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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Choosing a Camper Trailer

The beauty of camper trailers is that if you choose well and buy the best, you’ll enjoy the trip, get the comfort that you need, and possibly get most of your investment back once you’ve finished.

The fun in traveling usually starts on the pre-trip preparations. The decision over the “living quarters” poses the greatest difficulty. Aside from the wide range of camper trailers that can be bought “off the shell” or custom-made to your preference, there are also a lot of new camper options that are coming out in the market such as slide-ons and roof top tents that satisfy the comfort factor with ready-made beds and a compact living solutions. No more bother with setting up airbeds and sleeping bags, all the bedding is stored where it will be used.

Dilemma is, what may be perfect for you is not perfect for the next person, in the same way that, what may be perfect for you today, may not be tomorrow.

Some people argue that towing a trailer for an off-road trip is an inconvenience; however there are a lot of advantages of a camper trailer. Making a good purchase of a camper trailer can overcome this idea of it being an inconvenience.

How do you choose a camper trailer?
When you first start looking for camper trailers, don’t easily fall into the trap of making comparisons based on aesthetics and options, rather check on the major components that really set the trailer apart from another. Consider your budget and your growing or diminishing family. Whether you buy or hire a camper trailer, your needs come first and the enjoyment and safety of your trip depends on a perfectly chosen camper trailer.

Major Components
* Chassis
The longevity of your camper trailer’s life depends on the quality of the chassis, both materials and construction. Have an extremely robust trailer but keep an eye on the weight. Some manufacturers use box tubing which does not allow twist. It’s not necessary to increase the size of the tubing because an increase in wall thickness of the tubing makes the chassis stronger. Be aware that the use of zincseal or zincannel in camper trailers means there is less rusting hence longer life than can be achieved by paint alone.
* Springs and suspension
Springs are important to camper trailers and are often the part that falls when people take trailers into off-road trips, that’s why it’s wise to consider how to repair or replace a broken spring on a trailer. Be aware of the right springs for the right weight or use of trailer. If over-engineered, the trailer could bounce excessively on some tracks, or if too soft, will “bottom-out” likely breaking the leaves, 6-9 leaf is appropriate. Use of shockers in combination with springs will smooth the ride, but the angle should be right or they will be inefficient.
* Doors/Tailgate
Anything that opens or shuts on your camper trailer has to be dust and waterproof or you’re in for a mess when you stop to setup camp. Those who have towed any sort of camper will understand this. To the new ones, it is critical that you look for excellent seals on trailer doors, even for tool boxes. Look for automotive style rubber seal, ideally adjustable sealing locks to allow tighter sealing with use. Doors need to be lockable.
* Tyres / Rims
Although tyres on your camper trailer are not driving wheels, do not accept second rate tyres, for they are the best storage option for spares for the vehicle, so always ensure that they are all the same profile, width and running on the same rims. It’s also a driving advantage if you’re camper trailer can run in the same way paved by your vehicle in heavy-going 4WD situations, such as sand, mud, ruts, and others.
* Canvas & Awnings
Camper trailer canvas needs to be waterproofed and ideally mildew-proof. The roof and over-trailer canvas has to be heavy-duty for good waterproofing. Look for strong and long lasting flymesh, as some will perish with continuous folding and UV exposure. An awning is an essential addition to your camp to sit under, cook under, and to provide shade, shelter and extended living space.
* Mattresses
The whole point of towing a camper trailer is for the comfort of having a place to sleep. Choose a suitable mattress size for your trailer. A proper sprung mattress will out-way the cost difference with longevity. Most “off the shelf” trailers will only accommodate a foam mattress so check if the travel cover is deep enough for an inner spring mattress.
* Stoneguard
All vehicles flick up stone, when a vehicle is pulling a trailer, the stones often hit the trailer, damaging both the front of the trailer and often rebounding back that could break the vehicle’s rear windows. A stone deflector on a camper trailer is advisable to have.
* Trailer Hitch
It is vital to use a coupling that enables almost full 360 degree turning to safely tow a trailer behind a 4WD in off-road conditions. The most popular system is TREG.
* Add Ons
Kitchen
Tool Box
Water tank
Boat rack
12 Volt power
Electric brakes
Bike rack

Knowing how to choose the right camper trailer should come with knowing how much it will cost too. Camper trailers range in design and construction to suit the buyer’s needs and budgets which is anything from $8,000 - $25,000.

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