The quality of the chassis is
critical and for off-road use it must be able to cope
with tough road and weather conditions.
Trailer manufacturers now comply with
Australian Standards (AS) and Australian Design Rules
(ADR). Camper trailer and caravan chassis manufacturers
normally use hot-dip galvanising, box tubing or RHS
(Rectangular Hollow Section) steel. RHS is tough and
has good wear resistance.
Some later model campers come with
snatch points or heavy duty hooks which enable the
trailer, if bogged, to be pulled from behind with a
winch or snatch strap. If you were to get bogged you
are more likely to be able to extricate the vehicle if
you unhitch the trailer. Then you can approach the
trailer from the rear with your vehicle and attach the
winch or snatch strap to pull it free.
Rims & Tyres:
There are options for a five or six
stud pattern which means you can have rims and tyres to
match your tow vehicle that can give you the benefit
of interchanging the tyres as your vehicle will have a
spare and the camper trailer will ordinarily have at
least one spare.
A good quality tyre is essential to
take the load of the camper trailer and tyres should be
correctly inflated as the air in the tyre controls how
much load a tyre can carry and contributes to the
stability of the trailer on the road. Inflation
pressure of the tyre should be checked when the tyres
are ‘cold’. Under inflation can cause heat to build up
and over time shorten the life of your tyres.
Covering the spares will protect them from exposure to
the sun and UV rays which can lead to cracking. Having
the wheels balanced will also reduce uneven tyre wear.
Ensure there is enough tread on the tyre for good
Some manufactures of trailers will
put on a standard tyre but provide an option to upgrade
to a light truck or all terrain (A/T) tyre. The
difference is that the latter tyres will have a deeper
tread depth, heavier side wall gauge and more belt cord
wire and plies. These features in a tyre provide longer
wear life, puncture resistance, maximum inflation
pressure and maximum load carrying capacity.
Always remember to check your spare
tyre inflation prior to leaving on a trip. If you are
travelling on sand, stony ground or corrugations it is
likely you will need to reduce the tyre pressure to suit
the terrain. The speed you travel should also be
A set of Staun Tyre Deflators are a
handy thing to have and you can preset them to a desired
pressure to enable the tyres to deflate to the set psi
and stop. So that tyres can be reinflated it would be
an advantage to also own a good 12V portable air
See article - Tyre and Wheel Bearing Maintenance
A common form of suspension is closed
double eye leaf springs that can comprise several leaves
stacked on top of one another in several layers that are
bracketed together and fixed to a beam axel with U
bolts. The inter-leaf friction provides some dampening
that avoids the need for shock absorbers with most. This
type of suspension is easier to repair particularly if
you are in a remote area.
Some camper trailer manufacturers are
incorporating the use of shock absorbers to leaf spring
suspension whilst other manufacturers market various
forms of independent suspension with heavy duty springs
and shock absorbers.
AL-KO produce a Independent Rubber
Suspension (IRS) axle which they promote as having
self-dampening characteristics with options for
galvanising and zinc-plating, salt-water protection and
special mounting brackets that allow axle adjustment to
achieve optimum balance and nose load.
If you are considering a long trip or
a trip into remote areas it would be wise to have your
camper trailer suspension and wheel bearings checked
prior to departure.
Stoneguards protect the front of the
camper trailer from stones flicked up by the tow
vehicle. Stoneguards are usually a metal frame fixed to
the draw bar with a covering usually made from a
Breezeway mesh material (looks like a shadecloth but
more resilient) and they help prevent chipping and dents
to the body of the camper trailer.
It is best if the material is not too
taunt to allow some absorption of the impact of stones
and that the stoneguard is on a slight angle with the
top facing in a downward direction to deflect anything
flicked up and this should minimise the number of stones
then deflecting onto the back windscreen of the tow
The choice of the components of the
main body of the camper trailer are wide and varied.
Ultimately it will come down to your
desire for either a hard top or soft top camper trailer.
There are camper trailers with a soft
floor and some with hard floors. Those with a hard floor
will most likely stand up better for creek crossings.
Check out how well it is sealed where the floor meets
the wall and particular around hinged or slide out doors
as sealing prevents water and dust getting in.
For the tent section, most
manufacturers use either 10 oz, 12 oz or 15 oz canvas
for durability. For instance, they may use a
combination of say a 12 oz on the roof and 10 oz on the
walls. Manufacturers also use heavy duty zippers and
the windows are usually flyscreened. The canvas should
be waterproof and treated so it will be mildew
resistant. Like you do for a canvas tent, give the
canvas a wet down once or twice a year and let it dry
out as this assists to make it more waterproof. Make
sure the canvas is always dry before storing your camper
The flooring of the tent section when
folded out can be a choice of hard floor or soft floor.
The advantage of a hard floor is that it keeps the
flooring up off the ground, out of any water and packs
up easier. Should you choose a soft floor it should be
made of PVC to keep out water.
For more shade and cover from the
weather an awning is an ideal addition. If you have
young children a screen room is ideal to shelter them
from flies and insects.
The camper trailer will usually come
with tent poles, ropes and tent pegs to secure the
awning. The back of the awning is usually zippered onto
the permanent portion of the tent on the trailer.
There is an ever changing landscape
in the development and enhancements to camper trailers.
For example, Kimberley Kamper now market a Bedouin Annex
which has no ropes and only 4 pegs.
The camper trailer bed is usually
Queen Size and there are gas struts that enable you to
lift the bed to access the storage compartment
underneath. The mattress is normally foam or high
density foam but can be upgraded to an inner spring
The kitchen can either be the hinged
type which swings out or it can be a pullout/slide out
type. The quality of the sink and cooktops also vary
considerably with the more resilient being stainless
At the rear of the trailer there is a
choice of drop down stabiliser legs or corner stabiliser
For something different again in the
camper trailer market there are the ‘Ultimate’ and
‘Tvan’ off-road campers.
CAMPER TRAILERS – FEATURES AND
There is a range of features and
options, whilst not exhaustive, they include:-
Chassis & Suspension
Various lengths, heights,
trailer box depths & widths
wheels and tyres to your tow vehicle
shackle springs or Trailing arm
coil springs with integrated bump stops and
Extended drawbars to
facilitate lockable compartments for such
things as batteries/portable
Wiring to enable charging
of the battery from the tow vehicle whilst
Swing up jockey wheel
Outboard motor carriers
Folding boat trailer carrier
Motor bike carriers
Tailgate and kitchen door dust/water seals
Jerry can holders
Water tanks/ with lockable filler/ pump
Solar panels on hard top roof or roof rack
Wind down jacks or drop down stabiliser legs
Lockable swing out tailgate and kitchen or Slide
Further external storage compartments
LED tail light and number plate light
Fridge/freezer lock out sliding drawer system
with 12V/240V power supply
Insulated hard top roofs or Water
proof pull on cover
10 oz, 12 oz or 15 oz canvas tent
Heavy duty zippers
‘Free standing’ tent designs
240V /12V power points
Water tank level gauge
Lighting/LED Flexi-Strip lighting
Battery system and charger
Steps to bed area
Foam or inner spring mattress
Stainless steel sink with hand pump or 12V electric
Stove top burners and grill
Tow Vehicle for Camper Trailer
Some lightweight camper trailer
models are suitable for towing behind a car or the new
growing Sports RV’s which include all-wheel drive (AWD)
vehicles and mid-sized 4WD vehicles.
See article - Best Tow Vehicle
check your vehicle manufacturer’s guide and/or
compliance plate to determine the maximum towing
capacity of your vehicle.
See article – Compliance Plate