Forward Fold Camper Buying Guide
Looking at buying a Forward Folding Camper Trailer, or just want to learn a little more about them? This handy guide provides lots of useful information!
The “forward fold camper” is really a simple concept, which works as the name suggests… To set the camper up, you fold the trailer’s lid forwards. The lid (now upside down) becomes the base of the bed. You enter the forward fold camper via a step, and getting into bed is nice and easy. The base of the camper becomes a dinette, with windows providing raised views over your favourite camp. The u-shape lounge will often convert to a bed, too, which makes them suitable for families and small crowds.
The benefits of a Forward-Fold don’t stop there. Below, we outline some of the key reasons why Forward-Fold campers have boomed in popularity in recent years, and are now a staple at every camping or 4×4 show:
Flexibility in Camping – No Change in Footprint
There are two main reasons why a Forward Fold camper allows you to camp in more places, more easily:
The first is that, because the camper opens over the drawbar, the overall footprint of Forward-Fold camper doesn’t expand when set up, like a rear or side-folding model. This means that finding a suitable camping spot is easier, wherever you are.
Secondly, for many people, stepping up into a camper that’s got a hard floor off the ground has a lot of appeal. It means that whatever the terrain underfoot, you can set up camp comfortably and out of the mud, rocks, or sand! It also provides an element of protection from creepy crawlies too.
Easy Set Up (and Pack Up)
Depending on the model and manufacturer, one of the biggest reasons to choose a Forward Fold model can be the quick and easy setup. For example, Stoney Creek Campers’ SC-Forward Fold model can be set up by one person in under 2 minutes (don’t just take our word for it!) – and doesn’t require any additional poles or canvas to be added. Simply open the lid, extend the internal frame and.. you’re done! In addition, the design of the Forward Fold camper trailers means you can set them up easily on any terrain and there’s no need to peg anything down. For adventurous types, the ease of setting up, and packing up, means that Forward Folds are perfectly suited to long trips with regular (even daily) changes in campsite.
Quality Living Area
Take our word for it. The dinette / living room functionality adds enough comfort that even the most ardent ‘non-camper’ can be convinced to give it a go. The interior of the Forward Fold trailer body features a wraparound dinette and lounge area, a fantastic living space unavailable in most other camper trailer configurations. This living area offers a level of caravan-like comfort, but in a unit that’s far easier to tow and better suited to off-road travel. Good forward folding campers will have a roll-up side, meaning you still get to enjoy the outdoors from the comfort of your living space, and your elevated position means you’ll have a great view.
It’s worth also noting that practically, whenever you pack a Forward Fold camper up, all of the sand or dirt that settles on the bed falls off, so sleeping is rarely gritty. In a rear-fold, it’s the opposite – all the sand and dirt falls onto the bed.
Speaking of beds – many forward folds will provide a double or small queen bed. If you’re taller or like a little more room, look out for campers that provide a full king size bed such as Stoney Creek’s range!
So what are the downsides of Forward Fold Campers?
There really aren’t too many cons to the Forward Fold camper, which is certainly part of the reason they’ve become so popular. A few things to always check, which can arise depending on the manufacturer, are:
Limited storage space: Always check the storage space of a camper you’re looking at buying. Ensure that it makes efficient use of spaces under the dinette seats, with ample space for the fridge, annexe etc. Better designed forward folds like the Stoney Creek range will provide storage under the bed with drawers or cupboards accessible from inside the van. Also look at the width of the camper – Stoney Creeks’ forward folds have a wider body which means there’s more room in the storage compartments.
Heavier towball weight: Some forward folds can be heavy compared to softfloors of a similar size and with similar features, especially towards the front of the camper. This means the towball weight can be higher, and (unless it’s an on-road lightweight model) you’ll need a decent 4×4 to tow it. The heavier towball weight has caused significant issues for some manufacturers’ drawbar integrity and this is something you should always look into before purchasing. Always check that the drawbar extends back to the front of the suspension arms.
Off-Road Capability: Most forward fold campers are marketed as “off-road”, but in reality some can be taken further than others, and unfortunately some “off-road campers” probably shouldn’t be taken off bitumen at all. If you’re after a genuine off-road forward fold camper, ensure it has a coil-spring independent suspension system, a chassis specifically designed for off-road use and has a seam welded body (not pop-riveted). Also ensure it’s hot-dip galvanised or powder-coated (prefabricated rust-proofing like Duragal is not up to scratch). The camper should also have an off-road hitch as standard. Plumbing and wiring under the camper should be protected from potential damage. Always check the manufacturer’s warranty to ensure you’re protected Australia-wide and for off-road use too.