There’s no doubt that a camper trailer is a big investment (new campers usually range from around $6000 – $25,000) and for many campers, a tent is sufficient for their one or two annual camping trips – after all, you don’t want a trailer taking up space in your garage or driveway if you’re only going to use it once in a blue moon.
But if you’re getting out there often, want to get out more, or if your set up and pack up process is getting so complex that it’s actually preventing you from getting out on those spontaneous weekend escapes, it might just be time to consider taking the plunge.
Packing and set up
“The biggest thing that stops people from going camping is the whole thought of having to pack all the gear in the car, get the kids in and then get to the camp spot and unload the car and set up their camping gear – and then go through the whole process in reverse when they’ve finished camping only to pull everything out and clean it all up when they get home,” says Linden Lawson of Austrack Campers.
“With a camper trailer, you don’t have to do any of that – everything’s already in the camper trailer from when you went last time. So if you have a crappy Friday, for instance, you can just back up to your camper, throw some food and some clothes in and take off.
“We set up our campers with all their gear in around ten minutes. Whereas to set up a full campsite with tents, awnings, tarps, kitchens and all your camping gear will often take you a couple of hours.”
Hard floor vs soft floor
Camper trailers come in two main varieties: hard floor and soft floor. Soft floor campers are more like a standard tent than a hard floor but are generally bigger in area. Soft floor campers are also usually the cheaper option as they take longer to set up and pack up and are harder to sweep out.
Hard floor campers are usually heavier than soft floors so if you decide you’d like to go for this option, make sure your vehicle is capable of towing the extra weight.
A camper trailer is also going to provide you with better protection from the weather than most tents. They are generally made from thick, high-quality canvas which will keep the rain out and is also a much better insulator than the lightweight polyester or nylon fabrics most modern tents are made from. This makes you feel much less exposed to the elements inside a camper trailer than in the average tent.
Canvas does take a lot longer to dry out than polyester though – so if you pack your camper trailer wet, you’ll need to set it up again shortly after to allow it to dry out.
“You’ve also got a much bigger area in a camper trailer – unless you put up the Taj Mahal of tents – and a better quality structure, so you’re certainly a lot better protected if the weather turns bad,” says Lawson.
Comfort levels in general are much higher in a camper trailer and – while this may not appeal to the hard-core hike-in hike-out adventurers out there – for the average camper there are some sweet benefits to be had.
“Camper trailers are fully self-sufficient. There’s a kitchen, water tanks, power and some of our campers have tvs, dvds fridges and all that sort of gear. So everything is right at your fingertips.”
In most camper trailers, the kitchen and fridge slide out from the side of the trailer and sit under the annex. This provides a comfortable area to cook and prepare meals out of the weather. Water is pumped from the water tank through to the kitchen sink to give you running water on tap.
Many camper trailers also have solar panels so you can generate power when you’re not at a powered site.
You can take a camper trailer pretty much anywhere. Of course, you’re not going to be able to access walk in campsites in a camper trailer but that is pretty much the only restriction.
Whether you want to head into the wilderness for some proper off-roading, or casually cruise around caravan parks, provided you choose the right model, a camper trailer won’t restrict where you can or can’t go.
“There’s a camper trailer to suit everybody. Some are off-road, some are semi-off road, some are designed to go behind motorbikes. Certainly, if you buy the right camper for your needs then it can go anywhere you want to take it,” says Lawson.
If you think you’re ready to move up from a tent to a camper trailer, check out our Camper Trailer Buyers’ Guide.