Earlier in the year, I got to take the 2019-spec X1 camper trailer out for a weekend in the bush. By luck or good fortune, I managed to find myself back at Patriot HQ, this time hooking up their Desert Ops X1-N behind my ute.
The first thing you'll notice about the new Patriot X1-N Desert Ops is the colour. Going for that 'retro' feel, the team have chosen to use Sandy Taupe, a factory Toyota colour harking back to 40 series LandCruisers. The next thing you'll probably notice is the slightly more aggressive stance of the X1-N Desert Ops, thanks to it being fitted with 35” tyres.
Apart from these couple of characteristics, the X1-N Desert Ops remains largely unchanged from the 2019 X1.
DIGGING A LITTLE DEEPER
What does the 'N' actually stand for? Originally, I thought that it may have stood for naked! The reason why I thought that, is that if you see a standard X1-N, it doesn't have a tent up on top. In its place is the brand new, custom designed and built X-Rack. So, there's NO tent as standard. I have been reliably informed that this is where the 'N' comes from. Maybe I need to keep my mind out of the gutter?
The X-Rack has been designed to accommodate a wide variety of tents, including the hard shell James Baroud, the range of tents from iKamper and plenty more. If you so choose, you can forgo a rooftop tent on top entirely and strap a couple of swags or a standard tent up there for your sleeping needs. The rack can even be used for mounting other lifestyle accessories like a kayak, a bike or both.
And what about the 'Desert Ops' side of things? Firstly, it's a Limited Edition model, with only 20 to be produced. Over and above the X1-N, the Desert Ops is all about the colour, the retro vinyl decals and the 35” tyres wrapped around 16” PCOR rims and upgraded 12” electric brakes. Keeping with the theme, the Desert Ops Patriot comes with a set of Desert Tan Maxtrax mounted to the front of the storage locker on the drawbar. An individually numbered badge completes the list of Desert Ops specific extras.
BUILT AUSSIE TOUGH
The name Patriot Campers is synonymous with high quality and well built Aussie Made camper trailers. The X1-N is no different. Supporting the quality of workmanship that comes out of the Gold Coast factory are the non-Patriot components that go into making the X1-N; they more than hold their own.
Underneath, the Desert Ops rides on air. Literally. Airbag suspension, with twin shocks on each wheel, has been designed exclusively for Patriot, in conjunction with the team at Cruisemaster, specifically for the low Tare weight of the X1-N. This system is standard fitment. And that Tare I mentioned, it’s low. Real low. At only 828kg, you've got a lot of payload to get anywhere near the 1600kg ATM.
Such a low Tare weight is achieved firstly by the camper being a rather compact unit. At only 3.65m long and 1.85m wide, it's not much bigger than a box trailer. But don't be fooled; those diminutive dimensions give it the upper hand when being dragged up and down tight and twisty tracks.
Secondly, Patriot have swapped out galvanised steel for any non-structural elements of the chassis. Instead, these elements are aluminium, to keep the weight down. An aluminium shell and self-supporting monocoque design reduces weight further. A ball weight of only 100kg is claimed for an unladen camper, making manoeuvrability at home or at camp an easy task.
Keeping with the use of homegrown products, the Desert Ops uses REDARC gear throughout, with the Manager30 Battery Management System taking care of the two 135Ah gel batteries.
A solar input is pre-wired along with a 240V mains charging point to ensure everything is kept topped up at home and ready to go. A 350W inverter is also fitted if you need 240V when out on the track.
Taking up residence underneath the camper are a pair of water tanks giving you 155L in total. They've been tucked up well out of harm's way, with the rearmost tank getting extra protection courtesy of a checkerplate shroud. All wiring and plumbing follow the chassis rails and both are mounted nice and high for maximum protection.
Keeping the trailer attached and articulating over the rough stuff is the DO35 V3 hitch from Cruisemaster, while an Anderson plug keeps the batteries charged while driving. A heavy-duty hand brake, jockey wheel and a pressurised water tap round out the goodies found on the drawbar. As an option, the drawbar can have an additional 200mm extension added at time of order. This is particularly handy if you own a tray back ute.
Finishing off at the back, there's a HD steel bumper with recessed LED lights and a full size 35” tyre mounted to a swing-away carrier. Also found in the bumper are a pair of recovery points, along with a hitch receiver to mount accessories like a bike carrier.
SETTING UP AT CAMP
Once you've found the ideal spot to set up camp, you soon realise another benefit of the airbag suspension. Not only does it provide you with optimum ride quality, but it also makes levelling the camper a breeze. No need for levelling blocks or searching for the correct sized rocks here. When it's time to hit the road again, you can use the conveniently placed ride height reference marks located under the wheel arches to get the camper sitting just right.
Our Desert Ops specced X1-N was fitted with the latest X-Cover tent from iKamper. Given that this style of tent hadn't been fitted and used on an X1-N previously, we were prepared for a couple of teething issues. Fortunately, the issues were only minimal, and I'm sure by the time you read this article, they’ll have been well and truly sorted out.
The X-Cover tent is an absolute beauty, and sets up in a matter of minutes. Unzip the cover, attach the ladder, pull it open and you're 95 per cent of the way there. Pop in a few spring steel spars to help support the fly, roll up the windows and you're done. All the windows and openings have midgee proof screens to keep those nasty biters at bay. One thing I really liked was the use of the storm clears on the side windows. So even if it's pelting down with rain, you can still let the light in and see outside.
The only negative I had about the tent was the mattress. It was a little bit firm, but nothing that a foam topper wouldn't fix. An annex is also available to add on to the tent, and would provide more than enough space for a couple of stretchers for the kids.
With the tent set up, we turned our attention to the 270° awning. Mounted on a pair of gas strut-assisted scissor arms, the awning is quickly raised into position, before being unfurled to provide cover from the kitchen area to the rear storage compartments. There's still enough room for a couple of chairs to fit under the awning as well.
I mentioned before about a couple of teething problems with the X-Cover tent. Well, one of them was when the awning was set up, it fouled on a window hood at the rear of the camper. This meant that we had to drop the window hood to fit the awning off in place properly. Nothing major, and like I said, I'm sure it's already been sorted out by now.
A little bonus with the X-Cover tent is that it comes with its own roof racks mounted to the unit, meaning that you can fit a bike or kayak to the top of the tent during transit.
NEARLY TIME FOR DINNER
With everything set up in less than 15 minutes, we still had enough time to kick back and enjoy the last of the day with a refreshing beverage in hand before thinking about dinner.
The kitchen of the X1-N hasn't changed from the X1, and really it's a pretty good set up, so why change it? There's plenty of preparation space thanks to the large fold down hatch with a stainless steel bench top. With the hatch open, you can access the dry food pantry storage, which consists of three pull-out drawers as well as the main electrical panel.
Housed in this panel is the REDARC Manager30 battery management system, as well as a bank of rocker switches that control the internal LED lights, water pump and fridge (plus a few other bits and bobs). USB and 12V sockets, the water tank gauge and 240V circuit breakers can also be found on the main panel, meaning all electrical components are conveniently in one location. It is here where you also find the individually numbered Desert Ops badge.
A Bromic two burner stove and grill, mounted on a slide, takes care of the cooking duties and will get those sausages sizzling. One thing that I would like to see on the next generation of Patriot Campers is a gas outlet plumbed to the kitchen area. This would negate the need of having to move and attach the gas bottle each time you wanted to use the stove. Keeping the kitchen and prep area well lit is a bi-colour (white and orange) LED strip light mounted under the awning.
Opening the second door gives access to the the fridge slide with telescopic slide out kitchen bench and sink (with plumbed hot and cold water). The fridge slide will take up to a 60L fridge, while additional storage for your cutlery can be found in the pull-out bench.
KEEP IT SORTED
The team at Patriot claim over 2000L of storage space for the X1-N, and when you fold down the rear hatch, it's not hard to see how they reach that number. The rear storage is split into two, with a cavernous open section up top that will gobble up your camp chairs, solar panels or other large camping paraphernalia. Below, a full width pull-out drawer, which comes with supplied dividers, can be set up just the way you want.
Along the onside of the camper are two more storage compartments, with the forward-most compartment housing the Smarttek gas hot water system as well as the 12V circuit breakers. Located in the rear section is the inverter along with a convenient charging shelf for all of your electronic devices.
Redesigned for the X1-N is the front storage box. This has been done to accommodate the variety of different tents available on the market. However, the functionality and look remain very much the same. From standard, the front box starts life out as a utility space, but can be optioned up with an extra shelf or even a BBQ swing-away arm. Either side there is space for two 4.5kg gas bottles. Providing extra protection offroad, the front has been coated with Rhino-lining to minimise damage from errant stones.
THE FINAL WORD
With only 20 of the Desert Ops models being made available in the special retro theme and colours, you may have to get in quick if you like what you see. However, you can still purchase an X1-N in the standard range of colours if you do miss out.
The added versatility of the X1-N, in regards to the sleeping arrangements and X-Rack, is a big winner for me. I think Patriot have achieved what they set out to accomplish.
In Justin Montesalvo's own words, “Not much has changed and we weren't out to re-invent the wheel. We just wanted to bring back some of the versatility of the earlier models.”
Payload 772kg (calculated)
Suspension X-Cruise Coil Suspension (fully independent with twin shocks and coil springs) by Cruisemaster
Brakes 12in HD Electric Drum Brakes
Coupling Cruisemaster DO35 V3
Chassis 3mm Galvanised steel
Drawbar 3mm Galvanised steel
Body 2.5mm powder coated aluminium
Wheel/tyre 315/75R16 Federal Couragia MT on 16in PCOR alloy rims six-stud
Box size 2400 x 1850mm
Length 3650mm (hitch to tail lights)
Water 155L (between two tanks)
Kitchen Twin burner gas stove and grill
Battery 2 x 135Ah gel batteries
iKamper X-Cover Tent and annex
PRICE AS TESTED
- X-Rack versatility
- Aussie made quality
- Offroad ability
- Your choice of sleeping quarters
- Mattress is a bit firm on iKamper tent option
- Having to hook the gas bottle up to the kitchen each time
CAMPER STAR RATINGS
Fit for intended purpose — 9
Innovation — 8
Self-sufficiency — 9
Quality of finish — 9
Build quality — 9
Offroadability — 9
Comforts — 8
Ease of use — 9
Value for money — 8
X-Factor — 9
Address 1 Activity Crescent, Molendinar, QLD 4214
Phone (07) 5597 0638