This is a first for me – in 15 years of doing this, I’ve never reviewed a recreational vehicle that didn’t have a bed or an enclosed sleeping area. Some of them have been down-right basic and utilitarian, others have been less comfortable than sleeping on the dirt, but I could always describe them as a ‘camper’ because I could camp in it. The Patriot X2, optioned with no tent, however, is just a trailer, and to be honest, that’s exactly what I like about it.
Bear with me while I delve into a personal pursuit. I’ve got an old Viscount Grand Tourer that gets hauled down the coast on occasions for family holidays or to my brother’s farm when we visit, but usually only if I can’t contrive something more comfortable on the pretence of writing about it. However, there are occasions when the family and I want to do more adventurous travel than an old Viscount is up for, so I’ve been on the lookout for a suitable trailer. Problem is, I don’t want a ‘camper trailer’, soft floor or hard floor or hybrid or otherwise – I already have a couple of great Oztents and years of familiarity in making them comfortable and homey. I also have three kids and a lot of hobbies, so it’s getting hard to fit all that within the confines of the LandCruiser.
Over the years I’ve been very close to buying various different options – a Stockman Products Pod All-Roada was on the list for a long time, but they’re just not quite big enough. I’ve toyed with the idea of an expedition-style trailer from the likes of Signature Campers, but in the end, the imported products are just a little too heavy and untested for what I want. So that leaves me with what is financially the least desirable option – a Patriot Campers X2, sans tent, for a little under $40,000, on road. More than twice what I might have to pay for the other options. For that money, I can hear you say, “Just buy a caravan, you idiot.” And I understand you might not use so tame a word as ‘idiot’. But I already have a caravan, and it’s not responsible to tow it the places I have in mind.
At $38,241 (an X2 with Rhino-Rack aero bars replacing the tent), the trailer is Patriot’s cheapest product. It’s slightly smaller than the hallmark X1, but has been designed light and nimble to suit smaller capacity, petrol-powered 4WDs – namely the Jeep Wrangler, which has heaps more power and torque than my Cruiser, incidentally.
Interestingly, when the camper was first released, it was just $24,990 and bare-boned – no tent, no spare wheel or even a stove, steel wheels and basic electronics. The air in the tyres may as well have been an option, but it was something for people who already had all the gear and just needed some way of carting it around the rougher parts of the country without it cluttering up the footwells in the car.
Scope creep has kicked in somewhere along the way, and now the X2 comes standard with most of the accessories you’d expect in a modern camper trailer – including a tent. I’ve not camped in the tent but have set it up, and typical of all good quality soft-floors, it’s bloody easy to use.
From tip to tail the X2 is just three metres long and weighs, depending on which tent or rack option you choose, somewhere between 645 and 835kg. The Signature mentioned above is 1000kg. It’s unsurprising considering Patriot is an obvious master of metalwork. The body of the camper is made from laser-cut aluminium, while the chassis is steel with alloy outriggers to save some more weight. If a hole can be cut somewhere to save weight, a hole has been cut.
The low mass makes it great to tow. And because it’s so small, there’s very little wind-resistance as it tucks in behind most 4WDs’ profiles. It’s specified with a Cruisemaster-built, but exclusive to Patriot, independent coil-spring suspension and DO-35 off-road hitch. I didn’t really give it a hard time, but I’m pretty confident it would handle it if I did.
The main trailer body is made up of four different compartments. To the front, there’s a large storage boot with a lift-up hatch. Inside it can store a row of jerry cans standing up (as an example), or a family’s worth of camp chairs. High up in it is a sturdy utility shelf in which sits the gas hot water on-demand system that plugs into the trailer’s plumbing, offering hot water as you need it and showers a-plenty. Well, as many showers as you can have with the 85-litres of water that’s in the underslung tank.
On the driver’s side, there’s a large, unobstructed storage area with a drop-down, full-length door-come-work bench. Patriot will even sell you a set of four foldable storage boxes that fit perfectly in the space ($200 option). If you have the tent equipped, this is the most convenient place to have clothes and bedding stored, so those boxes actually make a lot of sense. In that space is the camper’s 350W Redarc inverter; part of the Tech Pack which adds it and a second 135Ah Gel battery.
On the opposite side, a similar storage area with a fold-down bench is filled with drawers and compartments that make up the kitchen. From one compartment slides a two-burner Bromic stove and grill, while there’s another with a single drawer. It’s only part of the space that makes up the kitchen, but probably where you’d keep the bulk of your pots, pans and regular use items like coffee and tea, sugar and spices, plus the general clutter that’s usually in the kitchen even if it’s never used there – torches, batteries and band-aids. It’s a simple space, but very practical.
The largest part of the trailer is the main body, which is divided roughly in the middle. Down one side is almost all free space, minus the box for the battery (or batteries) and Redarc Manager control box. It’s a long narrow space, and I actually found it quite hard to get things from at the back because of the drop-down tailgate and wire supports. Fortunately, the whole tailgate can be dropped out of the way quickly to make the space more accessible.
The other half is dominated by a full-length slide on which sits a pantry box and spot for a 50-litre fridge (a fridge is an option). 50-litres isn’t big enough for me, so I’d probably do without it (I have a 75-litre Dometic in the back of the car) and just use the platform to stack in storage boxes. From the pantry-box slides a spot for a silicone expanding sink and another drawer for cutlery and plates and things. Overall, there’s a satisfying mix of small and large storage areas that makes the trailer really easy to organise.
All this is sheltered by a 270° awning. Patriot’s spec sheet specifies a Rhino-Rack Batwing awning, but this one was fitted with a Supapeg version which I found a little bit cumbersome. Bear in mind I was using it by myself in the wind, but it wasn’t made easier by the fact there’s no small spike to slip a guy-rope over, so I had to thread them through the poles while holding four other arms and seven square meters of fabric from blowing away. Once it’s up, it is great and even has panels that attach to the back to stop the rain coming through the gap between the awning and trailer.
There’s little denying this is a very niche product that suits very particular needs, but that goes some way into explaining the price. Only Drifta (famous for its ply-wood storage fit-outs of 4WDs) is doing something remotely similar and built in Australia, and even if they have the same function, they lack some of the grace of the Patriot product. The X2 is a highly functional, incredibly robust and very well manufactured trailer. It’s about the only one of its kind, which really only makes it more desirable. I hope my wife says yes.
PATRIOT CAMPERS X2, No tent
Style – Off-road expedition trailer
Chassis – Steel, Rigilite Hybrid Chassis with alloy outriggers
Suspension – Cruisemaster X-Cruise, independent, coil spring
Hitch – 3.5 tonne DO35 off-road
Dimensions and Weights
Length – 3000mm
Width – 1850mm
Height – 1750mm
Tare Weight – 645 to 835kg
ATM – 1200kg
Tow Ball Weight – 125kg
Water – 1 x 85 litres
Grey Water – N/A
Gas – 1 x 4.5kg, 2 optional
Fridge – Optional, up to 50-litre
Battery – 1 x 135Ah Gel, 2 optional
Solar – Optional
From $38,241. As tested $39,540 with Tech Pack
Off Grid Outfitters