CAMPING - CAMPER TRAILERS
Some hybrid and crossover camper trailers make the mistake of being too bulky to fit on many bush tracks, but the Pioneer Mitchell crams a lot of features into a small package.
There’s no doubt that Pioneer’s designers took inspiration from Track Trailer’s successful Tvan that caused a sensation when it was released in 2000. (We came across two of the prototype units at William Creek back then and were surprised by the Tvan’s breakthrough design.)
However, our testing of the Tvan showed some undesirable factors, including the difficulty of packing away a wet tent section on the underside of the lifting tailgate.
The Pioneer Mitchell apes the Tvan concept, but incorporates more headroom under the lifting hard roof and an easier-to-erect, floor-based tent section.
Both wedge-shaped brands have independent suspension and storage space up front and both have an issue with an axle location that’s well aft. Put heavy freight in the Mitchell’s ample storage boxes, stow a pair of 9kg gas bottles, option up an extra 60-litre water tank, put in a large fridge and you’ll increase ball weight from an empty, hefty 145kg to 180kg or more. That’s OK for a large wagon or ute, but too much for lighter-duty vehicles.
We’ve visited Pioneers’ state of the art Melbourne factory, where the camper production is at the rear of a well-equipped metal-cutting and fabricating shop. There are no half measures here.
As a result of this manufacturing capacity, fit and finish of the metal and fibreglass Mitchell panels is first class. You won’t get much change out of sixty grand for a fully equipped Mitchell, but there’s no doubt about the quality.
The Mitchell has composite floor construction, surfaced with hard-wearing vinyl. The roof is solid fibreglass with headlining. A full-length two-metre-wide awning is included as standard and a quick-fit, half-size awning is optional.
The Mitchell comes with a stainless steel, rollout kitchen with large flat bench, Smev sink, swing away two-burner stove, cutlery drawer and slide-out bench with drawer.
There’s a standard pantry and 600-litre-capacity fridge storage box next to the kitchen. The fridge box can be accessed from both sides of the camper and comes with slides, an LED stalk light and an air filter to maintain circulation but minimise dust. The box has 12V and 240V outlets.
Standard water capacity is 120 litres and all water outlets are filtered. A Truma hot water system is standard.
There’s a ‘Pop’ roof for more room over a queen-sized inner spring mattress and two-compartment bed head storage that’s accessible from the outside as well.
The Mitchell has three opening windows and a hatch in the sleeping area and the mattress rests on a slatted bed that allows air circulation. The bed lifts up on gas struts to reveal additional storage space.
At the end of the bed are 240V, 12V and USB charging outlets. A marine-grade Bluetooth entertainment system is fitted, along with a 12/240V TV. An electric fan is standard.
The Mitchell measures 5.3 metres overall and is 1950mm wide and 2050mm high in travel mode. Tare is 1320kg.
The Mitchell has a hot-dip-galvanized chassis and independent trailing arm suspension, with Ridepro twin-tube gas shock absorbers, rated at 2000kg. There are electric 12-inch drum brakes and steel wheels, shod with 265/75R16 all terrain tyres.
A Redarc 1230 Battery Management System that’s 240V compatible is connected to a 110Ah AGM deep-cycle battery. A Projecta 80W polycrystalline solar panel
is fitted to the top storage box.
The Mitchell is aimed at a touring couple or a family with two kids. The kids can sleep on the tent-covered hard-floor section, or in their own tent, away from the ‘oldies’.
It’s not cheap, but it’s beautifully made and very well equipped.