Lumberjack turns teardrop trailer into hard-edged, Outback-grade camper pod
Australian camper trailer and caravan makers have the uncanny ability to inject the general tiny, easy towin' spirit of the teardrop trailer into something that looks more like a weapon built to end all wars. The Sheoak from Lumberjack Camper Trailers is the latest such design, a 15.6-foot (4.8-m) two-sleeper that would be retire quite happy if it never saw a kilometer of pavement in its usable lifespan. With an entertainment system, available power-open roof-top tent and plenty of standard features, it's sure to live comfortably wherever it's parked.
Even before we set foot in its Melbourne 4x4 show booth, Lumberjack had won us over. The company name just elicits images of raggedy-bearded, axe-swinging freelancers escaping stealthily into the roadless forest deep, downing timber by day and retiring to mud-caked camper trailers by night. And what could possibly be tougher than being an off-grid hired gun in a profession popularly considered the most dangerous of them all? With just 10 characters, the brand tells the full story of its series of hard-nosed, ready-for-anything off-road living pods built for escaping city and highway.
Further endearing us to the Lumberjack brand is the fact that one of its newest trailers is named after an actual species of Australian tree. That's the Sheoak, and after launching earlier this year, it's now Lumberjack's smallest, most affordable hard-sided camping trailer, finding a home between the maker's larger hybrid caravans and longer, softer fold-out trailers.
The Sheoak is also the latest member of a group we're going to fondly categorize as Aussie tears – camper trailers that resemble the teardrop in size and layout but are reshaped and ruggedized to command their way through the harshest Outback conditions. This esteemed group of towables, which includes the BRS Offroad Sherpa, Bruder EXP-4 and Track Tvan, eschews the smooth, corner-less styling of the traditional tear in favor of sharp-angled polygonal forms as varied as the brands that build them. Couple those hard bodies with near-indestructible hot-dipped-galvanized chassis below, and, as much as we appreciate American off-road teardrops like the Escapod Topo, Aussie tears exist on a whole different plane of toughness.
We call it an Aussie tear; Lumberjack goes with "off-road touring hybrid pod style trailer," which certainly sounds like a more descriptive synonym for "Aussie tear." However you categorize it, the Sheoak starts with a hot-dipped galvanized chassis and dual-shock independent suspension supporting the weight of its fiberglass body. Special-edition Lumberjack alloy wheels hold 16-in Goodyear all-terrain tires snugly, and electric brakes bring them slowing to halt. In addition to its 15.6 ft of length, the Sheoak packs 8.2 ft (2.5 m) of height and 7.2 ft (2.2 m) of width.
The Sheoak interior layout is very teardrop-like with a few notable differences. Like a teardrop, it has the traditional front cabin/rear galley split, with the cabin filled out by a queen-size mattress. There's no interior shelving or cabinetry hanging off the wall, as you find with other teardrop designs, and the sole storage compartment is concealed neatly inside the rear wall behind the LCD TV. A television is something you don't find in most teardrops, and Lumberjack complements it with a DVD/CD player and wall-integrated stereo speakers.
Each side of the Sheoak houses an entryway with solid outer and mesh-lined inner combination doors, while opening windows provide further ventilation when needed. The available Firefly roof-top tent with electric opening adds an extra two berths, offering enough sleeping space for four adults.
The galley is located below the full-height rear hatch. It's simpler and more vertically configured than the usual teardrop kitchen and, frankly, looks a little awkward. There's no horizontal counter so food prep is left to the fold-down lids on the slide-out stove and sink. The combination of four-burner stove and limited worktop seems an odd one – you can cook up four pots and pans worth of food but good luck finding enough room to rinse, slice, dice and season it. Sheoak owners will likely end up using folding tables for both meal preparation and dining.
Another shortcoming of the kitchen design is the lack of fridge or cooler and lack of space to store one. We imagine you can store something in the large fiberglass toolbox up front, but it's not exactly an optimal location. For our money, we'd prefer to have a kitchen with everything under one hatch, plus more countertop to work on.
Two utensil bins, two upper storage cabinets and a central vanity mirror complete the kitchen design. A 65-L fresh water tank and electric pump supply the sink.
Other standard Sheoak equipment includes a 12V deep-cycle battery, five interior and exterior lights, an interior control panel, a full-size spare tire up front, a stone guard, a 360-degree hitch, and a 20L jerry can holder in back of the fender. The trailer has an estimated 1,764-lb (800-kg) tare weight and 2,910-lb (1,320-kg) gross vehicle weight rating.
The Sheoak's retail price lists in at AU$23,999 (approx. US$16,225), but it's currently marked down to AU$21,999 (US$14,875). As tough and exacting as Australian trailers are, their prices, often rising into brand-new car range, usually make us cringe. This one actually seems reasonable given the overall package on offer (kitchen shortcomings aside).
Source: Lumberjack Trailers