Arranging eight campers in category order along a single lane outback track and ensuring none of the four support vehicles nor the scattered crew members were in our hero shot was no small undertaking, but this wasn’t our first rodeo. In fact, it was our sixth Camper Trailer of the Year awards event, and it’s fair to say we were getting pretty good at wrangling the unruly industry leaders that came along to compete each year.
The event is no stranger to beaches and mountains, but this was the first year it had seen the outback. We’d set up camp at Nundooka Station outside Broken Hill, a working sheep and cattle property that afforded us 250,000 acres upon which to test the very best camper trailers in the country.
Camper Trailer of Year is divided into four categories: $20-35k, $35-50k, $50k+ and slide-on.
Astute readers will note the absence of the budget (under $20k) and hybrid categories at this year’s event, but fear not, we have wrapped them up individually as standalone events. CTA’s inaugural Budget Campers Shootout and Hybrid Heroes will both be coming to you in the first half of 2015, so stay tuned.
The contestants were judged against 10 criteria:
1. Suitability for intended purpose
Judging camper trailers can sometimes be like comparing apples and oranges, with different rigs aimed at different markets. This point allowed judges to assess how well each camper suited its stated market.
New features and options are highly regarded at CTOTY!
How long will the camper sustain you for in the bush? Things like water and power capacity are important here.
4. Quality of finish
The quality of fittings, welds and paint can mean the difference between a good camper and an exceptional camper.
5. Build quality and construction
The structural integrity, engineering quality and durability of the camper’s components, including canvas, are assessed here.
6. Offroadability (trailers)/weight and its distribution (slide-ons)
How well the camper performs offroad is one of the most important factors. For slide-ons, offroadability is only as good as the vehicle it sits on, so instead we assessed the important issue of weight and its distribution. Is there enough payload left for people and gear? Is the majority of the weight positioned forward of the vehicle’s rear axle?
7. Specifications and comforts
Let’s face it, camping is more like “glamping” these days, and we’re perfectly okay with that. The added extras that make your time in the bush more comfortable are judged here, including the kitchen, bedding arrangements, electronics, hot water etc.
8. Ease of use
Our judges are a lazy bunch, so they were looking for rigs that were quick to set up, and easy to use once erected. Campers with efficient layouts and speedy set-up times rated highly.
9. Value for money
We want you to get what you pay for, as well as a tidy resale price if you should ever choose to upgrade.
The hardest point to articulate, here the judge decides if the camper just has that certain something. Does it have the “wow” factor?
And now the results…
Watch the videos and read the in-depth reviews of all the camper trailers tested in this year's Camper Trailer of the Year.
Check out the full feature in issue #84 January 2015 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine.