Blue Tongue Overland XFS: Review
Loads of great features and a savvy setup make the Blue Tongue Overland XFS a great option for those who like their camper trailers compact and light-weight.
Smaller, purposely lighter camper trailers are not new. There have been some truly mini campers that have been small from outset but many lack all the features of a modern camper. The Overland XFS is a likely harbinger for lighter, smaller campers that are, in essence, scaled-down versions of existing popular models for those who like to tackle the campgrounds at the wheel of a soft roader or medium-size sedan.
DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION
Where the XF weighs in at 1400kg Tare, the XFS comes in at 950kg. And it’s 700mm shorter (largely due to a much shorter drawbar), 50mm narrower and 100mm lower, though the latter specification will be eaten into as newer versions will have a 50mm deeper fold-over bed section to give more room when you pack away the tent with the canvas awning attached.
Yet, the XFS retains the suspension layout of a fully adjustable, dual shock, trailing arm independent setup (with 10in instead of 12in electric drum brakes), and high load alloy rims – 15in instead of 16in – on six-stud LandCruiser hubs. Tyres have gone down from 265/75 R16 to 225/70 R15 all-terrains.
Because of the lighter weight, the chassis size has gone down from 100x50mm to 70x50mm, but it’s still hot-dip galvanised.
The drawbar still mounts an Al-Ko offroad hitch, though the rating has gone down from 3500kg to 2000kg in line with the weight loss. The XFS retains the two jerry cans on the XF, but replaces the two 9kg gas cylinders with two 4kg bottles at one end. The stoneguard still has aluminium outer wings with a centre nylon mesh restraint.
Access to the interior is via a sturdy fold-down set of steps inside the side door. The lounge seats come with only two back cushions, the same as the XF, but there is no sound system.
In our review camper – the first out of the factory – the canvas wall above the kitchen was fixed, but in all future versions this will zip out to allow the outside world in. The camper otherwise offers plenty of large windows, all with midgeproof mesh and internal and external roll-up covers.
The canvas is all 450gsm (equates to 13.3oz) Duoproof 1200 plain-weave material, possibly a little heavier than is necessary, especially in the walls.
A lightweight tropical roof with reflective aluminised finish assists in keeping things cool inside on hot days and erects automatically on opening. The main awning covers 19sqm and can remain attached during pack-up. The camper comes standard with all three walls, a Velcro-in vinyl floor plus a draught skirt.
Electronically, the XFS is equipped with a 100Ah gel battery, down from a dual 100Ah setup in the XF, though it is optionally possible to have a second battery installed if you don’t mind eating into the storage space. The battery can be charged from the tow vehicle’s alternator via an Anderson plug, and from a 240V input to supply a 10A mains charger. There are 12V sockets at the kitchen, lounge and fridge slide and USB outlets in the lounge.
The kitchen is located at the rear of the body, away from the fridge. Some forward-fold designs place the kitchen at the front where it contributes to an excessive tow ball weight. In the XFS, this is listed as just 90kg but, in reality, is likely to be lighter as we were able, with a bit of an effort, to lift the jockey wheel off the ground.
THE WRAP UP
For those with a Subaru, Commodore, Rav 4 or similar size vehicle this could be the answer. At $17,990 ($4000 less than the XF) it shouldn’t be a bank-buster for most and the quality of finish and engineering is pretty good.
HITS AND MISSES
- Well engineered
- Good options
- Lighter weight combined with good features
- Storage is lacking
- Restricted access to much of the storage when closed
- Kitchen a bit cramped with little storage
- Tough job getting awning under the lid at pack-up
BLUE TONGUE OVERLAND XFS SPECS
- Tare 950kg
- ATM 1600kg
- Suspension Adjustable trailing arm double shock
- Brakes 10in electric drum
- Coupling Al-Ko 2000
- Chassis Hot dip galvanised 70x50x3mm
- Drawbar 150x50x3mm
- Body Welded steel
- Wheel/tyre High load rated alloy rims with 225/70 R15 all-terrain tyres
- Style Forward-fold hardfloor
- Box size 1850x1550mm
- Length (hitch to tail lights) 4500mm
- Tent size 3750x1550mm with 4050x2400mm annexe
- Gas cylinders 2x4kg
- Water 100L stainless steel
- Cooktop Three-burner Smev
- Kitchen Stainless steel
- Battery 100Ah gel, 10A mains charger
Price as shown
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Check out the full feature in issue #101 June 2016 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.