Trackabout Safari AE20 20th Anniversary Limited Edition: Review

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


Trackabout have their roots firmly planted in building tough, well-engineered campers built to last a lifetime. Happy 20th Anniversary to our great mates from Trackabout on their 20th year of making premium, dinky-di Aussie camper trailers.

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A prediction to start things off — other than unforeseen accidents, based on what I’ve seen, I’d say every Trackabout that’s rolled out of their manufacturing facility is still providing their lucky owners with camping joy. Answers on a postcard, please.

Trackabout Campers are Aussie legends. If the Jolly Swagman cooked his jumbuck in a camper trailer, odds are it would have been a Trackabout. They refuse to defer to imported options, instead preferring to offer premium manufactured quality to experienced campers who have seen the comings and goings of many of their competitors.

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With the current industry trend moving away from traditional soft floor campers, of which the brand was famous, I was a little nervous for brother’s Lane and Dave and the rest of the Trackabout clan. Yet I shouldn’t have been concerned — these guys are on top of their game. They are leaders, not followers!

Proving their dedication and ingenuity yet again, Trackabout HQ came up with a new design and launched it at a recent field day. They recognised that the major problem with many designs is assembly time and so put their minds to designing a better process. The result is the Trackabout Touring Series. There’s the ‘Extenda’ — a walk-up style camper, plus the ‘Safari’ — a shorter version. They also offer a choice of two tent styles: the ‘Basecamp’ — conventional soft floor, plus the ‘Touring’ series, as tested. From the outside it looks like a traditional soft floor but in reality it’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

LET’S GO CAMPING

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We found a lovely waterfront campsite on a private property not far from Queensland’s Mt Cotton and, to my surprise, Lane told me not to worry about winding down the stabilisers as the trailer really didn’t need it for an overnighter — a first "ease of use" box ticked then and there. I commented on the obvious strength of the overhead boat rack as it pivoted easily to 45 degrees on well-weighted gas struts. The boat rack has a loading weight of over 100kg which is suitable for traditional 12" tinnies with heavier 1.6mm aluminium construction. Note: most car toppers are a relatively lightweight 1.2mm.

We zipped off the strong PVC top cover and I set about organising some cameras. Lane said, "don’t turn your back for long!" and presto, within a couple of minutes he had us set up ready for an overnighter — awning included. Wow, what a pleasant surprise!

The setup also revealed a unique configuration. The main structure folds almost effortlessly to the passenger side but instead of being big, heavy and cumbersome, like most soft floors, there isn’t actually any walls or floor — just the roof section with separate detachable sides. As the kitchen area opens from the rear of the trailer, a further ‘Quick Set-Up’ awning/roof easily unfolds revealing all of the support structure and poles that remain attached for easy assembly. Simply adjust the arms and poles and stake it all down with a few guy ropes, and Bob’s your uncle, quick as a flash the tent is assembled! The awning stays attached for packing under the road cover, plus there’s plenty of room to spare for bedding, tables chairs — even the kids’ boogie boards.

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The tub features an easy fold-out stairwell with steps that are strong, secure and easy to navigate, even in the dark, thanks to a courtesy light. It leads to a walk-through section before arriving at the queen size innerspring bed. The walk-through is a terrific storage area for your camp chairs, and perhaps a folding table when on the move, but it also has two large drawers leading under the bed and another on the side wall. Here’s another surprise — there’s a heater vent for the Webasto diesel hot water system to keep you warm during a big freeze. The sides of the bedding area feature ‘cafe style’ side walls with roll-up flyscreens similar to a forward fold. Trackabout have registered design patents on this truly innovative and forward thinking design.  

All of the canvas is premium Wax Converters Dyna Proofed with 15 oz on the roof and 12 oz on the sides, plus there is a permanent tropical roof on top for improved insulation. The manufactured quality is superb, in line with the rest of this tough nugget of a camper, complete with fine midge mesh screens, high quality zips and stainless steel hardware throughout for longevity. Even the tent poles and pegs are made locally by Supa-Peg on the Gold Coast!

The unit comes complete with easily detachable walls and PVC floor with draft skirt, should you wish to enclose the whole awning in the same style as a soft floor — a necessity for families. However, for myself and a partner, I wouldn’t bother, unless the weather took a severe turn for the worst. By the way, there’s enough room under the PVC road cover for everything to remain attached, if so desired.

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There are two sliding trays, one for a huge sliding pantry/storage bin that’s easily large enough to feed the whole tribe for a month; and the other has the wonderful aluminium kitchen complete with a large Evakool fridge/freezer which can be upgraded to include hard-wearing stainless latches and the ever-reliable Danfoss compressor. I giggled when I was told that they use Italian drawer runners, as there is no suitable Aussie made option — at least they tried!

 

The premium kitchen has a pivoting and hinged bench extension that extends the preparation area immensely. It can be set up in a straight line, extending out past the awning should you be concerned about heat from a portable Weber Q, or similar. In fact, I reckon I’d be taking a pair of folding bar stools, it looks that inviting!

The appliances include a Smev (Dometic) 3-burner gas stove plus a sink with hot/cold mixer serviced by a Webasto Diesel hot water system that also feeds a portable shower tent. You will just love the utensils and crockery drawers that come complete with cutlery divider and a full set of plates, glasses and mugs — all set in a CNC laser cut foam retainer. There’s further pot storage and a pair of Fusion waterproof external speakers for the Bluetooth sound system.

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There are steps around the sides of the tub with a pair of jerry can mounts and a lockable box on either side aptly nicknamed ‘the safe’, plus the driver’s side has a cold water outlet and twin 4.5kg gas bottle mounts. Out in front of the tub you’ll find a lockable pole/fishing rod carrier and then a large tool/storage box where the Webasto diesel hot water system is housed out of harm’s way. You even have the option of external draw, should you be camped by a fresh creek or external water supply.

Every compartment and doorway is very well sealed with adjustable compression locks and there’s even a mount for a set of MaxTrax on top of the tool box. All steel surfaces feature full powder-coated protection for longevity — the one I tested, in battleship grey with black trim. Out in front, the A-frame drawbar supports a replaceable mesh stone screen plus a quality ARK jockey wheel, Anderson plug and Vehicle Components DO35 off-road coupling with integrated handbrake.

GETTING DOWN LOW!

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From the bottom up, the Trackabout Safari is built on very solid foundations. You simply don’t find better undercarriage than the Vehicle Components Cruisemaster XT fully independent trailing arm suspension with coil springs and twin gas shockers, either side. It includes camber and toe adjustment as well as 12" electric brakes with Federal 285/70/R17 mid-terrain tyres on attractive black coated alloy mags, plus a spare mounted on the tail gate.

The chassis is very strong, and perhaps most importantly, has been time proven with very few changes required in the last 20 years. It features full hot dipped galvanised RHS construction with a 100 X 75 A-frame drawbar and 100 X 50 chassis, and all of the manufacturing and welding is first class. There are mud flaps, four wind down stabilisers, engineered recovery points, and further mounting options for bicycle racks and outboard carrier.

THE COMFORTS

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Yes, the 20th Anniversary Safari Limited Edition comes with plenty of creature comforts. There’s an adjustable backrest with individual NARVA touch reading lights accompanying the queen size inner spring mattress; a pair of 12 volt fans, overhead LED lights, the wonderful Webasto hot water and heating system, two shrouded 85 litre poly water tanks in a separate shower tent so you can enjoy a long hot shower, and even a TV accompanying the Fusion sound system for entertainment. (Personally, give me a camp fire and a Coolabah tree under the stars, but hey, I guess there’s those wet days and the football!)

FEEL THE POWER

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Of course if you are running all of the accessories then you need the power and Trackabout take no short cuts in that department. It starts with two 120AMP AGM batteries fed by either the Anderson Plug or 120 watt portable folding solar panel with internal regulator, a 240v 30AMP multi-stage smart charger and all regulated and monitored by the premium Redarc Manager 30 BMS, solar regulator and 30 AMP DC/DC charger with a visual monitor conveniently mounted in the kitchen.

THE WRAP UP

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The 20th Anniversary Series Trackabout offers a very comprehensive package that will be your best mate when the going gets tough. It’s a very strong unit with a great under carriage featuring terrific ground clearance and recovery angle. It’s tare weight of 1300 kg with all of the fruit is quite low in comparison to many who offer far less. But this one has the stamina for the rough stuff!

The standard ball weight is 155kg without the Webasto HWS option, or 180 kg with so it is still a very reasonable option for tough, muddy inclines and the premium 12" electric brakes will assist any steep descent. You can carry plenty of gear with an ATM of 2000 kg allowing 700kg of water, accessories, recovery gear, food, clothes and toys.

Lane said, "We always remember that we are building the customer’s dream camper so we supply plenty of options to suit each individual." He continued, "Most importantly we wanted to celebrate our 20 years in business with our customers; after all they’re the ones that have kept us here. That’s why we developed this Limited Edition feature packed celebration model."

I’m sure you will all join us in wishing Trackabout a hearty congratulations. I certainly hope they will be still offering great Aussie made products in another 20 years!

HITS AND MISSES

Pros…

  • Advanced and easy set up
  • Excellent off-road capability
  • Great layout and functionality
  • Kitchen
  • Terrific accessories
  • Storage

Cons…

  • Italian drawer runners (no Aussie made options)

SPECS

TRAILER

Tare 1300kg

ATM 2000kg

Suspension Vehicle Components Cruisemaster XT Independent trailing arm with coil springs and dual shock absorbers each side

Brakes 12in electric

Coupling Vehicle Components DO35 Off-road Coupling

Chassis Full box section galvanised 100x50x3mm

Drawbar 100x75x3mm galvanised A-frame

Body Powder-coated 1.2mm zinc anneal panels

Wheel/tyre 285/70/R17in Mud terrain-terrain

Style Alloy mag

DIMENSIONS

Box width (guard-to-guard) 1850mm overall

Body Height  1800mm including boat rack

Length (hitch-to-tail lights) 5300mm overall

Tent size 2000mmx2800mm PLUS 2400mmx3800mm annexe

ACCESSORIES

Water 2x85 litre poly tanks with steel shrouds

Cooktop Smev 3-burner

Kitchen Stainless Steel Kitchenette, sink, hot/cold mixer, 3 x drawers with inserts, and LED light, Fusion speakers, full hinged extension

Battery 2x120 AMP AGM

PRICE AS SHOWN

$48,670 with full Anniversary Edition options

Check out the full review in issue #125 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration

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