The Ultimate X- Series Ultimate
I know it’s hard to believe, but the Ultimate X-Series camper is 20 years old this year. Still turning heads, these ultra-tough campers look so modern they could have first rolled out of the factory yesterday and still wowed the hard-nosed camper trailer world.
To celebrate the occasion Ultimate Campers have released an anniversary model that is full of features many new buyers will appreciate.
A special colour scheme and black chrome wheels shod with Cooper off road tyres give a fresh look to the camper and keen observers will notice a new rear carbon fibre spoiler to help prevent dust settling on the rear steps.
To get an up close impression of this flagship model in the X-Series fleet we hooked one, fresh off the production line, to the back of our Cruiser for a tour of the Eurobodalla Coast for a couple of days. As we headed out we were told to put it through the wringer and bring it back dusty and muddy.
This latest example is an evolution of many ideas that have gone into improving the camper over the years. Refinements have made the camping side a bit softer, and perhaps some early Ultimate owners who eschewed such comforts in their younger days may now think that things like hot water and optional heater aren’t a bad idea after all.
To backtrack a little, the Ultimate came from Michael Hackett’s boat building experience (see story attached) in which he formed the body from fibreglass because of its inherent strength and almost unlimited potential to form intricate shapes.
All fibreglass mouldings, chassis construction, tent and furnishings are made in house and where possible Australian fittings are used to ensure quality and serviceability.
Many other campers share a similar look and it’s often difficult to tell one from another at a distance. That’s not the case for the Ultimate. Their streamlined shape is unique and stands out in a crowd, to the extent that people still come along and ask about it at campgrounds. And while the immaculate fibreglass might be attractive, underneath it’s all business, with a proven chassis and suspension designed to go anywhere a tow vehicle can.
After stocking up with provisions we headed to the coast to set up the camper for the night. With it’s light weight and sophisticated long-travel suspension soaking up the bumps the Ultimate tracks well and is easy to tow. Over long distances I have no doubt the aerodynamic shape would significantly cut down the fuel bills.
Having reviewed a number of models over the past few years we have mastered the setup of the X-series and can get it ready for relaxing inside five minutes, but like everything it might take new owners a bit longer the first time.
Our routine is to choose a site, remembering that the bed folds out to the driver side, so space is needed including the need to clear any overhanging trees. Then unlock the lockdown clamps, lift the top sideways and out to its horizontal position on its single gas strut. Open the door and go inside to lift the tent supports and install the spreader bars before setting the three mattress sections for the bed and fitting the bedding. With sheets already fitted and a special X20 doona it’s easier than ever. Tidy up the canvas by attaching the elastic straps to the body and insert spars into the two awning ends and clip them onto the camper to add shade and weather protection.
If anything, there could be a criticism of having to make the bed at each setup, but we have never found it an issue and as with all campers there has to be a compromise somewhere to achieve a usable level of interior space and simplicity of setup.
The wedge shaped body integrates a monster 1340L nose cone storage space that is easily accessed from side opening hatches. It’s a weatherproof, secure place that will absorb most of the things we find essential on our travels. To the driver’s side the anniversary model has its water heater and brackets for two jerry cans, satisfying various state laws that ban external carriage of fuel.
In the corners of the body are additional lockable hatches that accommodate a pair of gas bottles, a portable toilet (that can be accessed from inside) and twin 110ah house batteries with a 40amp Redarc charger and a Sinergex 700w pure sine-wave inverter that can run computers without fear of damage.
A recent innovation on the Ultimate is a stainless steel picnic table that is stored in the nosecone and clips onto the kerbside body. It has a wind guard, and room for a gas cooktop or small BBQ and would be handy for both quick stops along the road as well as for cooking outside when camping.
Underneath its rugged go-anywhere suspension supports a proven Duragal chassis, engineered to be lightweight yet strong enough to keep the fibreglass body from twisting. Ground clearance is an impressive 570mm and the off road drums are electrically operated. The sturdy trailing arm independent suspension has class leading Koni adjustable shocks and locally made Lovell coil springs.
Inside the camper is a surprisingly roomy space where the wide windows can be adjusted on quality zips to let in as much, or as little of the surrounding view and airflow as desired. Running along the nearside and around the front in an L-shape, the very contemporary looking carbon fibre benchtop is a new addition for the X20, as is a storage shelf above the bench. Set into the bench are a two burner gas stove and Smev stainless steel sink with lid to provide more preparation area. A handy storage pantry is incorporated into the corner of the bench and many drawers share space with an 110L compressor fridge below the bench.
Also built into the bench are a bluetooth Fusion MP3 radio for entertainment and a funky looking panel for water level and battery condition. In total I found seven 12V plugs for charging phones and batteries while the inverter can power a 240v television or other small appliances.
Adjacent to the galley is a comfortable dinette with a U-shaped lounge in special X20 colours and removable table in black carbon fibre to match the galley. The table fits into a floor socket and comes with a stand so it can also be used outside.
With the large king size bed there is space along the side to store luggage without compromising sleeping space and the high density foam mattresses are extremely comfortable. Individual LED reading lights are a nice touch and can be directed in any direction to minimise glare on a sleeping partner.
As the temperature dropped on the late winter night it was time to head inside and fire up the heater. With the roos and wombats shivering outside we were snug and a little smug as we sipped our cocoa. Luxury.
Packing up next morning was an easy task and pretty much the reverse of the setup and if anything it seemed quicker. Everything was stacked away inside the camper but there is even more room on the rooftop rack for extra luggage or even a small boat or a couple of kayaks.
In search of a road to get the camper dirty we headed into the hills north of Batemans Bay and along forestry tracks to the Big Bit where we found sweeping views back down to the blue outlined coastline and west to the mountains. While it’s not strictly speaking four wheel drive country, we got to put the camper over some rough side tracks, steep pinches and through tight turns to confirm the off-road ability and articulation of the 360 degree Treg Coupling.
At Shallow Crossing the rubber seals on all the openings proved to be watertight and they told us later at the factory that, in keeping with the camper’s nautical heritage, it would have floated if the water was deep enough.
The latest version of this inimitable, locally grown camper hits a new level of comfort that many will find attractive. As more and more people come into the market and as innovations are introduced, the public’s expectation of what a camper should be has changed. While diehard campers will belittle such things as a hot shower and a heater, many expect such comforts and it can make the difference between a happy time on the road and a never to be repeated experience for some.
It is testament to the original design concept of the Ultimate that it remains fresh and relevant twenty years on. The company has avoided change for change sake and has chosen to offer refinements to the X-Series, based on owner feedback and their own experience in ongoing testing.
Naturally the new additions come at a price and, starting at $58,920, the X20 is the most expensive model in the range. It’s also one of the most capable all-terrain camper trailers on the market, able to get into extreme locations with an experienced driver at the wheel of the tow vehicle. And the value of getting home without worrying if the trailer is going to fail? Priceless.
Manufacturer: Ultimate Campers
Country of manufacture: Australia
Overall length: 4.25m
Travel height: 1.8m
Tare weight: 850kg
Gross weight: 1300kg
Ball weight: 45kg
Price from: $58,920
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39-41 Shelley Rd, Nth Moruya NSW 2537
Ph. 02 4474 4410