Grow forth and MUL­TI­PLY

AUSTRACK EX­TENDS TOUR­ING COM­FORTS IN THE OFFROAD-READY SA­VAN­NAH, WITH A NIFTY BED END OF­FERED IN THE TIDY PACK­AGE.

Camper Trailer Australia - - REVIEW - Words and pics MAL­COLM STREET

There was a time in this in­dus­try when the main choices in camper trail­ers were mostly side-fold, soft­floors or rear-fold, hard­floors. But times have changed with much more choice these days, in­clud­ing many for­ward-fold­ing styles.

So many, in fact, it has be­come a bit hard to choose be­tween them. The upside is that a num­ber of man­u­fac­tur­ers, like Austrack, have be­come cre­ative in their de­sign ap­proach. For in­stance, with the Sa­van­nah, Austrack has in­cluded a rear-slide ex­ten­sion. This adds more space for the sec­ond bed and leaves room for seat­ing un­der the main roof when the bed is set up.

The Sa­van­nah is built on a hot-dipped gal­vanised chas­sis that comes with 100x50mm chas­sis rails and 120x50mm draw­bar rails. Above the chas­sis, the body is made from zinc-an­neal steel and has a baked enamel fin­ish. Un­der­body dead­ener cov­ers much of the lower area. Be­ing a fully offroad trailer, the sus­pen­sion is an in­de­pen­dent setup with trail­ing arms, coil springs and two shock ab­sorbers per wheel. Six­teen inch al­loy wheels are fit­ted as stan­dard, and two al­loy check­er­plate-pro­tected wa­ter tanks are fit­ted ei­ther side of the sus­pen­sion, the rear one hav­ing a 120L ca­pac­ity and the for­ward one be­ing 50L.

At the pointy end, a 2000kg-rated poly block hitch does the main job but there are the other essen­tials like safety chains, jockey wheel and a hand­brake. In ad­di­tion to a hand winch for open­ing the camper up, hid­ing be­hind the al­loy check­er­plate stone pro­tec­tion are two gas cylin­der hold­ers and two jerry can hold­ers. An adap­tor can be fit­ted to the cylin­der hold­ers so they can take ei­ther 4.5kg or 9kg cylin­ders. When the camper is opened out, get­ting to the jerry cans and gas cylin­ders is quite awk­ward to get at, although there is a gas change-over reg­u­la­tor so you just need to flick a switch to change bot­tle sup­ply if one runs out.

Fit­ted to the rear end is a holder de­signed to ac­cept two spare wheels. At the camp­site, it folds down so that the rear slide-out sec­tion can be used. On the off­side rear cor­ner, there’s a hand winch for clos­ing the trailer.

The Sa­van­nah’s ba­sics are made in China but much of the fi­nal assem­bly work, in­clud­ing the all es­sen­tial gas and elec­tri­cal cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, is done lo­cally at the Austrack fac­tory.

There cer­tainly isn’t any short­age of ex­ter­nal stor­age bins on the Sa­van­nah. The two bins, ac­ces­si­ble from both sides, come equipped with com­part­ments, draw­ers and for the fridge, a slide-out. Just like the rest of the doors on the trailer, these have pinch-weld seals and pro­tec­tive tub­ing on the re­strain­ing chains.

Like with any trailer with large front stor­age boxes, it’ll be a good idea to keep an eye on the loaded ball weight once you’re done pack­ing

Along the off­side of the ac­tual trailer there are two smaller bins: one is avail­able for stor­age

and the other oc­cu­pied by the neatly laid-out switch and fuse panel. All the cir­cuits are la­belled, which might seem like a funny thing to com­ment on but many man­u­fac­tur­ers seem un­aware that mark­ing cir­cuits can make things much eas­ier for the user!

CAMP­ING COM­FORTS

The main fea­ture of the trailer’s near­side is the slide-out stain­less steel kitchen bench. It comes with a three-burner cooker, sink/ drainer, cut­lery drainer and com­part­ments un­der the sink. A handy goose­neck LED light keeps things il­lu­mi­nated at night but there’s no switch – you need to plug and un­plug it to turn it on and off.

Although not fit­ted to this par­tic­u­lar camper, Austrack plans to in­stall a use­ful set of stain­less steel shelves that slot into the kitchen bench in fu­ture mod­els. The gas and wa­ter sup­ply con­nec­tions are eas­ily ac­cessed as is the 12V socket. Ad­di­tion­ally, the gas line is also plumbed to the draw­bar for a hot wa­ter heater.

Set­ting up the tent is easy to do, ei­ther by hand or us­ing the winch – and that in­cludes the trop­i­cal roof which just fol­lows over the top. Prob­a­bly the most dif­fi­cult part of the op­er­a­tion is zip­ping on the 5200x4200mm awning. Six­teen ounce fine-weave can­vas is used for ev­ery­thing – roof, walls and draft skirt, which are all in­cluded in the camper trailer pack­age.

All the win­dows not un­der the main awning,

ex­cept for the slide side, have their own canopies held in po­si­tion by ex­tend­able poles. In ad­di­tion to hav­ing the all es­sen­tial in­sect screen­ing, all have in­ter­nal can­vas flaps.

Gas struts as­sist with the erec­tion of the tent, as do the spreader bars. All the zips have ‘tails’ for easy grip­ping. On the sub­ject of alu­minium poles and spread­ers, there is a plethora of them but at least the ex­tend­able ones have easy to use snap locks.

Although the rear slide is re­ally only used for bed space, it does make a dif­fer­ence to the interior, es­pe­cially if ev­ery­thing is closed up for bad weather. I reckon it’s a neat idea. Wa­ter­proof com­pos­ite is used for all the in­ter­nal cab­i­netry and it’s fin­ished in a faux tim­ber fin­ish.

Step­ping into the camper leads straight into the lounge area fea­tur­ing a club-style lounge with flat seat cush­ions and back sup­ports. A free­stand­ing ta­ble can be moved in and out as needed with­out too much trou­ble.

Two 12V sock­ets are fit­ted un­der the off­side seat, which are high enough off the floor to get at but may cause a trip­ping hazard when your items are plugged in. In­cluded in the lounge is an LED strip light.

There is stor­age space in the un­der seat ar­eas but on both sides the wheel arch pro­trudes and on the off­side, the two bat­ter­ies take up a fair bit of space.

HAPPY SLUM­BERS

Set­ting up the rear bed is quite easy – put the bed base in po­si­tion and move the seat cush­ions around – those not needed dur­ing the day can be stored in the slide area. Of course, you’ll need to make the bed but sleep­ing bags or some­thing like a Du­valay make that a fairly quick job – I’m for­ever look­ing for short cuts in the bed-mak­ing process.

Up front, the camper-queen-size mat­tress fills the en­tire area, there are win­dows all round and can­vas pock­ets are fit­ted to both sides. An LED strip light is fit­ted at the bed end and there’s a pri­vacy cur­tain fit­ted.

TOUR­ING COM­FORTS

Like any good awning, this one comes with the full com­ple­ment of walls fit­ted with doors and win­dows but it also comes with some­thing else as well. Austrack has in­cluded an en­suite pri­vacy room at the front. That comes com­plete with a shower, por­taloo and a light. And for those among us who like a hot shower, it also in­cludes a portable hot wa­ter ser­vice that hangs off a pole.

I noted pre­vi­ously that the Sa­van­nah came with a good elec­tri­cal panel for con­trol­ling and mon­i­tor­ing the two 100Ah deep-cy­cle bat­ter­ies and the 120W fold­ing so­lar panel. So with a bit of power con­ser­va­tion, re­mote camp­ing with­out mains or gen­er­a­tor sup­ply should not be a prob­lem.

Light switches and a floor level light are near en­try door and that also hap­pens to be where the ra­dio/CD player is lo­cated.

THE VER­dICT

Austrack isn’t the only man­u­fac­turer to make a for­ward-fold camper with great fea­tures like a rear slide. How­ever, it’s the lit­tle things like the cov­er­ings on the door re­straints, the snap lock poles and fuse la­bels that make the dif­fer­ence here and set this one apart from the crowd.

CLOCK­WISE FROM TOP LEFT: Sim­ply hook up your gas bot­tles at the front, and you’re ready to go; A poly-block cou­pling de­liv­ers good ar­tic­u­la­tion offroad; Quick re­lease ad­justers for the poles sim­plify set­ting up; The electrics panel is pro­tected by pinch-weld seals; The Smev three-burner is il­lu­mi­nated by a spot LED af­ter dark; The wa­ter tanks are pro­tected by check­er­plate.

CLOCK­WISE FROM ABOVE: The en­suite is lo­cated away from the kitchen; Cush­ion­ing sep­a­rates the day-use area from the rear sleep­ing quar­ters; Need to sleep six? Just drop the ta­ble, and ad­just the cush­ions to ex­tend the rear slide­out berth.

CLOCK­WISE FROM ABOVE: Two 100Ah bat­ter­ies are pro­tected in­side; An LED strip il­lu­mi­nates the main bed; Good clear­ance out on the tracks.

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