CAMPING - CAMPER TRAILERS
Stockman has been producing well-engineered, Australian-designed, compact Pod campers for more than 15 years. The company’s latest product offers rapid set-up and pack-away.
Camper trailers that rely on tent erection pose a problem for those wanting quick set-up. Tent-type, soft-floor camper trailers are fine for long-stay camping, but don’t work for travellers who want to stop late in the day, camp overnight and move off next day.
Stockman’s Rover addressed the overnight-stop market segment, as well as the longer-stay fraternity, because the bodywork was essentially an enclosed, lockable sleeping pod for two: it made an instant bed, with no set-up needed.
An easy-access roof ladder meant that families could opt for a rooftop tent for the kids.
The bodywork combined an insulated central fibreglass section, with a moulded front ‘cone’ storage box and moulded rear panel.
The central section had two large steel, gas-strut-assisted, midge-meshed doors that open into a sleeping area with coil-spring, queen-sized mattress.
There was also storage furniture inside the sleeping area and a wall-mounted TV.
The rear moulding opened upwards on gas struts, to form a roof over the external kitchen and the BBQ unit was mounted on sturdy hinges that allowed it swing out through 180-degrees.
Although the treated-steel doors on the central section and the nose cone looked like glass, they were much stronger than that. The plexiglass windows in the doors were top-hinged caravan-types that clicked open and also had integrated blinds and mesh screens.
The bodywork mounted on a galvanised steel chassis, with independent, four-shock coil suspension.
Claimed tare weight of the base model was 1080kg, with 1500kg ATM and 140kg ball weight.
Length was just over five metres; width was 2.15m and height, 2.55m.
Three specification levels were available: Explorer ($35,000), Intrepid ($45,000) and Ultra ($55,000), and all levels could have an optional 12V cabin heater ($200).
The Explorer grade came with: leather side and back cushions; radio/CD player; two-way roof vent with fan; S/S bench top and sink; portable butane stove and hotplate; electric water pump and tap; 120-litre water tank; 12V system charging and monitoring; six USBs and four sockets; electric trailer brakes; aluminium wheels with 265/65R17 A/T tyres; four stabilising legs; Ark XO500 jockey wheel and two 100Ah AGM batteries.
The Intrepid scored in addition: roof racks; 200W solar panels on the roof; DO35 towing hitch; plumbed-in LPG gas system with two-burner stove; lidded gas BBQ on swing-out tray; 12V, 107-litre front-opening fridge; 270-degree swing-out awning; external shower with tent; and a fold-out table.
On top of all that the Ultra got: 240V wiring and sockets; 200Ah lithium battery with 20-amp charger; stone guard; awning walls and poles; fixed side ladder; storage nets; reverse-cycle 240V aircon unit; draft skirts and a ceiling-mounted TV.
We inspected the pre-production Ultra model and were impressed with its dimensions and its and finish. It looked quite bush capable, apart from a low-slung spare wheel, but production models had a 50mm ground clearance increase that helped greatly in this regard.
Unlike some competitor models the Rover wasn’t excessively high off the ground, making it easy to stow water toys on its roof racks.
The 270-degree-swing awning had triangulated arms that looked much stronger and wind-tolerant than simple tubes. The four arms opened easily from a zippered bag and could be stayed by optional telescopic poles at their ends. Optional zip-on tent ‘walls’ were also available.
The prototype Rover had the best swing-awning arrangement we’ve seen to date.
We did a bush review of the Stockman in November 2020, courtesy of Camperact, Pod’s Canberra (ACT) and Narellan (NSW) dealer.
Towing and setting up
We towed the Stockman Rover behind Camperact’s Jeep Grand Cherokee and it proved to be an easy trailer to pull and manoeuvre. The longer drawbar on production models helps greatly when manoeuvring.
With modest freight in the front bin – preferably just the canvas walls, folding step stool and detachable gas hot water system – it should be feasible to keep ball weight under 200kg.
Our initial concern about the rear-mounted, under frame spare wheel being a clearance hazard off-road was dispelled after running the Rover over couple of deep ditches. The additional ground clearance did the trick.
The layout for the rear-mounted kitchen area had been rethought: the fridge was now on the right hand side and its door latch was at the bottom of the door, not the top. Also the bench top was stainless steel and it lifted up to reveal the battery and additional storage area.
We didn’t have the zip-on tent walls, but they shouldn’t present much of a fitting problem, after swinging open the 270-degree awning. The awning worked easily, meaning it wouldn’t be a problem to open at lunchtime roadside stops. However, you would need to keep the folding step-stool handy, unless you’re a basket-balling forward!
Big-pod-style camper trailers seemed to be all the go in late 2020 and the Stockman Rover seemed to be one of the best finished and best value for money buys in this quality-camper market.