Cub Campers are one of our oldest and most respected RV manufacturers and their quality campers not only look impressive; they are built to withstand the punishment of our challenging roads. This Frontier is one of their latest versions, yet it has already become their biggest seller across its vast range of touring and off-road models.
A lot of readers might be surprised to learn that the Frontier is the only wholly Australian built forward-fold camper on the market because there is plenty of competition in this segment and any number of brands claiming Australian provenance. The fact is that most of the competition is Chinese made with limited amounts of local input to the assembly process – either in the fitting of suspensions or electronics to a prebuilt body. That’s hardly Australian made.
That’s not the Cub way. Their campers are built in Sydney’s west from Australian BlueScope Steel and Australian Rutherford Wax Converters canvas to a proven engineering formula and design. Each model is built in a dedicated factory in North Rocks, in Sydney’s west that has the latest computerised manufacturing processes. They make their own bodies, chassis, suspension, canvas tents, CNC-cut furniture and upholstery – all in house and under strict quality control.
As a pioneer of camper trailers, Cub has been an innovator and leader for over 50 years, starting with basic box trailers in 1968. Those early lightweight models have morphed into a range of seven campers with varieties in length, colours and options for an almost unlimited number of variations. Most models, including the Frontier on review, are full off-roaders with thousands of research and development hours behind them.
Standing alone as a forward fold camper in the Cub lineup, the aptly named Frontier is a compact and easily towed model, yet it packs in generous space for a couple to travel in style, with the option of converting the rear lounging section into a second bedroom for children or friends.
Cub was relatively late to a forward fold camper, only introducing the model a couple of years ago. By waiting until they had perfected the design, they avoided some of the traps other builders have encountered. Firstly, they have achieved perfect weight balance in a layout that, by its nature, means that the wheels are set a long way rearward on the chassis/A-frame. Secondly, they have kept weight low, which is vital in an off-road camper, and have achieved an impressive ball-weight of 137kg.
Adventurous travellers will appreciate the Frontier’s low profile on testing tracks and its compact footprint when set up for camping. It’s also one of the quickest and easiest campers to make ready and pack away, which is extremely important if you are making camp every day or so. We regularly meet families who are totally over camping with a trailer because of the drawn-out setup time. The Frontier in comparison was ready to go in less than three minutes and erecting it is a smooth one-person operation, so living with the Cub will be a pleasure rather than a chore for everyone involved.
Our test camper came in the standard dark grey, Meteor finish that bestowed an inconspicuous presence behind the colour-matched company Land Rover. You can choose brighter shades including blue, bronze, yellow and ruby and there are also more muted tones of white and black to customise your rig to your liking.
Travel height is only 1.55m and width is 1.95m, so it tucked in behind the tow vehicle with no overhang into the roadside shrubbery as we proceeded along the bush tracks of Blue Mountains National Park. The design integrates the camper body and the large toolboxes on the A-frame into a neat package weighing in at 1222kg empty, putting it in the tow range of medium four-wheel drives.
The suspension is Cub’s own trailing arm independent off-road suspension using Australian made coils and a single Rox shock absorber each side. All electrical leads are well protected and high out of danger from flying rocks. Brakes are 12” electric drums, and 17” alloy wheels are shod in Goodyear offroad tyres.
At the drawbar, an Al-Ko 3500kg offroad ball hitch has a reasonable amount of articulation over rough ground. A neat stone guard wraps around a pair of 4kg gas bottles and also protects two large alloy boxes with a storage tray and tie-down racks on top. The front box has very practical deep pantry drawers each side, while the rear compartment has a slide-out for a fridge up to 85L on the passenger side and general storage opposite.
Down the back is a kitchen that slides and folds out nearly two metres to give a handy cooking and food preparation area with a stainless steel sink, 12v water pump, three burners Dometic cooktop and 3 storage drawers. The spare wheel sits on a heavy-duty bar at the back and departure angle puts it high enough out of the way to avoid being hung up on steep creek crossings.
The Inside Story
Setup is as easy as it gets with any camper. After unclipping the travel locks, a silent winch winds the camper top to its forward position, opening the tent as it goes and needing only a touch of the support bars to tension it automatically. Open the door, drop the fold-down steps and hop inside, it’s that easy with no need for levelling the floor or moving struts to adjust the canvas shape often found in campers.
The interior is roomy and practical, and because it is raised above the ground, it’s out of any dust or mud, so it stays nice and clean. The forward section houses a 1.96m x 1.5m Pocket Spring double bed with easy access from the lower rear section. An LED light at the door and overhead strip lighting brighten the interior at night, and there are reading lamps as well as USB and 12v charging points at the head. I noted good storage options along the sides as well as in handy nooks underneath.
The versatility of the rear section allows the camper to be formatted as a wrap-around lounge/diner with seating for six, or made up into a large double bed by dropping the table and reconfiguring the lounge cushions. It’s quick to change, and there would be no reason you couldn’t relax inside and swap it to the bed when needed. Cushions are Macrosuede finish, and they look neat and inviting.
Zippered windows give the option of closing in the tent in colder weather or using the Velcro fastenings to make it as open as you like with the possibility of flyscreens or open windows. You get an awning over the passenger side outdoor area in the package, and there are numerous options for enclosing it and for shower tents and so on.
An onboard 100ah battery and 100L water tank are standard for off-grid camping, but our test model has an extra battery and tank for extending travel even further. A driver-side hatch keeps all the electrics efficiently together in one place, and a slide-out tray lets you service the batteries quickly. Charging is through a Projecta charger either from the tow vehicle when driving or from an optional solar panel. The electronics panel has water level gauges, the main fuse panel and breakers.
On The Road
The Cub’s light weight and slim profile make it a pleasure to tow at highway speeds and over the rougher roads in the national park it followed faithfully without any vices. The offroad suspension efficiently soaked up corrugations and bumps, and the long drawbar meant it quickly reversed into restricted camp spots.
When travelling the camper door can’t be opened because the lifting struts are across the opening. This means you need to pack any essentials accordingly either in the outside hatches or in the tow vehicle. It won’t preclude stopping on the road for a meal or a cuppa because the kitchen and pantry are accessible, but you might like to pack a couple of chairs where they can be reached.
ATM is 1750kg leaving a carrying capacity of 538kg or a balance of 310kg with full water tanks including the 2nd optioned on our test rig. That’s an impressive amount of cargo for weeks away in the bush, but still leaving a total weight, most medium 4wd tow vehicles can manage without running out of puff.
The Cub impresses as a well built and well-engineered product. All components on the Cub are built to last, and the level of finish inside and out is high. But the most impressive part of the equation is the ease with which it is ready to camp, which is born from years of perfecting the operation. Setting up camp should be a pleasure, the prelude to a pleasant night by the fire, not a relationship challenging battle of mind over canvas that owners of some other brand campers endure.
Generations of happy campers have loved their Cub campers, and they are so well respected that even some early versions demand good dollars on the second-hand market. While the starting price for a Frontier may seem daunting at $37,490 in comparison to some of the imports, it’s really a case of “you get what you pay for”. And in the case of the Cub, the added peace of mind out of the beaten track and the ease of ownership are incalculably valuable.
- High build quality and components
- Simple and quick to erect and pull down
- Strong off-road ability
- No access to interior when camper is packed down
Find Out More
Overall length: 5.5m
Internal body length: 2.5m
Travel Height: 1.55m
Tare weight: 1222kg
Ball weight: 137kg
Price from: $37,490
Options fitted: 2nd battery, 2nd water tank, 2nd slide-out pantry.
Price as tested: $39,490
Supplied and Manufactured by:
23 Loyalty Rd, North Rocks, NSW 2151
Ph. 02 8838 8600