Mars Campers Rover Rear Fold: Review

By: John 'Bear' Willis, Photography by: John 'Bear' Willis


If its name is anything to go by, the Mars Rover can definitely handle the red Aussie outback — and everything in between.

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Travelling the seemingly endless expanse of Australia’s red centre, it often resembles the landscape of a strange new planet. Our continent truly contains a harsh, almost alien world full of pleasures and pitfalls where only the strong survive the demanding elements and climatic extremes. The Mars Rover is 'red planet ready' and primed for lift-off on your next intergalactic odyssey to outback Australia. It's also great on the beaches, hills and forests you may encounter along the way to your favourite far-flung destination.

REAR FOLD GOODNESS

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The Mars Rover is the largest rear fold hard floor camper in the massive range of Mars offerings. This is a company that has listened and learnt plenty in its 11 years of manufacturing campers for Australia’s outback astronauts. I make no secret of the fact that I have a personal preference for rear fold campers, a view that is constantly challenged by many exceptional forward folding offerings. Yet I still hold true to my choice. I simply find hard floor rear folds easier to set up, particularly for overnight trips — and I enjoy a solid base low to the ground without the need to climb stairs and ladders to dinette settings that I rarely use. Most recent camper trends contradict my tastes, yet I still maintain this view.

For my personal use I would rarely go to the added trouble of assembling an annex when touring, preferring to simply fold out the main camper body for a night on the road. The extra time required for setting-up most pole-style annexes is fine when establishing a campsite at a destination where you intend staying a longer period. Hence the Mars Rover with its removable annex suits me down to the ground. The small step up to the solid floor provides a base that is easy to keep free of dust and grime, and results in offering a more homely feel inside.

THE SETUP

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The main body of the Mars Rover assembles in a matter of minutes. Simply fold the spare wheel retainer to the side, unclip the compression catches and the floor pivots over 180 degrees on well-weighted gas struts. The 15oz poly-cotton canvas tent springs to life requiring very little adjustment, and the canvas tropical roof follows automatically. The annex roof can stay secured, and this does save considerable assembly effort for your next campsite. This process reveals a high camper with massive head space, including over the queen-size inner-spring mattress on its elevated setting. The amount of volume inside the tent, combined with tropical roof and windows with midge mesh and both internal and external awnings will certainly help tame the extremes of climate that any traveller is likely to encounter.

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The hard floor is finished with faux parquetry vinyl that not only looks aesthetically inviting but is practical and hard wearing. There is a large amount of storage under the bed with a long pole cabinet running north-south accompanied by two large sliding drawers. Immediately next to the drawers is the lunar command centre for both AC and DC power circuits with isolator switches, battery management system, water tank and battery charge gauges. These also have an individually fused switch panel, 12V and USB outlets, and 240V cut-off switch (240V inlets and outlets are options). The Rover comes with a single 100 Ah AGM battery as standard, which is easily expandable for those on longer missions into the solar system. The DC control centre ready to receive the optional 120W solar panel connected via the forward Anderson Plug.

Overhead is a pair of LED strip lights and there are independent reading lights at the bedhead. You climb into bed quite easily with a full-width step and the hinge mechanism is well sealed with a strong PVC lining that has no sharp or hard edges with which to contend. This step also makes a terrific dressing seat and there are plenty of canvas pockets in the tent for phones, torches, wallet sand other items.

Overall the internal living space is comfortable, roomy, inviting and accommodating, for both overnight and extended exploration.

FEATURES GALORE

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From the ground up the Mars Rover landing module seems rugged enough to skim the stratosphere for your next earth orbit. Its base is a square section galvanised chassis culminating at the drawbar with a 50x100x4mm A–frame configuration with AS rated polyblock coupling and chains. Mars manufacture their own track-proven independent trailing arm suspension with twin gas shockers each side, including 16in six stud alloy wheels with all-terrain tyres and 12in electric brakes with handbrake. Underneath we also find a wind-down leg on each corner and a 120L stainless steel water tank that is neatly plumbed and fully shrouded with alloy checkerplate. There are two fully engineered recovery points should you need to be towed backwards out of a black hole.

The Mars Rover is an exceptionally well equipped unit with a host of standard features, options and accessories. Out in front there’s a convenient handle near the coupling for manual manoeuvring, plus a removable jockey wheel (optional wind-down) and a mounting base for the manual winch that we need to use when packing-up the unit. An electric option is available yet not really required.  

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Next is the combination toolbox and corner stone-guard combination. The toolbox is quite large and can carry a host of equipment, awnings, recovery gear and jerry cans, if required. Either side of the toolbox is a checker-plate guard that protects the twin 9kg gas bottle holders (bottles not included).

In between the toolbox and the main tub is a combination unit that has a large storage compartment on the driver’s side, plus a fridge-slide and three drawer pantry on the kerb side. All of the cabinetry is fully dust-sealed and carpet-lined with auto-lighting and fan venting for the fridge. On top is a luggage rack that will double as a firewood holder or you can use the full length of the trailer for larger items, such as kayaks, as the top of the tub is strengthened with four support beams. A full boat-loader is available as an option and the base unit comes complete with the chassis supports so it can be easily fitted aftermarket.

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The stainless-steel slide-out kitchen is a beaut! It fits neatly into the front of the tub and slides out easily, revealing a sink with cold water as standard. This can also be upgraded with an optional portable gas hotwater supply. There’s a three-burner Thetford gas stove and the undersides have removable leg support and three utensil drawers — plus there’s a tea towel rack and a full-length folding benchtop. Other body features include; a combination of steel and alloy checkerplate panels, polished alloy edge trims, lockable water-tank filler, LED trailer lighting, body with black hammertone or enamel paint, automotive seals all around and adjustable compression locks.

For a longer stay at Lunar base you can set up the 6x2.4m annex and full array of canvas accessories that come as standard with the Rover. There’s a full-length PVC floor, draft skirt, side wall kit and even an extra awning for the forward box sections that extends right out to the end of the tow coupling. Now that’ll keep your firewood dry!

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Should you wish to go the whole hog, those smart little men from Mars offer the Rover Deluxe Upgrade for a very attractive kit price of only $18,990. This includes; silver baked enamel paint, a boat rack, 120W solar panel, extra 60L water tank, wooden bed-base, solar power controller, CD player and speakers, 1000W inverter, electric winch, portable hot water and a portable toilet.

We put the Rover on a tough little course exploring a lunar landscape full of pits and troughs, wombat holes, wet mud and thick bull dust — as well as some tracking through grassy undulations, steep rises and corrugations — and came out smiling.

The dry kit weighs in at around 1350kg with 180kg ball weight and 2000kg ATM. In real terms you should expect to be towing approximately 1600-1700kg on the road where it'll sit and track beautifully. The camper's low towing height provides little atmospheric drag reducing overall fuel consumption for greater radial velocity through the atmosphere.

THE WRAP UP

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The Mars Rover supplies a constellation of value, is fully-equipped for intergalactic exploration and won’t leave a black hole in the ministerial budget. The men from Mars are happy to mix and match the options between the standard Lifestyle and the full Deluxe package to suit your personal needs and budget. They back their products with factory outlets in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, combined with a wide range of service and sales dealerships throughout the country for your convenience.

Step inside a Mars Rover for your next journey through time and space.

HITS AND MISSES

Pros…

  • Terrific value for money
  • 15oz close weave canvas
  • Sensible presentation of standard equipment
  • Rear fold hard floor
  • Easy for overnight trips

Cons…

  • Sealed bedroom divider

SPECS

TRAILER

  • Tare 1350kg
  • ATM 2000kg
  • Suspension Independent trailing arm suspension with dual shock absorbers and coil springs
  • Brakes 12in electric
  • Coupling 2000kg Australian Compliant Poly Block
  • Chassis 70x50x3mm galvanised RHS
  • Drawbar 100x50x4mm galvanised and painted RHS
  • Body 1.6 zinc anneal with hammertone finish
  • Wheel/tyre HT 265/70R 16in tyres
  • Style 16in alloy mag

DIMENSIONS

  • Box size 2220x1860x 700mm
  • Length (hitch to tail lights) 5.3m
  • Tent size 4200x1860mm, annex room 6000x2400mm

ACCESSORIES

  • Gas cylinders 2x9kg holders only
  • Water 125L stainless steel with shroud
  • Cooktop Three-burner Thetford gas stove
  • Kitchen Cooktop, stainless sink, pressurised tap, utensils drawers
  • Battery 100Ah AGM deep cycle

PRICE AS SHOWN

$14,990 plus on road costs and fridge

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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