When Far Horizon Campers founder Richard rolled into Dargo with a smile as wide as the moon, we knew we’d have fun over our five days of testing and content shooting. What we didn’t expect was how much influence he has had on the factory producing the familiar-shaped Tuff Track Escape Hybrid.
CAMPER AUSTRALIA CREATIVE DIRECTOR - TIM VAN DUYL
Richard knows a thing or two about camping and has had plenty of time with imports similar to the Tuff Track. He saw a lot to like in its basic design and capabilities so took on importing them himself, but not before he made some basic but fundamentally worthwhile changes. The most obvious is the rear bar which swings away in two parts instead of folding down in one. Although you now need to lift each wheel onto the high rear bar, it's easier to open to access the rear storage compartments and it gives better clearance to the rear departure angle.
The other area Richard focuses on was space utilisation. Everywhere there is a pocket of space, it has been reconfigured to hold something. The space under the fridge slide is dead in most campers but in the Tuff Track, it’s the perfect spot for pegs and poles for the awning.
Along with personal touches, a big focus had been on keeping costs down without messing with the familiar layout of a queen front bed and convertible bunks to the rear. The outcome is a hybrid that will comfortably sleep four from under $40k before options. It may not quite have everything I think you need for a decent week in the bush (it could do with more solar and water, which can be optioned on) but it's close and the little touches you can add, as Richard has, will appeal to a lot of buyers who like to make their camper theirs.
CAMPER AUSTRALIA EDITOR AT LARGE - GLENN MARSHALL
The internal decor could be a bit more modern however this doesn’t stop it from being a functional camper. The cabling runs are neat and tidy with wires running up the chassis rail where possible, this also protects them from being snagged or stone damaged when off-road. The slide-out kitchen disappointingly includes an import gas stove top that is better suited to your home kitchen; it would be nice to see this swapped out with a Thetford burner.
Richard takes quality control seriously, making changes needed to keep the build to a high standard. This includes upgrading the Chinese wheel bearings to the respected NSK brand and balancing all wheels. He also contracts experienced plumbers and electricians to ensure that the hybrids are fully compliant. The warranty on the chassis is for five years, which is usually the case with Chinese steel.
The walls are constructed with powder-coated aluminium panels insulated with polystyrene in the walls and capped internally while the roof is an insulated aluminium panel that is fibre glassed internally.
On the Tuff Track Escape we judged, Richard had upgraded the Chinese suspension to Pedder's shockers, a nice touch that proved itself with a faultless tow. A DO35 offroad hitch provided the articulation needed on the tow test with some decent corrugations and wombat holes on sections of the route taken. The dust suppression system keeps the inside of the camper dust free backing up the automotive seals. The chassis measures 100 x 50 x 4mm and is hot-dipped galvanised for strength while the underbody is somewhat protected with a black stone chip spray.
A nice-sized lounge covered with a faux leather material also converts to a bunk, perfect for young families or grandparents who enjoy taking the grandkids away camping. The slide-out shelf is on the small side and not very functional for more than one person using it at a time. Set up is quick and easy and raising the roof electronically is a simple task. The roll-out awning covers the slide-out fridge and slide-out kitchen, offering good weather protection. The Cruisemaster DO35 makes hitching and unhitching simple, no matter what angle you are parked on. One annoyance is having to manually set up the portable hot water service and it is not protected from the weather.
CTOTY 2023 JUDGE - KATH HEIMAN
I like a camper that prioritises an outdoors lifestyle, and the Far Horizon Tuff Track Escape Hybrid is exactly such a rig. This is a camper for owners who like to be outside in the Great Outdoors, not clustering around a table or TV within the confines of four walls.
The layout of the Tuff Track Escape Hybrid is determined to have you set-up around camp and toasting marshmallows by the campfire with minimal effort, while providing ready access to all the things you enjoy most when you’re out bush. Roll up to camp, pop-up the electronically activated roof, turn on the aircon, and you’ll have a comfortable bed space waiting when you’ve finished your day’s adventures.
While the internal finish is a little austere, there’s more than enough comfortable bed space to keep a couple dry and warm when Mother Nature turns nasty, with sufficiently spacious bunks to cater for a pair of younger kids too.
The real magic happens once you step outside. The first thing you notice is that there are heaps of external storage compartments. When I asked manager Richard exactly how much storage was available in the Tuff Track Escape Hybrid, he could point to nearly 3000L distributed around the various storage boxes. That’s more than 12 domestic wheelie bins! Of these, most impressive is the underbed area that’s a massive 663L (2.7 wheelie bins), excluding the fridge area. And this space is readily accessible from side doors and even from a hatch that’s tucked away behind the dual rear spare wheels holders. Configured to maximise its usability, this space will easily accommodate fishing rods, beach toys, camp chairs, table and tools. Indeed, the underbed space is so big you could chuck a swag in there if your mate tags along.
For the comparatively modest base price of $37,999 and $47,600 as shown at this year’s CTOTY event, the Far Horizon Tuff Track Escape Hybrid provides all the things you need to get on the road with confidence and without too much fanfare. While it’s an overseas build, the camper’s bones appear strong with attention to details that can sometimes be overlooked at this price point. Scrambling underneath, for example, it was pleasing to see most of the wiring and cables routing through the chassis rather than being left dangling and exposed to road conditions. And while the fit-out is relatively plain, fixtures and fittings nevertheless present as firm and functional.
The Tuff Track Escape Hybrid’s X-Factor is the sheer volume of storage that’s available to support your outdoor adventures. With a massive 700kg payload, there’s plenty of capacity to pack what you need in a storage space configured to maximise your options.
The Far Horizon Campers' Tuff Track Escape Hybrid SPECS
Weights and Measures
|Length ||6.1m, including drawbar|
|Width ||1.85m, excluding awning|
|Height ||2.18m (lid closed), 2.78m (lid open)|
|Ball Weight||Approximately 200kg (stock van), 220kg (as reviewed)|
|Chassis ||100 x 50 x 3 RHS, fully welded|
|Body ||Frame construction: Aluminium framing|
Coating: hot-dipped galvanised chassis, with underbody stone protection
Floor construction: marine ply
Wall construction: powder-coated insulated aluminium
Roof construction: insulated aluminium, fibreglass ceiling
|Tyres ||265/75R16 Goodride Radial M/T|
|Brakes ||12in electric drum|
|Suspension ||Trailing arm fully independent, dual springs, quad shockers|
|Coupling ||3.5T Cruisemaster DO35 offroad hitch|
Accessories and Inclusions
|Battery ||3 x 100Ah AGM batteries (optional 2 x 100Ah iTechworld lithium batteries with BMS, as tested)|
|Solar ||1 x 200W solar panel|
|Hot Water||Instantaneous gas hot water unit|
|Stove ||Stainless-steel cooker with folding dish rack and fitted cutlery draw, and prep-tray|
|AC ||Roof-mounted Reverse Cycle Air Conditioner (240V), Houghton Belaire HB2400, RRP $2500 (option)|
|12V Heating||5kW diesel heater, RRP $1450|
The Far Horizon Campers' Tuff Track Escape Hybrid price $48,459 (as tested).
Available from $39,899
Supplied by Far Horizon Campers