We’d never really dreamt you could sleep seven in a 13 foot hybrid until our judges reviewed the Swag Raptor X13 Explorer on the Gold Coast. With a diverse array of permanent sleeping fixtures, a whopping capacity for off-grid resources, and a fold-out end to expand living space, this is a family camper to reckon with. This finalist was recognised with the subsidiary award of 'Most Family-Friendly' for its unique family lay-out.
TIM VAN DUYL
For couples and young families looking for ease-of-use, the bones of the Swag impress. With Aus-spec steel used in the chassis with an alloy frame that is insulated and clad with an Alupanel-like outer, it is built well.
At 13-feet, its small footprint makes it easy to tow and park, and with the roof down, it isn’t too tall at around 2.3m. You will be able to tow your Raptor X13 most places in Australia, though you will need a mid-size SUV or ute with around 3000kg tow capacity to not strain the tow tug too much. Once at camp, basic set-up might take six to ten minutes, with the rear-extension being the only real consuming process, as our X13 came with a quality Fiamma F45S awning.
The kitchen is laid out with the fridge slide and cooktop spilt either side of the door which allows for good space between the two most used areas at camp and there’s oodles of storage accessible from the outside.
It comes with great power (300 amp hours) and good water capacities (200 litres), so offers the ability to stay remote, though with the allure of the fitted AC, you might want to seek out powered campsites during the hotter months.
The generator seen in some of the pictures is not part of the asking price which is still only $39,990 (without fridge). You’ll be hard-pressed to find a cheaper pop-top with the same level of inclusions. Take the warranty (five-year structural, three years on the vinyl, and two on the Monroe shocks and fridge) and it’s a good offering for anyone with a young family or a couple either stepping down from a big van or sick of the slow set-up times of folding campers.
For a family, the bunks will offer a comfortable spot for kids right up to their teenage years, thanks to the coil-sprung mattresses. As for toddlers and small ones, the foot of the main bed converts to a sizable area.
Swag have been around for 11 years, importing for around eight of those. The X13 represents one of the most popular sizes and, with the Raptor and its more offroad focus, one of the best sellers in the size range. As with a lot of hybrids, an X-Factor is a quick set up and the large storage volume this style of camper affords, but with the Swag it’s also the focus on the internal living room, that is essentially all potential sleeping spots, and is capable of handling up to six easily.
If you’ve got a gaggle of kids and are looking for a competitively priced camper that will get you comfortably into the outdoors, the Swag Raptor X13 Explorer warrants a close look. This 13 foot camper extends to 16 foot when deployed and is uniquely configured like a mobile dormitory.
Sleeping spaces include a queen sized bed with a ‘plus one’ at the end. If not used for sleeping, this ‘plus one’ mattress extends the width of the queen so that it could comfortably accommodate an extra-tall adult. Two additional bunks are affixed to the camper’s side walls and the internal lounge is also convertible to a bed. A further optional bunk can be fitted on the camper’s front panel wall if needed.
The cost of so much bed space is a lack of internal storage. So some bedtime comforts may need to be stowed in the camper’s massive external tunnel boot storage compartment, or in the tow tug. Alternatively, given the bunks remain set up during towing, if one was unused, removal of a mattress could generate handy internal stacking space.
Outside, the kitchen is functional. Given that the camper is pitched towards bigger families, it would have been nice to see more preparation surfaces or an island bench extension. The stove is of a domestic quality and the kitchen slide is relatively low weight bearing at 60kg. Nevertheless, the basics are there, including spacious shelter under a high quality Italian Fiamma F45S awning.
Usefully, the Swag Raptor Explorer offers a shower room at the hot water point on the far side of the camper. The gas strut-assisted spare tyre holder at the camper’s rear allows the tyres to be easily lowered out of the way during set-up. The rear fold-out bed extension is easy to unfurl with the help of a few clips that secure the side panels and the roof.
While the Swag Raptor Explorer won’t knock you over with innovations and high spec inclusions, it is competitively priced and offers the freedom for large families to travel comfortably, with all members of the crew catered for. This camper holds the potential to get the next generation of little travellers into this Great Brown Land and making memories that will last a lifetime.
The Swag Raptor X13 Explorer is a 13ft hybrid aimed squarely at families, and hits that target by combining a swag (pardon the pun!) of sleeping space and storage inside with a whole bunch of hybrid camper features. It has the potential to tap into that market for people who want to get their kids off the grid and show them what the outback is really like. If you have two or more kids you would, at a bare minimum, want to be looking at this camper.
Swag’s Raptor X13 Explorer has the basic requirements of a self-sufficient camper that would see a couple or family safely through the toughest of the outback. With 300 watts of solar on the roof and three 100 amp hours of AGM storage inside above the axle line, the fundamentals of electrical independence are there. The particular set-up we saw was limited by the undersized 16 amp Projecta charger, the 8mm cabling to the Anderson plug and the lack of an MPPT regulator on the solar. These issues were largely curable by optional upgrades. There was a 240V circuit with two outlets inside.
Water was carried in two 85 litre tanks and a 35 litre tank. All were independently plumbed and well shielded, except for the smaller 35L tank which had a plastic end face aligned with the chassis centerline. In theory this makes it susceptible to being staked on a bush track, but many hybrids do follow this configuration and Swag report having encountered no dramas.
The drawbar had two 4.5kg gas rings and two jerry can holders, either side of a checkerplate aluminium box suitable for a 2kVA generator.
While not uncommon, the 1,880kg Tare/2,600kg ATM Swag Raptor X13 Explorer was a hefty load to tow around, compared to lighter campers. That said it had the lightest ATM of all hybrids present. However, it behaved with perfect aplomb in all circumstances. The dual shock trailing arm suspension is refitted locally with Monroe shocks, local springs and three tonne-rated bearings, and an Ark offroad hitch was installed on the pointy end of the hot dip galvanised 150 x 50 x 4mm drawbar. The empty ball weight of 135kg is acceptable for such a large camper.
The camper had rock sliders along both sides (which, while offering protection, resulted in some limitation of ground clearance), dual four tonne-rated recovery points at the rear, and the same track as a Ford Ranger (1560mm) so that travelling over soft ground should not be a problem for most.
The base frame and chassis of the Swag Raptor X13 Explorer are similar to many on the market that are made in China, but that’s where most of the similarities stop. Once brought into Australia, the generic twin shocks are replaced with Monroes. There’s also a Fiamma awning fitted standard which lifts the game over many others in quality. I particularly liked the sound-deadening checkerplate on external hatches.
Swag also achieves effective weight distribution, something you don’t see in all campers. Firstly, the batteries are centrally located over the axle. Similarly, the three water tanks (yes, I said ‘three’) are well placed, with one centrally in-line with the axle and the other two evenly distributed forward and aft. The Swag Raptor X13 Explorer is also uniquely designed to sleep seven people; smaller families may wish to use the extra bunk space for storage. That said, the X13 comes standard with plenty of storage without any such modification being necessary. These include the forward 650 litre compartment, as well as more space under the main bed and within the toolbox slide on the driver’s side. Oh, and did I mention the Dometic Reverse Cycle Air-Conditioner? That’ll help get all those kids to sleep in the Tropics!
Despite these ‘hits’ on quality build and finish, there are some ‘misses’ too. It was a pity to see the domestic-style cooktop rather than a quality RV product. While the cooker looks ready to feed the hungry hoards, the heavy stove-rings look like they’re waiting to shake the life out of the cooktop when someone packs it away improperly. Further, I wouldn’t mind seeing a second clasp added to the rear bed extension to ensure the compartment remains securely closed and air-tight. As with many campers, the Swag X13 comes fitted with mud tyres as standard. Depending on what tyres your 4WD has, this may be over the top; you may want to consider having the Swag team match their tyres to your tow tug’s instead.
Swag Campers are an Australian family-owned and operated business that have taken a Chinese frame and had their designers and engineers modify and enhance features, fittings and functions. Swag also supply a two-month post-purchase check-up and a $215 annual service for peace of mind. With its family-focussed touches, the X13 has versatility, capability and market appeal.
Overall, the Swag X13 is a pop-top rear slide which towed well over the CTOTY test track, is simple to operate, and is suitable for all Australian families, big or small. The market difference is that the Swag X13 is configured to get large families into the outdoors — in numbers that are rarely catered for. For smaller travel groups, there are options to customise the Swag X13 to meet your individual needs. This Swag hybrid has a level of robust redundancy that will get family groups ‘there and back’ — via the Outback.
Payload 720kg (calculated)
Ball weight 135kg
Suspension Independent coil spring with dual Monroe shocks
Brakes 12” electric drum
Coupling ARK 360 Offroad Hitch
Chassis/drawbar 150x50x4mm hot dip galvanised
Body Fully welded aluminium frame with insulation and aluminium composite sheet walls
Cladding Aluminium composite sheeting
Wheels/tyres Six-stud LT265/75R16 wheels, Goodride Radial M/T
Style Pop-top hybrid
Travel size 5.7m (L) x 2.05m (W) x 2.35m (H, closed, or 2.55m with air-con)
Body length 13ft closed
Interior 1.9m x 4.1m when open
Awning size 4.5m x 2.8m (oversized) or 3.5m x 2.7m (fitted)
Gas 2 x 4.5kg bottles plumbed
Water 205L (two 85L tanks and one 35L tank), with Truma HWS and SEAFLO pump to external showerhead and sink tap, 2 x 20L jerry cans
Kitchen Fully plumbed stainless steel kitchen slide-out with four-burner and windguards, sink with hot/cold tap, extension bench
Battery Three 100Ah batteries, Projecta Pro-Charge charger, 1000W Pass Power inverter (optional)
Solar 300W across three roof-mounted panels, with PWM solar charge controller
Air-con Dometic Fresh Jet 200 (Optional)
PRICE AS SEEN
CAMPER STAR RATINGS
|David Cook||Tim van Duyl||Kath Heiman||Scott Heiman|
|1. Fit for Intended Purpose||6||7||7||7|
|4. Quality of finish||5||5||7||7.5|
|5. Build quality||6||6||6.5||6|
|8. Ease of use||5||7||5.5||5.5|
|9. Value for money||6||6||7||6|
Swag Camper Trailers
Address 7 Collinsvale St, Rocklea QLD 4106
Phone 1800 SWAG CAMPERS (792 422)