Our Patriot Campers X3 provides a terrific way to live and travel off grid and is luxurious compared to the swag I’ve mainly used for the past twenty five years, or the blanket under a tarp before that. Patriot has wedged a huge amount of equipment into a very small and offroad capable footprint – but like all vehicles there is room for customisation to suit the user’s unique requirements. In the case of the X3, ours was one of the first delivered of this new design so it had a few build quality issues that also needed fixing along the way.
We are busily preparing for our Simpson desert crossing, that will mean towing the X3 behind the 200 series to Mount Dare over 2,500km of outback roads, then torturing it across 1,000 sand dunes to Birdsville and another 1,600km back to Brisbane – over 5,000km in total.
As I check over the X3 it has prompted me to put together this blog covering many of the modifications and fixes that we’ve made over the past 6 months of ownership. Many of these have also been posted on the Patriot Campers Owners – Official Group on Facebook, with the search hashtag #X3llent Tips.
Touring outback gravel roads is far harsher for your trailer than any gnarly “Instagram” trail, the combination of corrugations and flailing rocks will soon trash front of your trailer and damage wiring and hoses underneath it. Of the many products on the market to combat this damage the Stone Stomper is by far the most effective – it not only protects front of your trailer from stones but it also reduces dust billowing up and prevents stones ricocheting back onto your tow tug.
A Stone Stomper was one of the first additions to our X3 and has never been removed.
The first night spent in the X3 was nearly Suzzanne’s last, she found the firm Patriot mattress hard and thin and she was soon on the search for a solution. The first topper we tried was a cheap egg crate style which helped but wasn’t the answer. She eventually found the perfect topper in the Gisselle COOL GEL memory foam topper with bamboo cover.
Gas bottle holders
Patriot Campers have a great gas bottle holder arrangement and our X3 also has the optional second holder with swing open door. I did however find that no matter how I tied them in, the metal gas cylinders rattled around in the holder and over time would wear away the black coating, plus be noisy on bumpy roads.
By lining the bottom and sides of the compartment with rubber sheeting the bottles no longer move around and are super secure.
Road Chef Oven
We hardly used the X3’s Bromic gas stove – partly because it is useless when windy but mainly because most of our cooking is on the Weber and we use a Jetboil for hot water. We do however enjoy hot lunches while travelling between destinations and the Road Chef 12V oven allows us to cook while driving – winner winner chicken dinner!! 🙂 Having the 12V oven has really improved our travelling and we eat a lot less junk food along the way.
To power the Road Chef I added a 12V circuit from the service module with an Anderson plug behind the oven and a separate channel to control it on the TVMS.
The X3 has a handy water tap on the drawbar, perfect for washing hands after hitching the trailer when its dirty, or after a roadside meal. Accessing the tap was a pain with the Stone Stomper fitted so we added a short piece of hose then added this convenient soap pump inside the gas bottle holder.
Although the X3 has its Exorack carry bars its not always easy to lash smaller items to them – I added an aluminium OCAM roof rack to the X3 to carry firewood and it turned out to be great for carting around all the dirty and wet gear you don’t want in the car or camper.
Awning bag zipper
Its only a little thing, but the nut and bolt securing the awning to its bracket was interfering with use of the zipper, making it difficult to use. Simple turning the bolt around provides more clearance, making this task that little bit easier.
We were always looking for somewhere to hang a rubbish bag in the kitchen area of the X3, the answer was to mount a Supapeg Croc Bin on inside of the fridge door.
The plastic mount is screwed to the door inner support and we simply stow the Croc Bin under the Weber BBQ when in transit.
The soft aluminium hatches in the X3 interior are in a perfect place to lean when reaching across to unzip a tent window or erect the tent support frames – but they bend under the lightest of loads. I added some support angles under the lids to help them carry these inevitable loads and stop them folding in half…
ARK XO750 Jockey Wheel
I was never impressed by the light duty jockey wheel supplied on Patriot Campers, though its light weight is certainly an advantage in its own way. For a better solution I retrofitted an ARK XO750 swing away jockey wheel for its great adjustability, wide dual tyres and better castor design.
Its a great jockey wheel and I would have kept it in place except the X3 drawbar isn’t long enough to mount it in a place to suit my Landcruiser’s Kaymar rear bar. On a trip earlier this year when reversing in tight country (see Styx River blog) I must have reached limits of articulation and bent the ARK’s handle shaft, causing it to fail. This meant that we couldn’t unhitch during the trip which made camp set up difficult, and we couldn’t leave the camper behind if we wanted to go for a drive somewhere.
So the XO750 is a great upgrade for most Patriots, but didn’t work on our particular rig because of the Landcruiser’s Kaymar bar.
Spare parts kit
Anybody heading to remote areas should take spares for the trailer, including the basics of wheel bearings and grease as a minimum. I also carry a variety of items to enable repairs to the air suspension, water lines, body latches and fasteners to keep it all stitched together.
Even if you don’t feel confident to undertake a repair yourself it is worth having the parts so a local mechanic can do the job for you.
Bedside 12V charge points
The pop up 240V tower in the X3 has USB charging ports, but to use them you need to leave the inverter turned on, and the inverter uses almost 2A of current when energised even if doing nothing. This will make a big dent in your battery capacity if trying to charge your devices often and is very inefficient.
A worthwhile addition is to put dual 12V powered charge points beside the bed so you can recharge your devices overnight with much less drain from the trailer batteries. I added these onto the 12V Accessories circuit, accessed in the services module or behind the trailer control panel.
Stabilising leg mounting
The X3’s stabilising leg is mounted right behind the right hand wheel and can be easily hung up on rough tracks that have sharp drop offs, ledges or pot holes. On a recent trip ours copped a hit and came loose – upon closer investigation I realised that the leg was only supported in this direction by a single rivet, that had sheared off.
This design is bound to fail eventually if you take an X3 offroad regularly, it might even fail if you move around inside the camper with the leg down. I repaired and reinforced the bracket by using three M6 cap screws in place of the single rivet, making the leg connection much stronger and more stable.
Side marker reflectors
Forward facing reflectors cop a beating on gravel roads and usually end up smashed, which is a minor defect that makes your trailer unroadworthy.
To protect them I cover the reflectors with thick rubber SUP rail tape, as shown in this video.
During long outback trips on corrugated roads the body of your camper trailer gets heavily stress, in our case that included numerous rivets loosening, or breaking with their heads sheared off.
To repair these rivets I use M6 capscrews where I can access both sides of the joint, or replacement rivets where it is a blind panel.
Trailer wiring security
Wiring and hoses under your camper get blasted by rocks when driving on outback roads, eventually this can strip away the insulation on cables and tear off the cable ties that secure them.
Its worth inspecting your trailer after every trip for this type of damage. I’ve also replaced most of my underbody plastic cable ties with stainless steel ties which outlast the plastic type.
The inside of drawers and boxes of your trailer will soon get rubbed and marked by the contents when rattling along corrugated outback roads – I used self adhesive rubber matting from Bunnings to protect them and take away the rattles.
Where is your emergency equipment?
In an emergency someone unfamiliar with your trailer set up might be the one looking for a first aid kit or extinguisher – we marked all drawers and boxes on the X3 and Landcruiser so its obvious where to find things.
More leg room
The X3 comes standard with one half of a kids bunk that is folded down into the foot well area. This area is already cramped, particularly if the table is set up – we increased the width of this area 10% by removing the folded down bunk section.
Its only an extra 7cm of width but it makes all the difference if you are spending time there and you are sharing the space. To remove the bunk it was necessary to drill out the hinge rivets, refitting the bunk is a simple task using capscrews and nuts.
If you camp in summer it can be warm inside the camper’s tent, a fan provides ventilation to make it that little bit more comfortable, and to blow away the mozzies that might get into the tent.
We fitted the Scirocco fan with spring clips so it attaches to the tent support frames, then lengthened the cable and added a plug to power the fan from the outlet near the camper’s door, or the new outlet added near the bed.
Quick connect gas fittings
Patriot Campers got fined a few years ago for breaching gas safety regulations – since that time they have designed the trailer so that the gas cylinder must be removed from its holder and carried to the appliance, then the hoses are screwed into place.
To simplify this process I added quick connectors to the Bromic stove and the Weber, to make connection of the hoses a simple tool-free task.
Levelling the camper at each set up can be a little tricky if you can’t get a good horizon reference, and its a pain having to step back all the time to eye ball whether you are levelled out. I mounted this cheap spirit level in the control box so that I can adjust the airbags easily, then walk to the jockey wheel to fine tune the set up.
The factory TVMS settings on our X3 were causing nuisance trips when using the inverter – even with full batteries it would trip using a 1,250W coffee machine on the 1,500W inverter. Patriot had the parameter set to trip on low voltage, but the gel type batteries used will pull down to 11.0V when under load (the factory setting would be fine with Lithium). I changed the settings to trip on low State of Charge (SOC) which still protects the batteries but allows the system to supply the power demanded by a 1,500W inverter.
Note – I have gone to settings of 30%/40% which is lower than recommended for gel and AGM batteries – I would recommend 50%/60% if you want to get long life from your batteries, but I’m prepared to live with reduced life and will upgrade to LiFePO4 when these die.
Stone guard flap
Underside of your camper trailer gets smashed about on gravel roads (yes, this is a theme through many of my modifications) – to help reduce the amount of stones getting to vital organs of the X3 I added an additional rubber flap in middle of our camper.
Duncan Biscuits bench storage
The Dish Bench (TDB) by Duncan Biscuits is a great addition to your Patriot Camper, but storing it can be a pain. I came up with this mounting solution on end of the fridge slide, which is right where it gets used, therefore I thought it was the most logical place to keep it.
Plugging the Ampfibian into the X3 is a pain in the arm – the trailer’s socket is way deep in side of the camper and the bulky Ampfibian unit stops you getting your arm in properly and simultaneously trying to see what you are doing. You’ll notice on the fridge video above I have extended the cable on trailer side of our Ampfibian. Extending the 15A socket side of the Ampfibian fixes the problem of the switch box section blocking access to the trailer socket, but get a licenced electrician to do it.
While you’re at it, get a cord socket with LED illumination, and mark the socket for “UP” to help get the right pin alignment when you plug it in.
Awning pole storage
Storage of long awning poles and spreader bars is a pain in the X3, there’s no where to easily mount a storage tube. (Note, MY21 X3s store the spreader bar on back of the awning, but you still need somewhere for the man cave sail poles, etc)
We used to keep our poles tucked down beside the mattress but it wasn’t great if they got dirty, or you wanted them while the camper was still folded up.
This simple hack is working well, a Tentworld storage bag sits nicely under the awning and helps to stop it bouncing around when on rough tracks. A carabiner clip holds it in place, the bag of poles also helps to support the awning from flopping around on rough tracks (MY22 X3s now have an awning support bracket for this purpose).
Suspension height markers
I’ve posted this a few times, because I think its important and a bit underdone by Patriot.
Many Patriot Campers with X-Cruise airbag suspension have posted on social media about bump stops coming loose or the bolt getting smashed up inside the stop, or the bump stop getting mashed and deformed. I had one come loose too with the bolt pulled inside the elastomer and did some homework to prevent it happening again.
My investigations found that the trailer ride height marker plates inside the mudguards are deceiving, they are prone to parallax error if you don’t sight across the tyre properly and don’t always result in the suspension being set to the 395mm shock absorber length recommended by Cruisemaster.
To solve this problem I have marked my shockies at this length and always level the trailer by checking against these reference marks. Its also easier to check ride height by quickly looking under tail of the trailer whenever we stop than it is to walk around both sides.
I also recommend checking the ride height soon after moving away from camp because the suspension definitely settles a little once it is jiggled around when you are moving – I think that a lot of people end up riding lower then they should and that’s why they are seeing bump stop failures, and when this happens all of the camper is also getting shock loaded when the bump stop bottoms out.
Just like your car, your trailer needs regular maintenance, but keeping track of travel distance is harder on trailers because they don’t have an odometer… well now they can.
The Hummingbird Electronics trailer GPS odometer is a simple upgrade that allows you to keep track of how far your trailer has travelled, so you can service it when required.
Patriot sell an excellent solar panel option using a rigid Redarc panel and great mounting brackets for easy removal – however it is very expensive and we wouldn’t always need it because we are on the move most days charging from the car. However on our Simpson Desert crossing we knew the car would be operating at low revs many days where charging performance isn’t great, and the fridge would be working hard in the desert heat.
To address these issues I added a cheap flexible solar panel to the front Exorack bars on lid of the X3. The panel connects back to the solar input Anderson plug on right rear of the trailer. I found this panel gave up to 9A of charging current when parked up on hikes, and the Redarc system uses solar input as first preference which reduces demand on the Cruiser’s charging system.