Australia's Patriot Campers builds some of the toughest expedition-ready camping trailers on the planet. Its version of go-anywhere adventure combines a sturdy camping lockbox with a fold-out tent topper (and maybe a toy-hauler bed for good measure). With the all-new X1-H, Patriot simplifies the set-up of its live-in lockbox, trading the fold-out hardware for a hard-topped tent that pops into a two-sleeper shelter at the push of a key fob. The new trailer also features built-in solar power, standard hot water and plenty of other features and options to make it a comfortable rambling wilderness shelter.

Anyone familiar with Patriot Campers is undoubtedly familiar with its first and signature product, the multi-award-winning X1 trailer. The X1 debuted in 2013 and became the jump-off point for all the other Patriot trailers and toy-haulers that have followed. It immediately won a 2014 Camper Trailer of the Year Award from Camper Trailer Australia magazine, a first of five consecutive wins.

Now the X1 steps aside and surrenders the role of flagship Patriot camper trailer to the X1-H. Perhaps "surrenders" is a bit too strong, since the X1-H is really an X1 variant with a hard-top power roof in place of the soft-covered fold-out tent. It's essentially the same trusted, rock-solid trailer, just with a different tent on top.

In fact, the X1-H is actually the realization of the original X1 design. When Patriot founder Justin Montesalvo first set out to create his own trailer, the initial sketches and prototypes used a James Baroud hardshell roof-top tent as a fast, simple overnight shelter atop the rolling gear box below. But once Montesalvo started touring the trade show circuit with his trailer, he found potential customers wanted more space and concluded that a larger fold-out tent top was a must.

The change has worked out quite well – not only has the X1 been an award darling, it's also made Patriot an established player in the camper trailer market, propelled it through steady, ongoing expansion, and helped it gain a foothold in the US. And with those accomplishments and a few years' experience behind it, Patriot has now circled back to revisit its original concept of an X1 with fast-pitch hardshell tent.

The big advantage of switching from a soft folder tent to a hard-top pop-up is in cutting down the advertised three-minute X1 tent set-up to under 60 seconds for the X1-H power pop-top. That may not sound like too big a difference, but imagine you're racing an oncoming downpour while trying to get the tent pitched – those two minutes will be critical, as will the fact that, after popping the latches open, you can punch the "Up" button on the remote and wait inside your cozy, heated SUV cabin as the tent auto-pitches outside.

After the composite "Hexocore" lid rises open via the powered actuators below, the user folds the sleeping platform extension and awning out, drops the ladder and climbs on in. The awning will work best when staked out, but we reckon those battling active weather will save that step for when the skies clear.

The newly updated ladder resembles a light staircase with its handrail and deep treads, providing a slightly easier, more relaxed way of climbing to penthouse level. The large zippered door provides entry into the sitting-height tent space, where a near-queen-size gel-top spring mattress awaits. The interior also includes quilted hard-top insulation, direct overhead and perimeter LED lighting with soft-touch on/off, USB charging ports, a tablet holder for entertainment, and a combination of hard-top window and fabric side windows, all with ventilation screens.

Another advantage of the new hard-roof design is that it works quite naturally with the standard, built-in 130-watt solar panel that captures solar energy during driving and camping. That panel helps keep the twin 135-Ah batteries charged and ready to go, though Montesalvo admits that it's more of a backup, and users relying heavily on the electrical system will want to charge from the vehicle alternator and/or a standalone generator rather than relying too heavily on the solar panel. Dual lithium batteries can be optioned in for the standard gel units for quicker, smoother charging and better overall performance.

In developing the hard top for the new camper, Patriot spent much time engineering and testing aerodynamics to ensure optimal air and water flow. The visible ribs guide air back and even help counteract the rear dust cloud kicked up by the tires, something anyone driving behind the X1-H will appreciate. A gutter-like water channel system keeps water flowing off and away from the trailer sides, where people stand to use equipment and access storage. A new scissor-lift 270-degree awning over the kitchen seals up against the pitched hard top to prevent water from trickling down and soaking your morning flapjacks.

Down below, the X1-H follows the design of the original X1, with the left side dedicated to the L-shaped kitchen with a worktop/sink slide-out and drop-down countertop. The slide can also hold an optional 50- or 60-L fridge, while the standard dual-burner stove is located in the storage compartment inside the drop-down worktop door. Kitchen storage includes a utensil drawer, spice rack drawer and pantry drawers.

The three other trailer sides also house various storage lockers and compartments. The front "man cave" is where you'll find the optional BBQ swivel with Weber Q, gas tank storage and the available diesel water/tent heater. The right side is dedicated to the available 1,000-watt inverter and utility shelves. Behind the swing-away spare tire, the rear cargo locker features a large bulk storage area and a drop-down worktop that can be used as an outdoor dining table.

All in all, the X1-H packs 2,000 liters of storage space in seven storage compartments. Other standard features include a gas hot water system, 155-L water tank, full-size spare wheel, and change room that hangs down off the roof tent awning, providing standing height privacy.

The X1-H is built on a galvanized steel interlocked chassis with non-structural aluminum components for shaving weight. The body is aluminum, and the trailer rides on an X-Cruise independent coil suspension, with an airbag system available optionally. The 16-in PCOR wheels were specially developed for the X1-H and can be shod in optional Mickey Thompson Baja MTZ tires.

The 11-foot-long (3.3-m) X1-H's dry weight balances in at 2,070 lb (939 kg) with more than 1,400 additional pounds available until it hits the 3,500-lb (1,600 kg) gross vehicle weight. Weight is low and centered thanks to the placement of heavy components like the batteries and water tanks. Ground clearance measures in at 20 in (50 cm), and departure angle is listed at 40 degrees.

Patriot spent much of February holding launch events for the AU$52,990 X1-H around Australia. It will also sell the X1-H in the US, starting at US$46,990. Patriot's US distributor, Oklahoma-based Exploration Outfitters, already has models listed between US$50,990 and $55,890, with arrivals scheduled for Northern Hemisphere summer.

The 13-minute video below does a nice job of going through the X1-H's features and highlights, and those who want even more of the story should check out Justin Montesalvo's near-hour-long walkthrough.

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