Updated: Mar 7, 2021
If we decide to tow our home from the UK to North Cape and Cape d'Agulhas (a planned journey of about 20,000 miles) over black tops and very mixed terrain and road surfaces, then we either sleep in a roof top tent above the vehicle or drag our 'house' behind us.
Having searched in the UK, a suitable camper has so far eluded us. Maybe the market is just too small here. There are lots of caravans and trailer tents designed for black top running and overnight stays in campsites with hook up to mains electricity but none that look as though they would survive the rigours off the grid in the Arctic or Africa. Having had the privilege of living in Australia for about three years, I knew that Australia or maybe America, Canada or South Africa should have good options. I have not been disappointed.
The Patriot Camper X3. The strap line 'Live in Luxury' is somewhat alluring but one man's 'luxury' could be another man's nightmare. In any event it would be silly not to consider Patriot Campers, a company that has consistently won best camper trailer of the year in Australia in recent years. They clearly know what they are about. The Patriot Camper X3 won the best Australian Camper Trailer of the Year 2020.
The Patriot Camper X3 (X3) is described as 'a live-in camper trailer that combines outdoor living, 4WD track beating, tough as nails camper trailer with an easy to use, easy to set up, convenient indoor living area'.
The X3 certainly appears to be very capable, lightweight and to follow easily wherever a 4WD will go. Patriot Campers are based in Australia and their products were initially designed for the Australian climate. Tip Toe needs a solution that provides a windproof heated shelter for use above the Arctic Circle, able to cope with over 40 degrees in the deserts of Sudan and offer some protection from wildlife on the great plains of African. Patriot Campers appear to have addressed the cold weather element with the inclusion of onboard heating as standard and awning walls with a floor to provide shelter. It would be important to understand the efficiency of the heating system but if necessary, maybe we could find a thermal lining to maximise retention of heat and / or carry an auxiliary heater in the Arctic.
The trailer. Sits on a galvanised chassis with an extended draw bar suitable for use with vehicles that have spare tyres on the rear door like the Ineos Grenadier and the new Land Rover Defender. A fully articulated tow hitch, airbag suspension, electric drum brakes and a variety of tyres and rims are included to maximise off road capability. Its not known whether tyres and rims to match the Grenadier or Defender are available. Recovery and load carrying capability is enhanced by rear recovery points, a rear hitch receiver and an Exorack to carry Kayaks etc on top. It is not known how water and dust proof the doors and hatches are but it is anticipated they should be pretty good if designed to keep the 'bull dust' on Australia's dirt roads and tracks out of the camper when being towed.
Living Area / Office. For a Camper Trailer, the internal living area appears functional and adequate. The sitting / working area appears a little tight if hunkered down for a few days but then I guess you could stretch out on the adjacent double bed. Whilst there is access to the fridge / freezer and an option for a pop up coffee maker from inside, cooking etc would need to be done from the slide out galley on the left side of the trailer. Again, in cold climates this should not be a problem if fully enclosed by awning walls with a floor. A pop up 'power tower' next to the bed provides 240V and USB charging points.
Sleeping. Age brings 'creaking' joints and a good nights rest is important to survive the challenges of days on the road and adventure activities. The X3 includes 'an oversize double bed' with a gel topped mattress that is reported to be very comfortable.
There is an option to add another fold out bed in the living area suitable for two children. I'm guessing that would be OK for dogs too - our dogs tend to find the comfiest spot in the house; a trait that continues when travelling!
Galley (Kitchen). Warmer climates is where the X3 is very definitely at home. Awning walls can generally be dispensed with and a shaded galley area is provided under the large 270 degree awning. The galley is very innovative with great use of the space available and its well done. A Fridge / Freezer, Sink and cutlery drawers can be withdrawn on a slide out to form an L shaped galley area. A door on the left side of the trailer drops down to reveal a large hard wearing Rimex stainless bench top. This provides a good sized work surface. The controls for the trailer and a pantry with spice rack and ample storage for food lie within. A two burner gas stove is complimented by a Weber BBQ on a swing arm that extends from a storage box at the front of the trailer known as the 'Man Cave'.
Gas. Lack of standards creates a logistics problem for gas in Europe and Africa. Cylinder and refill connections vary across different countries. Refills are generally not allowed and where they are allowed, adaptors are required. Gas cylinders can be difficult to find in some countries requiring substantial detours off the planned route. Refillable LPG tank(s) with a central filling point on the trailer and a box of international adapters would provide a more flexible solution and allow refills at most road side filling stations where gas is available. A diesel stove connected to the onboard diesel tank may be one way of addressing this logistics challenge but suitability and performance of modern diesel stoves 'outdoors' is unknown. The trailer's diesel fuel tank could be refilled when required from spare fuel carried for the vehicle, providing the vehicle is diesel too of course.
Storage. There is a massive total of 2000 litres of storage within the trailer including a second optional slide out designed to accommodate most popular portable toilets. There is storage in every nook and cranny of this Camper, including a 'wet locker' for wet or dirty gear. In addition to the optional swing out Weber BBQ, the 'Man Cave at the front of trailer contains the heating system and a shelf for ancillary equipment. There is huge drawer also on a slide out accessible via a door at the rear of the trailer where clothing and other items can be stored. Whilst accessible from within the Camper when the tent has been assembled, this excellent feature enables packing of items into the Camper without having to put the tent up when loading at home and allows easy access to forgotten items when on the road.
Services. The integral services appear particularly good. There is an onboard diesel tank to supply the heater for the galley and shower unit.
Water. A 130 litre water tank is fitted. This should give an endurance of about 5 days for two people with careful normal use; maybe a little less when the dogs are with us. It is not known if onboard water filtration is included but this could always be done with a portable unit before filling the fresh water tank. It is also not known whether water can be pumped from pools or ponds. Of course additional water can be carried in containers. There is even a separate tap under the drawbar for washing off equipment.
Shower. A swing out shower tent would perhaps be a good addition but this may cause unwanted puddles around the trailer unless waste water is piped clear. Patriot Campers offer a separate shower / 'bog' tent which maybe a better solution.
Power. Lithium has great advantages over standard batteries (lighter, less space, greater capacity and longer life) and in my opinion should really be offered as standard these days by the better manufacturers. Lithium is available as an option on the X3. The batteries can be charged from the vehicle whilst underway, connected to 240V mains supply where available, from a solar panel mounted on the hard shell and / or a solar mat and generator if carried. Power is controlled by a Redvision TVMS battery management system with a 1500W Inverter to run the 240V appliances. LED lighting with fully integrated wiring is used throughout.
In addition to the features above, the 3X is supported by a range of other upgrades and accessories.
The Patriot Campers X3 is a very well thought through, practical and robust design. The features Patriot Campers have managed to fit into such a small trailer is truly amazing and could only be achieved by very experienced users with a passion for adventuring. There are no Distributors in UK or Europe so Tip Toe would either need to invest in a trip to Australia to view it and / or take a leap of faith and import it unseen. At a starting price of A$79,990 (approximately GBP £44,270 at todays exchange rate) and before options and accessories, it is certainly not cheap but you do seem to get what you pay for. This of course still leaves questions about warranty, maintenance and support both at home and when on the road. Dealerships are currently located in Australia, USA and Mongolia.
The Patriot Campers X3 must be a strong contender. For further information take a look at the X3 promotional video below.
Notes to reader:
1. The above trailer has not been physically towed or sighted by Tip Toe. The above summary is a view formed following online research of websites and a number of different YouTube videos. It takes into consideration Tip Toe's overland requirements. It will be used to assist in the choice of vehicle and camper.
2. For the purposes of these articles, I differentiate between the different types of trailer as follows:
Camper Trailer: A trailer fitted with an integrated 'trailer top tent' (with or without a hard shell), galley, water, power and associated items and storage for most or all of your clothing and equipment. For example Patriot Campers X3.
Off-Road Camper: A purpose built caravan style trailer with hard walls possibly with a soft walled 'pop up', galley, water, power and associated camping items and storage for most clothing and equipment. The 'Bruder EXP-6 Expedition Trailer' falls into this category.
Expedition Truck: A truck of 7500 kgs or greater fitted with a camper box with or without crawl through. For example the Mercedes Unimog.