When we first met the Patriot X1 at the 2014 Camper Trailer of the Year (CTOTY) awards, what blew all the judges away was the comprehensive nature of the design and the quality of the finish. And the camper had only been on the market for three months. Getting to that standard of finish and detailed complexity is usually the result of a decade or more of evolution and work. Not surprisingly, it won its category easily.
Then last year, in Broken Hill, NSW, for CTOTY 2015, it showed up again and we expected maybe a handful of upgrades to the already well-packaged version we saw the year before. We got a list of upgrades covering two A4-pages and we were simply blown away. Again, it cleared its category with ease.
And now we’ve met the X1 again, in Dargo, Vic, for CTOTY 2016, as a Limited Edition version, again with a long list of upgrades and it’s got even better.
This time around, though, the changes weren’t all in the detail. We saw structural modifications that materially improved the camper on the road and in camp, as well as many minor touches adding up to a comprehensive upgrade.
DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION
Significantly, there is a totally new tent. The old Howling Moon roof-topper has been replaced with a purpose-designed integrated tent, sewn by Howling Moon from 385gsm ripstop canvas. It still rides on the top and still requires access via a ladder, but it is now bigger and roomier and is designed to fit in with the camper’s side and the wrap-around awning, and can be extended into a roomy kids’ room at the back.
However, for those who might prefer it, the original roof-topper tents are still an option.
The tent, which drops down from the camper top, gives better access to the storage bays along the driver’s side of the camper, including a front box which comes with a slide for a second fridge or porta-potti and a neat little shelf above.
The tent itself has a zip-out floor, there’s shoe and toy storage pockets along the drop wall, and the optional kids’ room extension zips on in just a couple of minutes. To complete the picture, there’s an optional canvas extension to the gull-wing awning to keep you under cover right to the door of the tent. The mesh flooring, finished to size, is optional.
The bed size has gone from 1.8x2.4m to a standard king-size 1.8x2.1m high density foam, now up to 120mm thick. The ladder now incorporates a hand rail which might ease the concerns of some who are wary of climbing in or out of bed in the dark, especially after a convivial time around the campfire. Once you’re in bed, you get a great ‘star gazer’ roof so you can drop off as the night sky sweeps by.
As I said, there have been a number of small changes made to the camper as well. For example, the stove, which slides out on to the kitchen bench, now has a wind break. It was a bit ‘clunky’ in the review camper, but we are told it would be streamlined immediately when the crew got home to Queensland.
The two-burner and griller stove is now also on a gas strut which prevents the stove from accidentally being bumped back into its nook while you’re cooking.
Fridge options include up to an ARB 60L, Evakool 60L or a Waeco 50L. The water is a standard two 70L tanks, which you can fill together but operate separately.
The kitchen is, as in the past, made from a special 304-grade stainless steel designed especially for the food catering industry, which ensures minimum retention of bacteria and long-term good looks.
The body of the camper has now also been pressurised. Although dust hasn’t been a problem in the past for the Patriot X1, the filtered air intake at the front has increased its defence, allowing a sufficient entry of air while moving forward to keep the interior air pressure slightly higher than outside.
The front storage box also now has two small vents for safer transport of auxiliary fuel.
And speaking of the front storage box, this is now home to what may possibly be the most popular of the options to the X1. If selected, the chainsaw tray in the front box goes (a loss that some might feel) but it is replaced by a flexible extension arm with an end mount for a Weber Baby Q barbecue that’s likely to get a big tick from just about everybody. You don’t get the barbecue, though we’d imagine Patriot would be happy enough to provide one if you asked. Oh, and there’s an optional front extension to the gull-wing awning to shelter the Weber to make it all-weather usable.
To make the Weber more useful, one of the Patriot’s few weak links – the single 4.5kg gas cylinder – has now been remedied, with a second cylinder as standard.
The front box will still carry two 20L jerry cans plus other items even with the Weber.
The hot water service – a Smarttek 6 instant gas system – now hangs on the driver’s side from the front locker door, where it is permanently mounted. Simply open the door fully and the heater unit is located right next to the tent and ready to connect the shower unit to a shower tent. Hot water is not available to the sink through the standard tap, it is taken separately directly from the heater unit via an extended hose.
The old alloy wheels have also gone, with Patriot now opting for Australian made ROH alloys.
With a five-year structural and canvas warranty, and at a price, as we saw it, of $40,990 excluding the airbags, fridge and solar, it’s no wonder that Patriot X1s are now to be seen in New Zealand, the USA, England and Dubai and are selling in increasing and satisfying numbers in Australia.
HITS & MISSES
- Great design and engineering
- Comprehensive fine tuning of all areas
- Improved stability
- Light weight with all comforts
- Great new tent
- Lacking plumbed hot water at the sink
Check out the full feature in issue #97 February 2016 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.