Light camper trailer search - Cavalier or..stick with tent?

Submitted: Tuesday, Apr 17, 2012 at 22:59
ThreadID: 94969 Views:2852 Replies:6 FollowUps:0
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We have two boys 2 & 5. We have a Subaru Outback that could just cope with 1300kg towing (auto 2.5Lt). At the moment it has no roof rack, roofpod or towball.

Hubby likes to surf so we need to extend the storage the car has even for long weekends away with all we have to lug. We own a Freedom Tourer tent which is lovely but heavy; so I think we will need a pod at least ...or otherwise a camper trailer. We need more holidays and I'd like the kids to experience camping. Now I'm a mum I need some home comforts but the budget doesn't stretch to a caravan. I could spend up to $9K on a CT (would love to spend just $5K) but I worry it might just sit there like the tent! We'd have to put it under a tarp in back yard as no room in garage.

Should we stick with the tent and get a roofrack/pod?

Freedom 1310 tent = Dimensions: W300cm x L 400cm x H 210cm x end height 150cm
Pack Size: 90cm x 90cm x 12cm (Flat and Square)
Pole Size: 120 x 20cm
Weight: 26kg + Poles 5.5kg

OR should we get a camper trailer? I have been looking at the Cavalier Rough Road w/ 14" tent. They are 400kg, and around $8-9K secondhand.

Are there any other brands of CT I should look at?
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Reply By: KevinE - Wednesday, Apr 18, 2012 at 07:57

Wednesday, Apr 18, 2012 at 07:57
Hi Mymble,

I guess everyone has different needs/expectations, we're a middle aged couple with no small kids, our situation is different to yours, so I'd rather not recommend whether you should or shouldn't buy a CT, BUT.......... I will give you our experience:

We were camping in a tent, but my wife had enough of sleeping in a bag on a blow up mattress & more or less said no more! The trade off for me was to buy a soft floor CT (it met our budget & off road requirements)

We've taken it out 3 times now...........

Downside: towing it increases traveling time/driver fatigue & it now takes an eternity to set up/breakdown our camp (seriously question the veracity of any statements made that people are doing this in "minutes" coz it ain't happening! The only way to set up a soft floor CT quickly is to only unfold the tent, not to erect your annexe or your fold up tables & the paraphernalia that sits on them) We put down those interlocking mats they sell at Bunnings etc under the tent floor to make it more comfy & keep the floor dry underneath. You will need to do something similar if your kids are going to sleep there. Another downside of the off road version is that there's a 5' drop off the mattress to the floor that we have negotiate using a ladder.

Upside: we now have lots more storage space than we'll ever need (4wd Ute with canopy + storage under mattress on CT + HUGE toolbox on CT) so we can take a lot more stuff (probably why it takes us so long to set up lol!) & sleeping on a inner spring mattress is a lot better than sleeping bags.

Hope that helps!


AnswerID: 483422

Reply By: Geobserver - Wednesday, Apr 18, 2012 at 08:37

Wednesday, Apr 18, 2012 at 08:37

We have a Camel camper trailer with a soft floor and have used it plenty of times over the past five years. Our three kids are now 10,12 and 15.

It has worked really well for us. The set up and pack up times vary depending on how long we stay somewhere. If just the one night, we don't bother with the annex and it does only take 15 minutes. However, if we are staying a few nights, it does take up to an hour to get everything set up including the annex. However, in the scheme of things and for the extra comfort you get, what is an hour in a 3+ day stay anyway? The extra comfort comes in the form of a very comfortable bed (albiet accessible by a small ladder) and plenty more room for the kids to sleep and to spread out if the weather turns ordinary.

Wet weather is a pain regardless of a trailer or tent. I have seen people throw a big tarp across the top to avoid packing up a soggy canvas. Best tip is to make sure you have a big sheet of plastic to cover the mattress when it is folded up.

The extra room for storage of gear provided by the trailer means we only have the fridge in the back of our station wagon along with a few other bits you might need during the drive itself. Everything else goes in the trailer. We use load equalising bars to stop the back end of the car sagging. Works wonders for the ride and handling as well... your car should handlle it fine.

We store ours camper trailer under a tarp in the backyard. Got one from Bunnings that does the job fine.

Good luck!
AnswerID: 483424

Reply By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Wednesday, Apr 18, 2012 at 08:46

Wednesday, Apr 18, 2012 at 08:46
Hi, Mymble, I think you will find a C/t to be a much more convenient way to travel
& camp. The storage space is immense. You should be able to keep the weight under 750Kg..brakes required if over..& the subie will handle it easily..expect
higher fuel use though. Set up time is short if you dont waste time with pegs, ropes
& so on. Will be longer if you add anexx etc. You can carry the kids beds made up
on top of the main bed & then chuck on floor...job done. You may need to rejig the
cover to do this but not expensive. Dont pay too much...plenty of good used ones
for around $5k...spend the rest on other stuff you need..cheers......oldbaz.
PS..why not hire one for a weekend & try it out..
AnswerID: 483426

Reply By: Ross M - Wednesday, Apr 18, 2012 at 13:03

Wednesday, Apr 18, 2012 at 13:03
G'day Mymble
Don't ever think your vehicle will be happy or safe if travelling with at or near the maximum load rating "claimed" by the manufacturer.
I have just commented on this in the post three or four above here.
Personally, towing about half or maybe 2/3rds of the max would be all I am prepared to load a vehicle with.
This amount will include the trailed vehicle and all the gear needed and be far safer than considering anything up near the max tow rating.
What you are looking at, if around 400kg plus the gear, you will have great success with, be easily manageable and still not knock the fuel use around too much.

If you tow on hot days the auto will get hotter than normal so it may need a cooler fitted to cool the auto transmission oil.
If the vehicle you tow is near the max rating, it would be silly to leave home without having a cooler fitted because you could cook the transmission and possible the engine as well.

Ross M
AnswerID: 483445

Reply By: Member - Chappy (WA) - Wednesday, Apr 18, 2012 at 14:40

Wednesday, Apr 18, 2012 at 14:40
Hi Mymble

We have had a Cavalier (9') off-road for 13 years...never given us any problems.
Travelled with 3 boys most of the time & although a little crowded has been very comfortable. The only thing i would question is if you need the 14' model. You may find some camping bays at NP's will not be big enough, also takes longer to pack up.

cheers David
AnswerID: 483454

Reply By: sweetwill - Wednesday, Apr 18, 2012 at 17:20

Wednesday, Apr 18, 2012 at 17:20
hello Mymble.
All good advice above all I can add is if buying second hand do look at the tent component set up, check all zips, fly screens, look for holes in the floor, when satisfied there then start looking at the trailer, is there rust on the underside "been in salt water"try to get gal if possible? most trailers aren't Evan primed when new so they start to rust within a couple of years, it is to easy to have a quick glance at a trailer in the drive, listen to the spiel of the owner then hand over your hard earned only to find when you unpack the thing it has holes or mold or the rust has eaten out the sides, let me tell you they are very costly to repair, Good luck cheers Bill.
AnswerID: 483472

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