of late August 2016 we (my wife, 2 kids and I) took a camper trailer out for a
test run on a family overland trip to Shark Bay, Western Australia.
kindly let us take their 'larger' version called the PUMA
This larger style of camper trailer weighs 1.4t (dry) has off-road independent
(wishbone) suspension with plenty of clearance fitted with 32' tyres plus one
spare on the rear, more details on the specs below.
as you may or may not know I'm used to camping in swags and tents, swags are my
preferred and tenting with our RV5 Oztent on family trips. So on either solo of
family trip we are used to the quick pack and go style of camping.
However with that in mind if we were using a location as a 'base camp' we'd
often just hire a cabin at a caravan park which is not really camping, but it
was the best way for us as a family to have a more organized and easier way to
deal with very young kids.
After all we used to carry porta cots, high chairs,
toys for different aged kids, nappies and the list goes on. All that is too
hard (less enjoyable) to bring on longer trips especially if not all family
members enjoy roughing it!
With this in mind if you are looking or thinking of the camper trailer style of
camping this article will shed some light on what it is like compared to just
Now to our experience, learning, driving/towing, fuel consumption and our highs
Before picking up the camper trailer:
types of trailers require vehicles to be fitted with a brake controller kit and
it's a good idea to fit an Anderson plug to the rear so you can top up the
camper trailer batteries using the towing vehicles alternator while driving.
Lucky for me Perth Diesel Performance who have maintained my 79 series
Landcruiser since new looked after me and installed a redark kit to the
Landcruiser which is adjustable on the fly and sorted the 12v Anderson feed to
One more thing PDP did before I got the cruiser back was to adjust one of my
custom tunes specific for towing (more on custom tunes here).
up the camper trailer from Predator Campers and getting a quick run-down plus
some instructions on the annex added to the excitement of the family trip.
first few things that came to our minds were the extra amount of gear and food
we could bring including all the camera gear I could bring which is
impossible on family trips as the camera gear takes up the entire back seats.
We brought it home and loaded it up!
set off with the plan to drive as far as we could and just quickly setup with
the idea of packing early in the morning again just like our usual pack and go
style of camping.
Well that didn't exactly go to plan being the first night we setup the camper
trailer things took longer than thought and time got away... We just setup the
main part of the camper.
pack up took a while as it was again a first time for us but we got on the way
and arrived at the next camp with plenty of day light.
This time we setup with
the annex and guess what? I lost the instructions... Yep, I was warned before
the trip that I'd need to look at the instructions for the annex in order to
set it up as it’s a bit complex... Hahaha well we weren't laughing! Not until
after we finally worked it out of course and we didn't end up in the classic
camping divorce drama show that you have no doubt seen many others preform at a
caravan park near you.
This is when we learnt that a camper trailer setup with the annex is highly
only recommend for camping at least 2 or more days at a time.
trailer is for a 'base camp' style of camping. Yes you can just setup with the
main part but you still have to move all the gear you have stacked inside the
learnt from the previous afternoon we changed our plans and extended our stay
for another night rather than pack and go again.
This was much better and we finally experienced the camper trailer in the way
it is meant to be used.
morning start and early morning pack up time...
Packing up the annex and
trailer took a while especially with the little ones running around. Yet we
were in the road and headed for Monkey Mia (a very popular and beautiful place
in Shark Bay).
Once we arrived we wasted no time and got straight into setting
up camp and this time for 3 nights 4 days. We managed to get the annex diagram
sent to us via photo message and this time it made a lot more sense. We then
headed of for what turned out to be an awesome day.
up knowing we didn't need to pack up and go was awesome, we simply had
breakfast and shot off for a very big day 4 wheeling, fishing and kayaking.
the massive day of adventure it was great returning to 'base camp'. This is
when we started to really notice the benefits of camper trailers this size.
early start to an adventurous day coming back to 'base camp' again. Each day
just seemed to get better and feel better.
up and heading for a stop on the way home to break up the drive.
Caravan Park was our last night in the camper.
This time we only setup the
camper without the annex and we were getting quite quick at setting up.
My thoughts and conclusion:
This size camper trailer is meant for the base camp style of
adventures/recreation. Heading to places for an overnight stay continuously is
not what they are built for. That said once you are used to the setting up it’s
a faster process as we found on the last days of our trip.
Would we take one out for a family trip again?
Yes we would but next time we will be planning
to stay just at one or two places for more than 3 nights.
General Positive points:
Base camp, extra storage, can carry boats and kayaks, a home on wheels
including the kitchen and plenty of water storage. A home away from home on
General Negative points:
Setup and pack up time at short stays, extra fuel consumption but not near as
bad as towing a full size caravan.