Top 5 camper-trailer problems - and how to fix them
Camping in a camper-trailer will every now and again throw up minor bits of strife that are easily fixed on the spot or should be addressed by a professional as soon as possible.
These fails sometimes overlap with those you may have experienced while camping in a swag or tent (ripped canvas, bent poles etc), however, camper trips do yield their very own unique problems as well.
Here are a few problems - minor and major - that may reveal themselves when you're out and about in the bush or on the beach in your camper-trailer.
Problem: Your camper-trailer takes ages to set up
Fix: Quick solution – replace the camper with one that is easy and quick to set up. Real-World fix – just get used to it, familiarise yourself with the process, and practise.
Most camper-trailers take between five and 10 minutes to accomplish much of the set-up process, then perhaps another five to 10 minutes more to finalise the set-up, i.e. to completely erect awnings, get poles into position and pull all canvas taut etc.
Adjusting poles and awnings will likely be the biggest issues in some set-ups, but those minor obstacles are often limited to the less-expensive campers.
To help your set-up cause on any camper, make sure every latch, clip and locking point connected to the set-up process is unfastened before you try to unfold or wind up your camper.
Also make sure canvas is not caught in any potential pinch-points or hinges, which will hamper your set-up process or, worse still, tear or otherwise be damaged if you attempt to force things into place.
Follow set-up instructions to the letter and make proper use of winder handles (on pop-tops), winches (on folding campers) and the like.
Setting up a camper is not a race; it shouldn't be stressful or feel like a chore, so don't rush.
Problem: Your camper-trailer has too many batteries
Fix: There's no need to go overboard with equipment, especially when you're starting out. Onboard camper-trailer batteries add power to your camping set-up but, for instance, three 100ah batteries will also add weight and take a chunk of time to charge, especially if they're flat.
Using two 100ah batteries is a more workable approach, well suited to many modern campers, and that combination can be comfortably topped up day to day through the use of a 144W folding solar panel, available as an option on a camper.
Problem: Your camper-trailer is leaking
Fix: Over time, your camper's waterproofing properties can be weakened or compromised through exposure to the elements, including severe sunlight, or having been maintained in a less-than-ideal fashion, i.e. you've inadvertently washed it after a camping trip with a liquid soap that is not friendly to canvas and campers.
Check for sections in the canvas where the seam has been stretched apart; if it's a minor problem, use a water-proof seam sealant* as a bush fix; if it's worse than that, you could use a patch and sealant as a solution until you're able to have it sorted out by a professional. (* This will be included in the repair kit you've obviously brought on your trip.)
Problem: Your camper-trailer has a rip in its canvas
Fix: There is often plenty of additional canvas on modern-day camper-trailers in the form of awnings, ensuite tents and shower stalls. Unfortunately, no matter how well made or stitched this canvas is, it may sustain a rip or rips through general usage or a campsite mishap.
Make sure the material is clean and dry before you attempt any bush repairs on the canvas or any surface.
Your fix will depend on the canvas type and the size of the rip. If it's a small rip, then you might get away with a temporary fix, such as a patch with adhesive backing, which will hold until you get back to civilisation and are able to get professionals to fix the tear.
A bigger rip will require needle, thread and water-proof seam sealant – and a professional will need to tackle the problem as soon as humanly possible.
Problem: Your camper-trailer has bent awning poles
Fix: Bent or dinged aluminium poles can be temporarily fixed by way of a MacGyver approach: use duct tape, cable ties, some choice language and plenty of bush ingenuity.
If you're looking to fix partially-split plastic, carbon-fibre or fibreglass tent poles then layer some duct tape around the damaged section a few times and that should hold until you can get replacement poles.