Just last month our editors asked me to choose a selection of my favourite campers. It isn’t an easy task with such an enormous field of contenders and a huge variance of types, styles, prices and purpose. There were quite a few that jumped immediately to mind and one of them was the Ultimate XPLOR that left a lasting impression from the Camper Trailer of the Year competition going back to 2013 held in Robe, SA. It seems I wasn’t alone in my thoughts!
I was struck by the overall presentation, and particularly impressed by the appealing practicality, the build quality, the low towing weight, the easy setup and the beautifully presented internal fit-out that simply felt like home. In addition, Ultimate Campers are produced by proud Australian manufacturers with a strong grounding on the beautiful south coast of NSW – Moruya to be exact.
Like me, owners Michael and Wendy Hackett have a strong history in boatbuilding, a trade that covers a multitude of manufacturing materials including steel, alloys, fibreglass, canvas and acrylics but also incorporates electronics, pumping equipment and trailers. Like campers, boats have to perform in exceptionally hard impact environments.
ULTIMATE CAMPERS - PROUDLY AUSTRALIAN
I jumped at the opportunity to visit the Ultimate Campers team on their home ground at Moruya, NSW. Let’s just say that these guys don’t do things by halves – it’s go the full hog or nothing at all. Ultimate is an exceptionally proud and professional outfit and the crew were pleased to display its history, and the entire manufacturing, design, sales and service processes that have gained them a terrific reputation.
I love going to factories where everyone is friendly and smiling. Ultimate obviously provides a terrific working environment for its wide range of skilled trades. I have never before walked into any fibreglass manufacturing facility and not been immediately confronted by fumes and floating particles in the air.
Ultimate uses the world’s best practice with its emissions control to maximise workplace safety as well as to minimise the facility’s environmental output.
The same commitment is applied to all manufacturing components with its modern in-house welding, upholstery, canvas, fitting and assembly divisions; plus computerised design, marketing, administration and showroom all under one roof.
All of this love, care, attention and professionalism is topped off by Ultimate’s sales commitment to its lucky customers. Every purchaser gets a full tour of the factory and many hours’ instruction on the care, features and usage of the Ultimate products for both the new, and often used camper trailers. Customers are encouraged to spend their first night in a camping park in the beautiful coastal town of Moruya providing real-time experience in the camper before leaving the area.
TAKING IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL
The Nexus takes the successful Ultimate concept to its highest level of achievement. This is the burger with the lot that has evolved since the brand’s inception way back in 1994.
The Nexus is the pinnacle of well over 20 years’ development with the massive list of functional equipment assembled for this premium package. Ultimate X-Series campers are available from around $45K; however, the list of additions to the Nexus brings the package up considerably higher.
Outwardly, the Ultimate Nexus is a great looking camper. It actually does have similarities to an upside down boat with its fibreglass body, flat transom and curvaceous, pointed bow with the huge 1340L nose cone that allows an incredible amount of storage. The nose cone also houses the Truma gas heater and hot water system Redarc Manager30 30A battery management system and 1500W pure sine wave inverter. It provides readily accessible storage that is totally secure from the harsh elements, but also an aerodynamic design to reduce running costs with fuel efficiency. The curvature will also reduce the possibility of rebound stones slamming into the back window of your towing vehicle on rocky tracks.
WHY THE NEXUS?
According to Steve Smith, sales manager for Ultimate, the Nexus is designed for the growing number of overlanders investing in prestige 4WDs.
“We’re finding people who are spending more than $80,000 on a tow vehicle want a camper trailer that expresses their touring ambitions,” explains Smith.
He says luxury Redarc appliances such as solar, DC-DC charging, and 240V pure sine wave power; Revolution lithium batteries, and touches such as an EMP underlay for the king-size bed matter to astute buyers, but believes it is the smart detailing throughout that makes the Nexus stand out.
“Having the leather interior and the carbon fibre finish in the bench and tabletops set it apart,” he says.
In fact, Smith reckons the carbon fibre benchtops are unique to the market.
“You’re more likely to see it [carbon fibre] on a sports car.”
The Nexus we saw was the first cab off the rank for Ultimate fresh from its launch at the recent Supershow in Rosehill, NSW.
“The response was really positive; we’ve had existing owners express interest and it’s attracted new customers as well to it due its appearance and included features,” Smith told CTA.
FROM THE GROUND UP
The fact that Ultimate has used the same welding jig for their chassis for more than 20 years is testament to their strength and longevity. It runs fully independent trailing arm suspension with shock absorbed coil springs, 10in electric brakes, large diameter Exile 20in black mag wheels and premium Cooper ST Maxx 285/55/20 tyres. There’s a tonne of ground clearance and a terrific departure angle for when the going gets tough with the ever reliable DO35 offroad coupling out front. The plumbing and wiring are well protected and channelled and the 110L poly water tank sits securely in the chassis framework well out of harm’s way.
I simply love the main fibreglass tub and its construction. The entire body is moulded in one piece improving the strength, flexibility and insulation while at the same time providing a beautiful polar white gelcoat outer finish. The roof is also fibreglass with multi bias rovings, core mat and an aluminium frame all assisting the strength and allowing up to 100kg of load, this one with Rhino Racks.
IT'S SETUP TIME!
Those who know me will testify to my hatred of fiddly, time-wasting assemblies. Hence, you will understand my love for the Ultimate Nexus. It took us longer to choose our ideal campsite than it did to fully assemble the camper! Simply fold down two outrigger legs followed by the rear-moulded stairs, unclip the roof locks and open the gas strut-assisted roof section and you’re almost done. The strong Wax Converters tent almost falls into place and only needs minor adjustment and the edges clipped down for security.
The stairwell folds off the rear leading to one of the most inviting internal fit-outs in the industry. The tub section has an L-sectioned galley with a fit-out quality rivalling any upmarket apartment. There’s a tonne of versatile bench space finished in attractive and hard wearing carbon fibre laminate. The thing that isn’t immediately obvious is the strength of the plastic-welded Celuka cabinetry that forms part of the integral frame also adding to the overall core strength.
Neatly centred in the benchtop is a Smev two-burner gas cooktop and sink with hot/cold mixer, both with folding glass lids. Underneath is plenty of drawer, utensil and pantry space plus a 110L Waeco compressor fridge/freezer, Fusion stereo system, water level indicator, BMS readouts and fused switch gear plus 12 and 240V outlets all in sensible and easy-to-read positions. Incidentally, I really liked the copper dash panel under the bench that takes the trim to the next level of presentation. One of the compartments is large enough should you wish to include an internal porta-potti option and Ultimate has introduced a full-width galley shelf for all your knick-knacks.
THE ULTIMATE RELAX
The Nexus provides a leather U-shaped lounge that runs full width across the trailer for us lounge lizards who just love to sit back and relax on a comfortable seat at the end of a hard day on the road. Ours was trimmed in soft bone leather with thick padding for bony bums. There’s even a plug-in table for enjoying brekkie, an evening meal or perhaps a game of cards on a rainy day. This is vital for those of us who need to work on the road or even for downloading the day’s photography from wonderful destinations.
However, the real pièce de résistance is the large king-size bed that comes complete with fitted sheets and an EMP bed underlay. There’s a tonne of head room in the tent above with plenty of windows with inner and outer awnings, fine mesh flyscreens, individual bedside LED reading lamps and centre bow light kit. It is a really inviting bedding area for a couple, and I guess a small child could sleep on the lounge. However, Ultimate offers an optional spare room kit that can be set up under the lid for more accommodation if needed.
The canvas is all 8-ounce superfine Australian Wax Converters that has been fully manufactured in-house to premium standards. There’s a tropical (safari) roof up top for greater insulation and the Nexus comes with two full-length front and rear easy awnings as standard. There is also a larger 2.5m option for longer stays. Externally, the Nexus features a number of lockable compartments housing twin 3.8kg gas bottles and the twin Revolution Lithium 100Ah batteries.
ON AND OFF-ROAD?
The Nexus is indeed the ‘ultimate’ travelling companion. Its Tare weight is only 850kg, so fully loaded with water tanks, gas bottles, jerry cans filled and a good load of gear and supplies you may be fully equipped on the road at around 1200kg. The ATM is 1300kg allowing plenty of payload should you wish to add kayaks, canoes or tinnies on the roof racks, plus your mountain bikes on the rear mount.
It is a very tough construction that simply won’t let you down when the going gets tough and its low ball weight and compact overall dimensions guarantee easy towing for both long hauls and rugged offroad adventures. The high overall ground clearance and wicked 32° departure angle combine with 4250x2000mm dimensions for nimble performance in tight country. The Raptor coating and fibreglass surfaces will survive plenty of sand and stone blasting and keep the aesthetics looking great for the long term.
We had a heap of fun climbing some quite steep coastal tracks and then easing down high angle declines with total control thanks to the Nexus’ low weight, high ground clearance and efficient brake combination. Then the fun began with us playing in the mud like school kids in gumboots – and yep, I got soaked trying to catch the Ultimate photo. I was very pleased to find the Nexus had a pull out external shower.
There’s not a huge footprint for undercover living, but it does supply a very high level of comfort, accessories and quality features. I’d be happy to carry a portable barbecue for cooking outside, yet Ultimate can fit personalised external cooking facilities as options.
THE WRAP UP
The Nexus has a terrific blend of componentry to please serious long term travellers with more than a hint of style and purpose. All things considered, the Nexus still remains very high in my list of favourite camper trailers. I loved every minute of my experience with the Ultimate Nexus. I hope yours is for a much longer period than my playtime excursion.
HITS AND MISSES
- Compact and tough
- Extremely high level of manufacturing
- Proudly Australian
- Commitment to customers
- Outside cooking (optional)
- Tare 850kg
- ATM 1300kg
- Suspension Independent trailing arm suspension with shock absorbed coil springs
- Brakes 10in Offroad electric
- Coupling Hitchmaster DO35 Offroad
- Chassis Full RHS section chassis
- Drawbar 100x100x3mm (Duragal with underbody coating)
- Body Composite
- Wheel/tyre Exile 20in black mag wheels and premium Cooper ST Maxx 285/55/20 tyres
- Style Hardtop camper
PRICE AS SHOWN