A Buyers’ Guide to Soft Floor Campers
When industry pioneers such as Stoney Creek’s founder Hank Rojek first began designing and developing the first camper trailers in Australia decades ago, they were all a soft floor design. For many years after, soft floor campers continued to dominate the market, and even today, while other designs such as Forward Folds have certainly increased in popularity, soft floor campers remain a great option for many people. Typically soft floor campers are cheaper to manufacture, lighter, and (among the well-established manufacturers) their long heritage means that they’re truly tried and tested! (Check out Stoney Creek’s Soft Floor “Walk Through” Model in action here!)
Soft floor campers are typically a box trailer, with the bed on top, a slide-out kitchen within the trailer body, and a tent that folds off to one side.
Some of the key benefits of a Soft Floor camper, as well as some things to look out for when buying include:
Larger Tent Area
If you’re travelling with a big family, or you like to set up a large campsite for extended stays, then a soft floor camper is certainly worth looking at. Soft floors typically have the largest floor area of any camper type, and often have the ability to add additional spaces. For example, Stoney Creek’s “Walk Through” soft floor camper has a large living space, with the ability to zip-on an extra “kids room”, as well as a large, enclosed annexe area. With the large tent area comes a lot of canvas. Always ensure that the canvas is a high quality, we recommend a 14 oz weight. The canvas should be double stitched and good, sturdy zippers used. Look out for designs that don’t require lots of additional tent poles for set up, as this can make setting up camp time consuming and difficult.
Most soft floor campers have a tonne of storage space within the body of the camper, which is fantastic if you’re travelling with a large family or group, or for long journeys.
Less Towing Weight – Great for tinnies, kayaks and canoes!
As the “original” off-road camper trailer, soft floor campers can perform extremely well in off-road situations, assisted by their lower weight compared to some other types of camper trailers. If you’re looking to travel with a tinnie, kayaks or other heavier items, your soft floor camper’s lighter weight means that (provided it is equipped with the right suspension, chassis etc) you have the ability to add a weight-rated boat rack, while still towing at a relatively comfortably weight. Models such as Stoney Creek’s Walk Through soft floor camper have this option.
The relatively simple design of soft floor campers means that they’re often a more budget friendly option which can be fantastic. That being said, we still strongly recommend steering clear of the “cheap and cheerful” options, and doing your homework to make sure you’re buying from a reputable manufacturer, with an Australia-wide warranty and a long track record in business. And if you plan on getting off the black stuff at all, it is absolutely critical that your camper is genuinely designed for the off-road; from the chassis construction (powder coated or hot dip galvanised), through to the construction type (steer clear of cheap pop rivets or spot welds – seam welding is key to keep the trailer rigid and prevent dust and water getting into the camper).
There’s a couple of things to think about when considering if a soft floor camper is right for you.
Vinyl floor: Unlike a forward fold camper, the floor of the camper when set up will be on the ground. This may limit your selection of camping spots, as you’ll need to ensure it is a suitable surface and clear of rocks, sticks, and anything sharp that will damage the vinyl.
Greater distance to get into bed: While certainly not an issue for everyone, those who have health problems (bad knees, backs etc) may have difficulties climbing up and into bed in some soft floor campers. Established manufacturers such as Stoney Creek have resolved these issues by building in steps and a landing area.
Setting up and packing up: We need to caveat this by saying that while most soft floor campers look like they’re pretty similar, it’s just not the case. Not all campers are created equal! Manufacturers who have been around for a long time have had the opportunity to refine their soft floor camper designs based on years of customer feedback and testing. So when it comes to setting up (and equally important – packing up) your soft floor camper, while it is never going to be quite as fast or easy as a forward fold model, the best models will still be relatively easy and should be possible for one person to do by themselves. Others, unfortunately, will take much more time and effort, so buyer beware! Check the manufacturer’s website for set up videos to get a better idea of what’s involved.
A larger area needed: With all the extra floor area, comes the need for a larger campsite! This isn’t generally an issue at most paid campsites or caravan parks, but if you’re getting off-the-grid, you’ll need to just ensure you’ve left ample space for setting up (especially if you’ll be setting up an annexe or kids’ room too!)
So there you have it! If you’d like to speak to someone about what type of camper would suit you, please get in contact with Stoney Creek today!