“Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong.” These eight words are probably some of the most well known and recognisable within Australia. Hearing them conjures up images of an old swaggie nicking a sheep in outback Queensland. Back in those days, a swag was not much more than a piece of heavy-duty tarp wrapped (if you were lucky) around a bedroll and all your worldly possessions. A bit of rope to tie it all up, sling the whole lot over your shoulder and then head off down that lonely dirt road.
These days, swags are a little bit more sophisticated (yep, some of them look more like tents) and we have our shiny four wheel drives to cart around all of our camping gear. But that original ideology remains: a quick setup and somewhere to have a kip for the night, safe from the elements.
So, is it a bit ironic that we have a camper trailer company called “SWAG”? Or is it just the evolution of how we go camping these days? The bigger the better? Or perhaps it is just because we have so much stuff these days that we not only need the big shiny four wheel drive to carry our gear, but a trailer as well?
While you’re pondering those questions and the meaning of life (I’ve actually got the answer to that one, it’s: go camping more often) let’s have a look at the new kid on the block from the SWAG campers stable: the Sprinta Ultra-Lite.
WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?
If you thought from my opening salvo that this new camper from SWAG was going to be diminutive in size, you are mistaken. At 5.2m long, it definitely isn’t going to win any “Shortest Trailer of the Year” competitions, but it will still fit under your 6x6 carport with the tow vehicle tucked in beside it.
If the name didn’t give it away, this camper trailer is lightweight. With Tare at a measly 900kg, the crew from SWAG claim the Sprinta Ultra-Lite to be “Australia’s lightest weight full size forward fold camper.” This unit has been designed to be towed by vehicles like the Rav 4 and those of the same ilk, and with an ATM of only 1400kg it is well within their capabilities. In the words of SWAG’s Queensland Sales Rep, Adam Mathieson, “These trailers haven’t been designed to tackle Cape York or gnarly mountain tracks. They’re for people that have SUVs that want to head up the beach for a weekend away. That’s the beauty of these lightweight models.”
Just because they haven’t been designed for epic destinations like the Kimberley or the Simpson Desert, don’t think for a minute that you’ll be doing without during that weekend away.
While these campers are designed and assembled in Australia, they are manufactured in China and duly imported with a specific price point and market in mind. With that, there are certain components in this camper that haven’t received the upgrade to Australian spec items that you will find in other trailers in the SWAG range.
Helping to keep Tare weight down, the rear tub section of the camper is constructed from a lightweight composite panel, with a powder-coated aluminium lower section for extra protection. The front storage boxes are powder-coated aluminium, helping to further reduce the overall weight. This all sits atop a heavy-duty, hot-dipped 100x50x4mm galvanised steel drawbar and chassis, running on 265/75R16 Goodride Radial MTs wrapped around six-stud 16” black alloy rims. Keeping the camper behaving itself behind the tow vehicle is fully independent suspension with twin shocks and coil springs (with an adjustable limiting chain) along with 12” HD electric drum brakes. Out of sight and out of mind to the rear of the suspension is the 120L stainless steel water tank. For additional protection, the tank is housed behind an aluminium checkerplate shroud. Where possible, wiring and gas lines have been run high or through the chassis (protected by convoluted split tubing and grommets). However, there are certain items — in particular the water and gas fittings on the near side rear quarter — that are exposed and it wouldn’t take much effort to damage either or both. Also hidden underneath out the back are a pair of recovery points complete with shackles. A great thing to have if forward progress is no longer an option.
Up front, the drawbar houses space for twin 4kg gas bottles as well as two 20L jerry cans, giving you 160L of fresh water storage on board. There’s also an optional aluminium checkerplate storage box neatly tucked in behind the full width stoneguard. A front-mounted winch aids in the setting up of the camper in windy conditions, or if you’re out on your ‘Pat Malone’. Also handy is the 10” swing away jockey wheel. Keeping you attached over the rough stuff is an ARK Off Road HD hitch (which suits a standard 50mm ball), double safety chains, manual hand brake and Anderson plug connection for direct charging while driving.
The entire top of the camper is covered with aluminium checkerplate, while the main front storage box features a perimeter tie-down rail to allow for all manner of items to be secured during transit. The rear section can have optional tie downs fitted if required. Just remember, being a forward fold camper, anything that you put on top will need to be removed prior to set up.
DONE FOR THE DAY
No one ever wants to go through an arduous setup at the end of a big day behind the wheel. Maybe that’s why this brand has chosen the name ‘swag’ then. Set up is pretty darn quick and easy — even with a pair of dogs running around under your feet.
After detaching the trailer from the vehicle, it’s a pretty simple and straightforward operation. Drop down the stabiliser legs and level it up as best you can. To help out, there is a two-way spirit level on the drawbar. Our site was a bit uneven, so a bit of mucking around was required. With the foundations solid, it was just a matter of unclipping the four over-centre locking latches and folding the floor forward, which is assisted by gas struts. As with a lot of things in life, setting up the camper can be done by one person but is easier with two. If setting up by yourself, or in a strong breeze, the winch attached to the drawbar will be your knight in shining armour. To aid in packing down the camper, a rear mounted winch is also fitted.
If a quick overnighter is all that’s required, it’s simply a matter of lowering the swing down entry steps, inserting a couple of spreader bars and adjusting the internal supports. The bed can be left made up, ready for immediate use — always a bonus. The 15oz canvas also sports a permanently attached tropical roof, providing additional rain protection and helping to keep the camper cool during hot summer days. From first hand experience, I can vouch for the canvas tent and tropical roof keeping you nice and dry. On our night away, we had not one, but two South East Queensland thunderstorms take up residence above our heads for close to two hours.
Thankfully, as we discovered during the storms, the other standard Sprinta accessory is two separate heavy-duty canvas annexe setups. Due to only staying for the one night, we chose to set up the ‘touring’ awning, which provides just enough protection over the kitchen area, fridge-slide and pantry. This configuration can be set up quickly with four poles, a pair of spreader bars and a few guy ropes. All poles are lightweight aluminium with quick release fasteners.
Wishing I knew then what I know now, I would have taken the extra time to set up the bigger of the two awnings. Designed for those longer trips, or longer stays in the one spot, the larger awning also has the option of adding walls, floor and skirt to fully enclose the outdoor area. An ensuite tent can also be attached to the front wall to complete your home away from home. Making set up and pack down just that little bit easier is the fact that you can leave either of the annexes attached at all times to the main tent.
So what exactly goes into this lightweight camper?
Inside up front is a queen size bed, which can be separated from the rear section by way of a canvas divider for a little bit of privacy. Now, I realise this camper has been designed and built to save weight wherever possible, but a comfy place to lay your head needs to be a pretty high priority. An innerspring mattress has been overlooked in favour of high density foam, which I can only describe as firm. Now, I’m no “Princess and the Pea” type sleeper, but there were times during the evening when I was quite uncomfortable. At the very minimum, a mattress topper would be required for extended periods away from home.
The rear of the camper houses the U-shaped dinette area which comfortably seats four and converts quickly and easily into a double bed if you have a couple of young children along for the ride. Machine washable seat covers are a great idea for when that accidental spill happens, as is the hard-wearing vinyl floor covering. Bringing the outside in, the canvas sidewall can also be rolled up out of the way, providing a café-style/al fresco area with easy access to the kitchen. Large storage compartments beneath the seats are constructed from powder-coated aluminium, keeping that ever important weight down while maintaining overall strength. Being aluminium, they won’t bow or swell in humid conditions either.
Hidden beneath the rear seat is the power supply for the camper: a single 100Ah battery. This can be optioned-up to twin 100Ah batteries, if required. A Projecta 240V charger keeps the battery fully-loaded for those spontaneous weekends away. There’s also 12V and USB sockets located under the seats for your charging needs, as well as a pair of speakers and bluetooth stereo for when the need to party strikes.
Internal illumination is provided by three LED strip lights at the front, middle and rear of the camper, with the lights all having their own switch, meaning you don’t have to get out from under the covers to turn everything off.
To keep the mozzies out and the fresh smell of the bush in, large windows with midge-proof mesh screens, external awnings and internal canvas lining are located along each side of the tent. These were also put to the test when the storms hit our camp hard and they passed with flying colours.
As with any camper trailer, the cooking area is always going to be the focal point of your outside living area. The team at SWAG have not skimped in this department of their lightweight model, fitting a full-size stainless steel slide-out kitchen at the rear of the passenger side. The unit comes complete with a four-burner gas stove with large wind deflectors, two cutlery/storage drawers, sink with plumbed cold water, an LED light and pull-out bench extension. Now, it was a windy night while we cooked our dinner and the large wind deflectors performed flawlessly. The only problem was that either they were too tall for the LED light, or the light was too short for the wind deflectors, making it impossible to position the light downwards onto the hotplates and our frypan. This wouldn’t have been such an issue if there was another form of external lighting, but alas, there was not. A 12V socket is located near the entry to run a lead for a LED strip light, but unfortunately we didn’t have one.
To the left of the stairs a smaller hatch with a drop-down door houses a pull-out pantry below a full width storage tunnel. Beside the pantry is a vented fridge box, complete with 12V socket and internal LED light. The fridge slide is designed to take a maximum 80L EvaKool fridge, which our test trailer was fitted with.
The offside front storage compartment is comparable to the near side, but with a larger front space and smaller hatch. The larger compartment is fitted with a 12V socket and LED light, making it the perfect location for a smaller second fridge, if required. A small generator or portable toilet would also be suitable for the space. The smaller hatch has a small pull-out drawer down low, and a full-width tunnel above. The full-width tunnel is an obvious spot for your poles and spreader bars, but could also fit a couple of fishing rods in tubes along with your camp chairs.
Behind the small hatch forward of the driver-side wheel is the main switch panel, fuses, battery level indicator, battery isolator and water level gauge. For me, this panel would work so much better if it was located in the kitchen area, making everything more accessible. At the very back of the trailer, you’ll find the water tank filling point, 240V connection and access to the battery compartment.
A good point to note is that even though we spent the day driving along dusty country roads and through several creek crossings, the storage compartments remained clean and dry.
THE FINAL WORD
Overall, the Sprinta Ultra-Lite by SWAG Campers is a very tidy, entry-level camper. With a starting price of $17, 990 (plus options) you’ve got yourself a great little camper that won’t break the bank. With a specific niche in mind, the Sprinta Ultra-Lite does pretty much everything it sets out to do.
Being quite new to the market, it has a few edges that require a tiny bit more polish, but the edges aren’t overly rough, so a slight buff should be all that’s required.
People with smaller SUVs, with hearts set on spending time with friends and family in beautiful spots with a few creature comforts to hand, will love being able to tow the lightweight, attractively-priced Sprinta Ultra-Lite camper.
Suspension Fully independent with twin shocks and coil springs (with limiting chains)
Brakes 12in HD electric drum brakes
Coupling ARK Off Road HD hitch
Chassis Q345 hot dipped 100x50x4mm galvanised steel
Drawbar Q345 hot dipped 100x50x4mm galvanised steel
Frame Q345 hot dipped 50x50x4mm galvanised steel box ladder frame
Main Body Box ladder 25x25mm, 3mm wall thickness square tube fully welded aluminium, cladded with aluminium composite sheeting 1.6mm thickness
Storage Box Box ladder 25x50mm square tube fully welded aluminium, cladded with aluminium sheeting 1.6mm
Wheel/tyre 265/75R16 Goodride Radial MT on 6-stud 16in alloy rims
Style Forward-fold hard floor camper
Box size 2100x1800x800mm
Length 5200mm (hitch to tail lights)
Water 120L stainless steel tank
Kitchen Stainless steel four burner
Battery 1 x 100Ah
PRICE AS TESTED
$20,565 (but starting at $17,990)
Address 7 Collinsvale St, Rocklea QLD 4106
Phone (07) 3255 5662