In December 2004, Caravan World editor Ros Bromwich welcomed readers to the first edition of Caravan World’s Campertrailer Guide.
A 2004 Kimberley Kamper Platinum with a cheeky Quintrek tinny graced a glossy cover that asserted ‘campers do it in style’. The Platinum, photographed by journalist Malcolm Street, was one of 27 models ranging from side-fold softfloor trailers to luxury-appointed hardfloors, ‘camper cousins’, a teardrop camper, a Jurgens hybrid and an offroad-ready hardtop, the Track Trailer Tvan MkII.
Flicking through the first Caravan World’s Campertrailer Guide reveals a long-established industry with many brands having decades of manufacturing under their belts. But ambitions were modest compared to the range-toppers of today.
Of the 10 side-fold softfloor models featured in full-length reviews, none were shown with independent suspension. In most instances, those carrying water had 60L tanks plumbed to manual taps sitting above plastic drop-in sinks. Twelve volt electrics were discussed in only three of the softfloor reviews, few had drawers and just over half demonstrated a stove.
The pay-off was price and size, though, with many weighing less than a half a tonne and some selling for well under $10K.
One manufacturer warned Bromwich against complex kitchens, saying the cabinetry was at risk of vermin and wouldn’t withstand corrugations. Castaway Campers had trialled a solution, installing a zippered PVC cover that concealed the cavity under the sink, although Street was more interested in the company’s strong, lightweight curved chassis rails.
Hardfloor campers were fancier affairs with some commanding up to $30,000-40,000 in 2004. Most sported independent suspension with water capacities averaging 120-130L, suggesting they were designed for touring off-the-grid
Tare weights ranged between 770kg and 1180kg with ATMs maxing out at about 1600kg. Treg couplings were highly regarded, with the two most expensive campers sporting them, although Vehicle Components’ AT25 and AT35 couplings which preceded the DO32 were also proving popular with the hardfloor manufacturers.
HOW THINGS HAVE CHANGED
Well-known identities and long-time CTA contributors Ron and Viv Moon say there are more travellers and better suspension on trailers these days, compared to 12 years ago.
“Travellers are getting off the beaten track more these days. Last time we visited the west coast of Eyre Peninsula, there were six vans whereas once, it would’ve been empty. Smaller towns have also cottoned on to the benefits of catering to campers,” they said.
“People want more and I think camper trailers are starting to lose their size advantage. Once, they were a bit of canvas with a bed, now they come with air-conditioning. Water tank capacity is important in remote regions, as is a dry good stove, ease of articulation and a wheel, track and tyre combo to match your rig. Those things affect outcomes when you’re dragging a trailer up in the Kimberley.
“But the proliferation of really good suspensions has made camper trailers extremely capable, despite their increase in size. Manufacturers are lifting their game, especially in the mid- to top-end range.”
CELEBRATING 100 ISSUES
In order to celebrate our 100th issue, we've put together a jam-packed bumper edition of Camper Trailer Australia 100.
This mag is 24 pages larger than normal and features a round-up of our camping experts' Best 100 Campsites around the country. Plus we've got some awesome camper modifications you can do at home for less than 100 bucks, and five brand spanking new camper trailer reviews, including a sneak peak of the Patriot X2 - a brand new model. And, as an added bonus, we're giving you the chance to win an MDC Cruizer Slide camper, worth $21,990!
Camper Trailer Australia's 100th issue is on sale now!