Hmmm, Suzzanne’s reaction when I started showing her camper trailers was hard to refute, some serious coin gets asked for a vehicle with half the wheel count of a car, and without all of the expensive bits like engines and gearboxes and interiors made from the hides of a dozen steers.
Until now, I had spent forty odd years camping in the open, under tarps or in/on/under boats of varying types, so a camper trailer was never able to be justified. I drooled over the TVAN when Ron Moon started dragging one around the outback in the early 2000s, especially because like me he had a Nissan Patrol GU to do it, but the cost and logistics of another trailer never fitted the plans. At one stage I had built a simple camping trailer, a leaf sprung box trailer in which to carry the gear needed by a growing family for a few nights away, but a camper trailer was something else again.
But the times they are a changing (cue Dylan) and to get the Travelling Two away from city lights would need more comforts than you can get in a canvas swag. And that’s how we came to be in the chemotherapy treatment unit of the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital scrolling on our phones comparing camper trailers of all sorts and sizes.
Like many we started at lower end of the price range looking at the many generic brands built on cheap imported chassis with local fruit added. However we weren’t planning on blacktop runs to the local caravan park or an annual trip up the smooth ocean side beaches of Fraser Island, whatever we purchased had to be capable of handling endless kilometres of corrugated outback roads and the odd trip through bog holed tracks and rocky trails. We also wanted quick and easy pack up/down knowing that cancer treatment may continue to take its toll on me physically. As an engineer I was drawn to trailers with a high level of build quality and good integration of electrical, water and mechanical features, which tends to push the price higher. Lastly, an Australian made trailer was preferred with a solid local aftersales presence.
In the mean time many of the long term manufacturers like Kimberley, Camel and Aussie Swag were struggling to remain viable. Our list of candidates was getting shorter and we had plans to inspect them at the coming Brisbane Caravan and Camping Show, planned for March 2020. But we were thwarted by COVID yet again with the show being cancelled.
One option that ticked most of our boxes was Patriot Campers, a relatively new entry who had stormed the camper trailer scene and pushed aside many established players. Since introduction in 2014 they had won a number of awards and kept refining their product, creating their own market niche with the X series campers.
The Patriot Campers marketing machine had been running at full tilt promoting their new X3 design. With our online quote in hand we headed to Patriot HQ on the Gold Coast to bump elbows and look over their pre-production version. After walking around it countless times and looking in every shiny powder coated compartment we decided to place an order for a graphite grey X3, especially after several desirable options were thrown into the deal at zero cost.
So the first big step toward the Travelling Two hitting the trails has been made. Now it’s time to wait through a long and expensive gestation period, with the camper not scheduled for delivery until September 2020. But the six months will not be wasted, there are trips to be planned and upgrade projects to be scoped. Not to mention some changes to the 200 series to get her ready for tow tug duties….