Australian Design Spotlight: Camper Trailers
Typically when we put a spotlight on brilliant moments in Australian design, it’s on a particular product, person or a company. For this article, however, we are celebrating an entire sector of Australian design and manufacturing that has, over the years, gone from strength to strength and developed a globally renowned identity.
There’s something uniquely Australian about camper trailers. Whilst there’s plenty on our roads that haven’t been designed or built here, it’s the ones that have that stand out. Not just because they are brilliantly engineered to withstand our outrageously tough outback and bush conditions, but because they are being built here, often by small family owned businesses operating out of modest facilities.
Some of the manufacturers I will mention in this piece have grown to become manufacturing powerhouses, selling their products on mass domestically and abroad but pretty much all of them began operations in a garage or shed somewhere in Australia.
The workmanship that goes into building an effective off road camper trailer is a testament to the skilled fabricators, designers and engineers we produce in Australia, and goes to show that we have the expertise to thrive across many sectors of manufacturing if we commit to it, and the consumer demands it.
The demands of the Australian camper are vastly different to those in other parts of the world, and that’s why the average Australian buying a camper trailer, wants an Australian made one.
A camper trailer being towed through the Aussie outback typically needs to withstand high temperatures, dusty and bumpy tracks, water crossings, vast distances and whatever else the driver wants to pull it through. The only people who can make trailers to do so, are those that understand and appreciate the Australian conditions. The discerning customer knows this.
Innovation, durability and functionality are the hallmarks of Australian Made products, and it’s no different for camper trailers. Australian made camper trailers can’t compete on cost with their Chinese counterparts, but when it comes to quality – we are miles ahead.
Many Australian camper trailers boast innovative features that no other campers have: Patriot campers have the brilliantly smart Patented TentStep staircase, Bruder utilises a unique and patented chassis and suspension system built from the ground up in Queensland and the industry stalwart Cub Campers impress with their forward fold camper design.
A result of the superior design and engineering we enjoy in this country is that Australian built camper trailers are usually lighter than even the best equivalents from China. Innovative build methodologies mean Australian manufacturers can get the most durability out of lighter materials. With canvas for example, most of the locally made campers here use a 275gsm Wax Converters Canvas – generally considered the best canvas in the world, local bias aside – whereas most imported campers use a heavier 450gsm canvas, adding unnecessary weight for the sole purpose of trying to make it last as long as the locally manufactured canvas.
Beyond just the market-leading workmanship involved in the chassis and body manufacturing is the certainty that Australian made ancillary parts are premium too. Tyres, bearings, electrical components, water tanks and suspension, among others, are just as important as the larger fabricated parts of camper trailers when it comes to durability and performance.
All these considerations are what make Australian Made camper trailers some of the best in the world, setting the benchmark for the wider industry. Our trailers are roughly divided into three types: the larger caravan-type trailers suitable luxury travel with the whole family, the tent-trailers, typically steel trailers with a canvas tent incorporated, and hybrid camper trailers, which look a lot like small caravans or teardrops, but are made by camper trailer manufacturers and usually very handy off-road.
Let’s take a look at some of the market leading camper trailers in the market that are being designed and built in Australia, for Australia.
Lifestyle Campers range a strikingly aesthetic and incredibly capable range of Australian made campers under their RECONN range. These fall under the larger caravan type category, whilst nailing the balance between luxury and off road ability.
Track’s Tvan is still one of the most desirable camper trailers on the market, its space-age teardrop design, incredibly clever tent system and military proven suspension system are the pride of many outback travellers.
Patriot have become one of the best known, highest regarded manufacturers in the biz thanks to their incredibly innovative trailers supported by an all-guns-blazing commitment to marketing their products.
Cub have been in the game for over 50 years. That’s incredible considering the changes the Australian manufacturing industry has undergone in this time. Cub has produced more than 20,000 camper trailers in their time.