REVIEW: FOLLOW ME CAMPERS pentecost
Looking for an Aussie-built, side-folding trailer built to your specifications? Step right in…
While bigger players can mass-produce models on a production line, a bespoke product built by a dedicated quality-focused team is hard to beat. George and Teresa Minaides are owners and operators of Follow Me Campers located at Wangara, Perth, in Western Australia.
Both George and Teresa have a simple view – camping should be a pleasure for the whole family and not a series of chores to be performed. After running Follow Me Campers for nearly 10 years they have vast experience and practical knowledge of safe, comfortable camping.
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They specialise in custom-building quality, heavy-duty camper trailers that can be personalised to suit each customer’s requirements and budget. It’s here that the Follow Me Campers makers begin to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. Because George actually designs and builds the trailers, he’s uniquely qualified to offer valuable advice on what can be achieved with a little individualization; or what won’t work, and why.
Speaking with George, it’s easy to see his passion for his products and the attention to detail and careful thought that goes into designing each model. George told me about the time he was so excited about a new design concept he was up until the early hours building a scale prototype with his son’s Lego blocks… while the rest of the family was asleep.
Our latest model test camper, the Pentecost, unusually has a side-folding hard floor. It’s ideally suited for a couple; the soft-floor version with a larger, covered area and awnings would better suit larger families.
At 1,400kg, the Pentecost is not the lightest of campers. But it’s packed full of features and has an impressively well-balanced 100kg towball weight – making this camper a good option for all mid-sized SUVs.
Fitted with 16in black steel Sunraysia style rims and running Kumho Road Venture ATs, the Pentecost tracked effortlessly behind our test tug (the Toyota Fortuner) on the smooth blacktop. The 12-in Alko electric drum brakes harmonised with a REDARC Tow Pro controller, easily reigning in the weight of the camper with smooth and linear braking that all but eliminated any shunting or jerking in peak hour traffic.
At 2m wide and 5m long, the dimensions of the camper closely matched our tow vehicle – so negotiating lane changes with merging traffic and tight roundabouts didn’t raise any eyebrows. On narrower secondary country roads the Gaffa trailing arm independent suspension worked well, helping significantly reduce axle shock over undulating surfaces at speed.
Fitted with Kevlar Graphite bushes for durability, and removable stub axles to assist in the event of a breakage, the heavy-duty shocks and progressive rate coils allowed for good wheel articulation in challenging off-road conditions while maintaining stability and control over a range of surfaces… with an initial softness to absorb jolts, then good rebound control helping minimise trailer shimmy and shake over small corrugations.
The extended A-frame slows trailer movements, allowing easy trailer control when reversing. It also supports a large sealed lockable aluminum toolbox that houses the hot water system plumbed to the kitchen, and a hand-held shower outlet at the side of the toolbox. There’s plenty of room for storing ground sheets and all manner of camping gear. Protecting the front of the trailer is a neat wraparound fabric stone guard.
Maintaining a solid connection with the tow vehicle is vital in challenging off-road conditions when trailer pitch and twist can be excessive; this is achieved masterfully with the 3,500kg rated Ozhitch coupling which also makes hook-up and dismount on uneven surfaces simple (thanks in part to its guided self-aligning slide design).
Just behind the toolbox is a storage cabinet for all your awning poles plus a built-in holder for four 20L jerry cans – allowing you the option of carrying more fuel, water or both. Directly behind the jerry cans is dual side access to the bed walkway which doubles as a large storage area – ideal for storing camp chairs etc during transit.
Further down the passenger’s side are more storage options with the rearmost compartment holding a 12V-12V charger, solar regulator, 240V charger and voltmeter plus a six-way fuse box and 120Ah AGM battery. Rounding out the electrical system is an Anderson plug at the drawbar, four LED interior lights, a double USB plug and no less than six 12V cigarette lighter style outlets for convenience.
Move around the back of the trailer and open the rear door to expose a trick slide-out kitchen complete with stainless steel sink and integrated four-burner stove and grill.
There’s a flick mixer tap with hot and cold water and even a clever fold-over bench for extra food preparation space; with under-sink storage for pots and pans. Just above the kitchen is a slide-out drawer with loads of room for cutlery, tinned food and utensils. To the left there’s a large flatbed slide-out drawer perfect for mounting a huge fridge with room behind for storage boxes to house all your secret ingredients for those camping culinary masterpieces. Of slight concern were the rear water couplings at the back of the trailer… which came alarmingly close to the ground at steep departure angles.
Below the rear door is a receiver hitch mount, ideal for a bike carrier. Impressively the mount is solidly anchored for strength at two points on the rear frame, acting like a third cross member (as opposed to a short section simply welded to the back of the trailer).
Then on the driver’s side there’s another three storage cabinets – the foremost housing twin 4kg gas bottles.
Unzip the top cover, hook the hand winch strap into place and a gentle push upwards will see the heavy-duty gas struts do all the work as the top folds over in one smooth motion allowing you to easily control descent to ground level using the winch. A quick adjustment of a few internal support bars to tension the canvas, and presto… your campsite is complete.
All fabric is Australian-made with 15oz canvas walls and roof. The rear awning provides a good 4.5m x 2.4m of coverage with the wall behind the kitchen as a windbreak. There’s also a draught skirt for under the back of the trailer and an additional windbreak wall to enclose the kitchen on three sides if required.
Step inside and the Pentecost interior has been well thought out. There’s a very inviting queen-size innerspring mattress and a clever fold-down step leading up to a carpeted walkway at the base of the bed – meaning you don’t have to crawl over your partner if you get up early. Contained within the walkway is yet more storage in the form of two long shelves accessible via twin fold-down doors. And you can still access the two storage boxes on the passenger’s side of the trailer when set up.
There’s impressive headroom and the 2.7m x 1.7m floor area offers plenty of room for a small camp table and chairs.
Simply lifting the bed will provide internal trailer access. Underneath there’s 140L of water capacity via two 70L poly water tanks protected by heavy rubber underbody stone guards. The entry fill points for the water tank use a very clever self-locking door mechanism for protection of your water supplies.
With a 75 x 50 x 2.5 mm Duragal chassis and a 100 x 50 x 3.0 mm Duragal drawbar, plus trailer sides finished in .6mm Zincanneal, you can select the external powdercoat and canvas in colours of your choice.
The Pentecost has design and style you’ll be happy to show off to your mates; plus robust construction that is built to withstand the bumps and knocks from years of exploratory camping.
Starting at $41,450, the Follow Me Campers Pentecost offers good value for money when you weigh up its unusual side-folding hard floor, its impressive features, and its functionality and practicality.
For more information, visit: www.followmecampers.com.au