Considering my first camper - Things to look out for / brands to avoid / etc

Warby

Well-Known Member
Howdy folks,

As per the thread title, I am considering purchasing my first camper trailer some time in the near-ish future (let's say some time in the next 12 months). I'll be using it for family camping with my better half and 4 kids ranging in age from ~1 to ~13 (by the time we get it). Sometimes we will all go, sometimes just me/the mrs/the baby, sometimes just me and a couple of the older kids. I doubt I'll ever take the trailer anywhere just for myself as then I'll just be swagging it. I'll mostly be using it in fairly easy to get to places - I have no interest in trying to tow a trailer through gnarly tracks and am unlikely to be doing any trips longer than a week or so at absolute most in the near term.

As it will be my first ever foray in to camper trailers I am looking at purchasing second hand and wanting to work with a rather limited budget (ideally up to ~$5k, potentially up to ~$10k if necessary). I dont mind having to upgrade/modify/add things (within reason) after the initial purchase, as long as the initial purchase price is low.

I have never really looked at camper trailers at all. Never owned one. Never even slept in one. From what I understand/have googled so far, I believe I will be limited to soft floor campers. That is fine by me, I don't mind if I have to spend a bit of extra time setting up if it means that we will all be comfortable. That being said though, most of my camping is only weekend trips so I don't want to have to spend 3 hours setting it up/packing it down (although 30-60 minutes really doesn't bother me as long as it's not too much hassle... I don't mind pottering along with it for an hour with a beer in hand while the mrs and kids get themselves sorted).

With all that being said.. when I hit google, FB marketplace, Gumtree etc I see trailers from $1500 to $70k, many of which look to be very similar. I really don't know what I should be looking for and/or looking out for. Would really appreciate some points from you fine earthians!

A few questions off the top of my head (although feel free to ignore these and just tell me what you think I need to hear...)..
- Are there any brands which I should stay away from at all costs?
- Is there a maximum age that I should consider, beyond which they're exceedingly likely to be moldy/clapped out/severely outdated/dangerous/etc
- Are there any makes/models which are awesome value/keepers which I should keep my eye out for?
- Are there any "must have" features that I should be aware of given my use?

Cheers in advance!
 

Triton14

Well-Known Member
Never owned one but also interested in the suggestions that will come in that budget price.

You havent mentioned it but do you want new or used or open to both??

Im sure in that 10K max budget you could be getting into some 15K trailers that are say 3-5 years old!
 

Warby

Well-Known Member
Certainly open to both, but in my budget I assume I'll be looking primarily at used trailers
 

barcher

Well-Known Member
The long set up and pack up you can deal with, but it's a pain when you have to do it all again when you get home because it was packed wet.
Gumtree has heaps. Should be able get one at good price.
 

discomatt

Well-Known Member
Staff member
If you want a decent soft floor look at Johnnos, pretty basic compared to same but strong and well designed, build quality was lacking with regard to bushing around wiring and some paint issues but very easy things to fix. We had a Evolution , I loved it and would strongly recommend one
 

Warby

Well-Known Member
If you want a decent soft floor look at Johnnos, pretty basic compared to same but strong and well designed, build quality was lacking with regard to bushing around wiring and some paint issues but very easy things to fix. We had a Evolution , I loved it and would strongly recommend one

Cheers Matt! Thats exactly the kind of thing I had in mind and was hoping to elicit from this thread... a brand that has the "bones" of a great setup, just needs a few minor things addressed to make it something that'll work nicely at the right price.

I'll definitely keep an eye out. It doesn't help that so many of the 2nd hand camper trailers advertised on FB and Gumtree don't seem to offer much more information than "its a camper trailer. It is used. It has wheels. I want this many beer tokens for it."
 

CTL

Well-Known Member
Trackabout, Customline, Lifestyle, Jimboomba, Modcon, Cavalier, Bayside, Drifta - all Aussie made soft floor, side fold campers. All built strong.
We had a Customline for 7 years during the time the kids went from 11 to 18. It was a soft floor with a 12 foot tent. This fitted two large stretchers and all our gear. A 10’ tent is a tighter squeeze but more than adequate with bunks. Fridge travelled in vehicle and then on stand in annexe. Had a Drifta pull out kitchen, lots of others have SS pull out kitchens. The tailgate kitchens tend to have less storage space and less bench space but give you more space inside the trailer tub for other stuff.
Then there are the imports. The biggest difference between the Aussie made and the imports is the quality of the canvas and the ease of setup. The Aussie campers were a lot quicker to set up as their tents were designed better and had a lot less poles. Over the years, you have no idea how many people we saw struggling to set up their imports with their poles going in every direction, and cheap and nasty poles to boot. I could set up the side fold 12’ tent myself and the annexe was set up with only four poles. And it weathered a few decent storms without issue. Never had a water leak either.
We paid close to $20K by the time I added all the “necessary” extras like batteries, chargers, solar panels etc. Sold it for $5K. There are heaps of bargains out there as nobody wants to buy a side fold, soft floor anymore. Good hunting.
 

Warby

Well-Known Member
Cheers
Trackabout, Customline, Lifestyle, Jimboomba, Modcon, Cavalier, Bayside, Drifta - all Aussie made soft floor, side fold campers. All built strong.
We had a Customline for 7 years during the time the kids went from 11 to 18. It was a soft floor with a 12 foot tent. This fitted two large stretchers and all our gear. A 10’ tent is a tighter squeeze but more than adequate with bunks. Fridge travelled in vehicle and then on stand in annexe. Had a Drifta pull out kitchen, lots of others have SS pull out kitchens. The tailgate kitchens tend to have less storage space and less bench space but give you more space inside the trailer tub for other stuff.
Then there are the imports. The biggest difference between the Aussie made and the imports is the quality of the canvas and the ease of setup. The Aussie campers were a lot quicker to set up as their tents were designed better and had a lot less poles. Over the years, you have no idea how many people we saw struggling to set up their imports with their poles going in every direction, and cheap and nasty poles to boot. I could set up the side fold 12’ tent myself and the annexe was set up with only four poles. And it weathered a few decent storms without issue. Never had a water leak either.
We paid close to $20K by the time I added all the “necessary” extras like batteries, chargers, solar panels etc. Sold it for $5K. There are heaps of bargains out there as nobody wants to buy a side fold, soft floor anymore. Good hunting.

Cheers! Really appreciate your thoughts.. definitely prefer an Aussie made one if I can find one at the right price
 
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discomatt

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Our evolution first went on the market for 15k sold it 5 months later for 10500. 2 water tanks, Dakar panel max tracks high lift jack 170amh battery DC-DC Redarc battery management inverter
 

El Bumpo

New Member
Hey mate, Not sure on how your hunt is going. We bought a Lifestyle 10ft Softy, Aussie made, can't fault it. We love it, does exactly what you are looking for. Ours has lockable side storage on both sides, all tarps, walls, ropes pegs, floor etc go here leaving more room on the inside and pull out draws at the rear. Both make a huge difference. Bough it for $6,000 with 120AH battery and chargers, wiring etc...Long draw bar for Big tool box at the front for 60 L fridge and 60L esky, 2 x jerry cans + spare gas bottle. We also keep the awning zipped on and folded over, easier to set up and if not staying for long just leave it and set up gazebo if needed. All awning poles are numbered for easy set up....
Hope this helps
 

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Warby

Well-Known Member
Hey mate, Not sure on how your hunt is going. We bought a Lifestyle 10ft Softy, Aussie made, can't fault it. We love it, does exactly what you are looking for. Ours has lockable side storage on both sides, all tarps, walls, ropes pegs, floor etc go here leaving more room on the inside and pull out draws at the rear. Both make a huge difference. Bough it for $6,000 with 120AH battery and chargers, wiring etc...Long draw bar for Big tool box at the front for 60 L fridge and 60L esky, 2 x jerry cans + spare gas bottle. We also keep the awning zipped on and folded over, easier to set up and if not staying for long just leave it and set up gazebo if needed. All awning poles are numbered for easy set up....
Hope this helps

Cheers mate - Looks awesome. Great buy! I've actually ended up going a different route and bought an Oztent RV5, which I'll add the tagalong, side walls, etc to for family camping duties for the next few years.
 

TasmanSam

New Member
The wife and I just picked up a second hand Cavalier camper trailer, australian made. has a small 9 foot tent and I can comfortably set it up by myself in 5-10 mins which is pretty quick for a soft floor. Its a 2006 model and is fairing well for its age other than some minor rust in one of the guards. Canvas is top notch but I will definitely replace the mattress. We paid well under 4k for it to give you an idea. Came with absolutely no 12v wiring though but I already had an old AGM and some 12v outlets laying around which I have installed.
 

old parthy

Active Member
Howdy folks,

As per the thread title, I am considering purchasing my first camper trailer some time in the near-ish future (let's say some time in the next 12 months). I'll be using it for family camping with my better half and 4 kids ranging in age from ~1 to ~13 (by the time we get it). Sometimes we will all go, sometimes just me/the mrs/the baby, sometimes just me and a couple of the older kids. I doubt I'll ever take the trailer anywhere just for myself as then I'll just be swagging it. I'll mostly be using it in fairly easy to get to places - I have no interest in trying to tow a trailer through gnarly tracks and am unlikely to be doing any trips longer than a week or so at absolute most in the near term.

As it will be my first ever foray in to camper trailers I am looking at purchasing second hand and wanting to work with a rather limited budget (ideally up to ~$5k, potentially up to ~$10k if necessary). I dont mind having to upgrade/modify/add things (within reason) after the initial purchase, as long as the initial purchase price is low.

I have never really looked at camper trailers at all. Never owned one. Never even slept in one. From what I understand/have googled so far, I believe I will be limited to soft floor campers. That is fine by me, I don't mind if I have to spend a bit of extra time setting up if it means that we will all be comfortable. That being said though, most of my camping is only weekend trips so I don't want to have to spend 3 hours setting it up/packing it down (although 30-60 minutes really doesn't bother me as long as it's not too much hassle... I don't mind pottering along with it for an hour with a beer in hand while the mrs and kids get themselves sorted).

With all that being said.. when I hit google, FB marketplace, Gumtree etc I see trailers from $1500 to $70k, many of which look to be very similar. I really don't know what I should be looking for and/or looking out for. Would really appreciate some points from you fine earthians!

A few questions off the top of my head (although feel free to ignore these and just tell me what you think I need to hear...)..
- Are there any brands which I should stay away from at all costs?
- Is there a maximum age that I should consider, beyond which they're exceedingly likely to be moldy/clapped out/severely outdated/dangerous/etc
- Are there any makes/models which are awesome value/keepers which I should keep my eye out for?
- Are there any "must have" features that I should be aware of given my use?

Cheers in advance!
Hi, not sure if your still looking for a cheap camper trailer... A mate that i do a little bit of work for has a soft floor camper for sale.. Its a little like El- Bumpo trailer by his photos...
It has good canvas and it has a 360" hitch on it. and some camping gear with it.... He is in sydney and has it set up in his factory... If you want see some photos i can put them up for you... I think hes asking $2100 with full 12 months rego.. Anyways i thought i would let you know
 

Warby

Well-Known Member
Hi, not sure if your still looking for a cheap camper trailer... A mate that i do a little bit of work for has a soft floor camper for sale.. Its a little like El- Bumpo trailer by his photos...
It has good canvas and it has a 360" hitch on it. and some camping gear with it.... He is in sydney and has it set up in his factory... If you want see some photos i can put them up for you... I think hes asking $2100 with full 12 months rego.. Anyways i thought i would let you know
Cheers mate, sounds like a bargain but not for me :) ended up going in a different direction (plus I'm in Perth)
 

Hoyks

Well-Known Member
I'd have a good look at the suspension on the trailer. Independent suspension is nice to have, but more complicated and with more bits to fail. I'm still not convinced it offers that many more advantages over leaf springs on what is essentially a box trailer.
Having the suspension fail and being stuck would be a bit more inconvenient that having a bit longer set up time.
 

shanegtr

Well-Known Member
I got no recommendations for campers in your budget - I've only ever had my camprite TL8s, which is an awesome setup IMHO
 
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