Conqueror UEv-490 evolution Extreme comfort and military precision
Conqueror Combines military precision with extreme Comfort in its latest version of the uev-490 evolution.
Sometimes a brand name builds expectations, so when a camper trailer is called the Conqueror Evolution, it’s fair to imagine something that is military tough and open to change.
To test out whether or not the Conqueror UEV-490 Evolution fit that bill, we headed west of Brisbane to a beautiful spot near the tiny town of Fernvale, where a rambling river has quietly spent an eternity grooming the edges from its rocky bed.
To understand the UEV-490 Evolution, you have to appreciate that it is a hybrid camper that’s somewhere between a camper and small pop-top van. Its roots go back to a time when Conqueror made campers for the South African defence force, before they were customised for the South African public and eventually introduced here in Australia.
Like many others in its range, Conqueror’s Australian team has revamped the UEV-490 Evolution to suit the local market, in fact, this is the second time the Evolution has been given an Aussie overhaul. Its heritage remains apparent though, with the angular Evolution looking distinctly assertive in its military-inspired brown and green livery.
A RElIAblE SUSPENSION
We couldn’t resist testing out to see whether or not the camper was as tough as its rugged good looks promise, so we set a course for a little campsite on the banks of the river via a rough and tumble crossing. And behind our Jeep, the Evolution easily waded and scaled through the water and rocks.
Its 50x100mm hot-dipped galvanised chassis carried its body above independent suspension that includes Tough Dog shock absorbers and Dobinsons coils, which are both well supported and known for their longevity.
We hauled the Conqueror over the sometimes sandy and sometimes rocky river bottom and on to the campsite then up and down a hilly terrain on the camper’s standard all-terrain tyres that gripped the ground without hesitation. And when braking was needed, the offroad 12in electric brakes never failed.
Articulation was assisted by the super alloy coated DO35 coupling. This is a fine choice,
given the coating minimises corrosion and its
low profile allows excellent rear-door clearance. Equally as important, the coupling allows ample rotation, making manoeuvring across difficult terrain of the sort we crossed easier.
While I seldom comment on the presence of a spare tyre holder, this one deserves a mention. The holder is actually a wheel hub and bearings, adding an extra layer of safety in case of an offroad emergency that involves seized bearings. If that’s not enough, slip off the spare tyre clamp and you’ll find its anodised steel design doubles as a portable barbecue.
In this latest version, it’s good to see that Conqueror has accepted customer feedback by moving the jacking points from the centre point above each tyre, slightly towards the rear for easier access by the side of the road.
Of course, sometimes staying safe means staying clear of trouble. This camper has an impressive departure angle cutting up from just rear of the tyres to the spare tyre holder that significantly reduces your likelihood of getting stuck at the bottom of a steep descent.
A BODY FOR REMOTE TRAVEL
Not all the story of this camper is found below the chassis line. The camper body tells a story also.
With aluminium side and front panels and powder-coated galvanised steel panels
elsewhere, the body gets its strength through its skeletal construction that allows some flex when travelling over the tough stuff.
Looking around the body, the two 4.5kg gas cylinders are well protected, as they’re stored in a vented drawbar-mounted checkerplate box. While this provides greater protection and a better look than the typical cylinder cradles, the bottles aren’t plumbed to the kitchen and have to be moved when you’re cooking.
Behind the gas bottles is a nose box that provides space for the Webasto diesel heater that supplies hot water to the external shower and warms the interior’s air. Within that box, there’s a water pump that will draw water either from a 130L tank or from a handy creek or river via a simple but useful water pickup system.
At the rear of this hard shell camper, just above the spare tyre, is a timber cradle with adjustable tie down points providing just one of the small details that help make this Conqueror synonymous with good and convenient design.
Other noteworthy details include keyed-alike locks all round, which when forced against the door seals work with the interior pressurising fan to keep both your silverware and the cabin interior free of dust.
Storage is key to successful offroad camping and this camper has plenty. Beyond the aluminium nose box there are two removable
canvas multi-pocket storage devices fitted to each door, two jerry can holders, a pantry with internal and external access and a storage compartment under the vanity basin together with two storage compartments in the rear.
CooKinG and CleaninG
Cooking-wise, the slide-out kitchen boasts a good-sized fridge-freezer and comes complete with its own cutlery and crockery in designated drawers and a convenient wash-up stand with hot and cold taps. The cooker is only a two-burner stove though, and for my money, it’d be nice to see a third burner for a little culinary versatility.
On the up side, the mini-bar bottle holder fitted to the kitchen door brings a touch of sophistication to every day camping.
On the other side of the camper is a quality exterior bathroom. Many campers come with an external hot and cold shower, but this area also has a very handy slide-out stainless steel vanity basin. Just open the door, slide out the basin, and unfurl the shower and you’re ready for a luxury morning ablution, camper style.
The camper is almost surrounded by a nicely fitted 270° batwing awning to keep the kitchen and bathroom in the shade. Wall kits are optional for the kitchen and bathroom. Although mesh ground sheets are standard with this model, we chose to not use them during our review.
On the inside of the Evolution, Conqueror provides more than 2m of ceiling height above the entrances courtesy of gas struts that help lift the insulated roof. Regrettably, that head height tapers to just 165cm at the rear.
Ten internal zippered compartments, LED lighting and a foldable dinette table help add convenience while a fold-out front bed section adds comfort.
With the table in place, you have a twin-berth camper, fold the table down and lay down the custom three-part mattress and you’re ready to sleep up to five weary travellers.
While ample internal storage space, interior lighting, a suitably placed battery management and entertainment system together with a carpeted floor make for a comfy interior, the headspace towards the rear of the camper left me a little wanting.
Pragmatists will, however, love packing it up as the camper comes with interior tie-down points and straps to stop stowed baggage sliding about when on the road or bashing through the bush.
As for power supply, the Evolution on review looks well set up with dual 100Ah AGM batteries, 15A 240V charging extension lead, a dual USB charging outlet, two Hella plugs, and LED lights together with a Redarc battery management system with triple solar input, two 100W roof-top panels and a 140W foldable solar panel, not shown.
Sitting back on the banks of the upper
Brisbane River I could easily see the Evolution’s South African defence force pedigree. And in keeping with its name, Conqueror has hinted at further development on the way. Whatever may come, the UEV-490 Evolution is an already impressive camper trailer that will continue to support Conqueror as a market leader.
CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN: The wide wheel track closely followed David’s Jeep; Two 100W solar panels up top; Limiting straps help the Tough Dog shocks keep the Dobinson coils in check; Every campsite needs a shovel and this one rides up front for easy access on the tracks; Internal heating will extend your touring season; The cutaway rear and livery speak of its military origins.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: The supplied crockery and cutlery are contained for travel; A three-tier pantry, wine rack and storage pockets keep everything close at hand; Portable twin plastic tubs minimise water wastage and the 90L National Luna fridge lid doubles as a work space; A stainless steel basin complements the shower amenities.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Zips and canvas storage enclosures save on space and weight; Monitor power and water supply from one site; The television and a spacious lounge are welcome comforts for long-term touring.
RIGHT: The lounge converts to generous sleeping quarters when friends drop by.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: The unobtrusive fixed bed leaves room for the lounge; The spare wheel cover doubles as a grill; How’s that for multifunctional?; No need to account for the fixed bed when you’re reversing into camp as it sits over the drawbar.