outstanding off-road to boot! It suited our style of travel and living – innerspring queen mattress, good kitchen, rain-proof living area – but it may not suit you or your needs. I looked at the Ultimate and found it too expensive, gave more than I needed and not as towable as others.
This research was done by visiting caravan and camping shows over several years and carrying out a detailed inspection against a long check-list of desirables. The outcome of this audit was then balanced with further reading (on sites such as this) and Google and talking with owners. The result was quiet different to our original perspective and concept – thankfully. There may even be an opportunity for you to hire some of the vans for a few days to check them out even further.
You live in NSW so take note of the upcoming shows with the main one being the Sydney Caravan & Camping Show at Rosehill April 21-29. This is also a great opportunity to structure a special show deal. The Maitland show follows a few weeks later with other shows being held at eastern Creek and Penrith later in the year. The journey to the point of purchase can be challenging but also exciting as you discover so many new options. Whatever you purchase, make sure it is a good quality, solid, Australian made product designed for Australian conditions.
Gordon.
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Follow Up By: Member - Gordon T (NSW) - Sunday, Feb 26, 2012 at 12:07

Sunday, Feb 26, 2012 at 12:07
Sorry folks - posted reply in the wrong hole !!!!
Gordon.
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Reply By: Member - Gordon T (NSW) - Sunday, Feb 26, 2012 at 12:05

Sunday, Feb 26, 2012 at 12:05
What you are asking is a matter of strong personal choice based around affordability, efficiency, towability and liveability. For me, after several years of research I came up with the Track Trailer TVAN Murranji … a very compact hard shell camper trailer with a hard tent floor – a good compromise between a tent camper-trailer & a small caravan but outstanding off-road to boot! It suited our style of travel and living – innerspring queen mattress, good kitchen, rain-proof living area – but it may not suit you or your needs. I looked at the Ultimate and found it too expensive, gave more than I needed and not as towable as others.
This research was done by visiting caravan and camping shows over several years and carrying out a detailed inspection against a long check-list of desirables. The outcome of this audit was then balanced with further reading (on sites such as this) and Google and talking with owners. The result was quiet different to our original perspective and concept – thankfully. There may even be an opportunity for you to hire some of the vans for a few days to check them out even further.
You live in NSW so take note of the upcoming shows with the main one being the Sydney Caravan & Camping Show at Rosehill April 21-29. This is also a great opportunity to structure a special show deal. The Maitland show follows a few weeks later with other shows being held at eastern Creek and Penrith later in the year. The journey to the point of purchase can be challenging but also exciting as you discover so many new options. Whatever you purchase, make sure it is a good quality, solid, Australian made product designed for Australian conditions.
Gordon.
AnswerID: 478695

Reply By: CB55 - Sunday, Feb 26, 2012 at 13:25

Sunday, Feb 26, 2012 at 13:25
G'day Woolgirl,
I'll vote for the Tvan. We have a 2010 TVan Canning. Great machine, but it may not suit you as it doesn't have internal cooking. Tvan also make an offroad caravan, called the topaz. If they are as good as a Tvan, they will go anywhere.
Regards
Chris
AnswerID: 478698

Reply By: Member - Greydemon (WA) - Sunday, Feb 26, 2012 at 14:00

Sunday, Feb 26, 2012 at 14:00
Sorry Woolygirl can't help you.

What is more, nor can most of the others who have replied.

Everyone .... it doesn't help Woolygirl to get replies along the lines of ..." I really love my 'xxxxx' camper - but it won't suit you." She just wants to hear about campers which WILL suit her.

Greydemon
rather grumpy today 8-)
AnswerID: 478702

Follow Up By: woolygirl - Sunday, Feb 26, 2012 at 17:02

Sunday, Feb 26, 2012 at 17:02
I understand the passion with which people defend their choice of camper, and the desire to have others see it in the same light as themselves!

You are right Greydemon - I don't just want to hear what other people love about their campers - I need some advice about what options to investigate further. A google search for "off road camper with internal kitchen" does not yield many relevant results, so I am keen to hear from real users about their experience. Having said that, if there is something you really love about your particular type of camper, beyond the standard sales pitch, please tell me!

I have done some looking at the caravan and camping shows in the past years, but I don't want the sales-person pitch. I want some honest opinions about what the equipment is capable of and how practical it is.

I am yet to be convinced that what I would like actually exists!
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Reply By: Member - Captain (WA) - Sunday, Feb 26, 2012 at 14:55

Sunday, Feb 26, 2012 at 14:55
Have a look at the AORC Eclipse. It has every feature you ask for, except it has a 12v fridge instead of gas. But as it has solar power, it is self suffient (can always top up the battery from the tow vehicle if you have a week of wet and cloudy weather).

While I have the Quantum, that has the shower/toilet that you don't want. The Eclipse is a slightly smaller verision and comes with awning (optional rollout - no pegs) and has the outside kitchen. It has a bunk bed above the main bed and is always setup. I have the bunk bed and table bed for my 2 kids in the Quantum and the Eclipse is a very similair thing. There is a heap of storage, you would be taking too much if you filled it all up!

I too have had camper trailers, carvans and knew what I wanted, very similair to you but SWMBO wanted the shower/toilet.

Cheers

Captain
Its not what you drive, but how you drive it!
LC 200 + AOR Quantum

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Reply By: Dadonbike - Sunday, Feb 26, 2012 at 17:02

Sunday, Feb 26, 2012 at 17:02
You have many choices. Heres one that we use that ticks all your boxes. Cameron Concept Camper. I only take the time to suggest it because you liked the camper design most but maybe you hadn't seen/heard of this design. If your considering an ultimate, then this is well with your budget. See comments below against your wish list.

*3 berth (2 adults & 1x13yo teen) preferably without having to set up a stretcher bed
We sleep 2up and 2 down on floor comfortably. Our kids are 8 & 9 and simply sleep on single mattresses stored on the main bed when travelling. Im 6ft 3 and can sleep north south east or west on top bed. Theres also an option to add a Cidz room if needed.

*Off road capable (towed by 2009 Pajero)
These rigs are built tough. Check out the "trips and adventures" page on their website to see where customers have taken them. http://www.cameroncampers.com.au/adventures-camper-trailer/

*Easy set up for overnight stays (nothing where the minimal set up involves tent poles, pegs and ropes)
We just spent 3 weeks in central australia and never used a peg or guy rope. This camper is a unique design, gas struted and self supporting. But best of all the framed dust cover lifts off to form the roof over the kitchen. We setup 19 times in those three weeks, and in the end it was about three minutes. Hardly an issue really. If you want to stay put for a while, which we also do for xmas, then yes up goes the annex, but again - without any guy ropes, just pegs and minimal poles. Setup video by child

*Roadside access to kitchen/fridge
Slide out kitchen is quick and easy. Beside it is a large storage box with pantry, fridge and other gear.

*Internal kitchen option including adequate storage for cooking equipment
Sorry, its an external kitchen but the framed dust cover can be used as the kitchen roof for short stays.

*3 way fridge
We carry 12 volt and 3way for xmas holidays. But for an extended road trip you'll really need to be using 12volt.

*Adequate storage for chairs, table, bbq etc
Yep, they all go on top of camper beneath framed cover. Stack as little of much as you want. At xmas we load up table, chairs 8, lounge chairs 2, boogie boards 2, annex, matting etc no problems.

*Dual power options (240/12V)
Yes.

*NO shower or toilet
We put a portable toilet in the front toolbox. Would never travel without it.

Anyway. I hope this helps a little. So many experts, so many options, become your own expert. Enjoy the trip.

Lloyd
AnswerID: 478726

Follow Up By: Dadonbike - Sunday, Feb 26, 2012 at 17:05

Sunday, Feb 26, 2012 at 17:05
And these pics give a quik overview of out setup http://www.cameroncampers.com.au/trip-in-our-cameron-melbourne-to-central-australia/
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Reply By: Member - rosschris - Sunday, Feb 26, 2012 at 21:08

Sunday, Feb 26, 2012 at 21:08
hi woolygirl

we were at the newcastle caravan and camping show last week and we came across a camper trailer that we had never seen before...slept 3 and started at about $21,000 and another around $27,000 show price.. it was a hard floor camper with good storage and the hard floor was all at the same level... not bed on one level and then a step down.. you climbed a coulple of stairs to get into the camper and there was a queen size bed and a settee that transformed into a single bed... very unique and impressive....we have been trying to remember the name of the camper for you and after looking on the internet i came across modcon campers... but their website showed dearer campers than we saw ...so maybe if your interested a phone call might confirm that they have bought out a couple of new models that are cheaper and maybe better designed ...we own a hard floor camper which was made by a private person who made 4 off road campers who is now retired. but we were verry impressed with the way this one was set up with plenty of storage at the front and all on one level was very easy in the demo and was very quick and easy......we are at the point in life... when what we've got will do... till we retire and we get the small off road caravan ...so we can still get into all the places we like to stick our head down without to much worry...good luck and hope ou find a good trade off to suit your needs. chris and ross..
AnswerID: 478772

Reply By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Monday, Feb 27, 2012 at 10:53

Monday, Feb 27, 2012 at 10:53
Not sure of your budget.... but look at a WedgeTail Camper.

Can be either trayback or mounted on a trailer. Works as an internal or external kitchen. Easy to set up and rear could be used as a third sleeping option.

my 2c worth.
AnswerID: 478813

Reply By: Member - IdahOz - Monday, Feb 27, 2012 at 17:47

Monday, Feb 27, 2012 at 17:47
We went thru a very similar process to the one you are going thru. I researched all the camper trailers and found things I did and didn't like on all of them. Our solution may work for you if you are handy or know someone who can help.

While I loved my oztent, the main things I wanted in a trailer were; a bed off the ground, easy access to useful kitchen, room for us and our 4 kids.

Adventure camper had the kitchen access and the beds off the ground, but out of our budget and still not room for all of us.

My husband built a simple box out of marine ply on top of a 7' x 4' trailer. The box is about 2 feet high and is divided down the middle lengthways. One side opens and is our kitchen. We installed an awning above it. The other side is our huge storage area and also serves as sleeping quarters for our only son who wanted an area away from his sisters.

On top of the box we mounted a roof top tent where our 3 girls sleep. It opens out over the storage side of the box and serves as the 'roof' for our sons bed and the awning around the roof top tent makes his walls and a handy changing area etc.

Under the 'box' in the body of the trailer is our double swag which pulls out on a plywood bed and rests on the end of the trailer and two adjustable legs. An awning on the back of the 'box' provides extra cover if needed but most times we sleep 'under the stars' with the swag's mozzy screen up and at regular bed height off the ground.

So, to have a meal along the road, pull up and open the kitchen door (it opens downward and held in place by chains it becomes the kitchen bench) everything we need is right there in easy reach (food, stove, etc). Takes 5 seconds or so.
If you also need shade, undo and set up the awning, takes a couple more minutes.

To set up to sleep; open the roof top tent (about a 5 minute job), open the 'storage area' remove the plastic bins to reveal bed number two (about 2 minutes) we leave the awning on the roof top tent when we put it away so the sides just drop into place. Stack plastic bins under shelter of awning as you remove them. Pull out swag bed (about one minute) and you are all set.

If you want to open all the awnings and zip on all the side panels it would take an extra 15 to 30 minutes probably.

We have a smaller box built on the draw bar. It opens on the kitchen side to reveal the esky which slides out and rests on the door which is held in place by chains, so it is handy to the kitchen and under the protection of the kitchen awning. On the other side of hte smaller box is more storage.

We have been using this home made set up for well over a year and on many camping trips including 10 days on the Holland Track Christmas 2010. It works wonderfully well for us. I only wish I was ambitious enough to patent the design and convince hubby into going into production!!!
AnswerID: 478851

Follow Up By: woolygirl - Monday, Feb 27, 2012 at 18:04

Monday, Feb 27, 2012 at 18:04
Wow IdahOz - I would love to see some pics!
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Reply By: Mudguard - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 11:37

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 11:37
Hi Woolygirl
We,ve travelled a lot in 40yrs, and been thru the same trauma unfortunetly every trip is a compromise and every unit has its shortcomings ( like WET canvas) thats why we have all 3, OZ tent RV4, campertrailer ( made it my self ) 17ft caravan, we plan our trips according to what unit/holiday we take
but that requires a big shed!

AnswerID: 478901

Follow Up By: woolygirl - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 17:03

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 17:03
Yep Mudguard, we currently have camper trailer & caravan as well as a heck of a lot of gear for alpine camping/hiking, so I understand what you are saying! It's a lot of money to have invested in 'sometimes' toys, which is why I am looking for the best one-size-fits-all type of solution.
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Reply By: Shaker - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 11:56

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 11:56
Did you want to spend $8000.00 or $80,000.00 ?
AnswerID: 478902

Follow Up By: woolygirl - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 16:59

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 16:59
Good question Shaker - we are seriously considering an Ultimate, but I have to say 40K would definitely be my limit at this stage in my life (ie: still working full time so not able to just take off for long periods at a time).Hubby would probably go to 45K for the right solution. I am well aware that we would be lucky to get a good Ulti setup for that money.
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Follow Up By: Member - Rob D (NSW) - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 18:55

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 18:55
Hi Woolygirl,

We paid $31K for out Ulti 6 years ago, they have gone up in price since then.

My friend picked up a 2009 Ulti (Odessy I think, not an Xtra) with the Gull Wing Doors in excellent condition for $38K about 3 weeks ago. He had a Tvan before this.

The only thing I have changed on my Ulti is that I got rid of the 3 way fridge and replaced it with a compressor fridge.

I would be amazed if you did not love your Ulti if you purchased one. A pre-loved one will give you the best value for money, and you will almost certainly get most of your money back.

Send me a PM if you want to discuss further.

If you relax at a faster pace you can get more relaxation in for a given time.
Regards Rob

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Follow Up By: southcoastie - Wednesday, Feb 29, 2012 at 16:31

Wednesday, Feb 29, 2012 at 16:31
Hi Woolygirl,
If you're interested, we are about to put our Ultimate Camper up for sale. We live on the south coast of NSW and the price would appear to be within the amount you are prepared to spend. I can give you more details if you would like any further information.
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Follow Up By: woolygirl - Wednesday, Feb 29, 2012 at 18:12

Wednesday, Feb 29, 2012 at 18:12
Very interested indeed southcoastie. PM me?
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Follow Up By: woolygirl - Wednesday, Feb 29, 2012 at 20:22

Wednesday, Feb 29, 2012 at 20:22
southcoastie - i just realised that only members can send messages, however I'm interested in your Ulti. Can you email me on patjes@bigpond.com?
Thanks.
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