Well it was a big call but we’ve decided to replace the Patriot Campers X3.
We are a couple who is always trying to stay ahead of the game and we’ve been thinking of changing to a camper that would suit the possibility of my overall health deteriorating, before we get to the point where it becomes a necessity. While the discussion has been rolling back and forward for some time, the impact of my recently herniated disc has settled the debate.
The X3 is a great camper trailer and has many features that are unique and will be missed, but it has some shortcomings that are becoming show stoppers in our situation, the main ones being:
– opening and closing the lid is getting harder for me to do alone, which will limit my solo trips and leave Suzzanne unable to operate the camper if I can’t assist
– the lack of internal clean storage is a problem on extended trips, and the small volume that it has can not be easily accessed when the camper is closed
– the side fold bed arrangement means climbing over the hard uncomfortable sides of the camper, and each other to get in/out of bed. This is difficult enough to do in the dark and it gets harder when you have a physical limitation.
– any camper with a canvas roof is a pain once its wet – pack up and the inevitable reopening to dry everything is a chore that we can do without
A high-end camper trailer is a big investment so the financial implications of replacing one is an important factor. Luckily our X3 is a current model that is in demand, with 13 month lead times for a new order, and we have kept it in great shape. By selling it now we think it has held its value well in the current market.
Unfortunately the compromises we can’t work around with the X3 can not be solved by making modifications so the hunt has been on for a trailer that addresses the reasons above, but which doesn’t bring too many new compromises to our travelling modus operandi.
So, what to buy?
There are so many camper trailers to select from these days, and even more when you add hybrid caravans. Our fundamental needs haven’t changed, we just want a different type of trailer to achieve what we currently do. This includes true off road ability in tight country and able to handle long runs on corrugated outback roads. We also wanted Australian made and with a high level of mechanical and electrical integration – these criteria take away 90% of the trailers on the market.
After researching the market we’ve made a choice… the Track Trailer TVAN.
I have to admit to having a soft spot for the TVAN since the early 2000s when Ron Moon towed one around the outback, and then the length of the Americas behind his Nissan Patrol. We also travelled with three couples towing TVANs in the NT earlier this year and we were impressed by how they handled on some really bad roads, layout of the TVAN and the rapid set-up and pack down.
Most importantly, access into the camper sleeping area is a 30 second one-handed task and there is a huge amount of storage in there, plus you are sleeping in a hard shell without canvas leaks to worry about. The camper has a full queen sized mattress and there is no need to climb over each other to get out of bed.
We had considered tear drop style campers before buying the X3 but thought they might be too claustrophobic, but having had more exposure to the TVAN that isn’t the concern we first thought. We’re sure we’ll find something we’d prefer to change, after all every camper trailer is a bundle of compromises that impact each of us differently, but the TVAN seems to address our concerns without giving away too many of the things we like.
With a fair bit of research and investigating, mostly by Suzzanne, we have been lucky to secure a TVAN Zenith that is already on order with an August ’21 build date, effectively allowing us to jump the 9 month long queue. The Zenith is a 20th anniversary limited run version of the TVAN that has the features we would have selected, and we have grabbed it early enough to add a few more options to suit our needs, including:
– wheel and track matched to the 200 Series Landcruiser (not available from Patriot Campers)
– 178l of water storage (130l in the X3)
– ability to draw water from an external source and isolate each of the two tanks (not available from Patriot Campers)
– LiFePO4 batteries (also an option on the X3)
– Redarc Redvision electrical system (standard on the X3)
– 1.8t ATM – 650kg payload (1.5t ATM and 375kg payload on the X3)
Patriot Campers X3
So what will we miss after giving up the X3? It is certainly a desirable trailer that oozes X Factor, but when taking a purely practical view here are the things we will miss:
– The Weber BBQ swing away makes access to the Weber so quick and easy, compared to the TVAN where we will have to store it in a side box and set it up each time
– X3’s small footprint and low height makes it great when towing in tight country, and it fits well into our suburban garage (The TVAN is going to be very tight to get in the garage!)
– Once set up the X3’s large awning area gives great cover, though its not so good when windy its still better than the TVANs standard awning for extended stays (TVAN does have an optional annex which is even better)
– the Cruisemaster air bags are great when setting up the trailer at camp (though the TVAN long travel MC2 suspension is far better when on the road)
– the well integrated Redarc electrical system with 1,500W inverter (we have optioned Redvision, I will add an inverter after purchase)
When viewed in isolation the X3 and the TVAN are both premium Australian designed and manufactured camper trailers that are very desirable, but when compared to each other and assessed against our situation the TVAN wins. Which means we have put the X3 up for sale to fund the change over…. I’ll let you know how the sale progresses.
Oh, and there is one more complication. We were planning to take the X3 to Cape York in August, but if we sell it we’ll be without a trailer for the trip. This means the Travelling Two will be in swags for three weeks, let’s hope that getting back to basics makes us appreciate the new TVAN all the more!