Outdoors

Aussie camper trailers pack Outback-grade mettle, five-star comfort

Aussie camper trailers pack Ou...
A joint project between Retreat Caravans and OzXcorp, the ERV is billed as the world's first all-electric caravan, eliminating the need for LPG and other fuels
A joint project between Retreat Caravans and OzXcorp, the ERV is billed as the world's first all-electric caravan, eliminating the need for LPG and other fuels
View 35 Images
A joint project between Retreat Caravans and OzXcorp, the ERV is billed as the world's first all-electric caravan, eliminating the need for LPG and other fuels
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A joint project between Retreat Caravans and OzXcorp, the ERV is billed as the world's first all-electric caravan, eliminating the need for LPG and other fuels
If you thought they'd scale back on features to save energy in the ERV, you'd be wrong - the trailer includes heat and A/C, a TV, sound system, microwave, electric BBQ and more
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If you thought they'd scale back on features to save energy in the ERV, you'd be wrong - the trailer includes heat and A/C, a TV, sound system, microwave, electric BBQ and more
ERV caravan bathroom
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ERV caravan bathroom
An advantage of the ERV's all-electric architecture is that it makes it easy to use appliances like home - toasters, hair dryers, coffeemakers and more
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An advantage of the ERV's all-electric architecture is that it makes it easy to use appliances like home - toasters, hair dryers, coffeemakers and more
The ERV comes in several floor plans; this one features a sofa lounge instead of a vis-a-vis dinette
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The ERV comes in several floor plans; this one features a sofa lounge instead of a vis-a-vis dinette
The ERV carries its large battery pack inside the chassis to optimize center of gravity
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The ERV carries its large battery pack inside the chassis to optimize center of gravity
The ERV is available with various exterior amenities, including a slide-out BBQ grill, slide-out fridge and outdoor TV
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The ERV is available with various exterior amenities, including a slide-out BBQ grill, slide-out fridge and outdoor TV
The Outback Campers Canning is a forward-fold off-road camper trailer
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The Outback Campers Canning is a forward-fold off-road camper trailer
The Outback Canning has a particularly well-equipped kitchen with full slide-out including a three-burner stove and standard BBQ grill and separate slide with 85L EvaKool fridge
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The Outback Canning has a particularly well-equipped kitchen with full slide-out including a three-burner stove and standard BBQ grill and separate slide with 85L EvaKool fridge
A look inside the AU$29,950 Outback Canning's bedroom tent
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A look inside the AU$29,950 Outback Canning's bedroom tent
The Vista RV Crossover is a large teardrop with pop-up roof
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The Vista RV Crossover is a large teardrop with pop-up roof
The Vista Crossover includes a wider, thinner slide-out kitchen than many other off-road camping trailers
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The Vista Crossover includes a wider, thinner slide-out kitchen than many other off-road camping trailers
The Vista Crossover swing-up hatch in back includes a shower pod
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The Vista Crossover swing-up hatch in back includes a shower pod
The available Vista RV door pantry is a handy idea that puts spices, accessories and more right next to the slide-out kitchen
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The available Vista RV door pantry is a handy idea that puts spices, accessories and more right next to the slide-out kitchen
Inside the Vista Crossover trailer
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Inside the Vista Crossover trailer
The Vista Crossover XLE is the Crossover's larger brother
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The Vista Crossover XLE is the Crossover's larger brother
The Trackabout Extenda is ready for multi-sport fun
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The Trackabout Extenda is ready for multi-sport fun
The Trackabout Extenda has a large outdoor kitchen space
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The Trackabout Extenda has a large outdoor kitchen space
Inside the hardshell/softshell interior of the Lumberjack Birdsville
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Inside the hardshell/softshell interior of the Lumberjack Birdsville
The Lumberjack Birdsville has interior space to sit but does its cooking outside on a slide-out, fold-down kitchen work space
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The Lumberjack Birdsville has interior space to sit but does its cooking outside on a slide-out, fold-down kitchen work space
The Lumberjack Birdsville's roof flips over to open up a tent top with bed
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The Lumberjack Birdsville's roof flips over to open up a tent top with bed
The Lumberjack Birdsville is a compact trailer, but it creates a large base camp when its wraparound awning is deployed
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The Lumberjack Birdsville is a compact trailer, but it creates a large base camp when its wraparound awning is deployed
Lumberjack Birdsville trailer
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Lumberjack Birdsville trailer
In addition to its double bed, the Lumberjack has two bunk beds
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In addition to its double bed, the Lumberjack has two bunk beds
The Raptor-coated fiberglass AOR Sierra has a unique look
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The Raptor-coated fiberglass AOR Sierra has a unique look
Australian trailer campers clearly enjoy cooking outdoors, and the AOR Sierra helps them make it happen
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Australian trailer campers clearly enjoy cooking outdoors, and the AOR Sierra helps them make it happen
Instead of the usual stove/sink slide-out, the AOR Sierra packs its stove and sink inside the sidewall hatch
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Instead of the usual stove/sink slide-out, the AOR Sierra packs its stove and sink inside the sidewall hatch
The AOR Sierra has a teardrop-style cabin-filling bed, albeit with a large window to gaze out
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The AOR Sierra has a teardrop-style cabin-filling bed, albeit with a large window to gaze out
It has been a while since we looked at the Lotus Off Grid, and a lot has changed; pictured here is an 18-foot model it had on show
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It has been a while since we looked at the Lotus Off Grid, and a lot has changed; pictured here is an 18-foot model it had on show
One thing that hasn't changed about the Lotus Off Grid: its comfortable, well-equipped glamper interior
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One thing that hasn't changed about the Lotus Off Grid: its comfortable, well-equipped glamper interior
A look back in the 18-foot Lotus Off Grid caravan
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A look back in the 18-foot Lotus Off Grid caravan
The 23-foot Lotus Off Grid is one of the longest floor plans in the lineup
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The 23-foot Lotus Off Grid is one of the longest floor plans in the lineup
Front bed in the 23-foot Lotus Off Grid
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Front bed in the 23-foot Lotus Off Grid
With four bunk beds near the back, this 23-foot Lotus Off Grid sleeps a family of six
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With four bunk beds near the back, this 23-foot Lotus Off Grid sleeps a family of six
23-foot Lotus Off Grid
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23-foot Lotus Off Grid
View gallery - 35 images

Australia has developed a well-deserved reputation for building some of the toughest no-nonsense camping trailers on Planet Earth. Engineered to surgically explore some of the most remote topography on continent and planet, Aussie trailers and caravans are marvels of modern engineering that pair military-grade construction strategies with amenities lists that make some vacation homes look shoddu and outdated. With a proper 4x4 vehicle out in front, a quality Aussie trailer will go anywhere you have the courage to take it. These are some of the highlights from the sea of towables at the recent Victorian Caravan, Camping & Touring Supershow.

Lotus Off Grid

The 23-foot Lotus Off Grid is one of the longest floor plans in the lineup
The 23-foot Lotus Off Grid is one of the longest floor plans in the lineup

The Lotus Off Grid looks worlds different than it did when we first spotted it in 2016. What started off as a compact, single-axle 14-footer for three has blown up into a full range of family caravans that land between 16.5 and 23.3 feet (5 and 7.1 m). While smaller, stouter camper trailers are considered Australia's most rugged, Outback-worthy way to tour, caravans like the Off Grid aren't exactly highway-tethered road tourers. The Off Grid's marine-grade German-composite body is fortified with checker-plate body armor, and a Control Rider twin-shock independent suspension eats up bumps below.

23-foot Lotus Off Grid
23-foot Lotus Off Grid

Rugged doesn't mean "roughing it," in this case, as the Off Grid lives considerably more comfortably than a standard hotel room. The spacious 23-footer pictured sleeps a full family of six with a double bed and four bunks. It keeps that hearty family fed and entertained with a four-burner cooktop, microwave, oven/grill, compressor fridge, 24-in LED TV and Fusion premium sound system. It also packs standard heat and A/C, along with a washing machine. Two 120Ah AGM batteries and three 170W solar panels team to keep all that essential and non-essential equipment humming. The 23-foot model wore an AU $96,719 (approx. US$56,000) price tag at the show.

AOR Sierra

The Raptor-coated fiberglass AOR Sierra has a unique look
The Raptor-coated fiberglass AOR Sierra has a unique look

A versatile Aussie squaredrop trailer, the 14-foot (4.3-m) Australian Off Road Sierra consists of a Raptor-coated livable lockbox atop adamantine bones. That latter bit means a Supagal high-tensile steel chassis that chews through the rough stuff with help from an independent trailing arm suspension with off-road shocks. Bash plates around the tanks and stone protection on the pipes ensure that all systems are go on arrival, no matter how rough the journey there. A standard river-drawing system even lets you tap into Mother Nature's bounty for camp water.

The AOR Sierra has a teardrop-style cabin-filling bed, albeit with a large window to gaze out
The AOR Sierra has a teardrop-style cabin-filling bed, albeit with a large window to gaze out

Up above, the lightweight fiberglass shell has been sliced and shaped for optimal off-road capability and filled with a 6-in (15-cm) multi-density foam double mattress laid out next to a picture window. The side-access kitchen has enough drop-down and slide-out space to house a dual-burner stove, sink, fridge/freezer and BBQ grill. The shower tent, available roof-top tent and available annex tent add serious canvas-walled expansion space. A 150Ah lithium battery with battery management system feeds onboard electrical equipment.

Only in Australia can $42,500 (US$24,625) be considered "entry level" for a trailer, but we reckon hardened, demanding adventurers will find plenty of value in this innovative "micro camper."

Lumberjack Birdsville

The Lumberjack Birdsville is a compact trailer, but it creates a large base camp when its wraparound awning is deployed
The Lumberjack Birdsville is a compact trailer, but it creates a large base camp when its wraparound awning is deployed

With a similar (but less green) all-terrain squaredrop look, the 17.7-foot (5.4-m) Lumberjack Birdsville seems quite like the AOR Sierra at first glance. However, this squaredrop has a very different layout. Instead of merely accommodating two people inside the insulated fiberglass walls, Lumberjack cuts the roof open, attaches some hinges and creates a forward-folding tent topper. With a combination of double bed in the tent and convertible sofa/dual bunks inside the hard walls, the Birdsville becomes a camper for the whole family, sleeping two adults and two children. And with a hot-dip galvanized chassis, dual-shock independent suspension, skid plate-protected double-water tank system and dual-battery electrical system backing them, that family is free to chase as much adventure as it likes.

Inside the hardshell/softshell interior of the Lumberjack Birdsville
Inside the hardshell/softshell interior of the Lumberjack Birdsville

The Birdsville was retailing at AU$29,999 when we first covered it last month but is now advertised online for a reduced $27,999 (US$16,225) price.

Retreat ERV

The ERV is available with various exterior amenities, including a slide-out BBQ grill, slide-out fridge and outdoor TV
The ERV is available with various exterior amenities, including a slide-out BBQ grill, slide-out fridge and outdoor TV

Camper trailers might be better than caravans for straight-lining away from civilization, but the off-grid-friendly ERV caravan might just be the world's best for staying away. That's because it does away with fuels like LPG and diesel, relying solely on electricity to keep all the onboard equipment running. Designed by Retreat Caravans and OzXcorp, the ERV was billed as the first of its kind when it debuted last year, feeding a 14.3-kWh lithium battery pack with up to 2,000 watts of solar charging and distributing that battery power through a robust 5-kW inverter meant for running multiple appliances at the same time. That system doesn't merely run basics like the induction cooktop and LED lighting but a glamping-level amenities list that includes heating, air conditioning, a microwave/convection oven, a 24-in TV, a full-size 274L fridge and even an electric BBQ grill. A Supagal chassis and off-road suspension enable the ERV to wander far enough away from the grid to put that robust power system to the test.

The ERV comes in several floor plans; this one features a sofa lounge instead of a vis-a-vis dinette
The ERV comes in several floor plans; this one features a sofa lounge instead of a vis-a-vis dinette

In addition to the central dinette layout we looked at in December, the wraparound sofa dining lounge floor plan pictured above was on display in Victoria. ERV plans five floor plans in all, with pricing starting around AU$110,000 (US$63,725).

Vista RV Crossover Classic

The Vista RV Crossover is a large teardrop with pop-up roof
The Vista RV Crossover is a large teardrop with pop-up roof

Designed to fill the space between caravan and camper trailer, the aptly named Crossover series from Vista RV comprises off-road teardrops with pop-up roofs and walk-in cabins. The 16-foot (4.9-m) all-weather Crossover Classic pulls out the stops in supporting an indoor/outdoor camping getaway. Inside, it features a convertible dinette/queen bed, radio and kitchen block with 80L fridge, pantry and sink. Outside, it completes the kitchen capabilities with a slide-out stove and sink and available door-mounted storage pantry. The drop-down shower tent around back lets campers wash down after sweaty, dusty adventures, and the 160W solar panel and Redarc battery management system keep the lights on.

Inside the Vista Crossover trailer
Inside the Vista Crossover trailer

The Crossover's hot-dip galvanized chassis, asymmetric link suspension, and mixed fiberglass, vacuum-pressed composite and sheet metal body construction provide a mix of extreme off-road readiness and smooth highway driving. The smallest, base-level trailer in Vista RV's three-model lineup, the Crossover Classic starts at AU$70,200 (US$40,675), according to the invoice we spotted at the show.

Find a fuller walk-around of each camper and a few additional hardcore trailers in the gallery.

View gallery - 35 images
1 comment
guzmanchinky
Those are very cool, I just can't imagine towing a trailer off road, since a lot of off roading involves backing up and tight spaces, but with the right road this could work.