I have been a fan of Pioneer's range of hard floor camper trailers ever since I first laid eyes on them. They are neat, solid units with a sleek, no-nonsense, high-riding body. One look at them and you know it's the kind of camper you want behind you when you're tackling hard days on tough tracks in the fourbie; one in which you can look forward to a soft bed and a hot meal.
The Pioneer Argyle SE 4x4 is a solid offroader that's exceptionally light for its class. Unladen, it weighs in at 780kg and it's rated to 1500kg, giving it a massive 720kg payload. Built on an extra heavy duty hot dipped galvanised chassis, the body is constructed from 1.2mm Zincanneal. The weight is kept down by combining this with checker plate aluminium where possible. It sits on a Grafta independent suspension system with double action Discovery shocks and 15in wheels shod with all-terrain tyres; a spare is mounted under the chassis. Running gear up front includes a mesh stone guard, a swing-down jockey wheel and a Treg hitch.
I wasn't a huge fan of its hydraulic disc brakes, because you need to get out of the car and flip over a greasy metal plate to stop the brakes engaging when you reverse. This is quite fiddly, especially if you are driving alone; jumping out of the car to adjust your trailer on a suburban road is sure to earn you a few honks from other drivers. Thankfully, you get a choice between hydraulic and electric brakes, and I would definitely opt for the latter.
There's a pull latch to release the slide-out kitchen, which on our trailer was stuck and needed manual releasing from inside the trailer. I was assured that this is because the mechanism is new, and that they loosen with age. A previous review of the Argyle 4x4 in Camper Trailer Australia, issue 31, notes the same problem, but to be fair the last review unit was also new. A quick search of the online forums reveal that this isn't a problem noted by current Pioneer owners.
The kitchen itself is basic but sufficient, and ideally located for quick roadside stops. It is a self-supporting stainless unit with a sink and two-burner Smev cooktop. The tap is plumbed to the 125L water tank, with an electric pump supplying the water. There is also a back-up hand pump in front of the toolbox. A small bench rolls out of the kitchen behind the stove and a cutlery drawer is located underneath it. There is a 12V LED light just adjacent on the side of trailer.
The gullwing boxes are ideally located to hold your fridge or esky, and there are two 240V outlets here to supply power. With your fridge in the offside box you would probably use the onside box as a pantry. But, if it was my trailer, I would option up the toolbox to include the
roll-out pantry ($527), so everything you need to cook a meal is within easy reach. This box provides a massive amount of extra storage, so it could easily accommodate the pantry, and it is lit by an adjustable LED light. In front of this box are three jerry can holders and a 9kg gas bottle holder.
Set up is supremely easy; you simply unlock the winch, lift the hard floor, and it just about opens itself with the assistance of gas struts. You then extend and lock the inside pole. This takes all of three minutes and is sufficient for overnight stops. Setting up the included awning takes around 20 minutes.
Inside you will find a double bed with a foam mattress (with an optional upgrade to an innerspring), complete with two LED reading lights and a small storage compartment on both sides. The bed base lifts up with the assistance of gas struts to reveal a large carpeted storage area, which can be accessed via a hatch in the tailgate when the trailer is closed.
There are four windows and a door on either side, all with midge-proof screening. Clear café-style coverings on the two windows beside the bed allow light in while keeping rain out, and the canvas flap over the drawbar does the same for the window at the head of the bed. The tent is fully Australian made from Wax Converters canvas and you get a choice of colours.
With the optional winch on our test unit, packing down was even easier than setting up. Just wind the handle until it's almost closed, tuck in the canvas, wind a little more and lock the latches.
There are power outlets scattered liberally throughout the trailer, with five 12V and 240V outlets apiece. And a 120Ah battery with charger sits in the toolbox.
All the storage in the trailer is lockable and held by sturdy latches. There are two neat little checker plate storage boxes, one on either side of the trailer, which are ideal for dirty tools. A pole locker is hidden at the rear of the trailer, but if you forget to latch it closed before shutting the tent, the gas strut means you can't secure it without reopening the trailer.
Starting at $35,475 (drive-away, ex-Vic) the Argyle SE 4x4 is competitively priced. It offers solid offroad ability, remarkable ease of use, and a sensible layout. It comes with pretty much everything you need; simply load it with water, food and clothes and you could be off to the wilderness in no time.
Towing it was a breeze, as you can see right over the top of it, and its low weight is exceptional, increasing its appeal to keen 4WDers.