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Buying a camper trailer is one of the most freeing purchases you can make in the modern world. Knock off work on a Friday arvo, fridge is loaded, water in the tank, all the bedding already in and you’re good to go. The simple act of winding down that jockey wheel turns your 4×4 from a weekday workhorse into a weekend getaway. Far away from the black top, reception, and all the worries of the world. Like most things in life, getting it right can be fantastic, getting it wrong can be a whole world of hurt. To save you time and money we’ve come up with a hit-list of the 5 most important things to keep in mind when eyeing off a camper trailer for your driveway.
CONSIDER THE RESALE
That new camper trailer you’re eyeing off may seem like it’ll be the solution to all life’s problems; but chances are you’ll be upgrading or downsizing in a few years. It means that the purchase price you’re paying today is only half the story when factoring in what it’ll cost you. Don’t let the salesman sway you with promises of cheap monthly repayments only to turn around and lose a fortune when you go to resell it. Like it or not Australian made campers typically hold their value better. You’ll pay more up front, but get significantly more back when it’s time to sell or trade in.
It’s fantastic your owners manual says you can tow 3,500kg legally. It’s a terrible idea to actually do that though. As a rule, the heavier a camper weighs, the worse it’ll be to tow. Lighter weight campers chew less fuel, pull through soft sand easier, will push you around off-road less, and will have less effect on your 4×4’s suspension and handling due to a lower towball weight. If you’re towing your camper behind a Mack truck to the local campground feel free to ignore this. But for everyone else, the weight is more important than how many shocks it has.
BUILD QUALITY IS BETTER THAN WARRANTY
A huge dealer network. Extensive warranty. And 24/7 phone assistance line are all fantastic things. But they’re not going to help much when a wheel falls off crossing the Simpson Desert. Build quality matters more than an extended warranty. When you’re eyeing off a new camper trailer spend less time looking at the dinette and more looking at the suspension and chassis. Does it run easily replaceable and quality bearings? Does it actually have decent welds on the suspension? And does the chassis look like it’s been designed by an engineer or a bloke with a welder? These aren’t features they’ll boast about in a catalogue but they’re far more important than material selection on the fold out lounge.
HOW LONG’S THE SETUP?
This one is a little more unique in your considerations that the others. How are you ACTUALLY going to use your camper trailer? As a general rule the more floor space you get in your camper trailer the longer your setup time will be. Things like awnings, ensuites, annexes and tropical roofs all take time to setup. The more canvas, the more setup. If you’re the kind of person who drives to Fraser Island and sets up in one spot for a week that may not be an issue. After all, what’s an hour’s setup if you’re there for 7 days?
On the other hand, if you’re rarely at camp for more than a night or two you’ll find yourself avoiding the camper and camping in general as a result. It’s simply not worth the hassle of fighting canvas for an hour just for a night in the bush. Get the camper that suits your needs.
SAVE BIG WITH SECOND HAND
In recent years Australian’s have become allergic to second hand. It doesn’t make a great deal of sense to us. Wether it’s the flashing neon signs or the smell of new, Aussie’s are costing themselves an absolute fortune trying to play Keeping up with the Jones’s. From winches to caravans, it doesn’t make a great deal of sense. If you’re eyeing off the budget end of the market in camper trailer land similar money will get you into an Aussie built one no more than 2-3 years old. For your trouble you’ll lose a couple of (frankly quiet silly) features like fold out TVs, but you’ll get yourself a camper that’s built sturdier, weighs less, and sets up quicker. You’ll also save even more when it comes to the resale, barely losing any value at all as opposed to 25-30% loss on a new-budget camper.