By: Brendan Batty

Enjoy all the fun of camping, with a whole lot more convenience. Here are 10 good reasons why you may be tempted to leave the tent at home for your next camping trip.

Maybe you started your camping adventure with a basic $30 tent from a discount store, as many young adult campers do, and it worked just fine.

Then you made the big decision to upgrade to a full-sized canvas tent for the whole family, once there was a partner and some kids to accommodate.

Now you might have a family-sized dome tent and as much camping gear as you can possibly squeeze into a family wagon while still leaving room for other essentials, like your family.

A camper trailer set up with the awning extended

Either way, this state of affairs is great for a few years, until that one trip where a mate shows up in a caravan. Not that you’re jealous or anything, but…

RELATED: Buying your first caravan or camper trailer »

A caravan, even a second-hand one, might just be too much of a hit to the budget. Or maybe too much of a hindrance off-road. But a camper trailer could just be just the more affordable ticket to improve your camping experience. So, to help you rationalise the decision you’ve already made, here are 10 reasons why a camper trailer may be better than your old tent.

1. Never sleep on an angle again

As versatile, inexpensive and compact as tents are, it’s almost guaranteed you’re going to be sleeping on an awkward slope that results in a sore back and every single child rolling onto your mattress and spending the night kicking you. In a camper trailer, you sleep off the ground on a flat platform with a proper bed, and you can use ramps, jockey wheels and stabiliser legs to get everything more level. Even better, the kids sleep on the floor, or in a tent outside, so it’s physically impossible for them to roll onto your mattress and kick you.

A bed in a camper trailer

2. Everything has its place

There’s a limit to how convenient folding tables, portable stoves and collapsible pantries are when camping, and that limit is often found at pack-up time, and often when it’s raining. Disassembling 30 different ‘time-saving’ pieces of camping equipment very quickly takes forever, especially when you also have to arrange them in the back of the car in a very particular order or it won’t all fit. In a good camper trailer, compartmentalisation, cavernous amounts of space and integrated camp kitchens make this a far simpler affair. If you’re really good, you might even be able to get the kids to put things back where they go after they’ve used them. Or you can dream.

3. Pack up and setup are quicker

Because everything has its place, the extreme ends of your camping trip are much more relaxed. If you’ve rolled into camp late, getting the tent set up and the beds made is a minutes-long affair. Even if you’ve got in early, the time between check-in and sitting-around-the-fire is much shorter. More importantly, pack up is quicker, so you can stay and play a bit longer, or be more at ease doing overnighters on those long, Western Australian road trips.

4. A nearly proper kitchen

If you spend any time at all preparing food at camp, you’ll have noticed how uncomfortable it can be doing so at a camp table, rather than at something with the height of a proper bench. Camper trailers, no matter how simple the kitchen, solve that, so you can chop veggies, make pancakes and flip sausages without a bend in your back. But the convenience of having a slide-out or integrated kitchen can’t be understated. Without having to do much more than open something and plug in a gas lead, you can be heating some grub at lunch-stops, or preparing gourmet delights each night at camp. Plus, you’ve got space for a proper fridge, access to running water and a sink, a decent amount of pantry space and somewhere to dump the dishes until they get done later.

A kitchen table in a camper trailer

5. You can make money from it

Camper trailers don’t need to sit dormant in your driveway for months on end. With the increase in popularity and trust of the share-economy, there are several good marketplaces where you can hire out your camper trailer to people who were just like you before you bought your own. While you might not be quitting your day job on the income, you will possibly put enough money away through the year to pay for your holiday. People are paying between $30 and $100 a night for camper trailer hire. Google ‘p2p camper trailer hire’ and you’ll see the different options.

6. They’re cheaper than caravans

This is a broad generalisation, because there are plenty of camper trailers that cost more than an equivalent caravan, but camper trailers offer an affordable entry into the towable RV market, and there are so many options to suit your desires and budget.

Broadly, there are four different types of camper trailer. The simplest is a soft-floor camper. Generally, these feature a canvas tent that folds off the side, and the floor area is tent material, therefore, soft. For as little as $10,000, you could pick up a brand new, Australian-made soft-floor camper trailer with enough comfort to turn you off tents forever. Next, hard-floor campers have a few sub-divisions, but in most, the trailer’s lid folds over and becomes the tent’s floor, therefore hard. It helps keep everything level and above puddles or rough ground. Prices start at about $10,000 for an entry-level imported, hard-floor camper trailer with as much comfort as a budget caravan.

A camper trailer set up on a beach

Next, there’s forward- or double-folding camper trailers. With these, the trailers’ lids fold over to become the beds, and usually, the trailer body holds a crude living area with a lounge and table. Start your budgeting at around $15,000, but you could spend up to $80,000 easily.

The ‘Jayco’ style camper trailers (although Jayco did not invent them), are the fourth style. These most closely resemble caravans, with internal living areas and kitchen. Prices start at around $15,000, but a bigger, off-road model could be as much as $50,000. Keep an eye on the second-hand market, too. For just a few thousand dollars, you can get an old Jayco, which will have the same layout as a modern one, without the shininess.

Finally, all other camper trailers can broadly be lumped into the expedition camper category. These may or may not have a tent, and their primary function is to carry as much gear in as organised a way as possible for extended forays bush. Patriot Campers is probably the most well-known manufacturer of this style of camper.

7. Towing them is a cinch

The compact nature of camper trailers means they’re much easier to tow than a full-sized caravan. Often, their profile means they sit behind the car, so don’t affect aerodynamics or fuel economy as much as a big, white box. Because they are short and low to the ground, they’re also far less prone to situations like trailer sway. They are less daunting to reverse into sites at camp because it’s easier to gauge where they end or see over and past them. Even if you don’t get the reverse perfectly right, they’re often light enough to get into place once they’re unhitched. As a potential cost-saving, you’re less likely to need a vehicle upgrade to tow one, as most are light enough that most modern SUVs, large family wagons and vans can tow them.

A hard-floor camper trailer being towed

8. Stay longer, go further

With the ability to take and store a good amount of fresh provisions, you can stay away for longer. In a camper trailer, there’s much more space for the bare essentials. Even a modestly equipped camper trailer will have a 60-litre water tank, and packing a week’s worth of food into it shouldn’t be that hard. With that space comes the ability to camp in more remote locations for longer. Without the need to find a tap or restock the pantry every few days, the scope of your camping adventures expands beyond the coastal hotspots and into the remote and rural wonders.

9. More toys, more fun

As great as camping is, in and of itself, it’s just sleeping in a less comfortable bed than the one at home, with a lot less Netflix. For most people, camping is about the experiences it opens them up to. Surfing that faraway break, casting a line to catch some bigger fish than at home, riding those mountain bike trails or four-wheel driving along a remote, deserted beach. With a camper trailer, you open up your opportunities to pack the essential equipment for the activities that give our lives purpose.

10. Always ready

How many of us err on the side of not camping because it’ll take too long to pack the car? All of us? Because a camper trailer is dedicated to the job of camping, it can be left ready. All the things you need – bedding, kitchen, non-perishables, chairs and even some of the toys you bring can be left packed in the camper, waiting. Once you make the decision, it’s as simple as filling up the water tanks, loading the fridge with drinks, raiding the home pantry for anything good and packing some clothes before hitching up. You could be on the road within an hour of making a decision, enjoying a weekend not doing housework, which could, in itself, be the 11th reason to swap your tent for a camper trailer – no housework.

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Last updated: February 2021