Camper Trailer of the Year 2021: Bluewater Lachlan Mk II

Various — 20 May 2021
Get ready to head for blue waters with the forward-fold Bluewater Lachlan Mk II

KATH HEIMAN

Score: 79

The Bluewater Lachlan Mk II easily achieves its mission of getting a family of four comfortably into the outdoors. This forward-fold, rear slide camper has all the hallmarks of campers of its style but achieves a level of quality and attention to detail that is hard to beat at its price-point. With a roughly 50/50 split of Australian and imported components, the Bluewater Lachlan is imbued with some seriously good Aussie know-how. 



A stand-out feature of the Lachlan Mk II is that it can be fully set-up, awning and all, using only four poles — yes, just four. This welcome result is achieved using several clever design features. The breakaway-from-convention dome-top tent that covers the main living and sleeping areas is tensioned using a winch and purpose bent poles. This makes it possible to achieve a quick set-up without touching a single pole — not one. Unfurling the tent also releases the permanently fixed tropical awning which sits pleasingly high off the main canvas, supported by custom spacers. And when you decide to put-out the awning, things only get better. 

The secret here is Bluewater’s innovative new 300-degree ‘E-wing’ which comprises a zip-on extension at the kitchen-side of the camper (which can be left in place during transit) and a permanently affixed smaller canopy on the off-side. The four awning poles are telescopic so set-up can be achieved without a step ladder. And, even with the awning included, the whole camp can be established in well-under 15 minutes. It’s enough to make a kitten tap-dance with joy. 

Another welcome design element is the fridge-slide and drawer combination. This arrangement makes maximum use of space while delivering access to storage at the front of the camper (near the fridge and galley) rather than forcing users to wander around the far side of the rig to grab day-to-day necessities. This was the only camper reviewed at CTOTY 21 with this feature and its utility was self-evident. Pack the drawers with Bluewater’s custom zip-storage bags — or configure the spaces to meet your own unique needs — either way, you’ll be smiling. 

It’s clever design features like these that underscore the pedigree of Bluewater, a member of the Eagle Outdoors group. Clearly, this is a company where clever thinking flourishes and the winners are the adventurous families who set forth in these campers in search of new horizons. 

GLENN MARSHALL

Score: 72.5

The chassis and body of the Lachlan are imported, however the independent suspension is not, with its Lovells coils and twin Ride Pro shocks. The 12in Holroid electric brakes provide stopping power while the LT 265/75R16 MT tyres wrap the alloy rims and control the traction. The DO35 coupling, ARK 750 off-road jockey wheel and twin rear recovery points complete the off-road stuff. The Lachlan comes with a 5-year warranty on structural and canvas, a 3-year warranty on the Seaflow water pump, a 5-year warranty on the Lovells Springs and 3-year 60,000km warranty on the Ride Pro shocks. The camper towed well on the forestry trail and the bitumen speed test. 

Being able to sleep on a 150mm pocket spring queen mattress with foam topper is a real positive with the kids offering a HD foam double mattress that can be extended to a QS using the backrests from the lounge. Both bedrooms have privacy screens with midgee proof screens or a canvas blackout. The internal temperature is helped by the excellent safari roof that extends the full length of the camper and poles keep it taut, meaning no flapping about in the wind like some other safari roofs. The lounge sits 10mm higher, making it a comfortable place to sit and the internal storage is excellent with drawers under the master bed and compartments under some of the seating sections. The Truma hot water unit provides hot water to the kitchen sink and the external shower. The fridge slide was home to the 96L EvaKool dual-zone with two large pantry drawers behind. The slide-out stainless-steel kitchen was well appointed with a three-burner stove, stalk light, drying rack, and large bench space perfect for the Weber Baby Q. The water and gas are permanently connected to the kitchen via a protective snake track. The large windows in the camper provide good airflow.

The set and forget internal tent poles mean no adjustment necessary when setting up, a massive improvement from past models. Great storage all around with internal drawers providing good space internally and the fridge slide that then swings away exposing two big slide-out drawers behind it. The set up was quick and included awnings on both sides of the camper that provided excellent protection from the weather on Showcase Day. 

DAVID COOK

Score: 82.5

In the scrub the Bluewater Lachlan will serve its users well, with a suite of basic needs that will make life not just comfortable but a real pleasure. Features like 160L of water in two poly tanks, plus the capacity of adding the contents of two 20L jerry cans, as well as a pressure limited input to tap into mains water for the kitchen taps means it's unlikely water will be a problem.

Electrically, the two fitted 120Ah lithium batteries (replacing the standard twin 110Ah AGMs) mean that you’ll never be running out of spark for any of the fittings in this camper. The 21A mains charger and 25A DC-DC charger should be able to keep the charge topped up. The whole electrical system is managed from a control centre adjacent to the kitchen, which also monitors battery voltage and each of the water tank levels. Lighting is controlled from an internal touch screen.

The two 4.5kg gas bottles is a combination that is pretty standard, because it works and is not over-the-top.

The 150 x 50 x 3mm hot dip galvanised chassis is quite strong enough, and the quality of welding and other work around it appeared to be excellent.

The camper’s main body is zinc anneal steel composite with foam inlay to keep out the worst of the outside extremes, while the front box is aluminium on a steel frame to minimise ball weight. The checkerplate camper roof is rated to 100kg if you’re carrying loads on top.

The whole is finished in two-pack paint, and the kitchen, as is standard, is fabricated in stainless steel. The tent and awnings are all manufactured in Wax Converters canvas in Bluewater’s own factory, using YKK zippers and all the best in materials.

TIM VAN DUYL

Score: 72

The Lachlan is not new to us — we’ve seen it at CTOTY before — but not like this. There are some serious upgrades from the 2019 model we last sampled and although the price has crept up, the value has jumped leaps and bounds with it. Just look at the inclusions like the 14L Truma HW system, good mattresses and the use of Wax Convertors canvas and the value starts adding up. 

The new tropical roof is outstanding, especially in the way it stretches over both ends of the camper and is tensioned to remove possible flapping in the breeze. The removal of so many poles and the use of top-spec, locally sourced shocks and springs (each individually warranted) on the Bluewater designed trailing arm suspension and the step up in general quality gives me confidence the $42,500 you’d invest in this set up is money well spent. 

Its X-Factor is intrinsically linked to the value but also to all criteria by which we judge campers. The X-Factor score for a poorly built camper that fails to provide good off-grid capability will no doubt be lower, so the Lachlan Mark II has to tick a few boxes to climb the ranks as a camper with it. 

The team behind the Lachlan Mark II are clever buggers, with savings made by importing the body and frame of the camper which reduce cost, but with quality at the fore in the appliances and fit-out, the company hasn't cut corners. The locally sourced Wax Converters canvas is fantastic as is the aforementioned suspension, but X-Factor is also linked to Ease of Use and its quality of appliances. 

With no internal poles to tension and an awning that is easily attached to the main canvas, the Mark II is an easy set up for its style of camper and with better than expected water capacity and power reserves, the Mark II is a big step up.


SPECS

TRAILER

Tare 1720kg

ATM 2400kg

Payload 680kg

Ball weight 125kg (dry)

Suspension Independent trailing arm suspension with Australian made Lovell coil springs, progressive bump stops and twin RidePro shock absorbers

Brakes 12in Holroyd hubs and brakes with Japanese bearings, 14mm wheel studs. 

Coupling Cruisemaster D035

Drawbar 120 x 50 x 4mm hot-dip galvanised steel

Chassis 100 x 50 x 4mm hot-dip galvanised steel

Body/cladding Steel, Front box Aluminium, Lid Aluminium

Wheels/tyres 16 x 8in alloy wheels and your choice of M/T or A/T 265/75R16s

Style Forward fold with rear slide-out

DIMENSIONS

Travel size 5.49m (L) x 1.9m (W) x 1.6m (H)

Interior height (roof raised) 2.2m standing area, 1.4m (slide end bed), 0.9m (main bed end)

External body length 4.2m

Footprint when fully set up 7.1m x 4.3m 

Awning/annexe footprint 2.4m x 6m

ACCESSORIES

Gas 2 x 4kg plumbed

Water 160L across two poly tanks, built in Truma Hot Water Service, Seaflo 42 series pump with John Guest fittings and water lines, plus mains pressure water inlet (with limiting valve)

Kitchen Stainless steel kitchenette with flip over and pull-out table, three-burner Thetford Top Line gas stove, plumbed gas, water and 12V power to kitchen

Battery 2 x 120Ah AGM with Projecta IDC25 DC charger with exterior solar connection via Anderson plug

PRICE AS SEEN

$42,500 ($37,990 plus options)

ENQUIRIES

Bluewater Campers

Address 2 Embrey Court, Pakenham, Victoria, 3810

Phone 1300 594 000 or 03 5945 5344

Email sales@bluewatercampers.com.au

Web bluewatercampers.com.au 

Tags

Camper Trailer of the Year 2021 Finalist Bluewater Lachlan Mk II Forward-fold