Many overlanders find the thought of owning an offroad camper attractive, and with the opportunities to travel extensively within Australia about to explode, Camper Australia thought it would be a great opportunity to discover how offroad campers can improve your camping adventures
But what is it about an offroad camper that can enhance your camping experience so much? Is it the comfort level, its greater capabilities or that it allows you to reach that secret location off the beaten track? Let’s find out.
One beauty of an offroad camper or hybrid is that it allows you to carry both the right gear and enough supplies for extended stays in remote country. The base from which they are built is a strong chassis, with a full chassis the best option. A longer A-frame provides more storage space, however it’s important not to overload the ball weight. A shorter A-frame is often better in offroad conditions as it provides more manoeuvrability when space is limited.
A camper built for offroad touring has suspension that provides better towing capabilities and, while leaf-sprung suspension is as tough as nails and easy to repair in the bush, there are stronger options — we’re talking about limited-run trailing arm independent, adjustable airbags or cross-arm suspension, perfectly suited to the toughest offroad challenge by providing higher ground clearances. You’ll also find that they tow and ride better.
An offroad camper will follow your vehicle almost anywhere as they often use hitches that provide the best articulation, which is extremely important. The coupling needs to be able to rotate 360 degrees and articulate a minimum of 70 degrees from the horizontal and vertical position. Trailer brakes that allow you to descend to that hidden river campsite safely are important too, with electric disc brakes the ultimate solution, closely followed by electric drum brakes. Being able to manually adjust the trailers brakes from the driver’s seat is crucial when scrambling down a steep track or tracking through sand.
COMFORTS OF HOME
There has been a definitive move by camper manufactures to improve the liveability of their products so the creature comforts are similar to what you can enjoy at home. It’s these improvements and add-ons that make life so good when you’re set up beside a waterway in some isolated paradise.
The kitchen and pantry setup on offroad campers allow you to produce Masterchef quality meals wherever you are. With three-burner gas stoves, some with a grill, connected directly to the LPG bottles, a stainless sink with plumbed hot water and a slide-out BBQ, you’ll feel right at home, and when you pull out the 85L dual-zone fridge/freezer complete with ice blocks for your G&T, you’ll never want to go home.
Water carrying capacities have been improved and the addition of a gas, diesel or 12V hot water service means you can enjoy a hot shower as often as you can, with privacy issues solved by fold-down screens that are simple to set up and pack up. If you own an offroad hybrid, you can enjoy an internal ensuite complete with shower, washbasin and chemical toilet.
Another big improvement, especially in an offroad camper, is battery power and charging systems. Battery type and size is important as well as how it is managed. Lithium batteries are a great option as they’re lighter, recharge quicker and provide power for longer than AGM or wet cell batteries.
In regard to battery management, a DCDC charger is better. This is due to the intelligence of these units, being compatible with smart alternators, delivering a tailored multi-staged charge for different battery types and having inbuilt solar management as well.
When you’re kicking back relaxing at your secluded campsite, well off the beaten track, the solar panels attached to your offroad camper are quietly recharging your batteries. Fixed or portable, your batteries will have plenty of power for your fridge, freezer, lights, coffee maker, smartphones, electronic games, cameras or drones.
The lighting setup on your offroad camper will be state of the art as well and shine light wherever you need it. LED lighting is the standard now and having the ability to change the brightness and colour (white/orange/red) will allow you to set the mood, while not attracting the bugs. Being able to do this wirelessly is even better.
WHAT DO THE EXPERTS THINK
When I asked three experts of the camper trailer world what they thought they came back to me with some truly interesting responses:
“Australia has some of the most diverse environments, from tropical rainforests to deserts, snowy mountain peaks to white-sand beaches, but the best of them are well off the beaten path. An offroad camper trailer that’s designed to tackle the toughest tracks is the only way to experience camping in these remote, yet truly breath-taking locales that should be on every Australian camper’s bucket list,” said Glen Schoeman of CUB Campers.
Justin Montesalvo from Patriot Campers explained, “The biggest gain from our camper trailer is that it makes the whole camping experience easy. The amount of gear you need to take with a family of five is a lot. Our camping gear lives in the trailer, including our cooking gear, so all we need to do is load in our clothes and food and we're good to roll out.
“An offroad camper also gives you more campsite options and extends the camping experience. There's no better feeling than carving your own path and once you get to your camp, you'll have enough water for the crew and power for the fridge and appliances.”
Steve Van Staden from Offtrax Campers said, “A well-designed, offroad camper will provide you with plenty of dedicated storage, so the camper is ready to hitch at a moment’s notice. It should only be a matter of filling the water tanks, pack the fridge and you’re off. Good storage solutions in a camper also provide less stress of having to pack the vehicle to the brim.”