A lifelong swag-guy’s take on why towing your accommodation behind you may really be the better option
Words by Dex Fulton
I’m going to go ahead and put it out there, I’ve never really been much of a camper trailer fan. Up until recently I’ve been incredibly happy with my swags, roof top tents and, if the particular trip called for it, my five-person 30 second tent.
Then I went on a weekender with a couple of mates, including Deputy Editor Ev, who had a Cub Camper in tow. I’ve taken camper trailers away for work plenty of times before this, but I’d never considered owning one, and now I think I may have been camping all wrong this past few decades.
Here’s why I’m changing my tune on camper trailers, and if you’ve never considered them, why you should too.
1 THE SET-UP
Setting up my swag consists of three poles and two guy ropes. All up it takes me about a minute from pulling it off the roof to being ready to jump in. I wasted no time in doing just this, before looking smugly over to where Ev had positioned his trailer, ready to offer some wisecrack on his apartment-sized trailer taking longer to set-up than an Olympics. Only he was already done. Yep, in the time I’d taken to roll out my swag, he’d folded the hard floor trailer open and put up the two internal poles and had the kitchen pulled out ready to cook dinner on. Not to mention had a bigger bed and enough internal room to host a dance party. Bugger. Score one for the camper trailer…
2 THE COMFORT
That night was cold, bloody cold. The chill seeped through the ground, my swag’s canvas, right through the mattress and on through me. I woke the next morning with teeth chattering and wondering if my toes were all still attached. Ev, on the other hand, came out of the Cub looking like he’d just had a Jacuzzi and a rub down, exclaiming over how warm he was the previous night under his thick doona, laying on the inner-sprung mattress…bastard.
3 THE CONVENIENCE
We were visiting a private property that has numerous tracks dotted all throughout – perfect for setting up camp and then hitting the tracks. While the rest of us were piling our fridges, clothes and cooking gear back in our vehicles, Ev simply dumped his stuff inside the camper, threw a padlock on the zippers and was ready to go, in his empty vehicle. While it may not have been an advantage on the tracks, not being in danger of having his camp oven sconing him in the back of the melon over the bumpy sections was probably really nice. Once we were back at camp, all he had to do was slide the kitchen out and he was ready for lunch. Chalk another point up for the trailer.
4 THE EXTRA SPACE
Yes, having the extra space inside the trailer would be nice, particularly for those with families, or if the weather turned nasty, but the thing that struck me was how little Ev needed to carry in the tow vehicle. His fridge, clothes, cooking gear, food, water and of course his bed were all in the trailer. All he had in his 4X4 was his recovery gear and some light snacks. Meanwhile, the amount of gear in my truck was making it difficult to breathe.
5 THE OFF-ROAD ABILITY
I thought my way of camping
would have the clear advantage here, and I was right – but not nearly as much as I thought I’d be. Having the trailer in tow made four-fifths of stuff all difference in Ev’s vehicle’s off-road prowess. Sure, you wouldn’t want one if you’re tackling dedicated hardcore tracks and backing up to make a tight turn would be more difficult, but for 95% of the tracks we went on the trailer was happy to follow in the tow vehicle’s wheel tracks. Shod with independent suspension and all-terrain tyres, the thing didn’t look like slowing him down at all. And fuel consumption was only marginally higher too –
a small price to pay for what you get I reckon.
So am I going to buy a camper trailer and step into the new world? No, not yet. But only because I’m lucky enough to work in a job where we take a lot of different trailers away with us. Which is lucky, because I’ve got to determine which one I want…