Wednesday, December 12

Blue Tongue Overland XR Series 1

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Although Blue Tongue Campers’ bread-and-butter is forward folding campers, it’s rear-fold Overland XR has always ticked along nicely in the background, impressing those who prefer a bit of standing space and storage over an interior lounge and dinette. In fact, it’s doing so well it’s about to get an upgrade – with a Series 2 expected to market later in the year. With that in mind, we wanted to get a closer look at the Series 1, not just because there’s likely to be a few runout bargains, also so we can see if the Series 2 will be an improvement.

Although rear-fold campers have taken a rear seat to forward-fold campers over the last five years, I still think a hinge at the back makes a lot more sense, and a few of the best features of this camper highlight that.

The Overland XR’s lid, with its cantilever top rack is easy to flip, which makes the set-up reasonably trouble free – unlike the similarly spec’d forward folds, there’s no need to get the winch out and wind it over, which although takes little effort, does take time. As the lid is also the floor, there’s heaps of room to move around in the camper, which means more space when you’re getting changed and no climbing to hop in and out if you don’t need to use the bed. There’s also access from both sides, as each side of the tent has a door.blue tongue overland xrThere is some fiddling around with poles once the camper is open, as the tall tent’s bows don’t fit inside the camper’s body when it’s packed up, so all of them have to be dropped or extended each time. It’s not ideal, but given the camper’s other features, it’s a small concession given the price being asked.

There’s good storage divided into four drawers under the bed, so keeping things organised is easy. The bed base doesn’t lift, so although there are extra hidey-holes under the mattress, they take some getting to, but also mean they’re a bit more secure. The climb up onto it isn’t hard, either – there’s a drop-down step that’s wide enough not to miss if it’s dark and you’re dusty. The bed has an innerspring mattress which is firm but comfortable and plenty big enough to spread out on if you are sharing it.

One of the nice features of the tent is that the passenger side wall can be zipped away to completely open up the tent, which if it’s warm and sunny and there’s a great outlook, makes it very comfortable to laze in when that’s all you want to do. The tent itself is made from a heavy 450gsm canvas and comes with a lot of it. There is a full awning and annexe walls, an ensuite tent and kids room all part of the package. All that canvas takes up a bit of room, but can be stored on the bed – or more likely – just left in the shed and only packed as needed. Not many rear-fold camper owners put up a full annexe wall very often, I’m guessing. The tent also has a tropical roof and awnings that extend out the front and back of the camper.

Electrically, the Overland XR is well equipped – maybe too well. It has three 100Ah gel batteries under the bed, which will keep the camper in power for ages, but also contribute over 30kg each to the camper’s weight and it’d take a long drive to top them all up from empty. Like all Blue Tongue Campers, the camper can be optioned with great accessories like Redarc’s Redvision, folding solar panels and even diesel room heating. The quality of Blue Tongue’s accessories actually set it apart from most of the other imported campers.

Moving outside and to the front storage boxes, it’s not hard to surmise inspiration has potentially come from the gullwing boxes of the now-defunct Kimberley Kampers. Although there’s not quite the sophistication of the former-Ballina built off-roaders, the function is very similar. A stainless-steel kitchen slides out from the camper’s main body which has the sink and three-burner stove, plus storage for kitchen implements and cooking utensils. There’s also a handy light on a bendy pole so you can point it where you’re working. Forward of the kitchen, a large fridge slide can fit up to a 95-litre Dometic CFX fridge, while a third sliding section forward of that again, has a two-tiered pantry and stainless bench area. It’s really a great kitchen.blue tongue overland xr reviewOn the opposite side of the camper, the gullwing door reveals a large open storage space that could fit a generator sized object plus plenty of other paraphernalia, while the boot right on the front is big enough to store a few jerry cans. There’s also two rings for 9kg gas bottles behind the stone-guard. 18kg of gas is probably overkill, and adds a lot of weight to the front, so smaller ones would be nice. Underneath, it can carry 120-litres of water in two tanks.

The Overland XR tows excellently, though. It’s got a hefty ball-weight thanks to the large storage boxes up front, which aids stability under tow. It’s fitted with an AL-KO off-road hitch, so can handle twisty tracks and has coil spring independent suspension with dual shocks. It is very high off the ground, though, and if you want it to tow level you’ll probably need some sort of suspension lift in your vehicle. I do wonder if a lot of these imported campers could be lowered a little (they essentially have a body-lift above the suspension arm pivot), not just to drop them a bit, but also to make accessing the storage area on the roof a little easier.

The fiddling around with poles at setup aside, the Overland XR is a good quality trailer at a great price. This is an easy to tow camper with plenty of storage and a great kitchen that’ll go pretty much anywhere. It’s a bit on the heavy side, but still should do everything asked of it.blue tongue camper review

Blue Tongue Overland XR S1 specs and price

Style – Off-road, rear fold camper trailer
Chassis – Galvanised RHS steel
Suspension – Independent, coil spring, dual shock
Hitch – AL-KO, off-road
Berth – Two

Dimensions and Weights
Towing Length – 5200
Width – 1800mm
Tare Weight – 1520kg
ATM – 2190kg

Capacities
Water – 100- and 50-litre tanks
Gas – 2 x 9kg
Fridge – up to 95 litres
Battery – 3 x 100ah
Solar – 144w blanket optional

Warranty
12 months

Price
From $21,990 drive-away, NSW

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