There are hundreds of camper trailers on the market, probably thousands. There are big ones, small ones, tall ones and poor ones. Some have seating areas, some have multiple beds, some have huge floor space, some don’t. The options are so limitless I’ve been rendered a bizarre Dr Seuss trying to describe them. But I digress. The point is, most campers are made to suit the manufacturer’s idea of their customer rather than adjust to suit your specific needs. They can rarely be changed or expanded upon, and if you want a different setup then you need a different camper. Few are made to provide different options when it comes time to setting up camp.
So what are your options if sometimes you travel with kids, and sometimes you don’t, sometimes you need a huge covered area, while other times you want the fastest possible setup? The team at Trackabout figured they had the solution and put pen to paper and welder to heavy duty steel to come up with the brand new 2017 Tourer. A softfloor-cum-rooftop tent hybrid that could be the closest thing to a perfect multi-purpose camper I’ve come across. All that’s left is to drag it through a thunder storm, a fast-flowing river, and mud so slick it sent more than a few camera men flying ungracefully through the air. Alright maybe it was a journo.
Some campers are immediately impressive; super space-age designs with air-over-hydraulic opening and Rosie from the Jetsons scooting around ready to build your campfire. Sometimes they live up to the hype, but often they’re lipstick on a pig (no offense, Rosie). The Trackabout Tourer is the exact opposite. At first glance it seems like almost every other softfloor camper: a heavy duty box; flip-over boat rack; and a large canvas bag attached to the top, the same sort of thing you can find in many ‘budget-camper’ yards for less than the price of a used 1993 Volvo. It’s not until you look closer and notice the attention to detail that the Tourer starts coming into its own. To be quite frank, it’s better put together than a lot of campers more than twice its price.
It’s amazing how much thought has gone into every piece of the camper, with many items having multiple purposes. Those shiny stainless steel panels? They’re not just there for a bit of bling, they also protect the powder-coated body from stray stones and scrapes. They’re also riveted on and can be easily replaced, making the trailer look brand new again if you ever decide to sell it. While imported campers have improved immensely over the years, little details like these always make an Aussie-built offering stand out.
That same eye for detail has been run over the boat rack mounts, too; they’re laser cut with strategic holes. Even things as simple as the jerry can holders aren’t eBay specials welded to the body, they’re custom-made Trackabout units with a trick opening system to make them easy to access. These might sound like minor details, but they all add up to a seriously impressive whole.
STORAGE AND PRACTICALITY
The Tourer is a bit of an oddity when it comes to storage space. There’s more than enough room to store all your gear, but it's presented in a way than you might be accustomed to.
Budget softfloors will often be bare underneath the tent, which is a handy space for throwing bulky items like tables and chairs but more often than not, it ends up being a tangled chaos of clothes and cooking gear. Trackabout has instead opted for a large storage drawer.
The kitchen has all the quality kit you’d expect like laminated benchtops and SMEV cooking gear, but it also houses everything you need for a campfire feast with three huge drawers taking everything from cups and plates to cutlery and cookware. Gas and water hook up with a few simple connections but you will need go-go-gadget arms to get past the boat rack if you sling that up first. The whole setup not only gives huge amounts of bench space with the fold-out arrangement, but with the fridge included, it also means you’re not going on a 10-minute hike every time you need to grab a cold drink.
That’s just half of the under bed storage, too. The other side of the camper is taken up with a massive storage system. It’s broken up into two sections with twin pantry-style drawers up front and a cavernous opening further back for storing bulky items. In typical Drifta fashion there are no cheap roller bearing slides, just robust, low-friction slides with a longer lifespan than the Queen of England.
The front toolbox has heavy duty seals and mitred edges, and contains a laundry list of big-name electrical gear that’d dwarf many companies’ entire R&D budget. Sure, for the price tag dangling off the Tourer these are the things you expect, but it’s not hard to see where the extra dollars go.
We were eager to see how quickly the supposed quick set up tent could be erected. In short, very quickly, but the devil is in the details. The unique tent on the Trackabout functions more like a rooftop tent than a traditional softfloor, indeed it doesn’t really have a floor at all. The soft cover slips off and the tent frame pulls up into position; that’s your tent set up. From here you can adjust a few poles to pull the canopy taught or peg it out if there’s wind. The ladder folds down revealing standing room in front of the huge innerspring mattress, where there’s LED foot lighting and a handful of drawers for packing clothes, pillows, or extra blankets. There’s even a flat screen TV you can hoist into position if the weather is as dreary as it was for us. If you’ve got kids along or are setting up for longer periods of time, the canopy has provisions to turn into a large room and the floor and walls can be attached permanently if you need.
There’s a second awning that stretches out behind the camper covering the kitchen, and that’s a quick set-up system, too. The poles fold into each other and all stay attached to the tent so there’s no fumbling figuring out how to click pole A into spreader bar W. Like the rest of the trailer, it’s an evolution rather than a revolution, but it all adds up to a more enjoyable experience and an incredibly quick set-up. Less time setting up camp means more time actually camping.
There are multiple ways a camper can hold its head high offroad. Some get the job done by being incredibly lightweight and compact, others hunker down with full battle armour and hoping they come out unscathed. The Trackabout Tourer is somewhere in the middle. The first major tick in the Tourer’s offroad checklist is a fully hot-dip galvanised chassis. From front to back it’s 100mm tall by 50mm wide and 3mm thick, so around the same size as the 80 Series towing it but with a tougher coating. The drawbar goes all the way back to the Vehicle Components independent suspension with a few carefully designed gussets tying it all together. The VC setup houses Gabriel shocks and King Springs, so there has been no shortcuts taken there, either. The tyres are 285/70 R16 Federal Couragia mud tyres wrapped around alloy rims with 12in electric brakes keeping it all in check so stopping power is plentiful and you don’t need to watch the tyres for damage like a nervous babysitter. There’s a DO35 hitch allowing it to articulate its way through challenging terrain and more than a few seriously strong welded gussets everywhere you look.
With the soft edges of the tent exposed you wouldn’t be jumping up and down to drag it sideways through a serious of metre-deep ruts, but the powder-coating is flawless and the whole tub near-on watertight. River crossings aren’t an issue unless you’re planning on going through roof rack deep rivers while you ride high in a Mr Bean-inspired roof-top chair. All in all, if you want a trailer you can beat through the Tuff Truck course this one ain’t it, but for your standard offroad adventures it’ll come out smiling every time.
The heart of the system is a Redarc BMS Manager30, which is charged with keeping the twin 120Ah AGM batteries topped up while you’re on the road and can accept input from 240V sources, solar, or the 50A Anderson plug wired up to the towbar if you want to charge while you’re on the go. There are Narva outlets throughout the camper, which are excellent quality. The fridge is a 60L Evakool in the rear, custom built to Trackabout specs with an upgraded Danfoss compressor and sturdier latches. That price tag is starting to make sense now, isn’t it?
There are twin 8mm-thick, 85L poly water tanks which feed into a hand pump on the driver’s side as well as the 12V powered tap all the way at the rear. If you’re by a creek you’re able to supplement your water supply by drawing from external sources, although with an additional 80L in jerry can storage you’ll have plenty in reserve. There’s hot water on demand to the kitchen and shower thanks to the Webasto system, and ducted heating into the main tent for colder months. A whole bunch of these features are options so you can get the price down considerably if you need.
THE WRAP UP
I mentioned earlier how versatile the Trackabout Tourer is and I stand by that statement. It can be kitted to suit travelling singles, couple and even families, and has enough options and accessories to make it the trailer of your dreams and one that’s perfectly viable for every weather condition you’ll find in Australia. Sure, it’s three times the price of some of the imported units boasting similar features, but it’s five times the camper. It’ll last longer, look better, be easier to camp out of and hold better resale value. Would I own one? Absolutely. Could I justify the price tag? Maybe, when I stop falling for get-rich quick schemes. For people with better financial sense than me, the Trackabout Tourer makes a pretty convincing argument.
HITS AND MISSES
- Sets up like a rooftop tent
- Unique design for camping in different situations
- Huge kitchen space
- 580kg worth of payload
- No featherweight
- Boat-rack takes some doing
- You’ll notice the price tag
- Tare: 1420kg
- ATM: 2000kg
- Suspension: Independent coil spring
- Brakes: 12in electric
- Coupling: Hitchmaster DO35
- Chassis: Galvanised RHS 100X50X3mm
- Drawbar: Galvanised RHS 100X50X3mm
- Body: Seam sealed zinc-anneal panel
- Wheel/tyre: 16in alloy 287/75 MT Federal Couragia
- Style: Softfloor
PRICE AS SHOWN
$46,000 (starting from $31,000)