Camper Trailer of the Year 2018: Intro

By: Aaron Flanagan, Photography by: Jack Murphy & Matt Fehlberg


This year’s Camper Trailer of the Year was the grandest ever staged, with 25 campers making the final cut. The calibre of all finalists was outstanding, which suggests to us here at Camper that the ultimate camping adventure is now more obtainable than ever.

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The camper trailer industry has levelled up.

The inventiveness and quality of finish on display during November's Camper Trailer of the Year was in a word, outstanding. Our four judges, all of whom have taken part in many previous stagings of the event, were unanimous in their overall assessment of the industry. By every metric it was the strongest and most impressive event in which they’d been involved. The presentation of every finalist, they said in unanimity, was exceptional.

We’ll present detailed findings on what the judges made of each of the finalists across the five nominated categories.

MUCH ADO ABOUT HYBRIDS

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An interesting and often robustly contested point of discussion throughout the event, given the variety of offerings at CTOTY, was around how to correctly classify a ‘hybrid’ style camper trailer. As in: what are, categorically, the points of difference between a camper trailer, a hybrid and a caravan?

The points of difference between a camper trailer and a caravan are straightforward. A camper trailer promotes outside camping and lifestyle whereas a caravan includes a kitchen and living area that promotes camping from an inside perspective. A caravan may also have a slide-out outdoor kitchen, but their main thrust is in enabling campers use of an inside kitchen and bathroom as primary lifestyle facilities.

A hybrid, by definition being an amalgam of the two, is a setup that offers both inside and outside facilities in equal measure.

But as you’d expect, there’s a divergence of opinion about how to weigh up indoor camping advocacy versus outdoor advocacy.

And to further complicate the matter, there’s now a reluctance from some to slot into the hybrid category due to this grey area advocating indoor facilities over outdoor, and vice versa.

The people over at Lifestyle for instance, are adamant their Reconn is a ‘hyper-camper’ due to their superb and quite innovative outdoor kitchen advocating more an outside camping experience than indoor due to it having a relatively modest facility inside. But it also has an inside toilet, which is a facility only really seen in caravans. Does your brain hurt yet?

This year, seemingly, we’ve witnessed the development of the hybrid style of camper into a cascading series of sub classifications, with terms such as ‘hyper-camper’ and ‘super-camper’ being used by manufacturers to describe their offerings.

It seems to us here at Camper, the urge to build the ultimate camping machine is diversifying the industry into one that offers a richer tapestry of choices for potential customers.

And if diversifying gets more people out camping, it stands to reason; the richer our community becomes.

After all, helping people break out of their daily grind by getting them outdoors camping is what we all have in common.

THE JUDGES

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Emma Ryan - A previous editor of Camper and one of Australia’s foremost outdoor writers and journalists, Emma is a committed proponent of a well-made, usable and thoughtfully-designed camper. Most recently, she undertook an epic adventure assignment in the Kimberley and regularly embarks on similar endeavours to many locations around the country for Camper.

Dan Everett - One of the finest offroad motoring and camping writers anywhere, Dan’s style and discerning eye for well-made, robust and fully-capable automotive and camping machinery has won him many fans. Dan regularly pens and shoots Camper’s tow-test and reviews. Most recently he led our team on last year’s massive Race to the Cape assignment.

David Cook - A well-respected industry voice, David brings experience, Mandarin-like wisdom and a natural forensic-like attention to detail to anything that examines camping-related componentry. A long-standing columnist for Camper, David is also a regular and discerning reviewer and gear tester for the magazine. There's few outdoor journos with his skills and breadth of knowledge.

John ‘Bear’ Willis - An intelligent and astute outdoor journalist with decades of experience, Bear, like David, needs no introduction. What he doesn’t know about the camper trailer industry isn’t worth knowing. Bear regularly and tirelessly plies the eastern coastal roads, Melbourne to Far North Queensland, on the hunt for a good outdoor adventure yarn. A regular contributor to Camper since its inception, little escapes his attention.

Camper would like to thank the judges for their efforts throughout the year helping assess and, finally, adjudicate on a spread of uniformly brilliant camper trailers. All have been massive, contributing greatly to the richness of the magazine. They are all rightly acknowledged as industry legends. Thank you.

THE SCORESHEET

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1. SUITABILITY FOR INTENDED  PURPOSE

Is it a camper designed for accommodating a large troupe in comfort or is it a camper intended to go where no camper has gone before? This category gauges how well a camper suits its manufacturer’s designated purpose.

2. INNOVATION

Does the camper break the mould? This category is a measure of the manufacturer’s ingenuity.

3. BUSHABILITY

For how long will the camper sustain you when way out bush, far away from things like electric plugs and water taps?

4. QUALITY OF FINISH

How well is the entire rig put together? Welds, materials, attention to detail all taken together and assessed out of ten.

5. BUILD QUALITY AND CONSTRUCTION

The structural integrity, engineering quality and the durability of the camper’s components, including canvas, are assessed under this criteria.

6. OFFROAD-ABILITY

How well does the camper perform offroad? Is the underbody well shrouded to protect it from rocks and other potential bumps and knocks? Is the suspension and its towability well-considered and up to scratch?

7. SPECIFICATIONS AND COMFORTS

After all’s said and done, and you’ve dragged your pride and joy over hellish tracks deep with corrugations, water-courses and muddy bogs, does the camper allow for a beatific night’s kip and a slap up meal with only a modicum of effort?

8. EASE OF USE

Does your camper require an Ikea-like grasp of instructions and quizzical interpretation of diagrams to set up? Campers that are good to go without too much expenditure of brain-power rate highly.

9. VALUE FOR MONEY

Bang for buck. Most campers these days feature an array of add-ons and extras. Our judges take into account what you get for your money, at the price indicated, and adjudicate appropriately. Items and features that are optional extras are indicated as such.

10. X-FACTOR

Things that make you go mmmmm.

CAMPER TRAILER OF THE YEAR 2018 FINAL RESULTS

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David Cook

John 'Bear' Willis

Dan Everett

Emma Ryan

UNDER 15k

 

 

   

Mars Rover - WINNER

86

88.5

75

77

MDC Explore

80.5

79

79

75

15-30k

 

     

Skamper Kamper Dingo Ultimate - WINNER

94

90

89

87

Wild Boar Razorback

90.5

93

82

83

Austrack Savannah X

92

90

81

79

Blue Tongue Overland XF Series II

                         

92.5

82.5

83

76

Jawa Outlander

85.5

84.5

84

74

MDC Robson

87

81.5

88

72

30-45k

 

 

   

Patriot X2 - WINNER

94.5

89.5

91

91

Off Trax Metalian Maxi

84

81

88

83

Blue Water Macquarie

91.5

89.5

79

80

Terra Trek TT-E

89.5

76.5

87

77

MDC X12

85

78.5

81

76

Cub Campers Frontier

84

78

91

74

45k +        

Patriot X1 - WINNER

100

92.5

97

97

Complete Campsite Fraser XTE

97

88.5

94

95

Track Trailer Tvan Mk5

95.5

89

94

92

Lifestyle Reconn

93

82.5

93

86

Aussie Swag Ultra Max

88

82

83

77

Hybrid        

Mountain Trail CXV - WINNER

97

92.5

 

97

100

Complete Campsite Exodus 16

96.5

88.5

96

96

BRS Pursuit Platinum

93.5

92.5

94

90

AOR Quantum +

94.5

88.5

82

80

AJ Thomas Quest RV Rubicon

85.5

89

80

76

Jawa Trax 12

75

75.5

70

65

Check out all the action from CTOTY 2018 in issue #122 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.