There’s no bones about it, if you want to do some decent off-road towing, then the lighter your camper is, the easier it’ll be to tow. Of course, somewhere in there you have to find a good balance between strength and weight – there’s probably little gained in building a camper from balsa wood, just to save weight, for instance. With that in mind, though, I wondered what were the best light-weight camper trailers on the market right now, so did some research. All of these I’ve towed in some form or another on an off-road trip and even more interesting, it’s the Aussie-built campers that are consistently the lightest. I’ve listed the tare weights of each at the headings. Got any other suggestions – let me know in the comments.
Cub Campers Brumby – 885kg
The Brumby is what I’d consider Cub’s entry level off-roader, but also one of the best value campers in its range. The Brumby used to be the more rugged version of the Cub Daintree, although Cub seems to have discontinued the latter, probably because you may as well just buy a Brumby and get heaps of benefits for a very little price increase. The Brumby has independent, coil spring suspension, can carry 80-litres of water (plus a second tank is optional), has a 100ah battery (plus optional second), good ground clearance, a great slide-out kitchen and is really easy to set up. Its sub-900kg tare also gives it over 500kg of load capacity, which is very handy. Like all Cub’s its made in Australia from Australian steel, using Australian canvas.
Track Trailer Tvan – 940 to 1100kg
The Tvan is an iconic model that’s been around for nearly 20 years. Potentially the camper that spawned a movement to fully-enclosed hybrid caravan/campers (think the Kimberley Karavan/Eco Suite, Australian Off-Road Odyssey and that sort of camper), it’s always been a camper people aspired to. And not just for good looks – its A-symmetric independent suspension is really good both on and off-road and it’s got one of the best kitchens in the business. The tent section is also reasonably easy to set and pack up, with the added bonus that if its too wet or your too tired to be bothered, you can still sleep inside anyway – the teardrop shape mean’s the bed’s always accessible.
Ultimate Campers – From 850kg
The Ultimate Camper is another of those really desirable campers that influenced the design of some of the most popular campers on the market today, from the same hybrids mentioned above to the forward fold campers that have seemingly taken over the market. With its side-hinged lid and internal lounge and kitchenette, this is what most forward-fold campers are trying to be, while it brought caravan comfort to off-road camper trailers long before anyone else thought it was possible. What makes this so light is the fibreglass body and excellent engineering, and what makes it so practical is the off-road ability, massive storage capacity and the simplicity of its set up (there’s even an automatic opening version).
Kimberley Kamper – From 1080kg
Through the early- to mid-2000s, there were three camper trailer manufacturers, each with a different idea on what constituted the best design, that sat at the top of the pops. Two have already been mentioned, leaving a Kimberley Kamper as the third. The most traditional of the ‘three’ Kimberley’s focus has always been on engineering ingenuity, integration of technology and reducing weight – it’s how it builds one of the most feature packed rear-fold camper trailers on the market that’s at least 150kg lighter than its direct competitors. In nearly every design decision, weight has been a factor, from the canvas used in the tent to the batteries under the bed, and even the type of suspension used. If a few grams could be saved somewhere without affecting strength of durability, you can be sure they have.
Pod Trailers Roof Top Camper – From 400kg
Made from the same stuff as plastic wheel-barrows, the Pods are one of the lightest off-road, durable trailers on the market. In Allroada configuration (which is the entry-level off-road spec trailer that’ll go most places), there’s almost no reason to fit brakes to the trailer, it’s that light (in fact, I think they are an optional extra, with an upgraded ATM). One of the earlier adopters of the loft-style campers (made famous by companies like Patriot and Drifta – pictured here is one of Pod’s first iterations of the concept), its simple design incorporates a specially made roof-top tent, a nice open storage area and a couple of different options for the kitchen. This is one of the most simple camper trailers on the market, but because it’s so light and durable, it’ll really go just about anywhere.
Reckon I’ve missed something? Let me know in the comments.