There was a time in this industry when the main choices in camper trailers were mostly side-fold, softfloors or rear-fold, hardfloors. But times have changed with much more choice these days, including many forward-folding styles.
So many, in fact, it has become a bit hard to choose between them. The upside is that a number of manufacturers, like Austrack, have become creative in their design approach. For instance, with the Savannah, Austrack has included a rear-slide extension. This adds more space for the second bed and leaves room for seating under the main roof when the bed is set up.
The Savannah is built on a hot-dipped galvanised chassis that comes with 100x50mm chassis rails and 120x50mm drawbar rails. Above the chassis, the body is made from zinc-anneal steel and has a baked enamel finish. Underbody deadener covers much of the lower area. Being a fully offroad trailer, the suspension is an independent setup with trailing arms, coil springs and two shock absorbers per wheel. Sixteen inch alloy wheels are fitted as standard, and two alloy checkerplate-protected water tanks are fitted either side of the suspension, the rear one having a 120L capacity and the forward one being 50L.
At the pointy end, a 2000kg-rated poly block hitch does the main job but there are the other essentials like safety chains, jockey wheel and a handbrake. In addition to a hand winch for opening the camper up, hiding behind the alloy checkerplate stone protection are two gas cylinder holders and two jerry can holders. An adaptor can be fitted to the cylinder holders so they can take either 4.5kg or 9kg cylinders. When the camper is opened out, getting to the jerry cans and gas cylinders is quite awkward to get at, although there is a gas change-over regulator so you just need to flick a switch to change bottle supply if one runs out.
Fitted to the rear end is a holder designed to accept two spare wheels. At the campsite, it folds down so that the rear slide-out section can be used. On the offside rear corner, there’s a hand winch for closing the trailer.
The Savannah’s basics are made in China but much of the final assembly work, including the all essential gas and electrical certification, is done locally at the Austrack factory.
There certainly isn’t any shortage of external storage bins on the Savannah. The two bins, accessible from both sides, come equipped with compartments, drawers and for the fridge, a slide-out. Just like the rest of the doors on the trailer, these have pinch-weld seals and protective tubing on the restraining chains.
Like with any trailer with large front storage boxes, it’ll be a good idea to keep an eye on the loaded ball weight once you’re done packing
Along the offside of the actual trailer there are two smaller bins: one is available for storage and the other occupied by the neatly laid-out switch and fuse panel. All the circuits are labelled, which might seem like a funny thing to comment on but many manufacturers seem unaware that marking circuits can make things much easier for the user!
The main feature of the trailer’s nearside is the slide-out stainless steel kitchen bench. It comes with a three-burner cooker, sink/drainer, cutlery drainer and compartments under the sink. A handy gooseneck LED light keeps things illuminated at night but there’s no switch – you need to plug and unplug it to turn it on and off.
Although not fitted to this particular camper, Austrack plans to install a useful set of stainless steel shelves that slot into the kitchen bench in future models. The gas and water supply connections are easily accessed as is the 12V socket. Additionally, the gas line is also plumbed to the drawbar for a hot water heater.
Setting up the tent is easy to do, either by hand or using the winch – and that includes the tropical roof which just follows over the top. Probably the most difficult part of the operation is zipping on the 5200x4200mm awning. Sixteen ounce fine-weave canvas is used for everything – roof, walls and draft skirt, which are all included in the camper trailer package.
All the windows not under the main awning, except for the slide side, have their own canopies held in position by extendable poles. In addition to having the all essential insect screening, all have internal canvas flaps.
Gas struts assist with the erection of the tent, as do the spreader bars. All the zips have ‘tails’ for easy gripping. On the subject of aluminium poles and spreaders, there is a plethora of them but at least the extendable ones have easy to use snap locks.
Although the rear slide is really only used for bed space, it does make a difference to the interior, especially if everything is closed up for bad weather. I reckon it’s a neat idea. Waterproof composite is used for all the internal cabinetry and it’s finished in a faux timber finish.
Stepping into the camper leads straight into the lounge area featuring a club-style lounge with flat seat cushions and back supports. A freestanding table can be moved in and out as needed without too much trouble.
Two 12V sockets are fitted under the offside seat, which are high enough off the floor to get at but may cause a tripping hazard when your items are plugged in. Included in the lounge is an LED strip light.
There is storage space in the under seat areas but on both sides the wheel arch protrudes and on the offside, the two batteries take up a fair bit of space.
Setting up the rear bed is quite easy – put the bed base in position and move the seat cushions around – those not needed during the day can be stored in the slide area. Of course, you’ll need to make the bed but sleeping bags or something like a Duvalay make that a fairly quick job – I’m forever looking for short cuts in the bed-making process.
Up front, the camper-queen-size mattress fills the entire area, there are windows all round and canvas pockets are fitted to both sides. An LED strip light is fitted at the bed end and there’s a privacy curtain fitted.
Like any good awning, this one comes with the full complement of walls fitted with doors and windows but it also comes with something else as well. Austrack has included an ensuite privacy room at the front. That comes complete with a shower, portaloo and a light. And for those among us who like a hot shower, it also includes a portable hot water service that hangs off a pole.
I noted previously that the Savannah came with a good electrical panel for controlling and monitoring the two 100Ah deep-cycle batteries and the 120W folding solar panel. So with a bit of power conservation, remote camping without mains or generator supply should not be a problem.
Light switches and a floor level light are near entry door and that also happens to be where the radio/CD player is located.
THE WRAP UP
Austrack isn’t the only manufacturer to make a forward-fold camper with great features like a rear slide. However, it’s the little things like the coverings on the door restraints, the snap lock poles and fuse labels that make the difference here and set this one apart from the crowd.
HITS AND MISSES
- Rear-slide and extra bed space
- External storage
- Rear slide
- Battery capacity
- Hot water service
- Limited internal storage
- Careful loading is required for a healthy tow ball weight. I’d recommended measuring with a tow ball weight scale before setting off
- Gas cylinders/jerry cans are awkward to get once you’re set up
- Tare 1440kg
- ATM 2000kg
- Suspension Independent trailing arm, coil springs and twin shock absorbers
- Brakes 16in electric drum
- Coupling Poly-block 2000kg rated
- Chassis Hot-dipped galvanised, 100x50mm, 3mm gauge
- Drawbar Hot-dip galvanised, 120x50mm, 4mm gauge
- Body Zinc-annealed steel, baked enamel finish
- Wheel/tyre 16in alloy 265/75 R16
- Style Forward-fold
PRICE AS SHOWN
$21,215 (on road, Qld)