BLUE TONGUE OVERLAND XF SERIES 2

The­ory of evo­lu­tion

Camper Trailer Australia - - CONTENTS - Words DAN EVERETT PICS JACK MURPHY

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

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