Hard floor campers: The pros and cons
These two-person tourers offer a simple setup with all the pleasures of camping under canvas.
For pure simplicity under canvas, hard floor campers steal the show! Simply flip the top over and adjust a few poles and you’re ready for an overnight stay. Most hard floor camper trailers come complete with strut assistance to help unfold the tent, and there’s usually either a manual or electric winch to close it back up again, so setup’s not really labour intensive either. This is especially handy when pulling into camp late at night, making them perfect for longer distance touring.
SLEEPING QUARTERS AND SPACE
It rained for a day or two during our test trip and we found the internal living space was adequate but limited without the annexe. There’s roughly enough room for a small table and two chairs inside most hard floors, but floor space is usually restricted to the size of the tub itself. This makes it tight for families laying out the kids’ beds. And although many hard floors have pull-out drawers for storage under the bed, when the floor space is fully utilised, you’ll need to lift up the mattress (often with the help of gas struts) to access all your gear.
That being said, you can always set up the annexe if you’re willing to spend the time.
Access to the bed is usually from the bottom end, but at least you’re not crawling over your partner to get out of bed during the night.
- Lower bed that’s easier to access
- Super simple overnight setup
- Well-sealed against dust ingress
- Raised floor for easier cleaning
- Less loose components to store than soft floor models
- Minimal campsite preparation required
- Compact footprint when campsite space is limited
- Storage space can be limited
- Limited internal living space
- Generally heavier than soft floors with more ball weight
- Storage rack on top needs unpacking before setting up camp
AVERAGE SETUP TIMES
On the tracks, hard floors are pretty capable. They’re nice and compact, and aren’t as top heavy as the larger, full-bodied camper trailer styles, which allows them to handle less fortunate angles you often accidentally find yourself on. Steer clear of damage, as hard floor campers typically have less of a buffer zone like the wheel arches of a soft floor camper. While every camper trailer is different, even minor aluminium or fibreglass repairs can hurt the bank balance!
PRODUCT TESTER: ROB HANSON
President, Limited Riff 4wd Club: "Think about the gear you need to carry".
Why did you choose a hard floor camper?
They’re an easy one-man job to set up and pack away, which comes in handy if you’re setting up your campsite up in bad weather or late at night.
What would you consider the downside of owning a hard floor camper?
Many trailers carry a lot of weight at the drawbar, resulting in a front heavy camper with a less than desirable ball weight that affects handling and makes it hard to move around by hand.
Any advice for people looking to purchase a hard floor camper?
With limited storage space available, think about the gear you need to carry and choose a camper with the best storage layout and facilities to suit what you have. For example, you might need a camper that can accommodate a generator or an extra-large fridge.
What would your next type of camper be and why?
I’d go for a soft floor camper next, with the attachable rooms, I think. They just seem to offer the best storage options for the whole family, and camper trailer builders are continually engineering soft floor tents that are easier to set up, which was formerly their largest downfall.
Check out the full feature in issue #92 September 2015 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.