Choosing a Camper Trailer
For the typical camping enthusiast, the succeeding step from ‘tenting’ will most likely be the purchase of a camper trailer which, offers more luxury especially when it comes to sleeping off the ground (and as we get a little older and less flexible!).
For those looking to enjoy weekend getaways, the significant advantage of doing it ‘camper trailer’ style, is packing the camper, which can be done during the week. This eliminates a lot more stress compared to packing the car (and organising the kids) after work on a Friday afternoon.
The same applies for when you return home on a Sunday afternoon. All you have to do is to park the camper trailer and leave it to be unpacked at a later stage during the week. This way, you can stay at camp for longer, without the worry or stress of unpacking and preparing for work on Monday morning.
With a large range of camper trailers available in the market today, is it any wonder that buying one for the first time is a daunting experience, to say the least? The most confusing aspect of the whole process is ‘Where to Start’, what type of camper trailer will suit yours (and your family) needs and the dollars required. The easy way would be to grab the first camper trailer you see and hope for the best, which can lead to a very expensive mistake. However, taking your time by doing a little research can benefit in the long run.
Budget and camping style
A great way to start your camper trailer search is to look at your budget and determine where you will most likely take your vehicle and camper trailer.
Even though the “Sky’s the Limit”, you do not need a flash camper trailer with all the bells and whistles, just to get out there and have fun. However, what you DO want is something that is robust and reliable.
Times are changing and you will be amazed to learn that the quality of a $7,000 camper trailer compared with a $80,000 model sometimes are hardly worth the extra cost. As with most things in life, you will know when you found the right one after a bit of research.
The other thing to consider is your ‘camping style’. For example, will you be visiting Caravan Parks, National Parks or State Forests via well-formed roads? Will the location have basic amenities such as water on tap, toilets and showers? If so, then you will probably won’t need a doomsday-off-road-ready camper trailer that is designed to carry extra water, fuel and supplies for a week of remote camping.
When it comes time to visiting a store / showroom, don’t be afraid to ask questions to the salesperson. They should be able to reply to any question you ask, which will also demonstrate how well they know their products and how much confidence they have in them.
Some examples of questions for your specific needs, could include:
- What does the camper trailer weigh?
- What is the camper trailer warranty?
- Can I setup and pack down on my own?
- Can this trailer do hardcore off-road tracks?
- What are common options with this trailer?
- How many of these trailers have you sold?
- We highly recommend you prepare a list of questions you want to ask now (or when you are closer to the actual purchase)
When visiting a store / showroom, we recommend doing the following:
Collect any brochures or flyers of the camper trailers that took your interest, so you can put it all together for when your mind is clear when you get home.
What part of a particular camper trailer took your eye? Does one style of kitchen stand out over another?
Don’t be afraid to roll under the camper to check out the blokey bits such as the suspension, whilst another person checks out the kitchen and stove top arrangement.
Which type of camper trailer do you prefer?
One thing you will find during your search for the right camper trailer, is that there are several different configurations available. Some have a dedicated camper body like the flip-overs (and windups etc.) with a hard floor, whilst others are based on a box trailer and commonly have a soft floor.
A flip-over camper mostly has a sealed hard top when travelling and opens to the rear to become the floor which is suspended off the ground on rails or legs. This is an advantage especially when camping on sloping ground levels, on the beach in soft sand or when the ground may be a bit soggy underfoot.
From tow mode, the camper folds out in minutes ready for an overnight camp with the bed ready-made! The kitchen slides out from the side, which can also be accessed when having meal breaks while travelling to your destination or back home.
A popular type of camper these days are the forward folding camper trailers, which open in the same footprint as the trailer. One point to pay attention to with this type of camper is, they are generally full-on-off-roaders and not quite suitable for small and medium SUV’s.
Some models of the rear fold hard floor and forward folding types of camper trailers have a winching system to pull the hard floor over, which is a big advantage for setting up by one person.
Soft floors campers are also easy to setup for a one nighter, which is usually done by removing the soft vinyl tonneau cover and pulling the canvas out to the extending internal frame. Some require the use of a couple of tent pegs and ropes.
Other advantages of the soft floor campers:
- They provide more floor space than a flip-over (without additional add-on rooms)
- Can open to seventeen foot (or more) wide, allowing plenty of room for bedding for a large family.
- The bed is also made ready for a good night’s sleep
- The kitchen is commonly mounted on the swinging tailgate or slides out from the rear making it accessible for meals on the roadside.
*One down side of this type of camper is that it can be hard for one person to setup and pack back onto the trailer
A windup involves lifting the hard roof up mechanically to expose the canvas sides. The floor is well off the ground with steps into the caravan like interior. Some have a double bed each end that is pushed out when setting up camp. These campers usually have an internal kitchen with dinette allowing plenty of comfort. They also allow for more ‘Out of the Weather’ style camping, however it could be a little cramped for a large family in this situation.
Of course there are many variations to these aforementioned types of campers. Your choice will depend on what suits you and your preferred style of camping, the comfort levels you require and where you want to take it. Consideration must also be given to the tow capacity of your vehicle as well as the ball weight. Especially if you have a lightweight 2WD vehicle or perhaps a soft off-roader also known as a SUV.
Important note: Check your vehicle manufacturers handbook for these specifications. Overloading can void your vehicle’s warranty as well as your insurance. A ball weight of around 10% to15% of the trailers weight will give good forward travel and tracking qualities. Don’t forget the trailers ball weight is part of the vehicles payload.
Other Things to Think About?
By making a list of preferences you may be able to narrow down your search to a short list.
Consider if you will be doing ‘touring holidays’, setting up one night camps or on the other hand camping in the one place for several days at a time
How hard will the camper be to set up, does it require one person or two?
Do you any physical limitations?
Will you be visiting National Parks and/or Caravan Parks, where most facilities are available or will you be camping in remote areas that requires you to be more self-sufficient – by taking your own drinking water, portable toilet and the like?
Do you need a slide-out kitchen which is easily accessible for roadside lunches or morning tea is an advantage on touring holidays?
Depending on the type of camper trailer and where you want to camp, it will influence the “options” you will need.
A few options that might be worth considering if not already included with the camper are:
- An extra wide awning can be an advantage by providing extra shade or protection from the rain.
- Full annex walls could be handy at times. However for the times you will actually use them, are they worth carting around when considering the extra weight?
Would fly screened annex walls be a better option when camping near the beach? If so is the screening midge proof?
- Then there is a tropical roof to provide a cooler internal temperature during the day.
How much time do you spend inside the camper during the day?
- If you are venturing into the remote areas with very little water, is it worth an extra underslung water tank, or perhaps just extra jerry cans?
- A boat rack is a handy item if you have a tinnie, however could be extra weight and work you don’t need when setting up your camper.
- If setting up for long stays away from power, you may need extra batteries and a 12volt charging system including solar panels or a generator.
Still Unsure of Which One is the Best Camper Trailer for You? Seek Honest Advice!
Like most camper trailer manufacturers, our website has a good range of information for browsing the details of each camper trailer, with more information been added as the product evolves. When you have narrowed down your search and need answers from actual camper trailer owners, you may find it helpful chatting with camper trailer owners at our Official Mars Campers Enthusiasts page. Here, you will get an unbiased opinion from our customers. You do not need a camper trailer to join and find out what camping with one of our camper trailers is about.
In summary, buying a camper trailer is a reasonable expense. You may only buy one in your lifetime, so you want to ensure that you make the best choice for you and your camping style.
It’s important you take your time and do your homework. Use the tips in this article to help you narrow down your choices before handing over your hard-earned dollars. Like us, you will find that a camper trailer makes camping all that much easier, especially because the comfort and convenience it provides. Enjoy!
Did you find this information useful? If you found even one tiny nugget in this material to be useful, please do forward it to one of your friends. I am sure they will thank you for it. You can send it to them via email, twitter, facebook or post it on your own website.