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.

Camper Trailer Australia - - CONTENTS -

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.

FIRST IM­PRES­SIONS

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.

COM­FORTS INSIDE

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.

THE VER­DICT

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.

words DAVID GILCHRIST pics NATHAN DUFF

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.

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