The Australian camper trailer world has undergone a massive revolution in the past decade. Where once, many of us working to a budget were often satisfied with a steel box and a basic canvas tent over a foam mattress, we now expect more.
Back then, locally-made offerings at around $10,000 dominated the budget sphere but trends show more of us are tolerating prices of up to $20,000 and are accepting that our campers (or parts of them) are made overseas. That price increase comes with a lot of bells and whistles though, with the savviest outlets tweaking the fitout and finish of their imported offerings to find a competitive edge. So it really pays to examine the fine print.
A few locally-made camper trailers still find favour among buyers in this space, though, thanks to their proven experience out on the tracks, their commitment to lightweight design, endorsement for local manufacturing and their locally-made, well-ventilated luxury tents.
Let’s check ’em out.
BLUEWATER MITCHELL V1: $18,990
Blue Water imports its core campers from China and adds value by finishing them locally.
The Mitchell V1 shown is a walk-up side-fold softfloor with a lot to recommend. The canvas is all-Australian Dynaproofed with a vinyl floor, kids’ room, annexe and ensuite for shower and toilet. Blue Water will even throw in the porta-potti. The 3000x2700mm main tent and the 2400x5600mm annexe provide ample internal living space.
The Tare is hefty at 1540kg but the 1990kg ATM is upgradable to 2400kg if you have the towing grunt. There is 200L of water in two stainless steel tanks.
The suspension is twin shock trailer arm independent under a hot-dip galvanised chassis and powder-coated panels. Two 97Ah deep cycle batteries with a volt/amp gauge keep it powered and a stereo system keeps you entertained. The stainless steel kitchen has a three-burner stove.
At $18,990 this is good value family camper.
AUSTRACK CANNING: $19,990
Austrack is a Queensland-based importer of Chinese-built campers, but it goes to a lot of trouble to upspec them and give them that little extra to set them apart from the crowd.
The Canning is a rear-fold model with a fully welded construction and a baked enamel finish with stainless steel trim that’s similar to your car, so it’s sturdy and looks good as well. It’s not light, with a Tare of 1500kg but with its 2000kg ATM, it will carry all your gear with comfort.
The suspension is dual shock absorber independent and the jockey wheel is the dual-wheel Ark XO.
It carries 165L of water in two stainless steel tanks, with a cold water shower, an instant gas hot-water system and a stainless steel kitchen. It comes with three 100Ah AGM batteries, battery management system and digital volt and amp meters. The bed is a camper-queen-sized innerspring mattress. The tent is a heavy 16oz Australian-spec canvas (made overseas). It also has an ensuite, porta-potti and solar panels.
At $19,990 it’s quite the package.
BLUE TONGUE OFF ROAD TREKKA WALKUP: $17,990
Blue Tongue is a Sydney-based camper manufacturer and importer which offers a range of models, including the side-fold softfloor Trekka Walkup.
The sturdy chassis rides on a trailing arm independent suspension with six-stud LandCruiser hubs and alloy rims. With a Tare of 1000kg and an ATM of 1900kg it gives you a huge carrying capacity. It has a stainless steel slide-out kitchen under the rear awning and 100L of water. Electrically, it has two 120Ah batteries, volt and amp meters and a mains charger. Down each side are a number of enclosed lockers for heaps of storage and inside the tent you get a large slide for storage access and a wide walk-up access to the bed.
The main tent is 2800x3600mm and there is a fully enclosed 5300x2400mm annexe all under plain weave canvas. Softfloor campers have the advantage of a lot of storage and room for families and the Trekka offers all you could need for a great holiday, at a price of $17,990.
MDC CRUIZER HIGHSIDE FORWARD FOLD: $19,990
MDC claims to be the largest seller of campers for under $20,000, offering a variety of styles and models via many retail outlets around the country.
Its Highside Forward Fold is a very well equipped, with hot-dip galvanised chassis, dual shock independent suspension, 12in brakes, automotive two-pack paint and two spare wheels. Power-wise it has three 100Ah batteries, a battery management system with digital voltmeter/amp meter and charger, LED reading lights and three LED light strips. Its many luxuries include a large stainless steel kitchen with Thetford four-burner cooktop and sink, 110L stainless steel water tank, and camper-queen-sized bed.
At 1490kg its Tare isn’t small but that includes a lot and the 2000kg ATM gives 510kg of load capacity. Well worth the $19,990.
CUB EXPLORER: $19,990
Cub is one of the iconic names of the Australian camper trailer world, having been in business since long before most of us even knew what a camper trailer was.
Specialising in a wide range of rear-fold designs, as well as others, Cub produces sturdy and reliable campers from its suburban Sydney factory.
Cub’s Explorer (shown here in March 2015) is an enduring no-frills rear-fold model made from all-Australian steel and canvas and with a full offroad warranty. It features Cub’s well-known winch system for opening and closing, with eye-to-eye leaf spring suspension on a beam axle.
Standard fittings include a 100Ah battery and a Redarc BCDC charger (DC-DC) to optimise the incoming alternator charge, a 240V power pack and Smev two-burner slide-out kitchen and fridge box. A bash plate protects the 80L poly water tank.
With a 750kg Tare and a 450kg load capacity you won’t even know its back there on just about any tow vehicle.
Starting at a recommended retail of $19,990, the Cub Explorer proves again that you can buy a budget camper that’s all Australian made.
JOHNNO'S OFF ROAD DELUXE: $18,990
One of the hangouts of local manufacturing at this end of the market is the well-known Johnno’s, which claims to be Australia’s largest network of camper trailer agents.
Comprising a base built by Cub and a tent built in-house, Johnno’s Off Road Deluxe is a traditional softfloor design with a tailgate-mounted stainless steel-topped kitchen (shown here in a Tourer spec with an internal staircase). Included is a four-burner stove/grill combo and sink, 60L water tank and 80Ah deep cycle battery. The bed on the standard Deluxe is accessed via a ladder and consists of a camper-queen-size HD foam mattress under an Australian canvas tent that provides 2200x2700mm floor area. Included is a cargo area slide for access to under-bed storage.
Suspension is a proven nine-leaf rebound springs on a 45mm axle. The Off Road Deluxe also has one jerry can holder, two 4.5kg gas bottle holders and a single battery and a lightweight 740kg Tare. At the time of printing the base price is $18,990... but changes are underway so stay tuned.
CHALLENGE OUTBACK OFF ROAD DELUXE: $18,950
Challenge is a South Australian-based company that manufactures well-credentialed campers, including its Outback Off Road Deluxe.
This, like all Challenge campers, is a side-fold softfloor camper, with a galvanised sturdy chassis and drawbar, heavy-duty 45mm square axle and rebound seven-leaf springs, mechanical brakes and Challenge’s unique Camlock tailgate compression latch.
There are seven colours to choose from (including colour matching at additional cost), a 3050mm (10ft) tent with larger sizes available and a 2130mm-wide awning plus kitchen end wall and innerspring camper-queen mattress.
The kitchen includes a stainless steel stove with a removable plastic sink, front toolbox in aluminium checkerplate, 86L water tank and stoneguard, with numerous other options, including aluminium construction.
With a Tare of 490kg the Outback Off Road Deluxe is light and strong, and at a price of $18,950 it has a lot going for it.
SKAMPER KAMPERS RANGER XL: $10,500
While most of our campers in this review just scrape in under the $20,000 line, the Skamper Kamper Ranger XL is way under. What’s more, you get a lot of camper for your dollars, and that’s why the Ranger line remains the company’s top selling trailer after many years.
Sydney-based Skamper Kampers has carved a solid space in the marketplace through constantly upgrading its offerings. The side-fold softfloor Ranger has recently been extended to the all-bells-and-whistles XL model. The all-galvanised and aluminium body and chassis will never look sad and worn or suffer from rust or paint chips. It’s sturdy and basic, so will see you through a lot of tough travel.
The suspension is dual shock trailing arm, with a longer drawbar for added front storage for a fridge box while retaining the ball weight at 80-90kg. At 910kg Tare it’s a lot better than most and its ATM of 1400kg gives it a reasonable load capacity.
The basic 9ft (2780mm) tent is great for families but can be extended to 12ft (3780mm) for $500 extra, and the awning room comes with all walls and a floor.
The kitchen is a tailgate mounted stainless steel unit with bench extension, and electrically you get a single 100Ah battery but no mains charger or solar input point.
Price is $10,500 plus on-road costs; not a bad deal at all.
TAIPAN CENTAUR: $18,999
Taipan Industries is a Queensland-based company selling a range of Chinese-built campers, including its Centaur forward-fold design.
The Centaur is built on a hot-dipped galvanised chassis with a 3200mm one-piece, ultra-long extended drawbar and a baked enamel body. The suspension is dual shock independent and the rims are 16in alloys on 50mm parallel bearings.
It features large slide-out storage boxes, a slide-out fridge tray and huge under-bed storage and fully dust-sealed lockable gas strut assisted side compartments.
There is a 90L stainless steel water tank and a 100Ah deep cycle battery with marine grade switch panel, volt meter and Anderson plug. The kitchen is stainless steel and free standing with tap, sink, cutlery drawer and Smev three-burner cooktop.
With a Tare of 1250kg it is lighter than many, though the ball weight of 175kg may stop some. The RRP is $18,999.
WILD BOAR LIGHTWEIGHT FORWARD FOLD SLIDE: $19,900
Wild Boar is a Brisbane-based company whose profile has risen rapidly thanks to the superb finish and detailing on its campers.
Wild Boar has just released a brand new camper, the Lightweight Forward Fold Slide. Where most forward-folds, especially those with rear slides to extend the body for the rear bed, are quite heavy – around 1500kg – this is 1160kg Tare, and with its 12in brakes has an ATM of 2000kg, so the carrying capacity is huge.
Overall the camper is one metre shorter than its bigger brother, the Razorback, but has most of the basic fitout seen in the larger forward-fold designs. It has independent suspension, alloys, a boat rack, a full camper-queen-sized bed at the front and a slide to extend a double bed at the rear. The kitchen is stainless steel, though a bit smaller than the standard offering, a 100L stainless steel water tank, two 100Ah batteries, a 21A Projecta charger, stereo/CD player and all the rest. Priced at $19,900 it has a lot to recommend it with Wild Boar’s excellent.