What springs to mind when you think of the ideal camper trailer? A box trailer with a sidefold tent boasting dimensions worthy of your mountain royalty status? A cosy, quick and easy hardfloor? Or a hardshell hybrid fitted with all the trimmings your heart desires?
John Swinglehurst, genial proprietor of Lifestyle Camper Trailers, reveals his hand with this spunky AT-10 hybrid camper. Having built a variety of camper trailers in his time, John saw the need for a compact, easy-to-manoeuvre trailer with comforts normally reserved for a caravan.
The AT-10 is underpinned by a whopping 150x3mm railed SupaGal chassis and drawbar. I was a bit surprised at the size of the rails but John says the company compared their performance against 100x5mm gauge rails and found the larger cross-sections were stronger. Two 65L polyethylene water tanks sit between the rails and are high enough to avoid assault from rutted terrain. The clearance is helped by the independent suspension comprising coil springs, trailing arms and shock absorbers for a pleasant ride.
A Hyland ball-style hitch keeps the AT-10 hooked up to the tow vehicle. There are two 4.5kg gas cylinders and two jerry can holders on the drawbar and a snap-up jockey wheel. I like these because they are quite easy to use but the clamping height cannot be changed, so a couple of wooden blocks will help on uneven ground.
THE SAME … OR IS IT?
Despite appearances, the AT-10’s galvanised steel tube and insulated aluminium composite cladding set it apart from many caravans. Nonetheless, the AT-10 shares some design elements with its larger RV cousins including the pop-top roof (which is made from an aluminium frame and cladding), a front boot with top and side access, and an awning pole/fishing rod holder above. Seitz acrylic hopper windows are standard and the Camec security door offers protection.
The AT-10 expands like a blowfish. Not only does it have a pop-top roof, it also has a pop-out end which is very easy to set up. First lower the rear-mounted spare wheel, lift the rear wall, open out the hinged side walls and lift the rear wall and hey presto — the queen bed inside is set in position. Because of the design, only the rear wall has windows but it’s quite spacious inside. To lift the roof, it’s a matter of undoing the corner clips and pushing the roof from inside: if you’re small I recommend a step ladder.
Lifestyle offers the Aussie Trek Coolabah awning as an option for the AT-10. Although
well suited to a pop-top camper, it can catch tree branches on narrow bush tracks. Annexe walls fit to the awning, however, extending the living area greatly.
The AT-10 has an external nearside slide-out kitchen bench typical of a camper trailer. The bench comes with a two-burner cooktop alongside a stainless steel sink plus a storage area underneath and a hinged bench extension. The optional Waeco CF 110 Vera chest-style fridge/freezer fits in the front boot and slides out from the nearside. The camper is also fitted with an external shower hose.
The AT-10 internal layout is simple but very workable with the innerspring queen bed mattress occupying most of the rear area, a Porta Potti under the bed, a small dinette on the offside and cupboards on the front wall and between the bed and the entry door. The dinette comes with a trendy tri-fold table wisely fitted with clips to prevent movement when travelling. Should your family like to fit in the AT-10, you can install bunk beds in lieu of the dinette.
The AT-10’s electrics are more than sufficient. It comes wired for both 240V and 12V, has 12V LED lighting, a 15A mains charger and a DC-to-DC charger for topping up the 100Ah deep-cycle battery on the road. LED lights are fitted to the ceiling but there are no reading lights for either the bed or the dinette. Solar panels are an option and one to be considered if lengthy bush stays are planned.
The AT-10 camper has a very extensive options list. Some of them I’d rather see standard but Lifestyle prefers to supply the basics at an affordable level and then let the purchaser choose what else they might need.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Lifestyle shows that there is a right way to compromise in the AT-10, pulling together some of the better traits of a caravan and a camper trailer in a tidy, affordable package.
The compact AT-10 blends great offroad capabilities with solid walls, acrylic windows and a security door. Is it a caravan or a camper trailer? If it gets you there, who cares?
> Simple-to-operate pop-top and bed extension
> Slide-out kitchen bench
> Electrical set-up
> Generous external storage
> Build quality
I WOULD HAVE LIKED
> A few more interior lights
> Not much else; most items are on the options list
Originally published in Camper Trailer Australia #63, April 2013