Toolbox
words - Allan Whiting
Months in the desert prove that this mid-range, Aussie-built off-road camper trailer can withstand a beating



I’ve made two Outback forays in the past two years towing Cub Brumby camper trailers and have come away very impressed with these capable and versatile models.

On our 2010 jaunt to The Centre and the Savannah Way a test Cub Kamparoo Brumby was hauled behind a Mitsubishi Challenger driven by Robyne and Stan Gruzlewski, our Adventure Video Productions film crew.

As such, it had a slightly harder test than did the other five campers, because the crew was continually driving ahead of the convoy, mingling with it doing on-road filming and then having to catch up when the convoy passed by.

That often meant travelling a little quicker than the others and smacking the odd pothole. Little wonder that at the end of our 10,000km marathon it had a couple of shock absorber rubbers that needed replacing.

The Kamparoo Brumby was the lightest trailer on our six-trailer 2010 Camper Trailer Torture Test and that compact size compromised storage space, but not the living or sleeping areas.

The loaded Brumby, with full 80-litre water tank, tipped the weighbridge scales at only 860kg, with an additional 100kg on the trailer coupling. This light weight was a major factor in my choice of a similar unit for the 2011 trip that would be much more demanding.

Another decider was the fact that this hard-floor camper was judged the easiest and quickest trailer of the six 2010 test units to set up and pack away. It was also the only camper trailer that folded away easily with the awning zipped in place.

The success of the Brumby in demanding conditions encouraged Kez and me to give one a tougher workout in 2011. Our route took in the biggest dunes on the Simpson Desert as far as Poeppel Corner, followed by a narrow-track trip up the Hay River Track, then the Binns Track, Litchfield National Park and Kakadu. Our towing vehicle was an Isuzu D-Max crew-cab ute.

FIT FOR THE BUSH

The successive Cub test trailers were Kamparoo Brumby Off Road models, fitted with aluminium wheels, independent-coil, trailing axle suspension and override mechanical disc brakes.

The chassis were galvanised and fitted with Trigg rubber-block off-road trailer couplings and a wind-down spare wheels (swing-away spare carriers are optional).

The 2010 test trailer was fitted with 245/75R16 tyres and the 2011 vehicle wore 265/70R16 LTs.

Standard equipment in each Brumby trailer included a slide-out galley with two-burner stove and sink, with a folding, 12-volt water tap. Each unit also featured a roll-out pantry adjacent to the galley and a storage drawer on the right hand side of the camper.

Also standard was a forward storage bin that contained a fridge slide on the near side and a storage area on the right. The bin lid can be propped open to let the fridge condenser ‘breathe’ when the trailer is stationary.

Each test trailer came with an optional small 12/240V fridge, but we checked that our 40-litre Engel fitted comfortably.

In front of the fridge/storage bin were two, 4kg gas bottles and two jerry can holders behind mesh stone guards. An under-frame stainless steel water tank had a claimed capacity of 80 litres and a lockable filler cap. Unlike the case with many campers the Brumby’s water tank was easy to fill.

Other standard kit with the Brumby was a deluxe canvas awning and telescopic poles, lift-up bed with under-bunk storage, two 12-volt lights, three 12-volt Hella-plug power outlets, a 15-amp 240V power inlet and three 240V outlets. A 100AH deep-cycle battery was also fitted.

The Brumby had a RRP of $25,990, plus $1099 for an optional solar panel and charge controller.

Options available but not fitted to the test trailers include a roll-up side wall, tropical roof, mains water tap, innerspring mattress in lieu of foam, roll-out right hand side pantry, swing-away spare wheel carrier and a boat loader.

TWO MONTH OUTBACK TEST

Our 2011 test route was the toughest we’ve ever used for a camper evaluation and many fellow travellers were amazed at the capability of the D-Max and the Cub Brumby.

We managed all the large Simpson Desert dunes, driving up their steep eastern faces with no more preparation than a drop in tyre pressures: the optimum for soft sand being 16psi front and 20psi rear in the laden ute tyres and 12psi in the trailer tyres.

Steep creek crossings in Litchfield National Park saw the trailer coupling bury itself a few times, but we never got hooked up and there was no damage to ute or trailer.

The Brumby’s hard-floor design meant that it could be set up on any reasonably level surface, with adjustable legs on the fold-out section able to compensate for rough ground.

The hard floor was actually the underside of the trailer lid and was covered with vinyl material proved easy to clean.

The lid sprang open with gas-strut assistance and was then controlled by paying out a winch and strap system that controlled unfolding, allowing one person to do the operation without effort.

A brake on the winch prevented a ‘runaway’ deployment! As the lid opened it drew the canvas and the tent bows with it. Once opened fully the tent was tensioned by adjusting the bow lengths and securing with wing screws.

Folding the Brumby up was the reverse operation, with a second person tucking in the canvas as the lid was gradually winched shut. One person could do it, using the ratchet winch to hold the lid in position while the tucking was done in stages.

We kept the awning attached to the main tent all the time and when we didn’t need the awning deployed we simply flipped it over the canvas top, where it acted like a tropical roof.

When we did use the awning we found that the suite of poles and spreader bars made pegs and ropes unnecessary, unless the wind piped up over 15 knots.
Unfolding the tent and tensioning it took an average of three minutes, with a further 15 minutes to set up and tension the awning. Packing up the basic tent and tucking it under the trailer lid took about five minutes --10 minutes if the awning had to be dismantled and the poles packed away.

VERDICT

What went wrong with the 2011 Brumby? Virtually nothing, other than one missing press stud on the tent canvas, a loose adjustable leg pinch screw and small piles of dust in two of the side bins.

We didn’t have time to ‘season’ the canvas properly before leaving, so we had some moisture show on the inside during rain showers.

The Cub Brumby is a medium-priced, tough, hard-floor camper that is ideal for people who want a camper that’s quick and easy to set up and pack away. Our testing indicates it’ll go virtually anywhere a capable 4WD and driver can take it.


CUB CAMPERS KAMPAROO BRUMBY OFF ROAD

Length (body): 2.2m
Length (overall): 4.4m
Height (closed): 1.55m
Width: 1.7m
Tare: 740kg
Ball weight: 130kg
Chassis: galvanised steel
Brakes: mechanical over-ride discs
Suspension: independent coil, trailing axle
Coupling: Trigg off-road
Kitchen: two-burner cooktop, sink with 12V tap
Fresh water: 80 litres
Price: from $25,990
More info: Cub Campers



To comment on this article click here Published : Sunday, 6 November 2011
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