In our last post, we took a brief look at the folding camper and trailer tent models available to view at the Caravan, Camping & Motorhome Show 2015, as part of our overall review of the show. In this article we are going to take a slightly more detailed look at each model, including basic features, and pros and cons.
For the purposes of this review, we will be looking at the trailer tents first, and moving on to the folding campers.
All three models are the pram hood style of trailer tent, characterised by their rapid setup time and stylish looks.
If you want to see just how quickly these units can be set up, take a quick look at the 5 minute Camp-let Promotional Video.
The Camp-let range is very popular with couples and families alike. On the plus side, it is quick to set up and really looks the part when done. One of the beds converts to a small settee, which, whilst not the most sturdy or comfortable of items is considerably better than nothing.
The Camp-let is a much aspired to trailer tent, however, it is not without its minor issues, mostly revolving around its storage capacity, and, it would appear, its kitchen. The Camp-let models only have a limited amount of under bed storage, and, certainly, not enough for additional sleeping space. Criticisms of the kitchen tend to revolve around the fact that it is a little lower than would be ideal, and not as stable as some heavier models. I have to say, though, having checked this out at the show, I can’t say this is entirely justified.
The kitchens I looked at were all at a comparable height to other trailer tents, folding campers etc.
Whilst the legs are a little flimsy looking, and there is a degree of movement, the kitchen remains attached to the main trailer, which does add to the rigidity.
From what I can see, it would appear, that, either some of the critisism is a little harsh, or these kitchens have been improved on later models.
Another slight issue with the Camp-let kitchen is that there is no sink, as such, even though there is a tap and submersible water pump. A bowl simply clips on to the side of the kitchen, and is filled from the tap mounted on the edge of the kitchen worktop. This means that, not only is there no waste water drainage facility, but it can’t help stability in a unit that is already not as rigid as some would like.
These minor issues don’t seem to affect the overall popularity of these units, though, and they were always well attended at the show. With prices falling at around the £7 – £8,000 mark, they are far from the cheapest product on the market, but still way behind the prices of the Holtkamper models.
The Campmaster Air was also on show on the Camperlands stand, and is a product made exclusively for them.
I love this little unit, and made a special mention of it in the review of the 2014 show.
The Air is a specially modified Eden 400 from Vango’s Airbeam range. The premise is simple, but effective.
You inflate your tent, quickly and easily, wheel the trailer inside, open it out to form the bed and then hang bed pod, toilet / changing cubicle etc.
A surprisingly spacious accommodation, in a trailer small enough to be towed by a motor cycle, or the smallest of cars.
Depending on spec, the Air retails at between £4 – £5,000, which, again, isn’t cheap, but there really isn’t anything like it on the market, at the moment.
There are two offerings on show, on the Black Country Caravans stand, the Manga and the Mercury. Both are reasonably similar, traditional trailer tent models with the Manga being, basically, a more compact version of the Mercury. Starting with the Mercury; this is a totally standard traditional trailer tent layout, although it is very well made, and has the added advantage of a really nice curved design to the awning and kitchen area, which does make it stand out from a lot of the more boxy designs.
The Mercury is available both with and without kitchen. The kitchen itself is functional, but hardly inspirational, with sink drainer and gas hob, plus central drawers and space for a small fridge, microwave etc. It currently retails at around the £5,000 mark.
The Manga is extremely similar in many ways. The only significant difference is that the main awning section (without sun canopy) is 2.7 metres deep, as opposed to 3.5 metres for the Mercury. These models retail at around £4,500 and £5,200 respectively.
If you’re looking for cool and different, then the HoltKamper range has it all. It is, in effect, the Opus Camper of the trailer tent world. If, however, you are looking for a cheap trailer tent, then keep walking. These models will place a hole in your pocket to the tune of up to around twelve grand.
Another exceptional aspect of these models is the kitchen unit which is huge, and incorporates a sink, two burner hob, which lifts out to access the recessed storage space underneath, and fridge. Certain Holtkamper models, including the Cocoon, also incorporate the Wind Force system, which is a self inflating system, using air pressure to erect the tent, automatically in a matter of seconds. You can see this in action on the HoltKamper web site.
The Movea (On The Right) Is Smaller Than The Panama, With Less Modern Styling. It Is Also £3,000 Cheaper
There are four Raclet models at the NEC show, including the Moovea, Panama, Quickstop and Safari. The Moovea is a UK only model, similar to the Combi-Camp models, but without the solid floor. In its basic format, it is a two berth design, but additional berths are available, through the addition of optional awning annexes. The Moovea retails for a little under £3,000. The Panama is a similar 2 berth model, but with a far more modern design, larger living area and much higher price tag, at around £5,000.
The Safari (Left) Is A Spacious Traditional Trailer Tent. The Quickstop SE, On The Other Hand, Bridges The Gap Between Trailer Tent And Folding Camper
The Safari, on the other hand is a more traditional trailer tent design, however, like the Cabanons above, it features the more rounded awning design, and retails at a little under £6,000.
Finally, from Raclet, we have the Quickstop, which is more akin to a folding camper than a trailer tent, as it includes a basic kitchen within the trailer, however, this kitchen can be removed and used on a stand, in the main awning area, just like any other trailer tent.
The Quickstop SE, as featured at the show is the same sort of price as the Safari, at a little under £6,000.
The first of these is the Alpha, which is very much in the Combi-Camp style of trailer tent, insofar as the lid of the trailer folds over to form the floor of the living area.
The awning then extends out to cover the rear mounted kitchen.
One of the key benefits of this trailer tent is that the basic bed / living area can be set up in just a couple of minutes.
The Galleon, on the other hand is a traditional style trailer tent, following the increasingly popular curved awning design.
Trigano quote a setup time of around 20 minutes, although this is, possibly a little optimistic, with pegging out etc.
The Galleon is available with, or without kitchen.
The Odyssee is the third Trigano model, and also the third style of trailer tent, as this one features a pram style hood, along the lines of the Camp-let models above.
Setup time here is quoted as around 10 minutes, which is probably about right.
There is an under bed storage / sleeping area under one of the beds, and the Odyssee comes with its own kitchen, as well.
The number of berths can be further extended, using the optional awning annex.
Finally, we have the appropriately named Olympe, which is another pram hood design, but is absolutely huge, with a surface area of almost 26 square metres, compared to 19 for the Odyssee.
The Olympe also features three fixed double beds, as well as the main living area.
Unfortunately, for some reason, Trigano have now chosen to remove the seating option from the central pod. Previously, this contained two bench style seats, which could be made up into a double bed, if required. These seats have now gone, just leaving what is, effectively, an empty storage area, which will allow for the installation of the optional double bed, if required.
Opus have only one model on display at the show, the Opus Camper (although you wont find them on the show’s web site or guide, as this was, apparently, a last minute decision).
They can be found on the PJ Outdoors stand, in Hall 5.
Opus, themselves, first came into the public eye in the 2013 series of The Apprentice, when they featured in one of the challenges.
There is only one basic model, although it is highly customisable, depending on customer specifications. The model is aimed, primarily, at the younger market, and, although very stylish, lacks the equipment levels and finesse of the Pennine models, in spite of it’s £12,000 starting price tag. However, if you’re looking for something really cool, it doesn’t sound too bad a price, when your bear in mind that the similarly designed HoltKamper trailer tents are around the same price.
Whilst Identical, Externally, The Countryman (Left) Does Differ, Internally, From The Fiesta
As usual, Pennine have all four models on display, again, for this show; the Conway Countryman, Pennine Fiesta, Conway Crusader and Pennine Pathfinder. Pennine have stuck to the formula that works for them, at present, without trying to diversify too much, in terms of new models and specifications. They basically work off two main body shells; a four berth shell and a six berth model. They then alter the interior specifications to create the four individual models.
The first of these is the Countryman, the layout of which has remained unchanged since it was first produced by the original Conway company, many years ago. The camper features a rear entry door, with kitchen opposite, at the front of the unit, and a fixed settee and fixed double bed on either side, plus storage either side of the door. The Countryman features an impressive kitchen facility, with hob, grill, sink, three way fridge and loads of storage / cupboard space. The model also has mains only heating and hot water (as do they all). The Countryman is currently selling for £9,890.
Next on the list is the Pennine Fiesta. Using the same basic trailer and layout, there are two main differences from the Countryman. Firstly one of the fixed settees has been removed, in order to create a feeling of additional space. If required, one of the two double beds can then be made up into another, larger settee, which is slightly less convenient than the Countryman, but does make it feel more spacious, The other issue is that the Fiesta now includes a small toilet compartment. This is at the expense of kitchen facilities, specifically, in terms of work top and cupboard space. Whilst many like the convenience of having an on board toilet, many prefer not to have it, as they feel it is cramped, too close to the kitchen / living area and that the loss of kitchen space is too much of a compromise.
Either way, both models remain extremely popular. The Fiesta is an extra £500, at £10,390.
Next, we have the Conway Crusader and Pennine Pathfinder.
To be honest, these are pretty much identical in many ways, except the the Pathfinder features a U shaped seating area, whereas the Crusader has the more traditional opposing settees.
They both, currently, sell for £13,390, however, whereas the Pathfinder comes in a relatively standard format, the distinction seems to be that you can pick and chose from a selection of features for the Crusader.
That’s about it for this year’s Hall 5 residents, on the trailer tent and folding camper front. Rather than provide overly detailed information on each model, links have been provided, where possible, to more detailed specifications, additional images, specs and videos, should you wish to view each one in more detail. Also, the prices are mostly rough guides to retail and may vary significantly, due to options and show offers.
In our next feature we will be looking at the key types of folding camper and trailer tent on the market, to, hopefully, assist those amongst you who may, perhaps, be looking into the lifestyle for the first time, but aren’t too sure where to begin.