On arrival at Patriot’s Molendinar HQ on the Gold Coast, we are met by Justin, Sarah, Tommy and Michael. There’s a bright blue Toy Hauler, with all the bells and whistles, hitched up behind a 76 series ’Cruiser out front. The place is buzzing. The Toy Hauler is the major prize from the latest series of Patriot Games and the winner is here this very morning to pick it up. No wonder the place is buzzing. It got me more than a little excited to be hitching up the new X1 behind the ute for a weekend testing.
Now, it had been some time without rain in South East Queensland, but on this particular weekend, the heavens had other ideas. We were heading for the Gold Coast Hinterland to a nice little property near Canungra to see just what the latest X1 had to offer. A little bit of rain wasn’t going to stop us!
They say first impressions count, and this is definitely so with the X1. The design and shape haven’t really changed all that much over the years, but that’s a good thing.
From that initial sketch in the sand on Stradbroke Island, the X1 of 2019 looks uncannily like the models that have gone before, with each model getting upgrades and improvements along the way. That Patriot Games TV show that I mentioned before isn’t just an excuse to escape the rat race, it’s where the team practise what they preach. It’s where they test out new designs and ideas. Where they find out what works, what doesn’t and what can be improved. And to be honest, there is no better, or tougher proving ground than the Aussie bush.
After a quick run through from Michael and Tommy on the ins and outs of the camper, we filled the water tanks, strapped down the gas bottle, made sure the fridge was cold and hitched it up to my ute. I don’t know whether it was good fortune or good management, but the Antarctic White X1 sure looked like it belonged behind my white Patrol.
BEHIND THE TOW TUG
Leaving the factory to disappear in the wing mirrors, it wasn’t long before we were out of suburbia, enjoying the rain on the windshield and the fresh smell of the bush. The twists and turns of the drive to our destination proved to be no problem for the little X1. My only problem was making sure that it was still connected to my vehicle. With a Tare of only 940kg, and an ATM of 1600kg, I could barely even notice the camper behind me up and over the hills. At only 1.85m wide, it was narrower than my canopy, so every time I went round a corner, a quick check of the mirrors was required to allay any fears of it being left behind for some lucky punter to find on the side of the road. While we’re on the subject of weights and measures, this compact camper is only 3.3m long and 1.75m tall, meaning it will quite easily fit in a standard garage. Just leave it in there all packed up and ready to go for that quick weekend escape. The compact dimensions of the X1 also put it in great stead when the bitumen gives way to the dirt, making for an extremely agile and nimble package offroad.
NUTS AND BOLTS
So what makes the X1 such a pleasure to drag into the bush?
Firstly, it comes down to the Tare weight of the unit at just 940kg, and 1600kg fully laden. That’s light by anyone’s standard. This low weight is achieved by clever design and continually challenging the status quo. Just replacing non-structural elements of the galvanised steel chassis with aluminium has reduced the overall Tare weight without compromising on strength. Match this with an aluminium monocoque shell and you’ve got yourself a lightweight masterpiece.
Then there are the diminutive dimensions, and last but not least, the suspension setup. As we have come to expect from Patriot, there’s not a lot of ‘off the shelf’ componentry that goes into making one of their campers. And that’s exactly how it is with the suspension of the X1. Designed exclusively for and in conjunction with the team at Cruisemaster, specifically for the low Tare weight camper, the fully independent X-Cruise suspension (with coil springs and twin shocks) keeps the X1 in contact with terra firma even over the most rutted of tracks. And if you want to make levelling the camper when in transit or at the campsite as easy as the flick of a switch, you can option up to airbag suspension.
Not content with what was available in aftermarket wheels, the X1 runs on satin black PCOR alloy rims, designed and developed by the team at Patriot. Federal Couragia 285/75R16 Mud Terrains are wrapped around them for that tough, offroad look and maximum traction in the rough stuff. Making sure the X1 stops when it is supposed to are 10” electric drum brakes. A nice little feature tucked up under the wheel arches on both sides of the chassis is a pair of powder coated plates with a couple of lines on them. What are these, I hear you ask? Well, they’re a guide to the optimal ride height of your camper. Very clever indeed.
There’s not much else hiding underneath the camper, apart from the two water tanks which are tucked up nice and high away from stray rocks. Up front on the drawbar, the standard in offroad hitches, the Cruisemaster DO35, takes care of camper staying attached to tow tug, while safety chains provide the back up. There’s a heavy-duty jockey wheel (with its own mount on top of the drawbar when not in use), HD hand brake, fresh water tap and an Anderson plug connection to charge those batteries up while in transit, also located up at the pointy end. If required, an optional 200mm draw bar extension can be fitted to your trailer in the event you have a tray back ute or rear mounted spare tyre.
Out the back, and fitted within a recessed rear bumper are the LED tail lights and indicators. There’s also a pair of recovery points if you find that going forwards is no longer the best option.
I would hazard a guess that if I asked 100 camper trailer users what their most sought after feature of a camper trailer was, an ‘easy set up’ would get the majority of votes. Who wants to be banging around for hours setting up when there’s fish to catch or a nice warm fire to sit around? Or maybe it’s 10pm and you’ve only just got in to camp and all you want to do is crawl into bed. Well, I’m here to tell you that you can set up the redesigned CS3 integrated tent on the X1 in less than 10 minutes. With a bit of practice, you’ll be setting personal best records every time you head off camping. The 270º awning from Supa Peg gives plenty of shade, or in our case, a nice dry spot out of the rain, and it only takes another couple of minutes to fully erect. The awning is attached to a pair of scissor arms with gas struts to assist in lifting it up from the travel position. There’s also a kid’s room (which can sleep three kiddies) that can be added to the main tent, along with extra canvas sails to further extend the undercover area.
Being that there was just the two of us (our fur babies sleep in the ute), we opted not to add the kids room or the extra sails, allowing us to kick back and enjoy a refreshing beverage in pretty quick time. The tent also has an integrated tropical roof for extra protection from the elements. I can personally vouch for the quality and water proofness of the Australian made Wax Converters canvas that makes up the Patriot tent. It rained pretty steadily for more than five hours that night without either of us having to endure an impromptu shower.
The other thing that we didn’t have to endure was an uncomfortable night’s sleep. As with pretty much everything else, Patriot have designed the mattress too. The gel-top, pocket spring mattress nearly got folded up and put in the back of my ute to take home! You gain access to your night time sanctuary by way of the redesigned folding bed and TentStep V2. Their original TentStep folding staircase revolutionised the way you got in and out of the elevated sleeping platform; now the V2 has been improved by adding lighter, moulded step treads with increased traction.
With everything set up, it was time to start opening the multitude of doors and hatches that fill every conceivable flat surface on each side of the trailer. Being only a small trailer, space is at a premium, so clever design and highly organised storage is key.
Starting with the nearside of the trailer there’s two main compartments. The longer one hinges from the bottom and when opened creates a fold-down bench and preparation area. Stainless steel wires hold the bench in position, and it’s these wires that caused me a little grief when using the X1. When I closed the doors, most of the time one, if not both, seemed to flick out at just the wrong moment and stick out from beneath the seal, causing me to have to open the door and try again. There’s probably a trick to it, and everyone else is laughing at me. Oh well, luckily I’ve got pretty thick skin!
Behind the drop-down table is the pantry space, with three pull-out drawers and a slide-out Bromic twin-burner gas stove and grill. The REDARC ‘The Manager30’ battery management system is also housed on the main electrical panel, along with a bank of switches which control the LED lights, water pump and fridge, among others. Conveniently, all of the storage compartments feature their own LED lighting, while an under awning mounted strip light provides ample lighting to the kitchen area. Completing the electrical panel, there’s a couple of USB points, a 12V cig socket, water tank gauge and 240V circuit breaker, all conveniently located in one central location.
Forward of the pantry, the fridge slide with telescopic slide-out kitchen bench and sink (with hot and cold water) is housed. The 60L EvaKool fridge takes pride of place on top, with cutlery and/or crockery storage underneath the bench. The L-shaped kitchen ensures that everything is within arm’s reach when it’s time to feed the hungry hordes.
Out the back of the trailer, after you swing the rear wheel carrier out of the way, you will find the largest storage compartment on the X1. Again, the large door folds down to create a large bench area, which is supported by those stainless steel wires. The lower section of the rear cavern, beneath a false floor, is taken up by a single drawer, divided into two sides. This can be further personalised by positioning the supplied dividers to suit your needs. A cleverly located high shelf keeps all of your poles in the one place and out of the way.
In both rear corners, hidden behind laser-cut panels, are storage hatches for your wet or dirty gear. Just don’t put anything in here that you wouldn’t want covered in bull dust.
The driver’s side storage compartments are a mirror of the passenger side. The rear compartment features a drop-down door, which when open provides another bench. When the tent is set up, this compartment can still be accessed via a zipper in the canvas, so makes an ideal spot to store your clothes or any additional bedding. The forward compartment, which can also be accessed when the tent is set up, houses the Smarttek gas hot-water system and a fixed shelf. If a chemical toilet is part of your camp kit, then this would be the place for it.
Last but not least, there’s the ‘man cave’. Well, at least that’s what the guys at Patriot call it.
Located up front, it’s another big storage box, with a gull wing door on gas struts for easy access. Inside there is the barbecue swing away, which suits the Weber Baby Q. There’s plenty of optional extras for the front box and these include a diesel heater and a utility shelf. If no options are selected, there’s heaps of room for a bag or two of firewood.
Either side of the big box, you’ve got space for a pair of 4.5kg gas bottles. To provide the X1 with even more protection offroad, the front has been coated with Rhino-lining to prevent stone chips.
IT’S A WRAP
So, the sixty-four million dollar question. Is the 2019 Patriot Campers X1 as good as those that have passed into history?
In my humble opinion, yes! Basically, if the X1 was an actor, it would be Chris Hemsworth: Aussie through and through, ruggedly handsome, tough in all the right places and well put together. However, off-stage, things have changed in the way Patriot offer the X1. From 2019, gone are all the bells and whistles that some customers don’t need on every model, and instead Patriot offer a lower-priced, lower-specced base model. But don’t think for a millisecond that you are getting a lower quality product. No way. What you are getting is one of the best camper trailers on the market, one that you can then customise to not only suit your needs, but also your budget. And that’s a win-win if you ask me.
Suspension X-Cruise coil suspension (fully independent with twin shocks and coil springs) by Cruisemaster
Brakes 10in HD electric drum brakes
Coupling Cruisemaster DO35
Chassis 3mm galvanised steel
Drawbar 3mm galvanised steel
Body 2.5mm powder coated aluminium
Wheel/tyre 285/75R16 Federal Couragia MT on 16in PCOR Alloy Rims 6-stud
Style Soft-floor camper
Box size 2400x1850mm
Length 3300mm (hitch to tail lights)
Water 155L (between two tanks)
Kitchen Twin burner gas stove and grill
Battery 2 x 135Ah gel batteries
PRICE AS TESTED
$49,306 (including QLD on-road costs)
Address 1 Activity Crescent, Molendinar QLD
Phone (07) 5597 0638