Australia is a rugged place, and that makes for some of the most rugged camping conditions you'll find anywhere in the world. It follows that the local market boasts some of the sturdiest off-road camping trailers out there. The cream of the crop were gathered at the National 4x4 Outdoors Show in Melbourne this weekend, and New Atlas ventured there for a closer look. From the innovative Air Opus to all but unbreakable Patriot trailers, here's our selection of the best the show had to offer – plus a few notable extras from the world of camping, boating and beyond.
Patriot Campers tires you out and puts a pillow under your head
We last saw Patriot Campers a few months ago at Overland Expo in the US, where it's focused on bringing in its hard-nosed small trailers. Here in its home market, it has more than just the compact X1 and X2 box trailers, offering massive toy haulers-cum-campers that just scream "off-road fun!"
We looked at Patriot's TH610 a few years ago, and it's even more impressive in person. The trailer includes an X1-style camper box up front with a 5.6-foot (1.7-m) bed behind it for resting your favorite toys. Available equipment like a boat loader and outboard motor holder provide more flexibility in what toys you invite along for the ride. Built-in deck stereo speakers and a "man cave" with swing-out BBQ make the TH610 a whole lot of fun at camp. It starts at AU$59,990 (approx. US$47,370), and the model in the photos is optioned up to just over AU$65,000.
Track Trailer goes MK5 on the Tvan
One of the most recent camping trailers to find its way to the pages of New Atlas, the Track Trailer Tvan MK5 introduces some seriously smart improvements over its predecessor without losing any of its towable battering ram charm. New to the trailer are its higher roof, Skyward Lift-Up Deck, quick awning and removable Fusion Stereoactive Bluetooth sound system. Providing structure and strength are the hot dipped galvanized chassis, military-grade suspension, and steel and aluminum body.
The Tvan MK5 gives campers the option of popping the liftgate in back and being in bed behind four hard walls in under a minute or dropping the hard floor, deploying the rear tent, and enjoying a larger interior with both hard and soft sides. Standard and premium kitchen options give chefs of all stripes the tools they need to make savory backcountry gourmet creations. Solar power comes standard.
Much like an automobile, the Tvan Track Trailer comes in four different trims, starting between AU$52,990 and AU$76,900.
Mars Rover explores worldly and otherworldly limits
An easy winner of "best trailer name," the Rover from Mars Campers is a very different style of Mars Rover made for a very different style of exploration. On the ride, this rugged little box tows over all kinds of rough, off-camber ground thanks to its hot dipped galvanized chassis, independent trailing arm suspension, twin gas shocks and 16-in alloy wheels. The included roof rails and mounting points help it shoulder a load.
The choice of "hard floor" versus "soft floor" trailer may not ring bells with consumers in other markets, but it's a major decision for Australian trailer buyers, and Mars sums up the advantage of the hard floor quite well: "One of the most common points of contention for people who aren't enthused by camping in a camper trailer is that they don't get to enjoy the same level of comfort that they do at home or in a caravan or hotel room. Hard floor camper trailers aim to alleviate this objection by providing a hard floor off the ground and all the comforts of home, including running water, fridge, cooktop and more."
Like the Track Tvan, the Mars Rover is a hard floor camper, its winch-assisted fold-out rear deck sliding a floor below your feet. So instead of stepping out of the queen bed and onto bumpy canvas, your feet are treated to a warm, level floor that looks fit for a living room. Mars says the main tent takes just 5 minutes to set up, while stringing up the full awning ups that to closer to 30 minutes. Other Rover features include a slide-out kitchen with three-burner stove and sink, an expandable 100 Ah battery-based electrical system, a 125L water tank, and available solar panel and stereo system. The floor is hard, but the soft poly-cotton canvas sides and simple layout make the Rover the cheapest camping trailer on this list by far, starting at AU$15,490.
Ultimate Campers earns its name
We looked at Ultimate Campers' new Nexus a few months ago, and in Melbourne we got to have a closer look around. The Nexus rides to camp on a burly Duragal steel chassis and trailing arm suspension system before popping open into an elegant sleeper with king-size bed, leather couch and full kitchen. Available features even include a carbon fiber countertop and laser projector system.
If the Nexus' AU$73,500 price tag scares you off, Ultimate offers a number of models below it, featuring the same rugged chassis construction and watertight body. The company also had the AU$58,900, mid-level Xterran on display in Melbourne. While the Xterran's overall feel and materials aren't as comfy or stylish as the Nexus', the model does include comforts like the king-size bed and kitchen with dual-burner stove, sink and 110L fridge.
Opus blows up your campsite
Like Patriot's X1 and X2, the Air Opus is an example of a tough, Australian-market camper with global appeal. In contrast to the Air Opus models initially prepared for markets like the UK and the US, the Australian-market Air Opus introduced earlier this year is built atop a tough, off-road-ready platform with galvanized chassis, independent coil spring suspension and off-road tires. With its reinforced lids and built-in racking, it can haul all kinds of toys to camp.
Instead of making you deal with cranks and pole systems, this convenient pop-up uses a push-button inflation system to blow up into form in just 90 seconds. The Air Opus trades out the traditional Opus indoor kitchen for an outdoor slide-out with extra-roomy four-burner stove and sink. The refrigerator mounts on a separate slide-out. Inside, there's sleeping space for up to six and a cozy wraparound couch.
Opus was advertising a "Ready to Roll" package price of AU$28,990 at the show, which includes optional extras like a second 100 Ah battery, inflatable annex and dual-80L water tank set-up. An "Outback" model based on the Australian-market Opus is making its way over to the US as both an inflatable and regular pop-up trailer.
Head on through to our gallery for a look at more of the highlights from last weekend's National 4x4 Outdoors Show.