In what is currently an extremely volatile industry, with long standing and respected brands under siege, closures coming at an alarming rate and rumours circulating over others, it’s reassuring to be able to report on the 50th anniversary of one of the nation’s most respected brands — Cub Campers — as it kicks up its heels to mark a significant achievement in Australian manufacturing.
Cub grew out of a small box trailer business, purchased in 1968 by retired pharmacist J.K. Fagan. With son Roger and grandson Shane at the helm, the company has steered its way through the 70s and 80s when it was one of just a handful of businesses offering that novelty product called the camper trailer, and onwards through the meteoric explosion in popularity of the early 2000s until today. It still holds a fiercely Australian-centric profile in a market that is increasingly dominated by imported product.
Cub today offers seven different models — at the centre of which sits the Brumby, at the top of their 2.2 metre (body length) range and designed for (but not limited to) couples and singles. It’s been Cub’s most popular seller for a number of years and since being introduced in 2007, over a thousand have been sold.
Cub has never been overwhelmed by highly complex campers with all sorts of bells and whistles. It has first and foremost kept its focus on functionality and basics, determined to offer the best value possible at a reasonable price. It leaves the high dollar end of the market to others, though by doing so, brings itself into direct competition with the imports, which today seem to almost own the $30,000 and under end of the market.
So how does the Brumby stack up against that opposition? We’d have to say pretty well. So let’s take a tour.
The Brumby, like all Cub campers today, sits on a Duragal chassis with 2 x 2400kg rated recovery points, and the drawbar down in size from 150mm to 100mm x 50 x 3mm, to reduce ball weight and overall weight in general. Both the chassis and drawbar are painted in a grey hammertone. In line with its past, the suspension is Cub’s independent design, with Rox Shocks and King coil springs supporting 10in AL-KO electric drum brakes. Cub now fits the Brumby with 17in six-stud black alloys either side (though the spare is steel) and Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tyres. Cub can supply hubs to match offsets and bolt patterns for most popular brands if you want to supply rims to match your particular tow vehicle.
The chassis carries a heavy duty poly 80L water tank as standard, but our test unit came with the Adventure Pack, which gives you a second 80L tank. These fill from the same filler point but are plumbed separately, with selection via a ball valve under the driver’s side of the camper. Water is delivered through a filter by a 12V pump.
The fitting of the second tank forces the spare wheel from its under-chassis location onto a swing-away rear arm. This can be optionally fitted even without the second tank, for use in carrying extra jerry cans, a bike carrier or other extra freight.
The Adventure Pack also brings with it a second 100Ah battery, which mounts in an aluminium tray under the bed. They are easily accessed but it makes me a little itchy that they sit uncovered and are not at least installed in battery boxes. These would be light and relatively cheap, though Cub reports that this location policy has never, to their knowledge created any issue.
The batteries are charged off the mains via a 25 amp Projecta IC2500 seven-stage charger with a remote head display, or off a Projecta 25 amp IDC25 DC-DC charger, which also has a solar regulating function to go with the Anderson solar inlet. These are mounted behind an aluminium panel on the driver’s side, along with the 12V fuse box, 240V circuit breaker and water tanks gauge. The camper is equipped with a 240V 15A inlet and a 240V 10A outlet.
And it was so good to see the use of 6 B&S cable on the Anderson plug at the draw bar, rather than the so often seen 6mm cable, which is going to choke the delivery of current from the vehicle’s alternator.
That draw bar is also the location of the AL-KO offroad hitch which functions happily on a 50mm ball, though other hitches, such as the DO-35 or Treg, are also optional. The handbrake has a lower shield to protect it from the elements. The jockey wheel is removable, so transport room for this has to be found.
The stone guard is a new design, now being a mesh on a frame which relocates the side wings of the guard inwards for improved turning circle and easy access behind the mesh via elasticised end hooks which secure the net to the body.
Behind the stone guard is a new frame for two jerry can mounts and two 4kg gas bottles, plus an external hand water pump to clean up after packing up, and the winch for Cub’s distinctive winch. This is relatively noiseless these days, to save on waking the neighbours for those early morning starts, and its mounting pole now features a sheltered guard for the gas regulator. There is plenty of spare room in around all this, which could provide storage for firewood or other dirty items.
The front mud flaps have gone back from hanging below the stone guard to below the front lip of the front box for improved shielding of the underbody from stones.
The front box is manufactured from 2mm checkerplate aluminium, in typical Cub style, as is the fold-over top to the main camper body. The front box and other locker doors are aluminium and the main body is made from laser cut zincanneal steel. Our camper was finished in a pleasing metallic Meteor Grey paint, though just introduced is a range of five other optional colours to suit your tastes. The wheel arches are now made from moulded aluminium and replace the older plastic flares.
Tie-down points are provided to permit loads to be carried on top of the folded over body.
Opening and setting up is dead simple, as is typical with all Cub rear fold designs. Simply undo the four over-centre latches on the lid and feed out the strap on the Ezy-Wind winch while the gas struts do their work. When fully over, simply lower the legs to match the rear floor to the ground, snap in the two rear press studs on the canvas skirt, hook up the handful of bungee loops around the sides and step inside.
Undo the two rear bow hook clamps and push the bow up and out while inserting the two rear upright poles in place. Raise the front mounting point for the rear hoop on the entry side and when the canvas is taut, lock everything in place. It couldn’t be easier. Packing up is simply the reverse process.
All the poles travel in a poly carrier across the rear of the camper where they help lower ball weight.
The awning can travel attached to the camper, and is pulled over the top beneath the winch strap when partly packed up. Pull it out to set up and start inserting the five aluminium poles and four spreader bars — a job which can be done singlehandedly with surprising ease. This can be a free-standing awning without ropes, if there’s no breeze, but for an overnighter, it pays to have ropes in place.
The awning gives you a roomy 2000 x 5020mm footprint for shelter, from in front of the fridge box to behind the rear of the camper tent. Walls are optional, but the front wall which would shelter the kitchen and wraps around to provide an infill in front of and behind the fridge box, would be highly recommended. The canvas (10oz roof, 8oz walls) is all-Australian Wax Converters Dynaproof, all cut on Cub’s laser bench and sewn in-house. All five windows feature midgy-proof screens, those at the bedside being internal for easy access at night, and for an extra $280 you can have a roll-up side which gives you that great panoramic access to the outside environment. The rear driver’s side window can be optionally converted to a door for use with a shower tent, if desired.
Internally there’s a double 2130 x 1350mm x 100mm thick medium-density foam mattress on a lift-up gas strut assisted base, which provides ready access to the roomy storage area underneath — though this is not accessible from outside when closed up. There is plenty of room down either side of the mattress which would reduce the effort of making the bed and provide plenty of space for carrying smaller personal items, such as books, torches, tissues and other items.
The 2018 edition of the Brumby now features LED reading lights either side of the bed head and adjacent double USB charging points to keep your phones and other devices topped up. In the roof of the tent is a velcro strip to attach the supplied LED strip light. Next to the batteries is a dual 240V outlet as well as Merit and cigarette plugs.
The rear floor is a roomy 1640 x 2160mm, which provides enough room for table and chairs or beds for children or emergency guests. The floor is well off the ground for security from creepy-crawlies but the step up is 430mm, which some might find requires an intermediate level to ease the load on the knees. The lengthy threaded end of the winch strap’s eye bolt, which projects into the rear space, represents a threat to air beds, children’s heads or adult toes and would be best removed and/or capped with an acorn nut or rubber cap.
The pullout stainless steel kitchen is fully occupied with the two-burner Smev cooktop and the stainless sink. There is no standard bench space available for food preparation, other than using the fold-down glass cover over the cooktop — which isn’t available when cooking — though the body does come standard with side mounting brackets for an optional stainless steel side bench. This is a camper that would benefit from a flip-over 'breakfast bar' type bench.
However, you do get a neat slot-in wind guard for the cooktop, which keeps the heat where you want it in breezy conditions, and a plug-in stalk light. Underneath is storage in front of the sink bowl and a roomy drawer suitable for cutlery and some crockery. Connections for gas, water and light power pull out of a rear storage space and connect to the kitchen side power socket and gas and water outlets in a dedicated compartment under the fridge box.
Welcomingly, there is a sliding bolt latch that locks the kitchen out to give it rigidity when fully extended, and assists the fold-down legs in making this a very stable setup.
A 200 x 1100 x 160mm deep pantry drawer slides out immediately behind the kitchen. This would provide for most of the kitchen requirements and food, though large packaging or tall bottles might present some minor problems.
The fridge box is certainly big enough to cater for most popular fridges. The door folds upwards on gas struts, so it doesn’t hang down and interfere with the ground. There is an internal merit plug (soon to be changed for the more positive connection of Anderson plugs) for the fridge and the handles for the two rear stabilisers and the supplied scissor jack. This latter is a neat inclusion, as jacking up independent suspension campers can be a nuisance at times and is usually best solved by a scissor jack which you usually have to source yourself.
Opposite the fridge box is a roomy storage box which comes with carpet on the floor but can be optionally fitted up with a slide which would suit a compressor or porta-potti, or stainless steel drawers.
All up, the Brumby comes in at a reasonable 885kg Tare with a 39kg ball weight. The 1400kg ATM provides a reasonable load weight of 515kg. The 1700mm width keeps it inside most 4WD body lines and the 1650mm height gives good vision above it from a tow vehicle’s main rear vision mirror.
Popular options include a boat loader, awning walls, draught skirt, pocket spring mattress, stainless side shelf, tropical roof and utility bike rack.
THE WRAP UP
The Cub Brumby is a solid, functional camper. There are no frills, and maybe a few too many options rather than standard fittings, but if you are a keen supporter of the all-Australian ethos and on something of a budget then this is where you should be looking. These campers have been well sorted, and you will know that what you get works. Set up and pack up are simple and easy and they will follow you pretty much anywhere. At the 2016 Camper Trailer of the Year at Dargo, in the Victorian high country — every camper we saw on our travels that wasn’t part of our review, was a Cub. Other manufacturers were complaining that it was some kind of a setup. But it was simply a reflection that these are a popular and highly sought-after camper.
HITS AND MISSES
- All-Australian build
- Easy set-up and pack-up
- Winch works well
- Good electrical set-up
- Exposed batteries
- No external access to internal storage
- Lack of kitchen bench space
Suspension Trailing arm independent
Brakes 10in electric
Coupling AL-KO offroad ball
Chassis 100x50x3mm Duragal
Drawbar 100x50x3mm Duragal
Body Zinc anneal, front box aluminium checkerplate
Wheels 6-stud 17in alloy (steel spare)
Tyres 265/65/R17 Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac
Body size 1700x2200mm
Awning size 2000mmx5020mm
Gas cylinders 2x4kg
Cooktop Two-burner Smev
Kitchen Marine grade stainless steel with zincanneal drawers
Battery 100Amp hour
Options fitted Second 100Amp hour battery, second 80L water tank, utility rack upgrade and spare wheel bracket
$27,990 (plus on-roads)
Check out the full review in issue #125 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.