As you’re probably tired of hearing, COVID-19 and its ever-prevalent lockdowns have had great fun throwing spanners in the works left, right and centre. Here at Camper, we mostly see this in trouble getting our hands on campers to check out for all of you.
Recently, though — and right before Melbourne’s latest lockdown — things aligned and I was off to check out the new offering from Stockman Campers, the Rover Ultra, a teardrop camper that features Stockman’s innovative double sealing on all the openings. Of course in typical Melbourne winter weather, it was grey and cloudy, drizzling on and off all day, but it didn’t take away the shine of this camper.
Like many camper manufacturers, Stockman Campers began with a simple idea. Director Phil Savory, an industrial designer who has previously worked for the likes of Fisher & Paykel and Daniels Corp, combined his plastic wheelbarrow and an old trailer to create Stockman’s first product, the Pod Trailer. It has proven enormously popular since its inception and won the 2006 Australian plastic award for best conversion product.
Initially getting into camper trailers, Phil designed five different canvas camper trailers. However, he admits to becoming “sick of canvas”, so decided to revisit something that had pricked his interest.
“I was at a show about 10 years ago and saw US teardrop campers, and loved the concept,” he said.
He set about designing one that was suited to Australia’s harsh conditions. After 18 months of development, the Rover was launched in February 2020. Following in the footsteps of its older brother, the Pod Trailer, it has proven popular, with orders going out to 12 months.
There are three models in the Rover range: the base model Explorer, mid-range Intrepid, and top of the line Ultra, which is what we took out for a review on a typical dreary Melbourne winter day.
Designed for the Aussie outback, this imported camper is made of 28mm insulated polyurethane foam closed cell composite panel with a fibreglass skin on both extremities. Aluminium and a fibreglass double skin at the rear cover the exterior to produce a sleek looking camper. Predominately white, charcoal accents and green decals give it a modern look I’m sure many will love.
The highlight of the Rover is the double seals all around, which are particularly impressive with the two large doors. Everyone who has experienced dust on the road knows how irritating it is to pull up to camp (or get home) to find dust in every nook and cranny possible. The Rover’s double seal, a world-first for campers developed by Stockman, has interior and exterior rubber seals that create an airtight interior and storage areas to form a completely sealed body — there’ll be no more cursing the dust clouds kicked up in the wake of travels.
All latches, mouldings and accessories, such as the 30 Second Awning, are fitted in the Carrum Downs factory, and looked great on review day.
Underpinning the body is a hot dipped chassis and independent coil springs with dual shock suspension. A look underneath, which revealed the spare at the rear, showed things were neat and tidy, with tubes and wires pinned up out of the way. It rides on 17in alloy wheels with all-terrain tyres.
At the back, an aluminium bashplate protects the stainless steel water tanks.
Upfront, a DO35 hitch will keep it securely attached to the tow tug, while a tough Ark XO jockey wheel made hitching and unhitching a breeze.
In something not often seen, the stoneguard is solid, rather than the usual mesh, and there shouldn’t be a risk of chipping. Protected behind it are dual 4.5kg gas bottles and the nose cone that contains a front tunnel boot, perfect for larger items like chairs.
LIVING AT CAMP
After a long day driving and exploring on the road, there is nothing more draining than pulling up to camp at dusk knowing you still have the set up before you can think about nibbles and drinks. The beauty of the Rover is that, as a teardrop camper, set up can literally be pull up, unhitch, unlock the doors and raise the back lid to access the kitchen. With the bed ready to go, you’ll be snoozing away the exhaustion of the day in no time.
If you want the awning out though, it matches its name and can be set up in 30 seconds. Having many years of experience with various awnings, canvas tents and the like, I was a little sceptical when Ian Hallam, Sales & Marketing Manager, pointed it out. But I was pleasantly surprised at the ease of set up. Unzip the bag and walk the canvas out. Done. Its self-supporting arms fan out to cover 270-degrees, and ties in its open position to the driver’s side.
For extra protection, two walls come with the awning that zip in. Attaching the zip could be fiddly for the less dextrous and shorter of us, but once attached are simple to do up. In the centre is a removable pole to create a high point. However, this needs to be manually inserted and removed, and would be easy to forget when packing up — as we almost did ourselves. Ian assured us that this has already been noted, and Phil is attempting to create a system that would have the automatically pop up with set up, and lie down with pack up, so keep your eyes peeled in this space.
More walls are available for the awning, as well as an optional dome tent that could house kids or guests, but any more than the two we had set up could make the area dark. Luckily, there are external lights on the body of the Rover, controlled on the inside panel, and ‘windows’ in the walls, but it’s something to keep in mind.
The rear driver’s side corner is where the external shower tent can be attached. The Campdux hot water system is fairly unobtrusive, but getting the shower hose back in proved fiddly on review day.
Inside the camper is a comfy 160mm innerspring queen mattress. Behind them against the wall were back rests, which is a great idea for watching the mini TV at the foot of the bed or reading before bed (there are individual reading lights). There are 12V/USB points either side of the bed, with power points located at the foot. Above is a fan, which is a reversible model in the Ultra. Stockman recommends having this on while sleeping because the double seals mean the body really is airtight — for the extra cautious, you can also crack a window.
Along with more storage around the TV is the control panel for the lights, the marine speakers outside and various water and power levels. With the airtight nature of the interior and the blinds down, Stockman told us some customers said the lighting of this panel was too bright at night, and that they are working on fixing this.
The only other potential issue here is the height of the door. Due to it sitting quite high, those who are less agile or on the shorter side (including yours truly) may have trouble getting in. A simple solution for this would be a small step of some sort.
COOKING UP A STORM
A particular highlight of the Rover is the rear kitchen. Easily accessed with four positive locks on the lid, getting a snack and a cup of tea during a break on the road is a piece of cake.
Included on the review model was a Weber Q on a rubber mounted, stainless steel arm that pivots the Weber out of the way, both for easy use and access to the rest of the kitchen. Behind, the storage area is neat and tidy, with the 107L Dometic fridge-freezer on the right above the sink. A stainless steel bench stretches right across, providing heaps of room for food prep.
To keep the dust-free theme going, the 12V water pump and drain, located under the bench which easily lifts up on gas struts, has a dust cap that needs to be removed so the tube for the sink can be fed through. To access the 120L of water, simply lift the tap and the water flows out.
Under the left section of the bench are the batteries and charger, a great spot as it makes the most of the space while ensuring both are well protected. On the Ultra, 200Ah Lithium batteries and 40A charger come as standard, while they are options on the Explorer and Intrepid models. Keeping track of all of this power is easy with a panel on the outside, plus a Bluetooth monitoring system. Keeping the power up on the road is 200W of solar power on the roof.
Thanks to the innovative lid, all cooking can be done under cover, as we discovered when it began raining. Of course, rain on an angle will likely have your legs wet. The walls of the awning will fix this, but I noticed the corner of the lid touches the wall when it is set up. As the corner is rounded, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Drop down legs on either corner here are staged, so they are easy to extend to give the Ultra that extra bit of stability.
HITTING THE ROAD
Heading to Arthur’s Seat and Red Hill in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula saw us covering both blacktop and dirt roads. The LandCruiser 100 Series had no problems handling the Ultra, which has a tare of 1080kg and an ATM of 1600kg. With a payload of 520kg, there should be enough carrying capacity for a couple to get away from the hustle and bustle, though you’ll lose 120kg of this to the water tanks.
On the blacktop, the Ultra was well-behaved at highway speeds (90–100km/h), tracking behind the ‘Cruiser easily. The electric brake system does what it’s meant to, as we found on review day when it locked on. However, this was a user error, as it was clashing the brake controller on the tow tug. Once the brake controller settings were fixed, the brakes were perfect — a pertinent reminder to always check the brake controller before setting off.
The Ultra also handled the dirt roads we took it down. The height with the awning will need to be remembered as it is quite tall, but being the same width as the ‘Cruiser, there was no risk elsewhere.
Stockman offers a good warranty on its products — a 5-year structural warranty, with a 12-month structural warranty on all other parts from the date of purchase.
As is the norm, be sure to read the warranty doc in detail, as the warranty details that the Rover is not designed for extreme offroad conditions and should be driven at the recommended speed and tyre pressure for the roads being travelled.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Overall, I can honestly say the Ultra was worth the wait and the rainy weather on review day. It’s a nifty camper that will make camping quick, easy and comfortable, and will be perfect for those who are over setting up canvas awnings and tents.
At $65,990 in Victoria for the Ultra ($44,490 for the Explorer, and $54,990 for the Intrepid), it could be on the pricey side for some, but it’s well worth it for the innovation, build quality and inclusions that come with it.
FIT FOR INTENDED PURPOSE: 8
QUALITY OF FINISH: 9
BUILD QUALITY: 9
OFFROAD ABILITY: 7
EASE OF USE: 9
VALUE FOR MONEY: 8
HITS AND MISSES
Set up literally couldn’t be easier
Nimble and able to handle offroad adventurers
Build quality and innovation combined
Sits a little high for the shorter or less mobile of us
CAMPER TRAILER SPECS
Stockman Rover Ultra
Ball weight 140kg
Suspension Independent suspension with coil springs and dual shocks
Brakes 10in electric drum;
Coupling DO35 Cruisemaster swivel hitch
Chassis Hot dipped stainless steel
Body Marine Grade Aluminum/Stainless Steel/Steel/Zincanneal
Cladding Composite panel
Wheels 17in alloy wheels
Tyres All terrain 265/65R17
Style Teardrop camper
Body size 5000mm (L) x 2150mm (W) x 2000/2050 (H)
Towed length 6500mm
Awning size 4.5 x 2.5m
Gas cylinders 2 x 4.5kg
Water 120L fresh
Hot water service Campdux
Cooktop Dometic three-burner (external); two induction hotplates (internal)
Kitchen Type (Slide-out, swing out) Brand (Dometic - if applicable) with XYZ-burner, sink and bench space; and internal kitchen (if applicable), including Sharp 25L Convection Microwave
Battery 200Ah Lithium
Options fitted N/A
PRICE AS TESTED
Address 13 Sahra Grove, Carrum Downs VIC 3201
Phone 1300 725 712