The Patriot Camper Purchase and Experience: (Installment One)
When it comes to camper trailers there is so much out there it is difficult to determine the ultimate selection. What is important is selecting the right one for your needs and budget?
I can only talk of my experience and how I came to my selection of the Patriot, now know as the X1 model.
When it came to my selection it had to complement what I had already started to achieve with my truck. The tow vehicle is a 2010 Land Rover Defender Puma 2.4l TD Wagon. It has a number of additions and is a very capable tourer in its own right. What I didn’t want to do was purchase a camper which inhibited my off road touring any more than necessary.
My key considerations were:
- Off-Road Capability
- Quality; and
For me, that really left three campers in the mix. The T-Van, extremely well known as a genuine 4wd touring camper trailer, the Ultimate Camper, and the relatively new Patriot. All three are very different in their setups and costs. While I considered the packages, for me it came down to the Patriot. In my view, it had the excellent off-road capability, was very practical, quality build with quality components, and financially delivered a very robust and capable off-road product at a much-reduced price to its competitors.
To put it into context I wouldn’t be worried about having a crack at the Old Telegraph Track up the Cape in Far North Queensland, crossing the Simpson (although not recommended to tow on Simpson crossing by Parks South Australia), or traversing the Victorian High Country.
Any camper will be precluded on some drives. You can’t expect to have a Patriot (or T-Van) hitched and then try and go up ‘Big Red’, but that’s not why I bought it. I purchased it for its genuine off road touring ability and versatility, and it was the compromise that best suited my needs.
Well, this is very subjective and depends on what you’re prepared to compromise on. What I like about a camper is the fact you have something specific where you have a large component of your touring needs stored permanently which does not affect your day to day drive and allows you to have a higher level of comfort for extended trips away especially when you have the wife, family or friends travelling with you.
There are a number of areas I will cover over a few instalments here including:
- Sleeping quarters (Roof Top Tent);
- Storage; and
- Kitchen and general living.
Sleeping Quarters (The rooftop tent):
Now people who know me would be aware I have never been a fan of the rooftop concept on your own 4wd. Don’t get me wrong I see a number of benefits for a rooftop on top of your 4wd. In particular, a) not needing to tow, b) a more comfortable sleeping quarters and c) a financially effective way to tour when you can’t go down the path of a camper/van set up. For me, there were far too many cons to this type of set up. The most annoying being the constant need to pack up if you want to go anywhere even if you have parked up for a few days. Other considerations around levelling your vehicle for sleeping would certainly irritate me also. So for a long time, I never considered I would end up sleeping in one, but then came the ‘Patriot’.
All the main annoyances I had for the roof topper were eliminated. If you have parked up for a week and want to use your vehicle for day trips from a base camp, the Patriot is unhooked and no pack up is required. If you have an uneven surface, you can adjust your airbags independently (as long as you get this option which I highly recommend) and of course adjust your jockey wheel. The three independent adjustments are practically going to allow you to get a level sleeping surface regardless of the ground.
Now there are a few options with the roof topper to consider in the Patriot. You can go with the standard Howling Moon two-person option which allows you to place a small cargo carrier up the front, or take the King size mattress option. I personally took the King size option and I would not look back. I simply did not see a lot of firewood being stacked on that sized rack. I also felt I had enough room on my Land Rover’s full Safari rack for any firewood collections along the way. I recently ran into another Patriot owner from South Australia while I took the girlfriend for our first visit in the Grampians National Park. This owner was very much of the same opinion, having taken the smaller rooftop option with the rack, that they really didn’t get the use out of it as it really wasn’t big enough for their needs.
The roof-top is easy and simple to fold out, and the more you use it the better you are at it. For the majority of application once folded out you simply only need to place six pre designed light weight small poles into set positions to place the fly out on the three sides. Very convenient. A small velcroed canvas cover can be opened to pull the 12v light connection out of the tent to hook up your white and yellow dimmable LED light set up inside the tent roof. Very good use of lighting. Annexe options to the roof top tent are available for further space and privacy. I haven’t personally bothered to zip one on yet, purely as I haven’t had the need. But for couples with younger children or for a bit of privacy when you are stuck a caravan park, these annexes do provide good options for your needs.
The howling moon rooftopper allows for plenty of ventilation on all sides and if needed has a fly as well. If you are travelling in the hotter months of the year you would have no issues putting in a 12v fan and running a cable out the side with the light to increase your airflow.
The mattress is a 90mm high density foam sitting on a nice flat surface. The ability to apply king size bedding and doona certainly provides for a good night’s sleep and the overall room is excellent. No doubt an inner spring mattress in some other campers will beat it, but to have that compromises a number of other options in your overall set-up.
Packing the Howling Moon roof-top tent is also simple and again like anything when camping, the more you use the item the better you are at completing the task. It is easy to fold away by yourself, and there are no requirements to use a winch which is often the case on other camper designs.
Overall I have to say I am pleased with sleeping quarters. Everything has been kept simple and practicable.
In the next installment I will continue discussing some practical components of the Patriot and my experiences.