Camper Trailer of the Year 2017: AOR Odyssey Series 2

By: John 'Bear' Willis, Photography by: Ellen Dewar, Matt Fehlberg, Nathan Jacobs


The AOR Odyssey Series 2 is a class act that will leave you grinning from ear to ear, on and offroad.

When Australian Off Road comes to the party, you just know it’s gunna be good – it’s a bit like throwing some lamb on the barbie for ‘Stralya Day! The company motto is "Live the dream" and from what I have seen, AOR owners do just that.

AOR’s managing director Steve Budden was once quoted to have said that there’s no such thing as ‘almost beautiful’.

"You either nail it the first time or forget it."

The company strives to create beauty in everything it does and there is no doubt in my mind it has achieved its goals with stunners such as the new Odyssey Series 2. The beauty of the product is only matched with the glory of the rugged Australian outback environment it was designed to enjoy. I stepped into the AOR Odyssey Series 2 and immediately felt at home!

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I am reminded time and time again of the underlying principles of this tough, well designed, practical combination of premium features and engineering that can only be described as outback eye candy. It is as aesthetically pleasing as it is ultimately livable and well equipped for extended touring no matter your ultimate destination.

The Odyssey Series 2 is an ideal tourer for two people; any kids or hitchhikers will need to bring a swag or look at optional bunks. Its 1400kg Tare compares favourably with many forward and rear-fold campers that offer far less facility, comfort, insulation and security. There is plenty of capacity to load her up for an extended tour with its 2000kg GVM and minimal 100kg ball weight (unladen) for easy towing. It is an ideal alternative for travel with mid-range RVs right through to providing a relatively lightweight and compact trailer should you prefer larger 4WDs and serious offroad adventure. It has very rugged, go-anywhere credentials with its strong, fully galvanised box section chassis and AOR’s own track proven independent trailing arm suspension with twin shockers and coil springs either side. The drawbar can be extended and GVM upgraded, should you wish to carry more equipment up front.

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She rides on 17x8in Dynamic steel rims with 265/70 R17 Cooper all-terrain tyres, carries a spare up front and features 12in electric brakes and 2500kg bearings.

The Odyssey’s compact dimensions allow it into some very secluded destinations with terrific ground clearance, good reversing angle and a steep 30° recovery angle at the tail end so it won’t drag its bum in the really rough stuff. Its overall length is 5.2m and it’s virtually the same width as a LandCruiser at 1950mm. The accommodation shell is 3.6m long and all of the walls and roof are a thick composite of fibreglass with a gel coat external finish. It is also structurally insulated with a foam core and a fibreglass seal, which has the white marine vinyl glued to the inner face providing enormous strength and temperature control and an easily cleaned finish. The pop-up roof provides plenty of head room but a low towing height of 2275mm.

LIVE WELL

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Pop the roof open with the aid of easy cantilevered springs and the overall feel is light and airy with plenty of natural light and ventilation.

You will need to duck your head a little going through the triple lock security doorway as it is a bit low being a pop-up roof, but you will soon get used to it. There are two slip-out steps externally and a small step recess internally. The top stair tends to collect any unwanted grit and provides a virtual sump for easy cleaning of the parquetry laminate flooring. The main control panel is immediately to the left as you open the door on the side of the dinette seat and easily accessible while standing outside the trailer to operate all of the componentry. This is where we find the temperature switch for the diesel heater, as well as a Redarc Manager30 ‘5 in 1’ battery management system. The unit is AGM or lithium battery compatible and includes a 12V/30A charger, a solar regulator for the twin 150W solar panels on the rooftop, 240V AC charger with full LED monitoring and Anderson plug connectivity to the towing vehicle. There are two 120Ah AGM batteries as standard with a full switch panel for lights, water pump and accessories as well as a digital monitor for the 140L food-grade poly water tank that is well shielded underneath. (note – a 140L, 60L and grey water tanks are available as options.)

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Immediately to the right and up on the rear wall of the trailer is the kitchen unit complete with faux marble benchtop and some beautifully presented cabinetry with soft-close drawers and doors for utensils, cooking essentials and pantry. There’s an internal three-burner gas stove with a glass top as well as a stainless sink with hot/cold mixer and a power centre with 240V and 12V outlets on the full width benchtop. A Vitrifrigo 75L fridge/freezer sits inside the doorway and there’s plenty of LED lighting. Incidentally, when you’re not on a powered site there is a 1000W pure sine wave inverter for all of your 240V needs. I love the fact that the Odyssey 2 can have both internal and external cooking facilities.

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The convertible dinette works very well with the camper-queen-size 6in mattress and base flipping up right out of the way on gas struts to reveal the dinette and plug-in table with plenty of storage underneath. The dinette is a comfortable two-person dining facility with well upholstered and trimmed finishes. Leather is optional. There’s tonnes of storage in drawers and lockers, a rear shelf for night time access to small items including phone charging and USB outlets, an internal fan, marine standard dust-proof seals, a sound system, loads of internal and external lighting (including white/bug proof yellow) and a recessed fire extinguisher included in the package. Overall, the internals are quite roomy, inviting, attractive, comfortable and accommodating and will provide an easy, no hassle setup in quick time for overnight stops, or maybe even lunch/dinner breaks on the road.

OUTDOOR LIVING

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Externally, this camper is no odyssey, in fact it is very familiar and attractive with a definite are of supremacy in construction. I guarantee you that envious travellers will stop you regularly to discuss your premium, fully Australian-made purchase. AOR offers the choice of a slide-in type canvas annexe with poles but I personally prefer the Thule Omnistor wind-out option as displayed – they are just so quick and easy. Up in the front of the main capsule is a huge boot with openings on both sides of the camper where you can store huge volumes of easily accessed equipment.

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The optional stainless steel slide-out kitchen is an absolute ripper! I simply can’t figure out how AOR designed so much into one sliding unit. The entire top slides forward of the main unit making a full-length benchtop and another of similar size clips into the side wall making a complete ‘L-shaped’ cooking and preparation station. The unit has a three-burner gas stove with wok burner as well as a large sink with a hot/cold mixer and a pantry/storage as well. A huge utensils and equipment drawer slides on quality fittings below with divider and there’s plenty of room not only for all your implements but essentials like aluminium foil, plastic wrap, tea towels, dishwashing liquid and so on. I must say that I felt the unit a little lacking in cold storage only having the 75L fridge/freezer internally, however, we all know that the best place for your portable chiller is in the towing vehicle and most travellers at this level will already have their own.

There is an option to upgrade the standard fridge to a 130L Vitrifrigo as well as an optional 82L fridge freezer fitted into a complete dust-proof box on a slightly extended drawer bar which will certainly solve any cold storage issues.

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Out the back, the external PVC shower/toilet tent attaches to the rear wall and works a treat. It is easily assembled and gives space to move as well as privacy. The porta-potti stores easily in the van and can be taken inside for those who don’t want to leave the privacy of the camper in the middle of the night.

Up front we find a very strong 150x50mm galvanised steel A-frame drawbar that finishes at its peak with a Vehicle Components DO35 offroad coupling and handbrake. The drawbar also supports a very good, heavy-duty jockey wheel, a handy checkerplate platform, spare wheel mount with cover, twin 4.5kg gas bottles, twin jerry cans and the diesel tank for the Webasto space heater. The front of the trailer is protected with dual aluminium stone deflectors and there are large mud flaps front and rear with plenty of stone protection underneath the entire unit.

THE WRAP UP

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AOR says: "Our trailers are designed to conquer the punishing conditions of the outback. From the chassis and suspension to the vents on the roof – this is where they excel."

I could see myself conquering and enjoying the punishing conditions of the outback with the rugged reliability, amenity, facilities and comfort of a premium AOR Odyssey Series 2 camper trailer. I just love seeing proudly Australian designed and made products!

HITS AND MISSES

Pros…

  • Beautiful, tough, practical, precision engineering
  • Sensible features and high level comfort
  • Heaps of power and water
  • Compact and reasonable weight
  • Ease of use

Cons…

  • Could do with more cold storage

Check out the full feature in issue #111 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.