Cub Campers Frontier: Review

By: Dan Everett, Photography by: Jack Murphy


7,000kms of abuse proves the CUB Frontier can take a licking.

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I’ve just got home from dropping back a CUB Frontier at their North Rocks factory, and to be honest it’s left me feeling a little empty. Y’see, on a typical review mission, I normally spend a week or two with a camper; I’ll punt it through a set course that’ll see it go through various terrains, then head off for a quick weekend jaunt with the wife and kids in tow to work out what we like, and what’ll lead to divorce.

But CUB reckoned to truly see the Frontier in its element you need to practically live out of it. Challenge, of course, accepted.

So we brought the Frontier along for Race to the Cape, and by the time all was said and done, I’d lived out of it for nearly a month straight, pounding out 7,000kms on some of the harshest roads in the country to see if it’d still shine after Far North Queensland had its way with it.

So why am I feeling empty? Together with the Frontier I took my family to Fruit Bat Falls, we parked on the most northern beach in the country, took on the mighty Tele track then ate fresh prawns as the sun set over the Gulf of Carpentaria. I’m ready to go do it again — but, alas, I had to give the Frontier back.

OFF THE BEATEN PATH

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For those of you lucky enough to have travelled Cape York you’d know it’s not just one location. It’s an area roughly the size of Victoria and far more diverse. Our trip took us through the winding tropics of the Daintree Rainforest where we zigged and zagged through the steep climbs of the Bloomfield Track. We raced along below the low-tide mark at the Coloured Sands to reach Cape Flattery. We pounded out countless hours of corrugations along Battle Camp Road and marvelled as the sun set along the western plains. We (foolishly) took on the incredibly soft sand of Pennefather Beach before rattling our teeth loose on the Peninsula Development Road. The Old Telegraph Track saw us engaging low-range again as we tackled river crossing after river crossing and snaked our way through the tight tracks. My tow-mirrors copped a flogging, and I’m pretty sure I felt the trailer floating as we breathed in deep to cross Scrubby Creek with water lapping at our windows. And we added countless tree inflicted pinstripes as we took on the Five Beaches run with a detour via Fly Point.

And the Frontier excelled.

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I’d love to point my finger at some fancy suspension system, or unique hitch design, or compact footprint. I’d love to tell you some heroic story of how we faced a perilous situation with the CUB holding on for dear life, only saving us because of some specific gadget it has.

The reality is far more boring. Light weight campers work better offroad, and the Frontier is one of the lightest I’ve come across without stepping into a compact offering. If I could punt the Ranger through a track, the CUB would suck it up and follow. Sure, it tapped a few trees on some of the tighter tracks, but short of watching my mirrors as we made our way through it was never an issue.

A NIGHT BY THE BEACH

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It’d be great to spend a week at every campsite I visit and park myself up in a camp chair watching the tides go in and out. Unfortunately, with school holidays and budgets being the major factors I’m very rarely at a campsite more than a night or two. It’s because of this I’m incredibly conscious of how painful a set-up can be after doing it over and over...and over.

On the very first night away I pulled up in a truck stop on the side of the road just north of Roma after pounding out around 14hrs singing along to Spotify whenever I was able to get reception. I parked at around 2am, and was rugged up in bed by around 2:02am. Sure, I didn’t do the full set-up, but that was the beauty of it. The forward fold design means it opens within its own footprint, and as long as you’re on level ground doesn’t need adjusting of any stabiliser legs. Pop the clamps, winch the lid over and get in. I’m not talking get in and start adjusting poles either. As you winch one end, the opposing end pops itself up with twin gas struts. No adjustment, no spreader poles, no worries.

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Another huge bonus: the mattress is also hands down the most comfortable camper trailer mattress I’ve ever spent a night on. Even after weeks on the road I was always able to get a comfortable and relaxing night’s sleep just as good as being at home. The thick canvas also meant I wasn’t woken up at the crack of dawn, and on hot days the huge opening windows kept it from turning into a sauna as long as there was any semblance of a breeze.

Things honestly weren’t any more difficult once the family joined either. If we needed to disconnect the trailer, we’d pop the four stabiliser legs down (buy yourself a cordless driver), but short of that the process wasn’t any longer. The table needs to be packed down to travel, so as long as you don’t want to use it, the kids bed is constantly set up and there’s enough room on top to leave their sleeping bags and pillows good to go.

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The living area is nicely laid out without tripping over yourself to access anything, and the kitchen pulls out and sets up in under a minute. The stabiliser legs are an absolute must, but are quick to deploy while the rest of the connections just pull out and plug into their well-protected counterparts on the back of the camper.

The only issue we had was dust ingress. Admittedly I didn’t do the camper any favours and found every patch of bull-dust possible, but it did make its way into some of the internal compartments. If it was my own trailer a $5 tube of silicone and a little investigating would have sorted the issue, although CUB tell me they’re gutting the Frontier to find and rectify the cause of the problem.

BRUISED AND BATTERED

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Let’s get one thing straight. I beat the Frontier like it owed me money. I didn’t do a lick of maintenance on it (you should), I took it places smart people don’t take camper trailers (you shouldn’t), and I went out of my way to make sure if it was going to break, I’d be the person to find out (maybe don’t do this either).

So what’s the total damage bill?

An aluminium strip on the rear popped a rivet, and I scuffed the rubber bumper pad a little. I did this by dragging the side of the camper along a rock trying to negotiate a river exit on the ‘Tele Track. Some peanut was camped on the main track forcing me to take an awkward line (yeah, I’m talking about you Triton). A little crazy glue and a rivet later and it was sorted.

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I lost the tap handle. Somewhere in the 2500kms of corrugations the external tap handle vibrated loose. A daily check and a drop of Loctite would have sorted it. For context my bulbar almost vibrated off despite being torqued to spec. I had to remove and reinstall it at camp one morning.

The silent winch got noisy. It said to keep it greased. I didn’t.

Some dust got in to one of the front storage boxes and the awning got dusty. It also got throughout my tow-tug despite having the doors almost always shut, the AC on, and the windows up. Hey some battles you’re just never going to win.

THE WRAP UP

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Short of taking the Frontier rock crawling I couldn’t have put it through a more punishing test. Together we dodged kangaroos as the sun set at the back of Dunedoo, we powered our way through the soft sands of Pennefather Beach (and did a few recoveries), we zig-zagged through the Tele Track collecting dents and scratches on trailer and tow-tug, and we had one hell of an adventure my kids will never forget. Was it perfect? No. But nothing in life is perfect. What it was though, was the perfect camper for the situations we found ourselves in. Its light weight meant it didn’t hold us back offroad or act like an anchor in sand, its quick set-up time meant after a long day on the tracks I wasn’t up for a fight just to go to bed, and its space meant we were all comfortable and could focus on enjoying the trip. I’d still add a shower if I owned one, but for now I’m patiently waiting for CUB to release a MK2 so I can hopefully get the keys to my Frontier for a song.

HITS AND MISSES

Pros…

  • Seriously capable offroad
  • Can set up in a matter of minutes
  • A lot tougher than I gave it credit for
  • Low-weight makes for easy towing

Cons…

  • Can’t access internal storage without opening
  • No heating option
  • No hot water standard
  • No shower

SPECS

Trailer

  • Tare 1220kg
  • ATM 1750kg
  • Suspension Independent with Rox Shox shock absorbers  
  • Brakes 12in electric
  • Coupling AL-KO offroad ball coupling
  • Chassis Galvanised RHS 100mm X 50mm X 3mm
  • Drawbar Galvanised RHS 100mm X 50mm X 3mm
  • Body Steel and Aluminium baked enamel
  • Wheel/tyre 16in steel 265/70r16 Goodyear Wrangler AT
  • Style Forward fold

Dimensions

  • Box size 3680mm L x 1950mm W x 1550mm H
  • Length (hitch to tail lights) 5500mm
  • Tent size 3680mm L x 1950mm W

Accessories

  • Gas cylinders 2 x 4kg gas bottles
  • Water 1x100L with 12V & hand pump
  • Cooktop SMEV Three burner
  • Kitchen Stainless steel slide out
  • Battery 1x100Ah

Price as shown

$33,990

Check out the full review in issue #120 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration

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