On the road with Patriot Campers
What does the crew from Patriot do when they’re not building one of Australia’s most versatile offroad campers? They head out bush with their toys!
It had been almost a year since CTA photographer Ellen Dewar and I ventured into the heart of the Kimberley, WA, with the crew from Patriot Campers. So when the brand’s owner and manager Justin Montesalvo called me up to ask if we wanted to join him and a bunch of his family and mates for a long weekend near Nymboida in northern New South Wales, I quickly said yes.
This trip would be all about the toys, Justin assured me; an R&D exercise for the brand’s new TH560 toy hauler camper trailer. And from what I had gleaned about the Patriot team’s obsession with offroad fun on the Kimberley trip, I had absolutely no doubt we were in for an adrenalin-packed weekend.
We planned to meet at the turnoff to the Old Glen Innes Road on the Gwydir Highway, just a few k’s west of Grafton. Luckily, there was a huge grassy shoulder at this intersection; we arrived to find what can only be described as a veritable Patriot army pulled off the road. What seemed like dozens of people milled around parked cars and camper trailers, a tangle of eager kids and adults all decked out in matching Patriot t-shirts and all thrumming with excitement.
Among the fray were three of the brand’s original X1 camper trailers and three of the beefy TH560 toy haulers, each loaded to the brim with ATVs, dirtbikes and quads — one bloke even had a lawnmower. There can be no doubt about it, the extended Montesalvo family takes camping and the pursuit of fun very seriously. They’re Toyota purists through and through, and hauling the campers that were hauling the toys was a throng of LandCruisers in various states of modification.
Here, we’ll run you through the full, dirty line up of tow trucks.
CTA’S LC200 LONG-TERMER
Making its maiden voyage after coming on board as CTA’s new long-term press vehicle, the LC200 GXL was the steed of choice for our crew. It barely noticed the Patriot X1 camper trailer it dutifully towed, the unit’s 700kg Tare scarcely making a dint in the vehicle’s massive 3.5t towing capacity. As mentioned, the roads were pretty soft from a 4WD perspective, so we looked forward to testing the vehicle in the rough stuff of the New England national parks we were set to explore in the weeks to come.
There’s no doubt the 200 Series is a supremely comfortable highway cruiser, so getting up to northern New South Wales was a treat. We crossed the divide at the Blue Mountains on the stunning Bells Line of Road, pottered through Mudgee, Armidale and Glen Innes before crossing the divide again on the Gwydir Highway and meeting the crew near Grafton. The 200 Series proved itself to be a powerful and fuel efficient blacktop tourer (we got nearly 1000km to the 120L tank up the New England Highway), its smooth ride and plush interior making for a very pleasant road trip.
Patriot TOY HAULER 560
There were three TH560s on this trip, each carrying a Polaris 1000cc RZR buggy on their massive 1.7x 3m decks.
The TH560s are a sight to see; with the carrying capacity on the back plus all the features and the living area of the smaller Patriot X1 Camper on the front.
It’s the next-level camper trailer for serious touring with the capacity to carry five dirt bikes, one side-by-side ATV, a pair of jet skis, or two ATVs.
Pictures really don’t do it justice.
JUSTIN MONTESALVO: 2015 LC200
Among the pack of 200 Series LandCruisers at the camp, Justin’s highly-modified 2015 model stood out. It has had the back chopped and a 650mm chassis extension performed by the guys at Creative Conversions. In addition, it has a Patriot Campers custom tray that includes a 70L water tank under the tray with an electric pump, a slide-out kitchen, a tray-mounted stereo, a set of Maxtrax, and a hi-lift jack. The finish of the tray is of extremely high quality and holds the same look and feel as the X1 and TH560 trailers.
The 200 Series is fitted with a wish-list of accessories making it an exceptionally capable tourer. Up front is a TJM bar and winch sporting a set of Great White spot lights and LED lightbars powered by a 100Ah lithium battery with Redarc BMS1230 and TJM battery monitor. The Cruiser rides on a set of Icon remote-reservoir coilovers, with front and rear lockers pushing 35x12.50x17in BFG mud terrains to get it out of any tough spots.
A Torqit diesel tuner and pedal torque are set up to squeeze some extra power out of the turbodiesel V8, and with a 4in stainless-steel Beaudesert Exhaust, the LC200 sounds tough and looks the part to match. A Rhino-Rack roof basket gives extra storage and a long-range fuel tank increases touring range.
When asked what sort of attention he gets driving the LC200 towing the TH560, Justin said: "I literally can’t take that setup anywhere without being mobbed every time we stop. We get barricaded on the highway by people wanting to check it out."
ROBERT MONTESALVO: LC200 SERIES
Robert Montesalvo runs a standard Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series. It tows a Patriot X1 sporting the Patriot Howling Moon Tent with the extra kids’ room. He also brought along a Yamaha YZF quad bike, towed by his brother Jamie.
JOE HUTCHINS: LC200 SERIES SAHARA
Family friend Joe Hutchins brought along his LC200 Sahara with some basic mods — a Redarc brake controller and ARB front bar. He was towing a TH560 sporting a 1.8m family Patriot Howling Moon Tent and carrying a Polaris RZR 1000 and a Honda CRF450.
CAMPBELL EDWARDS: LC79 SERIES
Campbell’s custom-black LC79 Series is arguably a toy in itself. With a 75mm lift, 35in muddies, front and rear lockers and a recently-installed 3.5in Lukey exhaust, the ute would likely go anywhere the ATVs could, albeit at a more respectable pace.
CHASE MONTESALVO: TOYOTA HILUX
Chase must be the black sheep of the family as he was the only brother not running a LandCruiser on the weekend. He opted for the tried-and-true Toyota HiLux with a Bilstein-based 50mm lift, ARB bars front and rear, a Safari Snorkel, IPF HID and lightbar, Flipdeck tonneau cover, BFG All-Terrain tyres and custom bash plates. Chase’s HiLux is a reliable workhorse more than capable of towing his Patriot X1 Camper anywhere.
MATHEW GALEA: LC200 SERIES
Another family friend, Matt "Pinkie" Galea rocked up with another LC200 sporting a strong touring capable setup, including front and rear lockers, a diesel tuner chip, front and rear bars, winch, snorkel, BFG ATs, Old Man Emu suspension and a long range fuel tank. This setup tows his TH560 sporting a James Baroud Evasion Rooftop Tent and carries a Polaris RZR 1000 Side-by-Side.
ADRIAN RASCO: PETROL LC100 SERIES
Adrian made the trip with his family towing a RZR 1000 behind his big black LC 100 Series that rolls on big alloys.
Check out the full review in issue #91 August 2015 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.