6 questions you need to ask yourself before buying a camper trailer
Words by Tobey Bostock. Photos by Out There Images.
With the market flooded with new models, buying a camper trailer is no simple task. Don’t worry, you won’t have to spend hours delving into Google with your long list of questions and queries. We’ve broken down the six most important questions you need to ask yourself before buying a camper trailer below.
What’s your budget?
A common mistake when budgeting is considering only the purchase price. The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is the full picture that needs to be thought through; unfortunately, the spending doesn’t stop once you’ve purchased the camper trailer (if only!) Be sure to think about the costs that follow, such as insurance and maintenance, as well as modifications to make it your own and luxuries you’ll enjoy on the road. Hot water would be nice, wouldn’t it?
Size and shape
Whether you’d like a soft floor, a hard floor, a forward fold or a hybrid, there is a long list of considerations when it comes to size and shape. They all have their pros and cons and features that may suit your situation more than others.
We’ve broken down a few options below:
The soft floor is the more affordable option — perfect for those on a budget — with a slower setup and pack-down. It’s more like a tent on a trailer, with storage under the tent. Be aware that they don’t generally have amazing suspension, but they’ll certainly have the ability to get you in and out.
Easily the most popular option on the market, this proven design comes in all different sizes from small and nimble to luxurious and large. If you’re looking for more storage space, I would consider this as ‘medium.’
Typically, the forward fold is limited to sleeping two people, so it’s great for a couple or two friends on an adventure. It also includes a great lounge area if you both want a little break away from the elements. There is a huge amount of storage, but with this comes more weight and usually a higher cost. There are limited options available on the market, but naturally more are emerging every day.
Limited to sleeping two, the hybrid camper is much more luxurious than the other options and far quicker to set up. These sought-after benefits do come at a larger cost, so be aware of that if you’re looking to go down this path. The storage space can be limited on the smaller models.
Weight is often an oversight, but it’s incredibly important to consider when making your decision. The trailer manufacturers give you the weight of their trailer, but is it the total weight? Ask yourself whether your vehicle can tow the trailer you’re planning on buying. Do you need a brake controller? What about when you fill the two 80-litre water tanks, four jerry can holders and two nine-kilogram gas bottles – what does it weigh now? And what has that tow ball weight shot up to?
Now you’ll need to consider if the suspension in your tow vehicle is up to it; or will it need assistance? Before you know it, with everything combined, the trailer weight has blown right out and along with it, your budget.
Consider the trailer in your circumstances as well as how you’d use it.
Quality and support
Ultimately things break and parts need replacing, no matter the item or how long you’ve had it. Camper trailers are no exception. Before committing to a purchase, find out the level of support that your manufacturer will be able to offer. Ask the difficult questions straight up – you’ll want to know whether or not you’ll be able to receive replacement parts if things go awry.
How and where do you travel?
Although you may desire to take your camper trailer everywhere, the reality is that you may be limited, depending on the type. For example, a leaf-sprung soft floor camper trailer probably isn’t going to safely reach as far as a Track Tvan. Consider the type of traveller you are and where you’d prefer to go on your adventures. We all differ in our preferences, so this needs to be factored into your selection process.
If you like to move to a new camping spot each day, then a quick and simple setup will influence your decision. But if you like tight bush tracks, the soft floor option might get you more places than a large luxury hybrid.
What about when it’s time to part ways?
One thing that’s regularly overlooked is considering a campers resale value. It’s inevitable that eventually, you will part ways, but it’s up to you to decide how profitable that will be for you. Check which campers hold their value the best to help future-you when it comes to selling up.
The simple fact is, technology has bred cheaper ways to import, which has introduced competition to the market. There are no two ways about it, the local manufacturers will have to be competitive or they will sink. This is a win for the consumer, so do your research and you will come out on top in this booming market.