With the fog slowly starting to lift, we arrived at our location in the Brisbane Valley for a day of rigorous testing.
In tow was the third iteration of the popular V2 Kakadu forward-fold camper trailer from Swag Campers, the appropriately named V2 Kakadu Generation 3.
Looking resplendent in its shiny silver duco, we decided that it might be best if we set the camper up first, taking all the pretty pictures before running it through the mud and ruts later during our offroad testing.
SETTING UP IS SIMPLE
After finding a great little spot down by the babbling brook, it didn't take much to disconnect the trailer, give it a quick level up thanks to the four stabiliser legs and get ready to deploy the main tent.
As with any forward-fold camper, there are two ways to get it all opened up. You can unclip the six latches and use the attached winch, or if you're lucky enough to have someone helping, you can open it manually.
Seeing that I was there to take pics, Adam from Swag Campers had to do it by himself.
With the winch attached, it really is super easy. Extend the nylon webbing strap, hook it on and start winding the handle. To make setting up even quicker, you can leave the webbing strap attached during transit.
One little thing that I have always had an issue with when opening up a forward-fold is how when the top reaches the tipping point, it can quite often slam down, catching out the unsuspecting or first-time operator.
With the Gen 3, Swag have opted for higher-rated gas struts, 2000Nm to be exact, to stop this from happening. It means you have to keep winding that winch handle, but that's a small price to pay for improved safety.
Now that the top is over, attention turns to erecting the canvas tent. Again, gas struts in each corner help to keep the inner steel poles upright and in place, requiring no further adjustment.
If conditions are mild, like on our test day, extra internal spreader bars are not required, making setting up even quicker. If the spreader bars are required, tensioning of the poles is super simple too thanks to oversized locking mechanisms.
The tent comes with a tropical roof that sits high above the main tent canvas, allowing for plenty of ventilation. The camper on test was fitted with a canvas roof, but future models are reverting back to a poly roof. This is because the poly roof reflects between 60 to 70 per cent more heat, keeping the camper cooler. It also dries quicker to enable earlier pack-ups after a dewy night.
Speaking with Adam on the day, he explained to me that even though this is the Generation 3 model of the V2 Kakadu, they are constantly able to tweak the design and make refinements on the run. By only importing small batches at a time, Swag Campers can listen to customer feedback and make improvements on future units.
When it comes to kicking back in the shade at camp, or seeking shelter from the wind and rain, the V2 Kakadu really has you covered. This camper trailer comes standard with all the extra canvas you could ever want for.
Firstly, there are two different types of awnings. You've got the touring awning for those quick overnighters, and you've got the full annexe as pictured on these pages. The added benefit of the annexe is that for longer stays, you can fully enclose your outdoor area with external walls and a draught skirt for maximum protection from the elements.
If you are using the full annexe, the touring awning can be utilised at the front on the offside of the camper, providing even more protection and undercover floor area.
Either of the two awnings can be left attached to the main tent and packed up for travel. This helps to reduce set-up times even further. Last, but not least, the V2 Kakadu also comes with a portable ensuite shower tent for when you want to fire up the Country Comfort gas hot water system to wash away the day's grease and grime.
FEED THE FAMISHED
Keep that hot water system hooked up, because the stainless-steel pull-out kitchen is all plumbed up; it just needs to be connected for steaming hot water.
So you can have both the four-burner gas stove and the hot water system running at the same time, Swag have fitted quick release gas fittings to each rear corner.
Speaking of the gas stove, it's a nice unit. The four burners have been nicely recessed down low, and the wind shields aren't just there for show. An adjustable LED light on a bendy stalk is tall enough to reach over the wind shields to direct the light exactly where it is required.
Unfortunately, the finishing detail on the stove was let down by sharp and unfinished edges, especially around the recessed burners. For prospective purchasers, keep an eye out on future models where this has been remedied thanks to a rolled edge. Remember how I mentioned earlier about redesign on the run? Well, this is one of those things.
Bench and prep space are provided courtesy of a fold-down table off the side of the camper and a stainless-steel flip-over table. When combined with the pull-out pantry box and fridge slide, it creates a U-shaped kitchen set-up with pretty easy access to all of your food and cooking gear.
The fridge slide features a stainless-steel fridge fender (well, that's what Adam called it). I just thought it was a clever fold-down table just perfect for putting your drinks or food on right next to the fridge!
The pull-out pantry is actually a lockable and sealed box, not just an open drawer. Leave it closed and latched and it keeps the ants out. Put a padlock on it and it keeps the kids out of your stash of chocolate bickies.
EXTERNAL STORAGE OPTIONS
As with most forward-fold campers, there's not a great deal of external storage available, with the kitchen taking up the rear and the fridge taking up most of the front boot. With the V2 Kakadu, there's still enough room behind the fridge for a portable barbecue or similar.
On the offside, behind the pantry there’s another drawer that is just the perfect size for the hot water system and its associated hoses, gas fittings and showerheads. A small hatch opens to reveal the master switches, water gauges and battery monitor.
An aluminium checkerplate box on the A-frame is large enough to hold your generator, yet can still be accessed to a certain degree with the camper all set up.
Pole storage, fishing rods, golf clubs and maybe a chair or two are taken care of by a full-width storage box tucked in behind the twin spare wheels. This box features openings on both ends as well as a full lid for easy access.
Last but not least, the V2 Kakadu has a pair of sneaky little openings on each side of the camper. Located above the pantry box on the near side and the pull-out drawer on the offside, they allow you access to the internal storage space below the bed.
What's so good about that, you ask? Well, for starters, you don't have to open the camper up at home to pack your clothes, pillows and bedding before you leave. Then, you don't have to open it up as soon as you get home to empty it all out.
Up inside the camper, the V2 Kakadu follows the same recipe as most other four-berth forward-folds on the market.
There's the queen sized bed up the front and a rear lounge/dinette that can be converted to a double sized bed for the kids if you feel like taking them camping.
If not, you can leave the wraparound lounge finished in automotive leather all set up and ready to kick back in at a moment’s notice. And you might find that you are doing that a little more than usual thanks to the panoramic outlook that the V2 Kakadu provides.
Typically, the near-side canvas walls are able to be rolled up out of the way to provide a clear and unobstructed view across the kitchen to the outside world. The crew from Swag have taken it one step further by now allowing for the offside wall to do exactly the same. This really lets the outside in.
On top of the clothes storage under the bed, there's more space available underneath the lounge seats and beneath the handy step that helps you get in and out of bed.
There is absolutely no use in my books of having a whizz-bang camper trailer if you're limited in terms of where you can go and how long you can stay away from civilisation for. Your camper has got to have enough water and power to keep you off-grid for as long as possible.
So how does the V2 Kakadu stack up?
Water; check. The Kakadu sports 170L of water storage split over two stainless-steel tanks. There's a 130L at the rear and a 40L at the front. Both are protected by aluminium checkerplate shrouds.
Power; check. Hidden under the lounge seats are a pair of 100Ah Aussie-made deep cycle batteries which come with a 12-month national warranty. While you might think that running deep cycle batteries is a little old school (and you would be right) if you look after them properly and know their limits, they will serve you well.
In reality, if you are only running the EvaKool G75 dual zone fridge and LED lights, these batteries will provide a couple of days of available power. An Anderson plug on the drawbar looks after charging the batteries during transit. 240V charging comes by way of a supplied portable Projecta PC1600 16A charger.
Just in case you did want to bring your new camper up to 2020 battery spec, Swag does offer a lithium battery upgrade, but that will also require additional items like DC/DC chargers.
Solar; check. We were running the 200W solar blanket on our test day (an optional upgrade for $595), but straight out of the box, the V2 comes with a 160W folding panel and regulator.
Gas; check. To keep the water hot and your dinner frying, the Kakadu has storage on the drawbar for two 9kg gas bottles.
Jerry cans; check. Next to the gas bottles there’s also storage for a pair of 20L jerry cans. These can be used for extra fuel for the vehicle or extra drinking water.
TIME TO GET DIRTY
With the day getting on, we had to make the hard decision to pack the camper up. Adam actually wanted to give his wife a call to come out and camp for the night. Honestly, I couldn't blame him.
But alas, we needed to get this thing dirty and put its offroad credentials to the test.
Our test track consisted of a water crossing, a bit of mud, a few puddles, a couple of tighter tracks, stretches of smooth river rock, gravel, ruts and a few holes.
While none of it could be considered extreme, it served up some pretty typical track conditions that most users would be confronted with on their travels.
Thanks to the independent trailing arm suspension (coil springs and twin shocks), decent ground clearance, 265/75R16 mud-terrain tyres and the ARK XO360 offroad coupling, the V2 Kakadu took it all in its stride.
One thing you will need to pay attention to in more serious offroad situations is your departure angle. There's quite a bit of camper hanging behind the wheels and if the going got really rough, it would be susceptible to damage. Get your spotter out to help.
THE FINAL WORD
Swag Campers have set out to make the Gen 3 V2 Kakadu a 'turnkey' package, with you only needing to add your clothes, food and gas to get out there and start camping.
All the basics are there, and if you really did want or need something different, the team from Swag are there to help you out.
For $23,990, you're getting a comprehensively specced product at a pretty darn competitive price.
Suspension Independent trailing arm with twin SCT shocks and coil springs (two-year warranty)
Brakes 12in electric drum brakes
Coupling ARK XO360 3.5T offroad coupling
Chassis/drawbar 120 x 50 x 4mm single-piece Q345-grade hot-dipped galvanised steel
Body Fully welded hot-dipped galvanised frame with zinc anneal sheeting finished with 2pac baked enamel
Wheel/tyre 265/75R16 GoodRide mud-terrains on 16in alloy rims (dual spares)
Style Forward-fold camper trailer
Box size 4.5m x 1.95m
Length (hitch to spare tyre) 5.75m
Water 170L (1 x 130L tank and 1 x 40L tank)
Kitchen External stainless-steel pull-out kitchen w/ four-burner gas stove
Battery 2 x 100Ah deep cycle (Aussie-made w/ 12-month warranty)
Solar 1 x 200W blanket (optional extra)
ARK XO750 jockey wheel; dual spare tyres; full annexe (touring awning, alloy poles, 200W solar blanket)
PRICE AS TESTED
$23,990 including the EvaKool G75 dual zone fridge (ex. Brisbane) + $595 for 200W Solar Blanket
Swag Camper Trailers
Address Collinsvale Street, Rocklea QLD 4106
Phone 1800 792 422