What to look for
when buying a Camper Trailer!
You would like to think your new camper has the best possible workmanship for your dollar, but check to make sure. If you aren’t knowledgeable in any of the following areas ask a friend or employ an expert to cast a critical eye over the rig.
Some of the things you should look for we have listed below. If you tick all these boxes you should be able to get yourself a good quality Camper Trailer.
The heavier the trailer, the thicker and better engineered steel should be, especially the chassis and drawbar.
Steel will rust if not treated properly. Ideally the chassis should be hot dip galvanised, and the body should be zinc steel and automotive enamel painted.. The better the metal finish, the less likely you will have issues with rust, chipping and general damage.
Finish – is the drawbar and chassis galvanised? This is the best option. If the drawbar or chassis isn’t galvanised, look at the paint. Hammertone paint is tougher, powdercoat is better. If you just get plain paint make sure it has primer underneath. If this step is skipped, the trailer can look good when new but as it accumulates stone chips you will end up with spots of rust that can quickly start looking shabby.
Quality of workmanship
If you’ve been involved in fabrication, its not too hard to spot a poor quality weld. The steel and welds are what holds your trailer together, so make sure they are good quality.
Look for clean, smoothly applied welds and take note of any signs of grinding, which is done to correct errors. Look for full welds and not tacked spots on structural components like the drawbar and the chassis. Gussets or supporting pieces in corners or major joins earn a tick of approval.
Wiring and plumbing
Have a look at where the cables, switches and plumbing has been located. If its tucked away, well supported and protected from damage then you are onto a winner. If you see cable going through metal without rubber grommets, or waterproof areas that don’t have cable glands on them, you know the finish quality is lacking.
Poor quality dust seals are an absolute nightmare. Ensure the camper trailer closes with decent sealing around any gaps, or your new purchase will be covered in dust in no time. All SUV Campers have dual dust seals on the lid and automotive seals around all external doors.
The electrics in camper trailers range from mild to wild today, with some having thousands of dollars invested in electrics. Most camper trailers will come with at least one battery, a few Anderson and cigarette lighter outlets, and a cable to the hitch for charging from your vehicle.
Have a think about whether the battery size is enough to run your electrics. How are you going to charge the battery – solar, from the tow vehicle or both? Is the lighting sufficient for walking around the camper trailer at night, both inside and outside?
You can run pretty much anything when camping these days, as long as you can afford to have it installed. Coffee machines, upright fridges, ovens, heaters, hot water on demand, electric blankets and the list goes on. What do you really need though?
There’s something to be said about good quality canvas. If its heavy, and thick, you are off to a good start. Look for canvas at least 10 oz on the roof and 8 oz on the walls (15 and 12 is even better, just heavier), and properly waterproofed. Some of the cheaper camper trailers come with poor quality canvas that leaks around the sewing. If you get canvas that is no good, your whole camper trailer is going to be a mess after the first rain.
Water tank size
Water is critical for camping, and the more clean water you have available the better. Anything less than 60L is a push, with 100L being a good number and anything over that a bonus. Make sure the water tanks suit your requirements, that they can be filled easily and that they are well built and protected.
There are a lot of different hitches on the market today. Poly Block Couplings commonly called Treg or Trigg hitches are probably the most common hitches for off road use. From there, you move to the D035, Mc hitch and a number of others. Whilst all of the available hitches ultimately do the same job towing the Camper and most will have similar ratings you will find that spending a bit extra can make all the difference with how easy it is to hook up the trailer.
Spare part availability
Make sure you can get spares as required for your camper trailer. Some brands can run unusual bearings and seals, and getting spares can be a huge nightmare, especially if you are remote. Make sure the spares are easily sourced, and that they are available should you need them in a rush! This can be where having a local dealer is important as they will be able to help you out quickly.
Is the mattress inner spring, high density foam or open cell foam? You’re unlikely to get an innerspring mattress on a budget trailer, but a good closed-cell foam mattress can be very comfortable, especially with an ‘egg-carton’ layer on top. You can always upgrade to innerspring when the budget allows. All SUV Campers come with an inner spring mattress as standard.
What sort of poles are supplied? This is important. Quality aluminium poles can make a difference to your camping experience and you don’t want a tent coming down in the night in a strong wind because the poles have started to bend. While you’re at it, look at the pegs and ropes. Are the ropes long enough to give you flexibility when you’re setting up? Are the tent pegs sturdy enough to live with being hammered into ground with large tree roots or rocks beneath the surface?