Camper Trailer of the Year 2016: The full results
Twelve campers. Four judges. Camper Trailer of the Year is back!
Well, we’re at it again. That’s right, we’ve assembled some of the best campers money can buy and put them through their paces in order to crown winners in four categories: Budget (up to $20K); Softfloor (up to $50K); Hardfloor (up to $65K); and Hybrid.
And so it was on a Monday morning in November when we descended on Dargo, a quiet town in the Victorian High Country. Our host: the Dargo River Inn, a spectacular spot with awesome camping facilities. And a bar. And amazing parmas.
We wasted no time. The photographers and filming crews went to work, while the judges began poking and prodding each camper in turn. As evening descended, Celso from Mars Campers got busy on his rig’s barbecue. With the smell of lamb and chicken kebabs in the air and the beer starting to flow, the day was over.
When it was time to hit the local tracks, it became apparent that not all vehicles were prepared for the job, with a couple fitted with highway tyres rather than something with more aggressive tread. The result: one vehicle (camper attached) stuck halfway up a serious incline, unable to go forward and unable to go back down. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.
Fortunately, we had all the recovery gear we needed, thanks to TJM. As luck would have it, the Patriot rig was in front of the stuck camper. Why was that lucky? Well, Patriot Campers owner Justin Montesalvo gets around in a chopped, diesel-chipped 200 Series with more torque than you could shake a stick at. He simply reversed his vehicle (with camper still attached – it wasn’t safe to unhitch) and we worked quickly – the rain was coming in, the tracks were become slippery, and the hour was late – to fit a snatch strap between the stuck ute and the Patriot X1.
With the ute secured, Justin hit the go-pedal and all four vehicles (two 4WDs and two campers) powered up the incline in a raw display of torque.
The weather wasn’t particularly kind throughout the week. Heavy rain came in at the tail end of our shoot at Italian Flat, a terrific campground not far from Dargo, and a stiff wind blew over the awning on my own 80 Series. Literally, the wind blew the awning over the roof rack and on to the other side of my vehicle. That’s another lesson: always use pegs and guy ropes, even if the weather is as calm as it was that morning. The awning survived more or less undamaged. My ego, on the other hand…
By Thursday, the squall began to subside and the sun shone on our little slice of the High Country. Spirits lifted, we resumed shooting and testing and when Friday evening came, there was only one thing left to do: tally up the results.
Budget up to $20K
Comforts and offroad rigour were an emphasis for manufacturers competing in our up to $20k line-up.
Softfloors up to $50K
Two fine performers, each with a strong offroad commitment, battle it out to stake their claim as the canvas king.
Hardfloors up to $60K
Comforts and ease-of-use are redefined as three offroad Titans battle it out on the tracks.
Ambitions are high on and off the tracks in this top class field, but there can only be one winner.
Check out the full feature in issue #97 February 2016 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.