It’s typical of Track Trailer to come up with something eye-catchingly different.
Last year, the company launched its range of Multiple Application Tactical Equipment — or Mate, to you and me — fitting Track’s famous MC2 Asymmetric suspension onto a utilitarian box trailer compatible with a range of kitchen and sleeping-quarter camper “tops”.
Like the ute before it, the Mate range was invented to get the pigs to market and wife to church and not necessarily in that order. Tradies everywhere drooled at the thought of a Rolls-Royce workhorse trailer that would turn into hassle-free luxury camper simply by attaching the Base Mate or Weekend Mate top.
The latest Mate add-on — the Tour Mate top — features a family-size tent which is the largest in the range. The family man can finally get in on the action, and yours truly was lucky enough to score the scoop over the Australia Day weekend.
I loaded up the family and headed off
Friday arvo for a summer long weekend of family R&R, and set about putting the Tour Mate through its paces.
The Tour Mate tent is a cracker and very roomy at 4.2x2.4m. It folds out to the side as many other softfloors do and comes standard with a full-length tropical roof and an awning over the rear/kitchen area.
The tent is made from Australian-made Wax Converters Dynaproof canvas. The test model came with the optional family room ($1,390) to ensure the Jones family’s weekend went smoothly.
As with the other camper tops in the Mate range, you can detach the Tour Mate top from the base trailer by lifting self-locking latches, winding down the legs and driving away. If you yearn to build one of those knock-out campfires as most blokes do out bush, crank down the easy-wind legs, scout for wood and load up the trailer: you’ll be toasting marshmallows from 20-feet away without stirring the kids from their
INSTALLING THE TENT
Setting up the tent seems complicated at first but in reality it’s not that difficult at all.
To deal with the height of the tent base, you pull out a pole and push the canvas from one side to the other and let inertia do the rest. Once you’re inside it’s a matter of stepping up onto the mattress and extending the elbows over the bed, adjusting the verticals and then using the poles to extend the crossmember that fills out the tent. Poles hold it all in place and notches in the handy breakfast bar keep it neat and tidy. One person could do it but it’s easier with two. We set it up for the first time in the dark, as our two kids ran around the campsite letting off steam after a long drive.
The awning and family room zips easily onto the front of the tent and has an external frame to hold it all in place. This took us another 10 minutes. The awning uses these clever peg tapes to hold it in place, which I have never seen before. You hammer in the peg through the steel ring and then pull the tape taut for a snug fit.
The first thing you will notice after dark when you’re inside the tent is the outstanding lighting system. The set-up resembles a 20Twenty match at the MCG with three full length LED light strips for each of the crossbars. Two reading lights at the side of the bed top
it off — brilliant.
Access to the queen size bed is via a ladder with non-slip strips on each rung. The high density foam mattress is adequate but if it were mine an upgrade to an innerspring would be on the cards. The bedding area is big enough for bigger blokes with room to accommodate a king size bed, and comes with a zipped waterproof bed cover to keep your bedding clean and dry.
Ventilation comes from five internally accessible windows, two entry doors and a full-length living space window. Another vent above the bed takes advantage of the tropical roof. A full-length hook and loop strip keeps the open windows neat and tidy — a nice touch. With the family room easily accommodating the bunks and bags for my two, there was cavernous living room under canvas, which would be perfect for those days when the weather turns against you.
The stainless steel kitchen swings out from the rear. Securely latched for travel, it is supported by a pair of fold-out legs when in use. The two-burner gas stove handles the cooking needs and takes its supply from one of two 4kg gas bottles attached on the A-frame via a quick fit hose connection. There are two drawers, one for cutlery and one for general items like foil and Gladwrap. The stove’s windshield doubles as a bench extension. The sink is a drop in plastic type that’s handy for other uses like washing your kids. Water to the basin is pumped from the 70L storage by a hand pump. An electric pump serves as a second outlet on the side of the trailer. The splashback proved to be an organisational winner. Not only does it protect your canvas but it keeps essentials easy to find, e.g., Bushmans, stubby holder, sunscreen and dead horse.
You’ll need storage containers to organise your foodstuff as the kitchen has no pantry, but the boxes will fit on the easy, nearby slide-out tray.
Power is supplied by a single 105Ah deep cycle battery which you can charge via an Anderson plug when on the run or via a 240V charger. The battery is stored in a solid steel box on the side of the trailer with battery meter, water tank gauge and a power override switch — in case you accidently leave on the inside lights when it’s time to go. There are six 12V plugs in total: two merit plugs on the battery box, two more on the other side next to water pump, and one merit and one standard plug inside by the light switches.
Available storage isn’t the strongest feature of the Tour Mate though it’s easily overcome. The easy roll-out tray makes accessing the tub area simple. The area has tie downs to secure your load for transit and come with two space cases secured on the side of the trailers.
Our Tour Mate was set up for the long distance tourer and came with storage for a whopping six jerry cans: two can fit on each side of the A-frame behind stoneguards with room for another down each side. I used the one on the A-frame to hold the ARB recovery kit.
STUPOT’S FINAL WORD
Over the weekend, I grew to really appreciate the Tour Mate. It towed well and handled all of the rough stuff that got in the way of my path with ease. Ten inch electric brakes brought it all to a halt and the DO-35 ensured that it stayed securely connected to the truck.
Making most of the available cargo area was an assignment. Packing the canvas with the pantry isn’t ideal and extra storage on the A-frame would minimise space concerns. I’d pick a model with the fridge slide, too, as this option really contributed to an enjoyable family weekend.
The tent area is first class, the
kitchen good and the handy tub system served us well as a pantry — all with the offroad pedigree of the Track name for a little more than $29 grand. Oh, and don’t forget, you can lift off the tent top and use it
as a trailer, so you’re getting some excellent bang for your buck.
> Kids’ bedroom
> Breaky bar
> Hook and loop on the window
> Bed cover reading light
> Big roomy area under canvas
> Tough proven trailer
> Plenty of 12V power outlets
STU WOULD HAVE LIKED
> Hook and loop at bottom of doors to be an inch wider, bit fiddly in the bug barrier rush.
> More storage
Originally published in Camper Trailer Australia #63, March/April 2013.