Spirit of adventure
MARS SPIRIT HAMMERTONE FORWARD FOLD IS A WELL FINISHED AND AFFORDABLE OFFROADER.
Ground control to Major Tom, red alert! Those tricky folks from Mars have been at it again infesting the galaxy with the spirit of freedom gained from their terrific range of great value camper trailers. Their latest temptation is the Mars Spirit Hammertone Forward Fold, a camper that filled me with wanderlust as we travelled through the lush Victorian central highlands to touch down at ground zero beside a beautiful stretch of
H2O. Warning, warning, Danger Will Robinson, once infected with the Martian Spirit you’ll be imbued to boldly going where no man has gone before. Well, nearly!
Mars Campers is experiencing a period of meteoric growth; the company has not only established a wide range of dealerships throughout the country, but has opened a showroom, assembly and warehouse facilities in both Sydney and Brisbane to support its Melbourne base.
The relationship between manufacturer and customer is essential and one which Mars Campers management value highly. They listen to feedback and constantly strive for improvement in their range of offerings. The base construction is strong, and so is the fully independent trailing arm suspension with its dual shock absorbers either side and coil springs, which are well designed to cater for the 1300kg Tare and 2000kg ATM. Fill up the 120L stainless steel water tank, add a pair of 4.5kg gas bottle plus two 20L jerry cans into the retainers provided and you will still have around 500kg of useable load weight for a fridge, accessories, tools, toys and personal needs.
The overall engineering looks very solid to me with the enamel Hammertone external finish providing a dark but attractive appeal. Personally I prefer lighter colours for increased safety on the road, but then again, I drive a red car!
The main chassis is fully galvanised 70x50x3mm RHS with a 100x50x4mm drawbar also coated in Hammertone paint. Out front is an Australian Standards approved poly-block coupling and chains rated to 2000kg along with Anderson plug, trailer lighting and hand-brake for the 10in electric drum brakes. There is a heavy duty removable 10in jockey wheel which pleases me no end – I hate swing-up models! The drawbar is quite long with good reversing clearance and also holds a strong stoneguard plus twin gas bottle and jerry can holders. It also presents a good place to keep a pair of recovery tracks. She runs on 16in alloy mags with 265/70 R16 all-terrain tyres and the spare on the back acts as a bumper stop where we also find ADR-approved LED tail and number plate lights. There are four stabiliser legs to secure the trailer when assembled.
Customer feedback has seen Mars move from a rip-stop canvas to a heavier 15oz
close-weave canvas for the 4160x1740mm main tent and detachable 2.5m full-length annexe, which I think is a good idea. A separate tropical roof pops up automatically as the tent cantilevers open and there are only a few poles inside to tension the canvas. The company is now also using internal plastic seals on its main internal stitching to help waterproof the tent.
Two people can lift the forward-fold floor, but it is heavy, even with the assisting gas struts; It’s more sensible to use the 750kg manual winch to hoist it up and over to reveal the large tent over the main chassis. You can be set up for an overnighter in a matter of minutes, but if you want to put up the 4160x2500mm annexe with its detachable walls and floor it takes considerably longer, as with others I’ve seen.There are plenty of windows in the canvas walls and they all have both inner and outer awnings, quality zips and fine mesh insect screens. I really quite like the way Mars (and others) are using adjustable poles on their external awning frames leaving you with no guy ropes to trip over! Simple but practical, that’s how camping should be.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Flush fitting locker doors are less likely to snag out on the tracks; Tracking beautifully through the Victorian High Country; The galvanised steel undercarriage is finished in Hammertone paint; Recovery tracks fit perfectly on the drawbar out front.