BLUE TONGUE OVERLAND XF SERIES 2
Theory of evolution
It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out the camper trailer market is bursting at the seams with manufacturers. The overwhelming majority are genuine enthusiasts who care about their products, use their kit, and often get so caught up telling you yarns about their latest offroad adventures they forget to sell you a camper. These are our people. The problem is, there’s also a whole lot of manufacturers jumping on to Chinese Gumtree and ordering campers by the container-load without ever stepping foot on a sandy beach or red desert. So, what do you do when you fall firmly into the first category and need to make your gear stand out from the second? If you’re anything like the crew from Blue Tongue Campers, you use it, and use it, and use it some more. And you keep using it until you know it inside out, have upgraded or modified it to the nth degree until you’re happy to live out of it yourself. Despite having a relatively small presence, the guys and girls at Blue Tongue are a passionate lot. So after getting a few of their new models sorted, they figured it was high-time they turned drawing board and spanner roll to their successful Overland XF forward-fold camper. They’ve cut and polished and massaged every square inch of it after years of customer feedback, trying to get the perfect balance between storage space and lighter weight. Have they pulled it off? Only a wheel lifting adventure in the New South Wales hinterlands would uncover that.
ON THE BLACKTOP
Like it or not, hardfloor and forward-fold campers are normally substantially more complex than their softfloor counterparts. Complexity brings weight. And more weight means more potential for poor handling. It’s the reason why so many softfloor campers normally do as they’re told while heavier twin or rearfolds bounce around like a kid on cordial just heading down the blacktop. The long and the short of it is manufacturers need to worry not only about a reasonable ball weight, but balancing the trailer right so it doesn’t turn into a pendulum shaking itself to pieces quicker than Julia Gillard’s political career. To that end it’s obvious the guys at Blue Tongue have spent a lot of time carefully placing the various components small and large throughout the Overland XF S2. Despite punching in to the middle weight class it stays poised and composed through rolling back-country roads and corrugated tracks alike, never once kicking the tow-tug in the rear. Of course, it’s not all about juggling your egg cartons and long life milk to make your camper ‘get’r dun’ on the long haul, and there’s plenty that can be attributed to the spec sheet as well. There’s a set of beefy 12in electric brakes hiding behind each wheel. Now, there’s more than a few campers in this weight range still clinging onto 10in brakes, so the Overland XF S2 easily held its own in terms of stopping power, never once poking the Ranger in the back. Ball weight was also a reasonable 135kg so the trailer rocking back and forth over undulations didn’t cause the rear end to pogo, either. In fact the leaf sprung Ranger we were hauling with didn’t have any noticeable sag, so even softer sprung coil setups like those found on mid-size wagons or the Navara NP300 shouldn’t have any issues towing the camper.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME
The S2 follows a pretty standard formula when it comes to setup, so it should be instantly familiar with anyone who’s spent more than an hour at a camp show and that’s a bloody good thing. It’s your classic forward fold design with the usual Blue Tongue Campers spit and polish, although Blue Tongue denied any actual spit went into the construction. Drop down the legs, unbuckle a couple of buckles and the main bed section simply flips forward and into place. It’s a reasonably easy proposition for two people but if you’ve got a cold beer in your good hand there is an easyto-attach winch up front that can do the grunt work for you. There’s a queen-size bed but it can be upgraded to a mattress from Slumberest for a softer offering. The lounge area needs to be packed down for transportation but can all pop up in a matter of minutes with some careful cushion Jenga and a little cranking on the tables handle (a dramatic improvement over some ‘pop-up’ offerings). There are two poles that need adjustment and a couple of spreader poles before you’re reclining in leather-ette comfort, or if you’re setting up the awning it’ll tack around 10 minutes onto the job. There’s plenty of room in the box too so the awning can stay zipped on when packed away and won’t eat into your storage space. If you like camping of the frosty variety there are a few different ways you can warm your bones at night. There’s the old fashioned be-nice-
to-your-husband-or-wife option, but if that doesn’t work there’s a stand-alone Dometic hot water system for the kitchen and hot showers. These can be spec’d up to include ducted heating as well, or if you’re frequenting powered campsites a 240V water system is available. At the back, the stainless steel kitchen has the usual Blue Tongue fare such as an integrated drying rack over the sink and a SMEV 3-burner cooktop. It’s plumbed into a 120L stainless steel water tank while the shower gets its own 35L setup. The kitchen has a few fiddly bolts that are destined to catch constantly, but while it’s out there’s an extensive wind break so adverse weather shouldn’t affect a good night’s feed. If you tick the box you can pick yourself up a Waeco fridge for the front storage box as well but the slide will accommodate most large fridges you can throw its way. The 12V setup is more extensive than many of its similarly priced competitors too. Twin 100Ah batteries hide under the driver’s side lounge with the test model using an optional Redarc Manager30 battery management system. It can be fed with either 240V in or an Anderson plug on the drawbar connected to your tow-tug. The 12V control panel runs all the lights, fridges and plugs, but also has two separate controls and gauges for the twin water tanks so you can keep an eye on water levels.
The galvanised drawbar finishes at the suspension mounts The slide is sturdy enough for a large fridge Offroad articulation straight on to a standard 50mm ball. How easy is that?
The slide is sturdy enough for a large fridge A great size for growing families
The Redarc Manager30 helps to maintain the twin 100Ah batteries between camps on tow