Camping is getting pretty bloody fancy these days! I remember in the old days it was a privilege to have a few snags served up burnt to a crisp with a side of ash and charcoal. Dad used to say he dropped them on purpose for some extra flavour, but something tells me that’s not quite how it rolled.
These days, camping is a whole different ball game. Sure, we all still love the idea of heading outdoors and exploring new parts of this absolute corker of a country, but the comfort side of things is really starting to rate pretty high on our priorities list, wouldn’t you say?
After all, there are only so many nights you can spend on a back-bending 4in foam mattress or under a leaking canvas tent in one lifetime, right? So, if you want the comfort of a caravan but you’re not keen on giving up those true-camping features of a camper trailer, what are your options?
Introducing MDC’s all-new XT-17T hybrid. This innovative new design adds in a whole swag of features like the external kitchen for that real-world camping experience. Time we dig a little deeper, I reckon!
DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION
For all intents and purposes, the XT-17T is pretty much a caravan. It’s a 17ft long pop-top with a dual axle setup and all the mod-cons to go with it. But what’s interesting is that since MDC expanded into this market, the company has managed to bring with it a unique and innovative style, which really shows in the features built into the XT-17T. The team has managed to incorporate a full blown aluminium slide-out kitchen on the outside, despite having a complete and, might I say, fancy internal kitchen as well.
The slide-out kitchen features the four-burner Smev gas stove with a full-sized double sink, storage drawers built-in and an electric water pump plumbed directly into the tap. There’s even a drop-down bench on the side of the camper, which probably still isn’t quite enough bench space on the outside. And despite having a full-sized upright fridge conveniently located at arm’s reach of the entry door you’ll find an outside fridge slide, too, which is perfect if you want to run a beer fridge or something like that. Plus, you can purchase a slide out sizzler barbecue as an extra that sits right next to the slide out fridge! The XT-17T’s outdoor features really promote that outdoor living feel, but you have the freedom to choose when you want to use them.
Now don’t be fooled into thinking there is no setting up to do with this hybrid-style van. You’ll find there’s a bit of work to do and you don’t have much of a choice about it, which is very camper-trailerish, wouldn’t you say?
The main pop-top is pretty easy, as far as pop-tops go, but setting up the main rear bed is a little odd if you haven’t done it before. You see, the main bed is right at the back of the van, but it requires you to flip and fold a series of panels out in order to extend the van’s length to make enough room for the mattress.
Then you’ve got to manually flip the camper-queen-sized innerspring mattress into place before making your bed for the night. It’s a bit tedious, especially when you’ve got to lower the twin spare wheels down and out of the way every time you set up camp. The good news is, while the system looks light-on the first time you assemble the panels, it’s as solid as a rock to sleep on. In fact, you’d think it was a permanent fixture of the van if you didn’t know any better.
Apart from the fold-out rear, there’s not really much else to set up. The side awning is fully electric and can be set up quite easily by one person, and there is an external shower tent you can set up if you want as well. Apart from having its fair share of snap-lock pins to remove, or should I say lose, it’s pretty straight forward.
To really appreciate the XT-17T, you’ve really got to observe all the features it has on offer. The main features and accessories inside are all well known brand names like Dometic and Thetford, which goes a long way in terms on a buyer peace of mind.
I keep talking about all these features, but what the hell are they, you ask? Well, there’s an internal shower that’s a pretty darn good size for a caravan. But don’t forget you’ve also got the external ensuite setup with a shower, too, which makes use of the three 85L water tanks. Air-conditioning is a popular option and, in the chef’s quarters, you’ll find there are all the comforts of home, including an oven, lounge and dining table plus benches that are at a usable height for once!
When it comes to the lights, well, let’s just say they work better than in most homes. That’s got a lot to do with the interior being finished in a glossy white, which helps to make the most of the available light and creates a nice spacious atmosphere at the same time. The same could be said for the external lighting; the three outside 18W LED lamps provide just the right amount of light to be pleasant and not abruptly know in-your-face, if you know what I mean. There’s also enough internal storage with plenty of clothes drawers and pantry space that’s been incorporated into the design.
THE WRAP UP
To give my honest opinion, I think MDC is on to something here. The XT-17T does what it was designed to do; provide plenty of comfort for touring one of the greatest countries on earth, while it still allowing you to experience a full bush camp, if and when you want.
Plus, it’ll handle some of those tougher tracks for when you want to explore those more adventurous routes. It’s the best of both worlds in a lot of ways, but that’s not to say it’s for everybody.
It’s a design the camper trailer market has been longing to offer for years. And if it suits your needs, you’ll struggle to find much else out there offering the same value for money.
- Well balanced internal and
- External living features
- Very functional layout overall
- Locking latch snap pins very easy to lose
- Main bed requires setting up and packing down before every use, which is quite a physical job