TESTED: CONQUEROR AUSTRALIA UEV 360
The UEV 360 from Conqueror Australia is a virile camper with a few quirks of its own.
A bloke jumps into a Land Rover Defender and grips the steering wheel, his eyes unfocusing on the horizon: he is seeing the places it will take him. His wife jumps into the same Defender and asks where the airbags are. They are both seeing the same car through different eyes.
There is a company out there that makes the camper trailer equivalent of the Defender - Conqueror Australia. Purveyor of some of the manliest camper trailers in the world, each of its creations is designed with one simple purpose: to survive whatever you can throw at it, and in style.
The UEV 360 is no exception to this golden rule, and quite a unique product. It breezes through the tough as nails test. On our trip, which took us into the wilderness of western Cape York's Aurukun region, we encountered some of the worst bulldust I have ever seen. The cattle trains had just finished running back and forth, fully loaded, down the track from Musgrave, and they had turned the road into a minefield of hidden ruts and bulldust-filled potholes. The independent trailing arm coil suspension on the UEV 360 sang no matter what we dragged it through.
Built on a heavy duty monocoque hot dipped C-channel chassis, the 360 utilises an electro-galvanised skeleton, which is powdercoated before assembly. 16in rims are fitted with Bridgestone Duellers, electric brakes are standard and a Treg polyblock coupling is used up front.
The bulldust was so bad that my camping chairs still exhale puffs of red dust whenever I use them, but the UEV 360 was clean as a whistle inside.
At 750kg empty with an ATM of 1525kg, this trailer not only starts out light, but it can carry its own weight in payload. As far as storage goes, there is a huge drawer under the bed ideal for Boab ammo boxes, the toolbox up front with a fridge slide suits a 90L National Luna fridge (or you can screw in some wooden slats and use it to carry a generator and four jerry cans) and racks for storage sit on top of the camper. I found it a little annoying that I had to open up the tent/ bedroom every time I wanted access to the majority of my food storage under the bed. Army-style canvas pockets line the toolbox doors, and there is more storage in the pull-out kitchen, including a pretty good sized pantry.
One of Conqueror's calling cards is the way it does kitchens. In order to allow campers to carry glasses and china plates, those wily South Africans devised a storage system to hold every glass, plate and cup independently. There is a place for everything, and everything is in its place.
Otherwise, the kitchen is fairly basic. A large pull-out drawer houses the cutlery and a drying rack with a space for a sink, pantry and fold-out shelf for your cooktop. Water from the onboard 80L tank is accessed via 12V pump or gravity feed for emergencies. The whole thing sets up in a few seconds on the side of the road, but I'm thinking that the missus is going to ask for a proper sink, a built-in cooker and a fridge for her $33,495.
Opposite the kitchen we find the electrics. Another unique feature of the Conqueror range is its reliance on household circuit breakers instead of fuses for the electrical system. They are easy to replace, although they rarely need it. The 12V system is fairly basic on the 360, but it starts with good capacity in the twin 105Ah batteries. A CTek M300 charger and 300W pure sine inverter are included, along with four 12V outlets and two 240V outlets wired straight to shore. You can easily add a solar panel by utilising the Anderson plug on the trailer.
Putting up the tent is almost as easy as opening a door. There are two steel tent bows that you need to install on the rear of the tent to pull the ripstop canvas taut. It's a fairly quick system, if a little fiddly. You have to flip the bed base and mattress over to finish setting up the bed, and a small ladder is provided for access into the camper, although I found the negotiation from ladder to bed a little hairy when the ladder was in soft sand.
Packing up the tent is straightforward. A bungee in the centre of the canvas pulls everything in as you close the roof, and compression latches keep everything sealed.
The awnings are rubberized ripstop and are stored in zippered bags on the hard roof of the 360. The great thing about this design is that you don't have to worry about drying them out when you pack up wet.
The Conqueror UEV 360 isn't for everyone, much like its spiritual brother, the Defender. And like that staid English marque, it combines virility with dependability, nevermind a few of the niceties. This is a tough machine with good storage and a lot of great ideas in a small package that will follow you anywhere. At $33,495, it isn't the cheap way to get to the ends of the earth, but it'll follow you home every time, which is cheaper than a Cape York tow truck any day.