From 2009 to 2013 Conqueror camper trailers felt they pretty much owned the market niche for small hardcore offroad trailers. They offered a model with a rooftop-type tent, good ground clearance and a boxy body with a kitchen on one side and storage on the other. Then in 2013 came the Patriot.
The Patriot swept away all before it in that market. It won Camper Trailer of the Year in its category at the end of 2013 and has won each year since. It’s done so on the back of innovation, high standards of construction and a willingness to always improve, to go that step further each year.
Did it bother Conqueror? Too right it did. Conqueror had come out with its UEV-490, the hybrid that today would be regarded as the image of the brand. But they wanted that lower-budget market back again and, with a string of new models planned they added one more: The UEV-390 camper trailer.
CONQUEROR SUSPENSION AND POWER
The suspension in previous editions of the UEV-390 has been slipper leaf springs on a beam axle, something that you would only be likely to find on the cheapest of trailers locally these days. This has now been upgraded to eye-to-eye leaf springs on a 50mm beam axle, with 12in electric brakes. It’s all rated at 2000kg capacity.
This in itself is unusual in Australia in 2018, but the South Africans love their leaf springs and beam axles, and quite frankly there is a lot to be said for them on extreme offroad campers. You only need to a carry a spare main spring and you are out of trouble anywhere.
The camper comes with two 105Ah AGM batteries, with lithiums as an option, with either a Redarc (30A) or Enerdrive (40A) charger operating through a Conqueror Experia control panel. This provides a battery monitor with circuit fusing and five switches for the fridge, outlets and water pumps, and plugs for 12V cigarette, Merit and USB items, though it would be handy to also have these inside the tent where they could be accessed out of the weather overnight.
CAMPER TRAILER EXTERIOR
The wheels and tyres are attractive black 16in alloys with 285/75R16 mud terrains. All up, the ground clearance is excellent, being 330mm to the bottom of the axle and 600mm to the floor, with a good departure angle limited only by the two rear stabilisers.
The extended 100 x 50 drawbar has allowed a front fridge and storage box and is 600mm longer than in older models. The chassis is a laser cut and folded box section steel, has two tow points and a 50mm square hitch receiver at the rear and all of it is hot-dip galvanised.
As with all the Platinum editions the UEV-390 is finished in an attractive ash grey and black hammertone powdercoat, which is much more modern and fashionable than the traditional olive drab military colour scheme that has been with Conqueror since the beginning.
As we saw it the UEV-390 has a tare of 1100kg and an ATM of 1500kg, providing for a 400kg load capacity, but Conqueror is planning on an ATM upgrade to 1950kg to up the load capacity to 850kg.
EASY SET UP
The Platinum UEV-390 camper trailer has a whole feast of new features, but the most interesting is that of the electrically opening and closing tent. This is operated by a switch on the rear of the camper and assists in a five-minute set-up, including awning. Simply remove the zip-off cover, open out the tent, push out two internal spreader bars and you are ready to punch in the four pegs to locate it on the ground.
On the passenger side of the camper is a large batwing awning of Conqueror’s own design. This is locked down onto the side of the body, next to the tent, and is raised to the desired height by two large gas struts, controlled by a central restraining strap. The tent cover is unzipped and the rotating batwing awning, which pivots on the rear corner of the camper, swings around and is anchored at the front and rear by straps or ropes. All the poles bar one are attached to the awning’s radiating frame.
Pack-up is just as quick: simply lift the outer poles and locate them on the ribs with velcro tabs, swing the awning closed, tuck it into the bag and zip it shut, and lower it by pulling down on the restraining strap, the latter action being easy enough for people of most physical abilities to easily handle. It’s a neat design and one that is extremely sturdy; you can shake the whole camper by this and it stays firmly in place.
The bed on top is made up of 100mm foam and is 1970 x 1970mm, an odd size for fitted sheets, but the camper, as with all the Platinum Conqueror models, comes with an included bedding kit including fitted sheet, doona, pillows and cases.
Access to the bed is via a two-piece ladder, which travels on the bed. There are three windows, including two small end portals with the cover on the outside which can be closed via a rope loop from the inside.
Included in the package are two LED light bars that clip onto the rooftop tent’s bows and which can plug into the 12-volt points below. There is only a small set of pockets for bedside items such as glasses, phones or torches.
The floor is a heavy duty 550 gram vinyl and is 2400 x 2400mm, so there is room for bunks or sleeping bags for the kids. However, there is a kids’ room included in the package, so that they need not intrude too much on the parents’ space.
The tent is all ripstop canvas with a PVC roof above an inner-lining of a cotton material which Conqueror feels better handles the heat.
On the opposite side of the camper is the pantry area, with the same large drawer and slide with two more Wolf Pack boxes, and at the rear a cupboard with a set of six wine glasses and a bottle rack to securely hold six bottles of the best.
At the front is a locker with a slide which will take up to a 95L National Luna or 110L Evakool fridge/freezer. Either of these is about the only thing which is not included in the package with this camper.
The aluminium kitchen pulls out of the rear of the camper and is an L-shaped design. It has a pull-out frame on the left into which you drop two plastic sink bowls, a small cupboard and a drawer underneath to hold your supplied cutlery for six, and a pull-out slide at the rear with a two-burner Dometic cooktop.
The rear door which opens to reveal this has two racks of six cups and six tumblers, again probably a few more than you’d need, plus a setting for six in plastic plates, with two cupboards and a big 370 x 800 x 240mm deep tub along the inner end of the kitchen.
At the front of the camper is a large storage box. This has a slide with a pivoting mount for a Weber Baby Q and on the inside of the door on the driver’s side is a gas hot water system.
The Conqueror UEV-390 Platinum may have been built in South Africa, but only after extensive input from the Australian end. The recipe called for an extreme offroad camper with hammertone finish paint, big tyres, big ground clearance, box section chassis, batwing awning and an electric tent.
And if that’s what Conqueror set out to achieve they hit the target, and I’d think this will be a sound seller for them. Whether it will shake Patriot’s hold on this market is another question that only time can answer.
The UEV-390 is quite a trailer, but if its target is the Patriot X1 then it’s 170kg heavier, it’s bigger and at $53,990 as we saw it it’s $4000 more expensive, though it does come with a few bells and whistles that the Patriot doesn’t (electric tent open and close, kids room, bedding, gas bottles and jerrycans as standard).
This ought to be an interesting commercial battle for the hearts and minds of the extreme camping crowd. Conqueror, with their new UEV-390, is now well equipped to duke it out. Let the battle begin.
Suspension Al-Ko eye to eye leaf springs with shocks
Brakes 12in electric drum
Chassis/drawbar 50 x 100mm hot dip galvanised
Body Electro galvanised steel
Wheels 16 x 8 A-Line alloys LC6 pattern
Tyres 285/75R16 mud terrains
Style Rooftop softfloor
Body size 1630 x 3075mm
Tent floor size 2400 x 2400mm
Gas cylinders 2 x 4.5kg
Cooktop Two-burner Dometic
Kitchen Rear slide
Battery 2 x 105Ah AGM
Options fitted National Luna fridge
PRICE (AS SHOWN)
Address Unit 12, 2316 Pacific Hwy, Heatherbrae, NSW 2324
Phone (02) 4912 9256