Turning 50 next year, Cub Campers – the creation and passion project of camping industry statesman, Roger Fagan – is a spectacular Aussie success story. Who of us hasn’t seen a Cub Drifter – the popping top camper with a slide out bed – still in active service at a campsite somewhere around Australia, despite the fact it’s probably four decades old? I’ve no doubt many of our readers’ first camping experiences were in one of Cub’s early campers, too.
More recently, under Shane Fagan’s leadership (Roger’s son), Cub Campers has navigated the influx of camper trailer imports and come out on top. Earlier this year, Cub bailed out Johnno’s Camper Trailers (now called Coolibah Campers), once the largest builder of soft-floor campers in Australia, from an untimely demise when Johnno’s wound up late in 2016. Roger also heads up the Australian Manufactured Camper Trailer Guild – an industry body championing Aussie manufacturing and jobs – and runs a simple, inexpensive campsite – Platypus Valley Riverside, on the banks of the Wollondilly River, just outside Sydney.
Which is all why it’s no real surprise that the company’s latest model – the Daintree Platinum, is such a great little camper. My first experience with a Daintree – which has been in Cub’s model line up for nearly a decade – was to take one 5000km across the desert in a convoy of five different campers back in 2010. Despite being one of the most affordable, the little Cub was the simplest to set up, best to tow and had the fewest problems, despite the gruelling demands placed on it by a group of young motoring journalists. Even today, when people ask which off-road hard floor they should consider, a Daintree is always on the list I give them.
The Platinum is part of a limited edition run of campers which sees a generous list of extra features added over the standard model, but amazingly, for less money. At a tenner under $25,000, the Platinum is $2000 cheaper than the standard model. And while one Cub salesman I spoke with complained that’s making it hard to sell the normal versions, Cub has managed to do it because it makes the campers in a litter of 15, which significantly improves the labour efficiency, thence bringing down the price. Happy days for us.
The trade-off is that the Platinum can’t really be customised. What you see is what you get and you can’t ask for an extended draw bar (some 4WD wagon rear doors will foul on the stone-guard when opening, without it), or add a tropical roof to the tent, for example. For that level of customisation, you’ll need to order a standard Daintree and wait for it to be built.
Whichever way you go, you’re getting a well built, lightweight camper that’s ready for some pretty serious off-road touring. At just 865kg empty and with a 1200kg ATM, even small 4WDs and SUVs will have little trouble towing it.
The coil spring independent suspension underneath the Daintree is a lighter weight version of that fitted to Cub’s heavier campers, but still sees the small trailer coast happily behind my 4WD, even over the well travelled and heavily rutted beach I set up camp on. While my kids yelp with delight at the bumps we experience, the camper’s barely rocking behind us. The wheels are an 18-inch alloy (up from 15-inch alloys on the standard version) fitted with Goodyear Wrangler off-road tyres.
The camper’s chassis and draw bar are built from Australian steel and put together in Cub’s western Sydney factory. The Platinum’s chassis and all the draw bar features – two jerry can holders and two 4.5kg gas bottle mounts – have all been painted in a two pack, charcoal grey, further improving the rust-proofing of the galvanised chassis. An off-road Trigg hitch (the real one, not an imitation) sits on the front offering full off-road articulation. Cub hasn’t skimped on the jockey wheel, either, it’s a 250mm AL-KO version which is great, even on rough surfaces.
The Daintree isn’t an incredibly fast camper to set up, although it’s not difficult by any standard, and the clever design means there’s only a few simple steps. It’s the winch, which at the same time as taking all the effort out of the process, slows it down somewhat – although I timed myself, and got the camper up in seven minutes, once I’d unhooked from the car, and without putting up the awning. Still, the Platinum is fitted with a silent winch (normally a $99 upgrade), eliminating my biggest bug-bear with modern-flipping campers – the obnoxious ratcheting of a boat winch echoing across a serene campsite. There’s no muscle needed to set up the Cub, and only one tent bow needs to be adjusted to get it up.
The tent’s made from Australian made Wax Converters Dynaproofed canvas, which is the best quality canvas in the world, if you ask me. So confident is Cub in its quality, that it offers a five-year warranty on the tent. Inside, there’s a double bed with foam mattress, a lifting bed base to access storage, and the camper’s 100ah AGM battery. Three large windows surround the bed, with a large main entry door, and smaller one to the driver’s side.
As simple as it is, I really like the Cub Campers’ slide-out kitchen. It features a two-burner stove (which can be upgraded to three-burners in the standard model), small sink and 12V water from the 80 litre tank. A second sliding compartment reveals a pantry box, while the fridge box, forward, features a slide big enough for an 85 litre EvaKool fridge. With the deluxe extended awning set up, all of this is under cover at camp.
What I’d love to see from the Daintree is a slight increase in its load capacity, though, by increasing the ATM by 100kg. Don’t get me wrong, the 335kg offered is generous, although, it allows little room for additions down the track – like a second battery (which could be 35kg in itself). Once you fill two jerry cans, two gas bottles, an 80-litre water tank, add an 85-litre fridge and contents, fill the pantry and slide a carton of beer under the bed, that’s about 200kg already. Most research shows that over weight RVs are usually too heavy because people pack too much stuff in, so a slightly larger load capacity reduces the chance of that happening, while still keeping the camper reasonably light weight. If you’ve got a modern 4WD, you’ll also need to add a DC-DC charger to ensure the battery charges effectively – it’s a $500 option from Cub.
Despite that, my initial impressions of the Daintree have not changed. It is still a great Aussie built off-road camper that offers sensational camping convenience and comfort at a very good price. If you were to ask me for a list of the best rear-fold campers, this would still definitely make it to that list.
Cub Campers Daintree Platinum specs and price
Style – Off-road, rear fold camper trailer
Chassis – Galvanised, painted in two pack
Suspension – Independent, coil spring
Hitch – Trigg Bros, off-road
Berth – Two
Dimensions and Weights
Body Length – 2200mm
Towing Length – 4400
Width – 1700mm
Towing Height – 1550mm
Tare Weight – 865kg
ATM – 1200kg
Tow Ball Weight – 120kg
Water – 80litres
Gas – 2 x 4.5kg
Fridge – up to 85 litres
Battery – 1 x 100ah
Solar – NA
Five years canvas, Five years suspension and chassis
From $24,990 drive-away, NSW