There's a level of common sense that typically comes with experience, and few camper trailer companies have been operational in Australia for as long as Cavalier Camper Trailers.
The Adelaide manufacturer has been building and evolving its campers for 28 years, and still has the same owner, John Welsh, at the helm.
Keeping it simple is one of Cavalier's notable shows of common sense, not least in an easy to understand camper trailer lineup named so you can quickly see which one suits your needs. It produces three units: the On-Road, Rough-Road and Off-Road, whose names are fairly self-explanatory. From here you can choose either a 9ft or 14ft camper top and then cherry pick the options according to your wants.
Cavalier campers are very affordable, lightweight for ease of towing, and all Australian made to comply with Cavalier's belief that Australian industry should provide jobs for Australian workers.
The entry level On-Road unit is your cheapest way into a Cavalier, but if you want to venture beyond the bitumen it may not be for you. Not all of us require the extra toughness of Cavalier's Off-Road offering either, making the Rough-Road model with dust sealed tailgate a good compromise for those who enjoy extended trips in the wilds off the asphalt, but don't expect to climb mountains.
My test Rough-Road trailer came with a 9ft Deluxe camper top, and weighing in with a Tare of just 400kg, is so light it can be towed by practically anything, including small 2WD vehicles. And because it's not chock-full of all the bells and whistles, rather just enough to enjoy a comfortable and practical time away, it is priced at a very reasonable $11,975 complete with a swing out kitchen and a half annexe.
Built on a 50x50mm box steel chassis with a 75x50mm RHS drawbar, it is a simple trailer with 1.6mm rigidised steel body and 2.1mm checker plate steel floor. The suspension is six leaf shackle - a step up from the Cavalier On-Road's five leaf slipper, but not as relevant to mud-plugging as the Off-Road's seven leaf shackle. But it's horses for courses, and the Rough-Road's suspension is ideal for its intended basic off bitumen use.
It comes with 14in Sunraysia steel wheels and new tyres, but as the trailer is so light, brakes aren't really required and so aren't fitted as standard. The trailer features a jerry can holder and 4kg gas bottle holder as standard, while there are tie rails all around, solid side steps and LED rear lights.
The dust sealed rear tailgate swings out, and my test unit came with a Drifta kitchen ($775 option). A Pull Out or Pull Out with Return kitchen are pricier options, and may be more user-friendly as you have to lift the Drifta kitchen back into the trailer to close it flush. The kitchen itself is well made and functional, and would prove most welcome on all camping stops.
When you're buying on price point you can't expect too many included add-ons, and so the Rough-Road proves. A much-needed bed ladder will set you back $150; a 70L water tank $570 and a stone guard $330. There are plenty of other options available, from boat racks to solar blankets, and you pay your money and take your choice depending on your needs.
Cavalier's 28 years of experience ensures you get a quality night's sleep from their camper tops. The setup is a two person job, but once mastered, is quick and easy thanks to its common sense framework. Our 9ft tent was the higher-specification Deluxe variety offered by Cavalier, using 15oz Dynaproofed canvas - the same as used by the Australian Government Department of Defence - and Australian made by Wax Converters.
The bed base is lightweight aluminium so not only helps keep the weight down, but also eliminates the risk of warping as wooden bed bases do if they get wet when travelling. The wooden bed board inside the trailer is never exposed to the elements, and lifts up on sturdy gas struts to grant simple access to storage inside the trailer.
The bed is queen size and comes with a 90mm foam mattress. For extra comfort a 100mm innerspring option is available, and as previously mentioned, a ladder will be needed for all but the most athletic.
Protection from Australia's harsh climate is the all-important factor of a good camper top. Being made domestically for our very unique conditions, the Cavalier's tent, with sewn-in heavy duty PVC floor, zippers and bed base looks and feels very much up to the task. Three large windows, two smaller at the bed ends and a double zipped door ensure it's a light and airy temporary shelter too, and if you don't need the half-annexe provided with our camper top, you can knock a substantial $1610 off the quoted price.
If you're looking for a light and easy-to-tow trailer with the noticeable quality of a fully Australian made product, the Cavalier is a fine contender. Its impressive two year warranty says a lot about Cavalier's faith in its build quality.
The Rough-Road's base cost is kept down with a modest list of standard equipment, but you get the reassurance of a well-made and durable camper top and trailer. The Rough-Road seems the pick of the Cavalier bunch too (unless you intend to take on very rough terrain), as its suspension, wheels, tyres and most importantly dust proofing will be appreciated on the vast majority of Australian trips.
Suspension: 7-leaf shackle spring
Coupling: 50mm Ball
Supplied by: Cavalier Camper Trailers, 576 Marion Road, Plympton Park, SA 5038. (08) 8297 9244, www.cavaliercampertrailers.com.au
Source: Camper Trailer Australia #40