CAMPING - CAMPER TRAILERS
Market Direct Campers arrived on the scene in a similar way to that of other low-priced camper trailer importers, but MDC has developed new models and incorporated more local kit.
The top of the line, Off Road Step Through model has an increased amount of local content, including a Dynaproofed Australian-made canvas tent and locally sourced aluminium tool and storage bins, and compartment lids.
Although built around the same steel tub as the other MDC trailers the Walk Through has a forward extension and a longer drawbar that’s reinforced by a third, central member. The body extension allows space for a walk-in zone at the foot of the bed, with a folding, two-step, broad-tread stairway doing away with the need for a bed access ladder.
With the camper in its fully-set-up state we crawled around and under it, checking out quality, fit and finish and judged all to be more than commensurate with the asking price. We also inspected the engineering compliance certificates for Australian Vehicle Standards Bulletin VSB01 and ADR62/02, as well as the coupling compliance certification.
Starting from the pointy end we noted a poly-block coupling that’s still the most practical and cost-effective way to tow a camper trailer. The mechanical handbrake was well positioned and the gas bottle holder seemed firmly U-bolted to the central drawbar member.
Twin jerry can brackets were outrigged from the drawbar and we’re not so sure about that arrangement for really rough road use, but the brackets could very easily be reinforced if necessary.
The mesh stone guard looked a tad on the small side and the deflection angle may be a little too upright.
A locally-made, aluminium checker plate, wedge-shaped storage box graced the front of the steel tub. The box was riveted to the top of the drawbar sections, but that’s purely for location, with the main attachments being four large studs with nylock nuts, passing through a square-tube frame at the front of the steel tub. A tent pole storage box was let transversely into the bottom corner of the storage bin, stiffening its structure.
On the evaluation trailer the storage box was part-occupied by an optional deep-cycle battery, 12V charger and 240V inverter. Electrical cabling was protected by flexible conduit and fitted with fusible links. Twin 240V outlets were fitted with see-through connector covers.
Behind the toolbox was the extended section of the steel tub that differentiates the Walk Through model from shorter MDCs. On the off side was an opening aluminium door and on the left was a similar door that hid the drop-down stairway.
The off side extension was framed at the top, but on the near side there was a removable member to allow walk-in access. A standard, folding table fitted into this extension space as well.
The frame-reinforced bed base lifted on gas struts to reveal a large storage area, but if anything was needed out of there when the tent was erected, the tailgate gave alternative access.
The steel tailgate mounted a spare wheel and swung on large, greasable hinges. It screwed shut over two studs, sandwiching a rubber seal, similar to the seals fitted to all the external cupboards.
The test unit had a roll-out tailgate-mounted kitchen that slid easily and could be lent on without drooping. A two-burner Smev stove and 12V pump-fed sink were let into a powder-coated bench top. Under the tailgate lip was a shallow cutlery drawer that could double as additional serving space. Water was fed from an 85-litre plastic tank, mounted behind the axle and the tank filler was tucked away, behind a lockable cupboard lid.
Four, telescopic stabiliser legs were fitted.
The evaluation trailer was fitted with MDC’s standard 50mm-square axle, 16-inch wheels with brand new tyres and 10-inch electric drum brakes. An eye-shackle leaf-spring suspension arrangement was fitted with greasable nipples and rear-mounted shock absorbers.
The axle served as a water tank protector, making a stone shield unnecessary for most applications.
As with the lower priced models the Walk Through is a soft-floor camper that has generous tent and bed size. On the evaluation trailer the bows and canvas opened quite easily, thanks to gas-strut assistance. Support poles and spreader bars went into place easily and the tent was liveable in a few minutes. Setting up the annexe and its floor took additional time, of course, but the Walk Through set-up was easier than that of some other soft floor campers.
Folding it all away, including the annexe floor and walls, and recoupling the packed trailer took two people around 20 minutes. There was no special treatment needed for packing the optional tropical roof, with the annexe roof simply folding over the top of it.
The Walk Through model’s extra length made accessing the queen-sized bed a doddle, in contrast to ladder access on the shorter models. There was ample tent space in front of the bed area for the standard folding table to be set up, or for a couple of kids’ stretchers.
The vinyl floor section that hung down the trailer side was fitted with a hidden, zipped meshed panel, for additional ventilation and also for full access to the trailer-side storage bins. A storage bin fridge slide can be fitted if required.
A large annexe was part of the package. It can be erected with poles and spreader bars and left open, or walled in, for extra living space. In a light breeze the whole structure was self-supporting, but pegs and ropes are included.
The evaluation camper trailer, complete with Australian-made canvas tent, innerspring mattress, 12V and 240V systems and tropical roof had a RRP of $17,336. The base price, with Chinese-made tent and no mattress, battery, charger, inverter and 240V outlets is $12,990.
Our inspection of the new MDC Off Road Step Through model revealed that it looked like great value for money at the lower-price end of the camper trailer market.