Manufacturers have changed how they market their campers over the past couple of years. We’ve seen the side-fold soft-floor fall from favour, the forward-fold explode in popularity, the hybrid increasingly accepted, and the evolution of smaller, more agile campers with rapid set-up and pack-down. Dropping straight into that latter category is the Conqueror UEV-310 V2.
Conqueror rode to fame in Australia on the back of their larger UEV models, at a time when they were among the few hybrid-style campers on the market. But in recent years, they’ve expanded their range to include smaller campers. The smallest of these is the UEV-310, which has just been re-released as the V2. It’s worth pointing out that the UEV-310 V2 is also marketed as the Lightning, for its extremely fast set-up time.
Quite literally, the rooftop-type tent takes just 50 seconds to unclip, raise to full height on its powered hoists and make accessible via placement of the access ladder. The awning — a batwing-style swing-around unit — takes just another 30 seconds.
Images by Brett Hemmings.
Other than that it’s your decision as to whether or not you want to put the rear stabilisers down, or swing out the arm that carries the spare on the rear so you can access the rear storage, or whether you want to pull out the fridge or open the kitchen. These extra steps will make the whole set-up process take about two minutes on average — unless you’re also putting out a ground cover, or chairs, or walls on the awning.
In anyone’s language that is fast: like lightning.
FLASHES OF UNIQUE CONSTRUCTION
The basic camper itself seems to be functional in spite of a few unusual features. The C-section (open along one side) 55 x 100mm drawbar, like the chassis, is hot dip galvanised but would tend to accumulate stones and dirt on outback tracks and would require the occasional clean-out.
With a hitch to tail light length of just 3297mm, this camper requires only a small footprint, and with its good ground clearance it would be capable of going just about anywhere. The Tare of 880kg is also pretty good in this day where some forward-folds run close to a tonne over that, and with a load capacity of 520kg sitting on bearings and axles rated at 2000kg there is plenty of margin for error in the underpinnings.
The body is constructed from a series of separate panels which are riveted together so that the camper is both strong and repairable. There is no degradable material used, so it has a potentially long future life, and the exterior is finished in powdercoat in the usual Conqueror colour scheme of camo khaki.
Underneath there’s a fairly unique (for a camper trailer) torsion bar suspension, which is adjustable at home for ride quality, but the system is let down a little by the use of mechanical override brakes. These are certainly functional but in an offroad environment are not as appropriate as electrical or hydraulic stoppers. The saving grace is that you don’t have to buy and install a brake controller.
RUBBER ON THE GROUND
The tyres are 245/70R16 all terrains on satin black alloy rims.
The hitch is an AL-KO offroad ball coupling with an empty ball weight around 100kg. But you can get an optional extended nose cone which adds 300mm to the drawbar length and allows the potential of bolting on pretty much any coupling which takes your fancy.
The front of the camper also mounts a single 4kg gas bottle but a second can be added. There is no stoneguard but there is propeller plate aluminium on the leading faces and edges of the front box and nearby panels.
This does not continue down the angled sides of the box and would, we think, ultimately lead to stone damage to the powdercoat along those surfaces; and the vertical alloy plate could, if you were unlucky, ricochet a stone onto a rear window.
The jockey wheel is removable, but also vertically retractable so that it can stay in place while travelling without you having to find a place to store it.
RUMBLING INTO CAMP
The bodywork in front of the axle features a large fridge slide (which can come with either a SnoMaster 66L fridge/freezer or a National Luna 90L fridge/freezer, or you can supply your own) connected to a 50A Anderson plug.
Behind that is a simple fold-down panel which accesses the kitchen, which is essentially a two-burner Coleman stove that sits on the panel and will run on a butane cylinder or your gas bottle, which you’ll have to remove from the front and transport to the back corner of the camper. Of course, if you do so, you’ll be disconnecting gas from the hot water system, which mounts at the front — thus a second gas bottle would be a real asset.
The wet sector of the kitchen consists of two plastic tubs which mount on a fold-up arm on the side of the front box. These are adjacent to outlets for hot and cold water, plus there is a gravity fed tap beneath the front box. The water pump is a 10L/min unit mounted in the front box to feed either the sink or the shower.
The water tank capacity is 90 litres and there are two jerry can holders (plus jerry cans) for either side of the camper behind the front box.
To provide the heat there is a Joolca instant gas unit which hangs off the driver’s side of the front box and feeds water to a supplied shower cubicle which stands near the front.
The ergonomics of the kitchen area are a little messy, with the fridge protruding across the middle, but at least the limited amount of space available for dishing up, food preparation or buttering a slice of toast is tempered by a supplied fold-up table. However, the sink area is not sheltered by the awning, making wet weather meals uncomfortable.
Cooking is assisted by a supplied anodized barbecue grill which travels over the spare wheel, though the stretched occy cord retaining system would worry me; I could see it wearing through and breaking on rough tracks.
Like all Conqueror campers the UEV-310 can come with an optional set of plates, cups and cutlery for six in a moveable canvas carry-all — more than you need for two, but good if you plan on entertaining guests.
That front sink area can be modified by the addition of an optional stainless steel shelf to support a Weber Baby Q-type barbecue for additional cooking options. You will have to supply your own barbecue.
Electrically the camper comes with a single 105Ah AGM battery that’s mounted in a battery box in the front box. There is an option to add a second.
Current comes from a drawbar Anderson plug wired by 6B&S cable, to a battery management system with a 40A mains charger, solar regulator and a standard 12 volt charger. An Enerdrive DC-DC charger is optional.
You can fit up an optional 150W solar panel to the tent top and have an Anderson plug input to feed other solar sources to the battery(s). You even get a 15A extension lead to plug into mains power.
Scattered around the camper are four cigarette plug sockets, a dual USB socket and a single Merit socket.
TIME TO PUT THE LIGHTS OUT
The sleeping arrangements are, as stated, contained in the rooftopper-type hard roof tent. This erects in just 30 seconds electrically, and has automatically extending awnings that extend out all around. It includes a queen sized 100mm HD foam mattress, with two internal fans and a central light, plus a single pocket for small items (glasses, phones, torch, and so on).
Access is via an alloy extendable ladder which travels in the tent box and is both secured with a cam-lock at the top and a turnbuckle hook to the guard at the mid-point. For those a bit wary of rooftoppers it has to be said that this one isn’t too high at 1800mm above ground and the access doorway is reasonable, though as it’s on the side it might mean potentially climbing across whoever is sleeping nearest the door, and in wet weather it will mean exiting into the rain.
On the back of the tent is an LED spot light to assist in reversing at night or in setting up in the dark. Our test trailer was also equipped with an optional 19in TV that mounted on a swing arm inside the rear lift-up door, allowing you to sit out under the awning and enjoy your local footy match.
The tent on the UEV-310 V2 has been lifted clear of the roof and is mounted on roof racks which give a clear 270mm space beneath to carry firewood, fishing rods, a couple of kayaks or anything else that’s too big to go inside the camper or tow vehicle.
CARRYING ACROSS THE PLAIN
Storage is extensive. Behind the rear swing-away arm is a gas strut-assisted rear door that tilts up to give access to a large rear bay where you get a storage rack and four Wolf Pack storage boxes, each 480 x 390 x 220mm deep.
Above and behind these is a large open space where you could carry just about anything else that you’re ever likely to need to go camping. The only issue we have with this much space is that it does encourage you to carry too much, and things at the bottom can be difficult to access with stuff on top.
The storage space is accessed from either side through fold-down doors. There is also a doorway on the driver’s side behind the fridge which, like its opposite doorway, has a series of canvas pockets on the inside.
At the back are two of Conqueror’s stabilisers, which they refer to as support legs. These are quick and easy to use but have limited capacity to level the camper if on uneven ground.
STAYING OUT OF THE STORM
The Australian-made 30 second batwing-style awning is sturdy and certainly very quick. It comes with one built-in pole to assist in windy weather, though it might require two more if the weather is really bad. Walls are available as options, and as rain rarely falls vertically certainly some would be highly recommended. You’ll certainly need some for privacy when changing if you wish to avoid the awkwardness of changing in the rooftop tent or a wet shower tent. As stated, it does not cover the wet area of the kitchen, nor the end of the fridge when extended.
External lighting under and around the awning is possible via optional LED light strips.
The UEV-310 can also be ordered without a tent and with roof basket and rack options that might extend its usefulness for some who prefer to sleep in, say, a swag.
The Conqueror UEV-310 V2 Lightning fits that market for the small, offroad, high-riding ‘adventure camper’. It has good ground clearance, is sturdily built and offers the basics of what you need to go deep into the outback or the bush with comfort at a price well below some of its opposition.
There are, however, a few cautions. It does come in a fairly basic form, with a longish list of options (second battery, second gas bottle, rooftop solar, DC-DC charger, etc.) to bring it up to the standard of the ‘more expensive opposition’. Additionally, the quality of finish, while okay, lacks the engineering finesse seen on some. The camper also lacks shelter over certain facilities and lacks a good place to change clothes in privacy.
These things aside, the speed and simplicity of set-up and pack-up will please many, especially those who like to move on frequently and not set up and remain in the one place for long periods, and the storage capacity belies the small physical size and light weight of the overall package.
The UEV-310 V2 Lightning, priced at $29,990 and with a number of options on board, has much to recommend it.
Payload 520kg (calculated)
Ball weight 100kg (unladen)
Suspension Torsion bar independent
Brakes AL-KO mechanical override
Coupling AL-KO offroad ball
Chassis/drawbar 55 x 100mm hot dip galvanised
Body Electro galvanised steel
Wheels 16in. alloys
Tyres 245/70R16 all terrains
Style Rooftop soft-floor
Body size 1530 x 2795mm
Tent floor size 2094 x 1530mm
Gas cylinders 1 x 4kg
Cooktop Two-burner Coleman
Kitchen Side fold-down
Battery 1 x 105Ah AGM
Options fitted SnoMaster fridge, TV, stainless steel barbecue shelf, rooftop solar, cutlery/crockery pack
PRICE AS TESTED
- Electric tent
- Speed of set-up
- Sturdy awning
- Storage capacity
- Light weight
- Needs front stone guard
- Lots of optional extras add to price
- Rooftop tent and ladder may deter some
- Tent access is unsheltered
CAMPER STAR RATINGS
Fit for intended purpose — 8
Innovation — 7
Self-sufficiency — 7
Quality of finish — 7
Build quality — 6
Offroadability — 8
Comforts — 5.5
Ease of use — 9
Value for money — 8
X-Factor — 7
Address Unit 12, 2316 Pacific Hwy, Heatherbrae, NSW 2324
Phone (02) 4912 9256