Local versus Imported Campers

By: David Cook

Can you buy an imported camper with confidence or are you better off paying top dollar for the local product?


Presented by Camper Trailer Australia

Aussie-made Cub Frontier in action

If there is one debate that keeps the phones and emails running hot at Camper Trailer Australia, it’s the battle between imported camper trailers and locally made camper trailers – which essentially means Chinese versus Aussie.

For the Australians who want to head out and explore what the country has to offer, the question is: should I buy an imported camper trailer? Or should I pay more for an Australian camper trailer? This article will help you answer these questions.


Old school Cub Drifer

Humans have attached tents to trailers since they invented the automobile. In post-war Europe this evolved into the Combi Camp, a rearfold design that we would instantly recognise as a camper trailer today.

These largely on-road lightweight campers were readily adapted to Australian conditions in the 1970s. Throughout the 1970s, 80s and 90s a steady market developed for a limited range of manufacturers with relatively small research and development budgets.

Then in the early 2000s, a tsunami of popularity arrived. It seemed everyone who could weld and who knew someone with a sewing machine jumped on the bandwagon as a manufacturer.

There were three basic formats: rearfold hardfloor, sidefold softfloor and pop-top with extending end beds. There were 197 Australian camper trailer manufacturers in 2008, according to the campertrailers.org site.

At the same time, campertrailers.org noticed a high percent of their 1.5 million monthly hits were coming from China. Australia ranked first, USA second and China third – despite the relative unpopularity of camping in China. Nobody could understand or explain this phenomena, though now, in hindsight, it is obvious.

This interest from China was coming from potential Chinese manufacturers dredging about, looking for ideas on how to build camper trailers and gauging the level of interest in Australia.

At the time, only a trickle of camper trailers were being imported into Australia, and frankly they were mostly pretty awful. Poor welding, dysfunctional components, missing kitchens, sagging canvas and seemingly self-generating rust formed part of an endless list of failings that notoriously tended to strike unfortunate owners just days into major trips.

A few years after the first wave of Chinese campers came the South African products, and they were pretty good from the get-go. These had been developed by people who actually used them. They were sold to the South African military and had been well tested in an environment very similar to Australia’s.

Check out the full story to read all about the comparisons between local and import trailers.


Local Versus Imported Trailers – Camper Trailer Australia