Spirit of ad­ven­ture

MARS SPIRIT HAMMERTONE FOR­WARD FOLD IS A WELL FIN­ISHED AND AF­FORD­ABLE OFFROADER.

Camper Trailer Australia - - CONTENTS - WordS ANd PIcS jOHN WIL­LIS

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.

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