TESTED: GIC EXTREME OFF-ROAD
GIC’s Extreme Off-Road with Options Pack is a tidy package for the budget-conscious buyer.
GIC Campers has carved a niche as a manufacturer of locally built camper trailers for the budget conscious traveller. The company sustains this mantle thanks to a finely tuned range of no-frills camper trailers built using steel that’s cut, bended and welded in house.
We’ve seen the Extreme Ranger before but for our budget special we’ve chosen the Extreme Off-Road as our review trailer with the smaller 12ft tent rather than the huge 18ft double-sided tent often displayed at shows. The latter has its advantages when you’re camping with a crowd but many people who set up camp each night on a touring holiday will find the 12ft tent an agreeable alternative.
The 12ft tent is a much easier set-up, especially if you exclude the awning and its walls. It took GIC representative Martin Hancock just 15 minutes to set it up from the time we chose a campsite until we were sitting down with a cool drink in hand, while I barely broke a sweat holding one or two poles.
The Extreme Off-Road, like all GIC campers, has undergone fine tuning in recent times including improved plumbing around the water tank, heavier duty stabiliser legs and a tab to lock the tailgate and kitchen at 90°.
The Extreme Off-Road costs considerably less than the Extreme Ranger with its elaborate independent suspension and stainless steel kitchen. At just $5700 for the base model, plus $880 for the Options Pack fitted to our review trailer, it’s more than $4000 cheaper.
You still get a three-piece drawbar in 100x50x3mm steel but the base chassis under the checkerplate trailer box is reduced to 50x50x3mm which, to be honest, will be okay for just about anything unless you’re suicidally crazy in your choice of trails.
The Options Pack includes a front stoneguard, shock absorbers, the tailgate kitchen, 60L water tank, alloy toolbox and gas struts under the bed base. It’s a pretty bare bones unit without it.
If you’re purchasing a camper trailer at this price you’ll have to forgo many of the comforts you’d expect for a unit retailing at $30,000. GIC supplies no mattress on the bed, no electronics except for the mains power access point, a simple kitchen, no dust seals on the storage box, no tropical roof and a low profile tent which can impact temperature control.
You do, however, get to enjoy the convenience of camper trailer camping for a very modest price in a choice of tents (18ft attracting another $1000), a 45mm beam axle on seven leaf eye-to eye-springs with shocks, 10in electronic and override brakes, polyblock coupling and a 60L water tank behind a stone shield.
Three jerry can holders and one gas bottle holder will help power your appliances and can be moved about in manufacture to suit your needs. You also get external and kitchen water pumps, aluminium storage box, LED taillights and a RHS bike rack holder at the rear.
The powder-coated steel kitchen is mounted to the tailgate and has 340x570mm of bench space, which leaves little room for preparing food if you opt to use it for your own gas stove. There is a stainless steel sink and two cupboards underneath, but a flip-over extension would improve the overall usability of this area.
The imported ripstop canvas tent features six windows with midge-proof screens and exterior roll-up covers plus the door. The large gas struts for the tent are available with the Options Pack and make it easier to lift the entire unit and to access the trailer interior. The bed area is large enough to fit your own queen size mattress and the best thing about the tent is the clear vinyl skylight over the bed. The GIC skylight is fixed and cannot be opened for ventilation, but also won’t need to be closed in haste in the event of heavy dew or unexpected rain.
The tent has a sewn-in floor, a mains power access point, a privacy screen along the bed edge and comes with a four-step ladder to access the bed. It also comes with a 2.4x5m awning along the back with walls all round and a poly floor that velcroes to the edge of the tent. There’s a permanently attached draft skirt to go under the end of the trailer. The tent is covered on the top of the trailer by a vinyl cover secured with heavy duty zip and velcro to keep out the dust.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The GIC Extreme Off-Road has much to offer the budget buyer at the pointy end of the market. The fact they’re built out of GIC’s Sydney workshops will provide you with a bit of flexibility in the camper layout. For a modest price, the Extreme Off-Road will get you out of the dome tent and into the wonderful world of camper trailers with ease.
> Low price for what you get
> Light weight
> Ease of set-up
> Skylight over bed
I WOULD HAVE LIKED
> Bigger work space on kitchen (maybe a flip over extension to bench)
> Higher tent for cooling and taller people
> A mattress of some sort
> Optional electronics
Originally published in Camper Trailer Australia #64, April 2013.