We take an 80-grand trailer off-road behind an 8-grand tow-rig, and find out if we’ve all been doing this camper trailer thing wrong all this time…
Camper trailers are getting pretty ritzy these days. It’s not uncommon for them to feature dinettes, hot water and a bunch of electric gadgetry such as televisions and sound systems. Inclusions you’d expect to find in a plush caravan rather than a canvas tent that can be towed. It points to the fact that more and more of us are looking to get a little more comfort in our off-road travels and leave their dome-tent-in-the-pouring-rain days behind (not that there’s anything wrong with soggy tents).
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So where does one go when one is looking to step things up in the luxury department from a camper trailer… but not quite willing to commit to the whole ‘wearing cardigans and appreciating chardonnay’ thing that comes with being a caravan owner?
Enter the hybrid camper. Part caravan, part camper trailer and arguably the best of both worlds. Plenty of comfort, heaps of inclusions, easy to tow and probably the quickest set-up time this side of a roll-out swag.
Now, most hybrids are on the upper end of the expense scale – but let’s stop and think about this a minute. While having a top-shelf tow-rig is always going to be desirable for most of us, is the expense really justified? After a lengthy scientific debate (a few of us had an argument around a campfire) the team here at Unsealed 4X4 reckon your money may be better put into your trailer.
Now bear with me here – while plenty of hours are spent behind the wheel on a trip, when you’ve arrived at your destination there’s nothing better than jumping into your top-shelf trailer and being able to prepare a gourmet meal, sit inside out of the rain, or simply hit the sack for a well-earned rest with a minimum of fuss. The tow-rig helps with none of that.
Sure, capability and reliability are still important; but there are plenty of vehicles on the second-hand market that will pull pretty much anything along behind them (hey! I heard that Land Rover reliability joke; keep it down!) and drive pretty much anything you point them at. So why not spend the difference between a new tow rig and a middling trailer and upgrade to a nicer camper – and spend your time in the bush living like royalty?
I had a chance to test this theory recently when I got my hands on a Complete Campsite Exodus 11 hybrid. And after a 1,500km trip camping (borderline glamping) out of it, I can say that the system works. Now I could bang on about the 8-grand tow Discovery, but chances are that’s not why you started reading this yarn… so I’ll leave it alone, aside from mentioning that even with the trailer weighing in at 1,600kg and with the aerodynamics of a house, the Exodus 11 actually towed incredibly well behind the asthmatic 2.5L turbo-diesel.
Now to what you want to know about: Can the ‘ten times more expensive than the tow-rig’ trailer be justified?
Yes. Absolutely. Without a doubt.
While my tow Disco probably gives you enough of a clue that I’m probably not in the right demographic to own this trailer, I would honestly still buy one for no other reason than it makes everything so easy.
Pull up to your campsite after dark in the pouring rain? No problem. Jump out, open the door and ten seconds later you’re ready to sleep.
Want indoor seating, an 80L fridge, easy-to-set-up awning and a full stainless kitchen on one of the most ingenious 270-degree slide-outs I’ve ever seen? Yep, this thing has all that and more.
Feel like a shower after a hot and dusty day’s drive? Right this way, Sir… where you’ll notice the pull-out shower cubicle that folds out in about 30 seconds flat, and packs back up in about the same time.
Want plenty of storage, hot and cold water, legitimate off-road ability, LED lighting and a proper queen-size innerspring bed? You got it.
As the name suggests, there is really nothing else needed with the Complete Campsite. Stock the fridge and pantry, top up the water tank, throw a couple of camp chairs in the drawbar-mounted box and you’re ready to put the city in the rear-view mirror. It simply doesn’t get any more hassle-free.
At least that’s what I found. The Exodus 11 towed extremely well over plenty of rough roads thanks to its independent coil-spring suspension with twin shocks and proper all-terrain rubber. It’s no lightweight, sure; but the majority of the mass is down fairly low – so off-road angles are not as much of an issue as they might otherwise be. And the single-piece fibreglass shell is both strong yet flexible, so it’s perfect for corrugations or serious four-wheel driving. Even the DO35 coupling, which is probably my favourite trailer coupling for bush towing, allows plenty of movement – there’s really no doubt that these have been designed to tow absolutely anywhere.
And it’s all so functional, too. There are storage boxes all over the place, a twin-battery system that’s kept at full charge via the Anderson plug or the twin solar panels on the roof, and everything is just a piece of cake to use – from pushing the roof up to get it set up (yep, that’s seriously all that’s needed) to setting up the awning and pulling out the fridge. It all literally just takes seconds.
Yeah, I definitely copped some ‘did that guy just steal that trailer?’ looks while pulling it along behind my clunky old Land Rover… but geez, wasn’t the boot on the other foot around camp, where I was living the good life while everyone else was still wrestling with their guy ropes and zip-on annexes. For me at least, I’d much rather be towing the Exodus 11 behind my old bus any day of the week than pulling up in a brand-new 200 Series LandCruiser with a five-grand tent-on-a-cheaply-made-box-trailer. I guess it all comes down to priorities.
As for the big question – is this hybrid worth over 80 gorillas? It really comes down to your own needs, wants and credit rating. Personally, I could easily justify the money if I was doing big trips regularly. The absolute ease of use, comfort levels and all-around versatility – this thing would be as comfy at the ‘local grassy field’ type of site as it would on Fraser Island, up the Cape or anywhere really. The quality and versatility of the unit definitely lend a lot of credibility to the ‘Complete’ moniker. If you’re looking to upgrade the canvas camper trailer to something big, easy to tow, and with enough comfort to satisfy a Kardashian, this may well be the hybrid you’ve been looking for.
SPECIFICATIONS: COMPLETE CAMPSITE EXODUS 11
|Chassis||75 x 50 x 3 mm hot-dipped galvanised|
|Coupling||DO35 off-road coupling|
|Rims and Tyres||17-inch steel wheels and 265/75R17 AT tyres|
|Suspension||‘Cruisemaster’ independent coils and twin gas shocks|
|Living Area||L-lounge, two-burner stove, stainless|
steel sink, galley and 82L fridge
|Weight||1,580kg tare with 420kg load capacity|
|Canvas||Australian made (not that there’s much of it)|
|Price as tested||$81,950|
Words by by Dex Fulton
Photography by Scott Mason