So, you’ve decided to purchase a camper trailer. Great! Welcome to the club. However, you still haven’t quite decided which trailer is best for you. That’s ok, we can help with that. Fundamentally, there are a few quintessential questions you need to answer to help you on your way to making a great purchase.
Firstly, what is your budget? Camper trailers can vary dramatically in price depending on what they offer, with budget models starting around $5,000 and ranging all the way up to deluxe off-road models from $50,000. Once you have decided your budget range, it’s easy to exclude any options that lay outside this parameter. However, consider looking at models that lie just beyond the upper end of your allowance in case you discover a ‘can’t live without’ feature that justifies the extra expenditure.
The next important question to consider is ‘where do I want to go?’. If you’re already an avid camper then you’ll have a fair idea of what’s worked for you in the past and where future travels may take you. This is important in relation to the style of camper you decide to buy as some are only suitable for sealed road trips whilst others will take you down any track you wish to point your bull bar.
Knowing the ins and outs of your vehicle will help with this question too. Regardless of their smaller size in comparison to a caravan, camper trailers can be weighty depending on their construction and features, making it imperative you know your ball weight limit and the towing capacity of your vehicle. Typically, off-road models are heavier than on-road ones, whereas soft floor models will allow you more storage space to pack your additional camping gear than a hard floor. Either way, what you take with you will also add to your overall weight and the load on your vehicle.
After these two main questions are answered you can move on to considering the main design features and accessories you think will be essential to your overall camping experience. The three main styles of camper trailers; soft floor and hard floor rear folding, and hard floor forward folding each offer a different set of features that can be customised to suit your needs. However, it is worth keeping in mind how many people you will be accommodating, how quickly you want to be able to set up and break camp and how much extra ‘living’ space you think you will require.
Rear Folding and Forward Folding campers typically provide less living space than soft floors which can include enough additional rooms to double or triple your under-canvas shelter and provide dedicated sleeping quarters and added storage space. Annexes to cover your cooking and dining areas are usually included, but bedroom add-ons and ensuite units for your hard floor may attract an additional cost.
Overall, soft floor campers can be considerably cheaper than their counterpart, however, upgrading to an off-road model will definitely increase your bottom line on both fronts. The price difference is generally due to increased construction costs for hard floor campers as they consist of a dedicated camper body and a sealed hard top that keeps dust and rain from penetrating your canvas.
The ultra-sturdy fit-out of a hard floor camper generally means they weigh a bit more than soft floor campers too which can have a knock-on effect on fuel consumption and the ease with which you access difficult terrain. However, the quick and easy setup of a hard floor camper may be the better choice to save you time and effort if you plan to settle into a new location every night. Additionally, kitchen units can be pulled out from the side and accessed while you’re travelling for a quick lunch.
These types of campers either fold out over the rear of the trailer (rear folding) or towards the back of your vehicle (forward folding) with the latter opening in the same footprint as the trailer. A winching system is used to pull the hard floor over which is a big advantage for a one-person set up as opposed to soft floor campers that usually require more than one person to set up and pack back onto the trailer. Aside from the reduced storage capacity, the readymade bed can be a huge relief if you’ve pulled in late to your site, but if you’re not willing to be strict with what you pack then the under-bed storage of a soft floor will provide plenty of room for those pesky tubs.
Keeping your camp clean (ish) and tidy can sometimes mean the difference between Mum genuinely enjoying the breakaway and not wanting to come along next time. Any camping is an open invitation to mud, dust and dirt to track their way into the interiors of your living space, even more so when the tent area of a soft floor camper is directly on the ground. Hard floors provide an off-the-ground main area which is not only easier to keep clean but will give you solid footing in soft sand and when the ground is a bit soggy or uneven.
Continue your research. Visit plenty of camping shows and showrooms to get up to date specifications and all the lowdown on any campers that make your shortlist. Additionally, a spreadsheet can be helpful to compare features on similar models so you can see where your money’s going. Lastly, try before you buy, if you can. Hiring a few will give you real-world experience on how each performs to your needs and with any luck bring you closer to the greatest purchase you’ll ever make.
At Mars Campers we work hard to develop the best value for money camper trailers with a view of helping you create memorable experiences with your loved ones.
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