With rain clouds threatening and humidity levels approaching 100 per cent, we found ourselves a lovely spot to set up for the day, right beside a beautiful freshwater section of the upper reaches of the Brisbane River.
In tow was the latest generation Stoney Creek Forward Fold Camper. Nothing gets a campsite set up or packed down quite so quickly as when there are ominous clouds overhead.
With the approaching rain as motivation and the fact that the crew from Stoney Creek were due to have a couple of well-earned days off over the Christmas break, we didn’t want to leave the camper packed away wet. So, a decision was made to get the setup shots out of the way as quickly as possible before packing it all down and moving onto the action shots.
Unfortunately, we weren’t quite quick enough and, just like it is when you are due to head home and that five-minute rain shower strikes on pack-up morning, the heavens opened at the most inopportune time. The boys knew that they now had more work to do once they got back to the factory!
SUPER SIMPLE SETUP
Our chosen spot down on the river rocks was ideal, except for a decent downwards trend of the bank down towards the water. With the help of a levelling ramp and the spirit level, the lads from Stoney Creek had it sorted in no time. It was sort of like they had done it before... The rear left wheel was then chocked before the handbrake applied and the AL-KO jockey wheel snapped into position.
The Cruisemaster DO35 hitch was released and the jockey wheel used to level the camper from front to back. Normally, at this point, the four drop-down stabiliser legs would be lowered to provide additional stability, but it was decided these were not required today.
Next up was the opening of the main tent. As is the case with any forward fold camper, there are two ways to get it all opened up. There's the easy way, or the easier way. If you’re lucky enough to have someone there to help, you can unclip the four latches and open it manually. If you’re on your ‘Pat Malone’, then the winches located both front and rear aid and assist in the opening and closing of the tent.
Now that the main tent has been flipped over, the internal struts and poles need to be tensioned. To get inside, the fold-down steps are deployed on the passenger side.
Due to the uneven ground, the fold-down steps were swinging in the breeze and if not for the ability of the lower leg of the ladder to extend, this could have caused an issue and may have required finding a new spot to set up the camper. But the simple, extendable leg solved this problem quick-smart and the setup process continued without a hitch.
Lightweight aluminium poles are used internally and externally, all with oversized locking mechanisms, making tensioning the poles super easy.
When setting up the annexe, again this is a task easier tackled by two. Obviously, it can still be done by one, but as with most things, ‘many hands make light work!’
Of particular note, however, is a very clever bit of design work that Stoney Creek has employed on the ends of the main annexe support poles coming out from the corners and centre of the camper. Gone are the metal hooks that always seemed to give me grief when trying to locate them in their holes, when I had to twist and turn and stick my tongue out to the left, all while whistling Mr Bo-Jangles. These have been replaced with a strip of velcro a couple of inches long screwed to the end of the pole.
In the corners, the other side of the velcro is sewn in, making it super simple to locate, then extend and tension the poles. Given enough practice, you could probably do it with your eyes closed. I’ll leave it up to you if you still want to whistle Mr Bo-Jangles!
When comparing the internals of the Stoney Creek SC-FF to other forward folds on the market, you’ll notice that there are many similarities to other 2+2 berth models.
The rear lounge area can quickly and easily convert from a spacious lounge area to a double-sized bed for the kids. Up front, the queen-sized bed can be separated from the rear with a simple canvas divider. Always good if Mum and Dad want a little ‘special time’.
The LED strip lighting can be operated separately for each zone and there are 12V and USB charging ports located on the vertical panels under the seats. Also found here is the stereo system and internal speakers.
Big, screened windows provide plenty of ventilation and help to keep the bugs at bay, and the tropical roof helps to keep things cooler in the northern climes.
Canvas hoods provide plenty of protection over the camper's windows, allowing the storm covers to stay down except in the most adverse weather conditions.
Allowing for even more ventilation, and to really bring the outside in, the section of canvas wall above the kitchen can completely be rolled up for unimpeded viewing and to make it super easy to serve food back inside the camper.
Internal storage comes by way of compartments under the lounge seats, as well as a pair of drawers and cupboards that utilise space at the foot of the bed.
Hard-wearing vinyl floors and automotive leather helps to keep this no-fuss camper looking good with minimal effort.
ENJOYING THE OUTDOORS
As already mentioned, the SC-FF comes with an awning that extends along the entire passenger side of the camper. The heavy duty canvas provides plenty of shade and coverage over the pull-out kitchen as well as the fridge and pantry. Even with the kitchen, pantry and fridge all pulled out, there’s still enough space for a
couple of chairs.
If you’re going to be set up in the one spot for a little while, or need additional privacy, then you’ll be happy to know that this camper comes standard with a full wall kit as well as a floor.
The only thing you might want to think about adding to your camping arsenal is a pop-up shower tent for the portable gas hot water system. The camper comes pre-plumbed and ready to go. All you need to do is attach the hot and cold water pipes to the quick-release fittings found at the driver’s side rear of the camper, as well as hooking up the gas line, and you’re in business.
Conveniently, the SmartTek Hot Water System can be hung off the rear winch support pole and the included 5m shower hose ensures you don’t make a boggy mess right next to your camper. The other benefit of the hot water system is when it comes time to wash up those dirty dishes after a big feed of greasy bacon and eggs.
THE BUSH COOK
These days, a good kitchen when on the road is nearly as, if not more, important than a good bed. Well, the SC-FF has both. You won’t be heading off to your comfy memory foam mattress with an empty belly, that’s for sure. Unless of course, someone forgot to pack the pantry and fridge!
At the front of the camper, a large door swings open to reveal the fridge drawer and the pull-out pantry. Our test model was fitted with a 50L fridge, but considering the size of the drawer, I would think that at least a 75L unit would fit in there no problems.
The pull-out pantry combines a larger top section with a lid that flips over to create extra shelf space, as well as another pull-out drawer, providing plenty of dry food storage.
At the rear, the stainless steel kitchen pulls out easily on heavy duty drawer slides. It features a four-burner gas cooktop and windshields that are high enough to actually be useful. A bendy stalk LED allows you to direct the light exactly where it is required when prepping or cooking.
Pulling out from beneath the cooktop is a large cutlery drawer as well as another utility drawer for your scrubbing brushes and the like. An extra prep/serving bench pulls out from the end of the kitchen.
As well as the quick-release gas fitting at the rear of the camper for the hot water system, there is also another one on the passenger side rear of the camper. This allows for both the gas cooktop and the hot water system to be used at the same time, which means that the kids can be having their showers after a dusty day while dinner is being cooked.
We’re not here today to get into an argument about imports versus Aussie-made campers. Most punters these days know that they have a choice to make when it comes to handing over their hard-earned cash.
Yes, the SC-FF from Stoney Creek is an imported camper, but the team out at Bundamba do everything in their power to make sure that the buying public have access to a quality product.
The Stoney Creek 'Gen 2' chassis was designed and engineered in Brisbane and features FEA, or Finite Element Analysis. FEA is the process of simulating the behaviour of a part or product under given conditions so that it can be assessed using the finite element method. This enables the designer to predict potential design issues before a piece of steel is even cut and welded together.
All Gen 2 chassis are a single-piece, 6in x 2in hot-dipped and galvanised to minimise corrosion and the bodies of the campers are a fully welded unit for maximum strength and durability. The heavy duty powder coating helps to prevent dust and water ingress.
The independent trailing arm suspension which features coil springs and twin shocks on each corner were also designed and developed in Brisbane. There’s no use having an offroad trailer with offroad suspension if your tyres come up short. Wrapped around black 16in alloy rims are 265/75R16 mud terrains. A single spare is mounted centrally on the rear.
Elsewhere underneath, the SC-FF has a pair of poly water tanks (1 x 80L + 1 x 50L) which are plumbed separately. Aluminium checkerplate shrouds provide protection to the water tanks when you’re belting down gibber-strewn outback tracks. Gas lines, electrical wiring and water lines are run high and protected where possible.
THE FINAL WORD
Stoney Creek Campers has a pretty simple motto, “Designed by Campers, for Campers.” The SC-FF is one of its best sellers and it’s not hard to see why — it’s also not hard to see that those who designed it have spent a few nights out under the stars.
It’s an honest camper with a pretty darn good build quality and, at $24,990, it’s very good buying, too. It’s well appointed, with not much else to add to head off on your first holiday. With a tare of only 1670kg and an ATM of 2000kg, it’s not going to worry anything bigger than the new Jimny.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Suspension Independent trailing arm with twin shocks and coil springs
Brakes 12in electric drum
Coupling Cruisemaster DO35 off road coupling
Chassis/Drawbar 6in x 2in single piece hot dipped galvanised steel
Body Fully welded hot dipped galvanised frame with steel sheeting finished with powder coat
Wheel/tyre 265/75R16 Kenda mud terrains on 16in alloy rims (single spare)
Style Forward fold camper trailer
Box size 3.4m x 1.95m
Length (hitch to spare tyre) 5.15m
Water 130L (1 x 80L and 1 x 50L)
Kitchen External stainless steel pull-out kitchen with four-burner gas stove
Battery 2 x 100Ah deep cycle
Solar 1 x 160W blanket
Stoney Creek Campers
Ph (07) 3282 0411