Golf’s Bush Challenger is an entry-level camper with some surprising features that set it apart from the crowd.
For lots of people their introduction to recreational vehicles is along the camper trailer path. As time passes they find they are either happy with their choice or, after a while, decide to upgrade to something bigger, with more comforts and room to move.
Plenty decide to stick with the camper because in comparison to a big van they are easy to store and haul, economical to service and you only need a medium sized tow vehicle. They may take a bit more effort to set up for camping but our Golf Bush Challenger 2 on review even takes care of the most difficult part of the operation, but more of that later.
Golf campers have been around for over 35 years and were originally based in Queensland, where they needed to have an emphasis on rugged construction and superior insulation against the harsh environment. The company recently changed hands and moved manufacturing to Melbourne with an expanded range of caravans and pop-tops.
Many compact campers like our Golf have evolved into models that look pretty similar so it’s often the little things that make a particular model stand out. So an option like the remote electric actuation of the pop-up roof on our test camper can actually be a big consideration when it comes to choosing a camper. Instead of winding the top up with a hand-operated winch, the Golf’s electric system takes the effort out of the setup. And even more importantly, when breaking camp it’s much easier to fold the canvas walls out of the way, making packing up a simple one-person operation.
Another consideration with this style camper is piecing the entry door together. Because a solid door would exceed the folded camper’s height these doors need to fold in half to be accommodated inside the trailer. It can be very fiddly putting them together and that’s the last thing you need to contend with at the end of a long drive. I found the system on the Golf is as straightforward as possible while still retaining a secure and solid opening and it even comes with a sliding Perspex window.
Our Bush Challenger is based on the standard Challenger version but comes with a 150×50 hot dipped galvanised chassis, protective aluminium side checker plates, bigger 10” brakes, 15” alloy wheels and raised ground clearance. Suspension on the test camper came with the option of independent coils rated to 2 tonne on a trailing arm system with a single shock absorber each side.
The body of the camper boasts an aluminium frame with composite fibreglass walls filled with structural foam for insulation and strength and topped with a single-piece, vacuum-bagged fibreglass roof.
In travel mode the Golf’s height is a smidgen over 2m so it rode snugly behind our 100 Series Landcruiser and pulled with no hint of snatching or sway. Black graphics of off-road tyre tracks are blazed along the white body to give a “bound for adventure” impression, but as Golf clearly state in their warranty, any damage from potholes or corrugations is not covered.
This is a camper for out of the way places but it’s not an extreme expedition vehicle. On The rougher tracks around the Bunyip Forest it handled well and there’s no reason that, when driven to the conditions, it won’t get you into some pretty isolated campsites.
External features include a set of carry racks on the roof, twin 4kg gas bottles and an external tap on the draw bar and an 80L water tank slung under the chassis. Our test rig was also fitted with a quality wind-out Thule Omnistor awning from Sweden that was easy to deploy and seemed foolproof to lock away when travelling. The spare is set on a low-slung carry bar and lights are high and well out of harm’s way.
The front boot has space for extra camping gear and also houses the electric motor for the roof that can be actuated manually with an electric drill.
Golf has four different floor plans in the Challenger range with our test model- option 2, being the simplest and an ideal choice for travelling couples. Unlike the other campers in the lineup there are no slide-out ends for sleeping so the layout is contained within the footprint of the camper’s 4m length. It might lack some of the extra room of the slide-out style but it retains a workable unfussiness and retains enough space inside to feel very comfortable.
Because almost all the sides can be arranged so that you have only insect screens between you and your surroundings there is a very enjoyable open-air feeling. Clear vinyl replaces the screens when the weather sours and for when you want privacy just slide the block-out curtains into place.
For best use of available space the Golf uses a transverse bed layout and while it may not be everyone’s favourite style it does allow a bigger living room. The innerspring double runs across the camper ahead of the entry door and rather than lifting the bed to access storage there are doors on the base to a compartment that shares space with the front boot.
To make the most of the camping experience most folk opt to spend time cooking and relaxing outside. But, if it’s wet and windy, it’s good to know that there’s the quick and easy option of a decent kitchen and comfortable seating in the camper. It also makes it a pleasant sheltered place for a quick lunch on the road.
Our Golf’s kitchen extended along the driver side and with the 90L three-way fridge under the bench and a folding cover over the cooktop, bench preparation space is pretty good. A stainless steel sink with draining board is set into the bench and the 4-burner Swift 500 series Mini Grill is backed up by a compact Panasonic microwave.
At the back of the camper is a handy bin style storage system with a lid, which would be an ideal place for supplies- augmenting the cupboards under the bench, in the area below the dinette seats and in a small cupboard at the entrance. Because of the design of this style of pop-top there isn’t room for high cupboards and this limits the amount you can carry. A cupboard with three shelves and a drawer folds up from its position on the rear dinette seat when travelling and offers extra room when camped. However, this requires careful handling of any contents when folding it up and down.
The café style dinette lives on the passenger side and is fitted with quality covered and comfortable cushions and a laminate table with a cutout at the rear to ease you into the seat. You could fit an adult and a child each side, which could be handy because the dinette converts to a bed suitable for a smaller children.
This Golf Bush Challenger is a straightforward and economical camper that at 1600kg ATM can be towed by many smaller vehicles. Its compact size has plenty of advantages but sports plenty of room for a couple to enjoy for years to come. If you want more room or a cheaper alternative then there are several options in the Challenger range but at $27,490 for a base model it’s well priced in a very competitive market. Add in the electric roof, coils suspension, awning and 2nd battery and it’s around $30,990 but these are worthwhile options for the long run.
Model: Bush Challenger 2 Option 2
Overall length: 6.01m
Body length: 4.17m
Travel height: 2.07m
Tare weight: 1300kg
Ball weight: 120kg
Price from: $27,490
Options fitted: include electric roof, second battery, awning and coil suspension.
Price as reviewed: $30,999
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Avan RV Sales
11 Webster Way Pakenham Vic 3810
Ph: 03 5945 4545