Smarter think­ing

COM­PLETE CAMP­SITE’S IN­GE­NU­ITY WITH THE NEW FRASER XTE HARDFLOOR IS SET TO SHAKE UP THE CAM­PER TRAILER IN­DUS­TRY.

Camper Trailer Australia - - CONTENTS - WORDS DAN EVERETT PICS MATT FEHLBERG

There has been a large shift in the par­a­digm of Aus­tralian cam­per trail­ers in the last decade or so. Where we once headed off into the great un­known with lit­tle more than a box trailer with a can­vas tent, things are a lit­tle more lux­u­ri­ous these days. The coun­ter­part of this is that the bud­get end of the mar­ket has at­tracted many im­ports and, while the qual­ity of im­ported prod­ucts is cer­tainly ris­ing, in­no­va­tion is not al­ways their aim. En­ter the rein­vig­o­ra­tion of Aus­tralian man­u­fac­tur­ing. While com­pet­ing on price is now less at­tain­able, the lo­cal in­dus­try is more than ca­pa­ble of go­ing toe-to-toe with the world’s best in terms of de­sign and build qual­ity.

It’s this ethos of qual­ity that has seen Com­plete Camp­site not only sur­vive in an in­creas­ingly com­pet­i­tive mar­ket, but thrive. With the new alu­minium-bod­ied Fraser XTE re­cently re­leased on the mar­ket, we couldn’t wait to get our hands on one for a thor­ough re­view. We headed up to Lake Mac­quarie on the New South Wales cen­tral coast to meet owner Grant Joyce and to run through some of the finer de­tails of the trailer and find out just how it came to be. Ini­tially, the XTE’s $61,950 price tag had us a lit­tle wary but, as the day wore on and we got a deeper in­sight into not only the trailer it­self but the thought process that has gone into all

the lit­tle de­tails, it started adding up to se­ri­ous value for money. Is it an af­ford­able en­try into the cam­per trailer mar­ket? No. But for those a lit­tle more es­tab­lished who want to be able to set up camp in 10 min­utes and have ev­ery­thing work, this unique rear-fold hardfloor is one worth pay­ing at­ten­tion to.

FIRST IM­PRES­SIONS

With so many sim­i­lar cam­per trail­ers on the mar­ket these days, it takes a lot of work to re­ally stand out. After all, the form fac­tor is near on iden­ti­cal; a large rec­tan­gu­lar box on top of a long A-frame chas­sis with flat sides and a sep­a­rate box on the front. It was im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous that the Fraser XTE has had a sig­nif­i­cant re-think from the tried-and-tested setup and seeks to truly dif­fer­en­ti­ate it­self as a pre­mium prod­uct, some­thing wor­thy of the higher price tag as­so­ci­ated with Aus­tralian built gear. At first glance, the paint­work is flaw­less, heavy-duty pow­der-coat­ing pro­tects vul­ner­a­ble ar­eas from dam­age while the baked enamel gloss white gives the trailer a mod­ern and el­e­gant look that could be right at home be­hind just about any 4WD.

Look­ing more in de­tail at the trailer, it be­came clear just how much thought had gone into what is es­sen­tially a re-imag­i­na­tion of a pop­u­lar style. The draw­bar and stone catcher were neatly pre­sented, or­gan­ised, and of­fered plenty of stor­age room for fire­wood or other small items. The rails on the hard floor sec­tion can more evenly spread the load out in softer ter­rain but still had ad­justable feet for hard packed ground. Even the lay­out of the draw­ers in­di­cated this trailer was some­thing un­usual.

STOR­AGE AND PRAC­TI­CAL­ITY

Where hardfloor trail­ers were once a revo­lu­tion in the way we camp, the light­weight and elec­tron­i­cally-op­er­ated Fraser XTE seeks to push the bound­aries even fur­ther. After un­fas­ten­ing the six latches, the trailer be­gan open­ing with the push of a but­ton. We were able to stop and start at will, mak­ing for a smooth process if things needed to be ad­justed. With the floor open, the tent it­self has been de­signed in a way that only two ad­di­tional poles need to be erected, and two oth­ers ad­justed to have the tent com­pletely setup. You can have the trailer ready for a night’s sleep in less than 10 min­utes after ar­riv­ing at camp, less if you leave the in­cluded awning packed up.

Due to the de­sign, the hardfloor area is larger than usual, al­low­ing for easy fit­ment of two stretch­ers side by side with plenty of empty floor space around them. The built-in roof

in­su­la­tor pre­vents the tent from heat­ing up un­der scorch­ing sun although, with large mesh win­dow open­ings on every side, cross-ven­ti­la­tion will also help con­sid­er­ably. There’s an in­ner­spring cam­per-queen mat­tress for a com­fort­able night’s sleep with built-in LED read­ing lights and strip light­ing through­out. An­other fea­ture that im­pressed us was the handy stor­age com­part­ment at the head of the bed, also ac­ces­si­ble from out­side. Un­der the mat­tress is a slid­ing drawer for clothes stor­age ac­ces­si­ble both in­ter­nally and ex­ter­nally. An­other fea­ture we liked was the can­vas zip-up cover that can quickly go over the mat­tress and bed­ding to keep de­bris out when the trailer is packed.

You’ll also find the stan­dard in­clu­sions we’ve all come to ex­pect like 240V power out­lets as well as USB out­lets. There’s a diesel heat­ing sys­tem that can keep the trailer warm even in the heart of win­ter. The heater also pow­ers hot wa­ter for not only the kitchen but shower as well with an ex­tra tap fit­ting for draw­ing in river wa­ter to avoid wast­ing the 140L of drink­ing wa­ter on board.

Mov­ing out­side and un­der the 2.4m wide awning we found a well laid-out kitchen ar­range­ment. Up front, the dual zone 95L fridge/ freezer eas­ily slides out with ad­di­tional bench space in­cluded in the drawer, and stor­age within easy reach. The marine-grade stain­less kitchen with three-burner stove slides out of the rear, help­ing re­duce ball weight but also mak­ing for a larger cook­ing area. Once again, we found

ad­di­tional bench space that flips out from the kitchen as well as an in-built sink with wa­ter sup­plied by the 12V pump. The gas con­nec­tion is your stan­dard ex­ter­nal type plumbed up to twin 4.5kg bot­tles up front.

OF­FROAD CRE­DEN­TIALS

As upset­ting as it is, large floor cam­per trail­ers of­ten take a few hits when it comes to se­ri­ous of­froad work, whether that’s from tight weav­ing tracks through dense for­est or sim­ply shak­ing to pieces at the first sign of cor­ru­ga­tions. But the Fraser XTE is a breath of fresh air on that front, with a few clever tweaks hid­ing its size. While the chas­sis is made of heavy-duty 5mm thick 50x50mm box sec­tion, the cam­per shell is com­prised of a fi­bre­glass lid/floor and an alu­minium body. The de­creased weight makes the XTE more nim­ble through dif­fi­cult ter­rain, less pun­ish­ing on sus­pen­sion com­po­nents, and eas­ier on fuel con­sump­tion. There’s plenty of ground clear­ance avail­able too thanks to an im­pres­sive de­par­ture an­gle, fully in­de­pen­dent trailer arm sus­pen­sion, and mud tyres just shy of 32in in di­am­e­ter. While some may be con­cerned about the spare tyre be­ing mounted un­der­neath, it’s pro­tected by a heavy-duty bash plate and makes ac­cess­ing and open­ing the trailer far eas­ier with­out a cum­ber­some rear car­rier.

To put it through its paces, we took the Fraser XTE up through the wind­ing trails in the Wata­gans Na­tional Park, half an hour west of Lake Mac­quarie. The sus­pen­sion was soft enough to soak up most bumps and cor­ru­ga­tions with­out shak­ing the tow-rig to pieces, and the Hitch­mas­ter DO35 let it eas­ily and pre­dictably fol­low the tow rig, even in trick­ier ter­rain. Like­wise, ac­tu­ally liv­ing out of the Fraser XTE is a breeze with handy stor­age through­out in­clud­ing a spot for the in­cluded camp ta­ble mak­ing pack ups and set­ups a has­sle-free af­fair.

BRIGHT SPARK

With such a well thought out con­struc­tion method and de­sign, the Fraser XTE was al­ways go­ing to in­clude a com­pre­hen­sive elec­tri­cal sys­tem as well. The heart of the sys­tem is a Redarc Man­ager30. It keeps the twin 105Ah AGM deep-cy­cle bat­ter­ies topped up through a com­bi­na­tion of so­lar in­puts from the fold­ing 120W panel and the 50A An­der­son plug on the trailer’s draw­bar. The sys­tem pro­vides power to the LED light­ing through­out the in­te­rior and ex­te­rior of the trailer as well as 240V and 12V out­lets with the former be­ing pro­tected by 2

CLOCK­WISE FROM TOP LEFT: Com­pact tow­ing di­men­sions pay div­i­dends out on the tracks; Setup and pack up are eas­ier with the elec­tronic open­ing sys­tem; Ev­ery­thing has its place. Lit­tle de­tails add up to a bet­ter sys­tem; In­ter­change­able draw­bars make the XTE suit­able for 4WDs need­ing a longer reach; The stor­age well un­der the bed can be reached from var­i­ous points.

CLOCK­WISE FROM TOP: The an­nexe trav­els with the tent; Room for two more; The elec­tron­ics are ac­ces­si­ble from in­side and out; A nice fit for the 95L Waeco fridge; No wasted space here.

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