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Cub Campers Frontier 2018 review

Cub Campers is Australia’s oldest camper-trailer manufacturer and one of the oldest businesses in the caravan and camping industry, having just celebrated 50 years of operation in 2018.

The company can lay claim to inventing the soft-floor camper trailer, pioneering the rear-fold and championing off-road campers when everyone else was concerned with the on-road market. Amongst all that, though, it was late to the game when it comes to forward-fold campers, not releasing the Frontier until early in 2016, well after the flood of Chinese manufactured versions became immensely popular. So why did Cub wait so long and was it worth it?

The Cub Campers Frontier is one of two Australian-built forward-fold camper-trailers. (image credit: Brendan Batty)
 The Cub Campers Frontier is one of two Australian-built forward-fold camper-trailers. (image credit: Brendan Batty)

How big is this camper-trailer? How much does it weigh?

Length5500mm
Width1950mm
Height1550mm
Weight (Tare, ATM, Tow Ball)1232kg / 1750kg / 145kg

The Frontier is one of the lightest forward-fold campers on the market, an aspect Cub specifically wanted to get right, and one it could, thanks to its ability to design and manufacture in Sydney, rather than overseas. 

Unladen, the camper weighs 1232kg, which is about 200kg lighter than most of the competition. It’s also got a reasonably light tow-ball weight (145kg), which, due to the inherent configuration of the genre, is usually front heavy. 

It has a load capacity of roughly 500kg (depending on options). The camper’s 5.5-metre towing length and 1.55-metre height makes it very manageable behind most SUVs and 4WD utes.

It’s actually one of the lightest forward-fold campers on the market, and well balanced, too. (image credit: Brendan Batty) It’s actually one of the lightest forward-fold campers on the market, and well balanced, too. (image credit: Brendan Batty)

How practical is the space inside?

The real appeal of a forward-fold camper-trailer is the internal configuration. Because the bed folds out over the front of the camper, the trailer body is configured with a wrap-around lounge and dinette area, that also converts into a bed. It brings a certain level of caravan comfort to a camper-trailer-sized package. Cub’s execution is quite good. The lounge is comfortable and the dinette table is highly adjustable up and down or around and around. It converts into a bed more simply than any other on the market I’ve seen. 

The downside of the forward-fold concept is the quantity and access of storage. Very little of the internal storage is easy to get to, and in truth there’s very little of it. That’s what happens when you put a couch in a trailer, sorry. There are hatches under the seats, but even they are limited by the slide-out kitchen and battery box across the back, plus, they’re not as easy to get to as a drawer. It’s the same in every manufacturers version, though. However, the Frontier has one unique features that makes it stand out – a series of pigeon holes under the foot of the bed which provide the only easy-to-access internal storage in any forward-fold I’ve come across so far.

The real luxury of a forward fold camper is the internal lounge area that quickly turns into a second bed. (image credit: Brendan Batty) The real luxury of a forward fold camper is the internal lounge area that quickly turns into a second bed. (image credit: Brendan Batty)

 

What are the beds like?

The master bed is quite good. Cub fits a 1960 x 1500mm pocket-spring mattress. It’s not squished up against the canvas, either, so it feels quite roomy on top. There’s also a pair of reading lights each side, along with USB charging points. 

The dinette bed is also good, as Cub’s dinette cushions are flat and not contoured, so sleeping on them isn’t lumpy, like in some other models. They do slide around a lot on the converted table’s surface, though, so I’d like to see a rubber base.

With a pocket-spring mattress and big open windows, it’s quite comfortable in the Frontier. (image credit: Brendan Batty) With a pocket-spring mattress and big open windows, it’s quite comfortable in the Frontier. (image credit: Brendan Batty)

What’s the kitchen like?

The Cub’s kitchen is quite good. The main stainless-steel unit slides out from a boot in the back and a flip-top bench extension does just that. There’s a three-burner stove and sink, 12-volt pumped water and a few drawers for cooking utensils and the like. The large fridge slide is forward of the door and can hold most fridges up to about 85 litres in size. Forward of the fridge is a long and deep stainless-steel drawer which serves as the pantry and storage area for pots and pans and other cooking paraphernalia. As large as it is, it’s not divided in any way, so things will move around in there.

The kitchen is well made and features a three-burner stove and sink. A fridge and pantry slide out from the front storage area. (image credit: Brendan Batty) The kitchen is well made and features a three-burner stove and sink. A fridge and pantry slide out from the front storage area. (image credit: Brendan Batty)

How easy is it to tow?

The Frontier is quite good under tow. Cub designed and manufactures its own coil-spring independent suspension and has paid quite close attention to the balance and dynamics of the trailer. 

As it’s not overly heavy, it’s not a handful, even on the beach, and behind the Mitsubishi Triton I tested it with, it was barely a struggle. On the road, the camper is well behaved, easy to see over and around and because it’s not very long, it’s not very daunting.

The camper’s light weight makes it a breeze to tow, even on the beach. (image credit: Brendan Batty) The camper’s light weight makes it a breeze to tow, even on the beach. (image credit: Brendan Batty)

How easy is it to set up?

The Frontier is the easiest forward-fold camper to set up on the market. Most need to be winched over and then all the poles adjusted, but the Frontier avoids all of that. The gas struts are strong enough to pull it open and the winch is simply used to keep it that way. 

Inside, only the rear bow needs to be tapped so the struts on it engage and push it into place. Nothing gets adjusted or inserted – it just is. That said, the Cub lacks a tropical roof, which is almost standard fare on other campers, and doesn’t have the breadth of canvas add-ons as a standard feature that you’ll see on a camper build in China. It is a 100 per cent Australian made tent, though.

Clever design means the Frontier’s the easiest to set up on the market. (image credit: Brendan Batty) Clever design means the Frontier’s the easiest to set up on the market. (image credit: Brendan Batty)

What options are available for it?

You name it, you can get it. You can make one battery two (same with the water tank), or add canvas awning walls and addons to you hearts content (and wallets dismay). The hitch can be upgrade from an off-road ball to the Cruisemaser DO 35 or Tregg Hitch. Stainless steel drawers can be added to the driver’s side storage compartments and all manner of racks and hangers are available for carrying bikes and kayaks. 

The battery sits on its own slide, which has room for a second if you want it. (image credit: Brendan Batty) The battery sits on its own slide, which has room for a second if you want it. (image credit: Brendan Batty)

Any potential issues with it?

No, the only potential issues are those inherent in the forward-fold design. This isn’t really the camper for a family. Turning the dining table into a bed each night is no fun, and there’s just not enough internal storage to fit everything a family needs.

All in all, the Frontier is the best forward-fold camper on the market, although it is also the most expensive. If you were making a buying decision purely based on features, you’d probably look elsewhere, but if you are prepared to pay a little more because this camper-trailer is Australian made, you get a very functional camper that’s easy to set up, reliable, strong and light. 

When it comes to camper trailers, is Australian made important to you? Let us know in the comments section below.

 

Cub Campers Frontier specifications 
Warranty5 years
SleepsFour
Water capacity (Fresh/Grey)100L / n/a

 

$35,990

Based on new car retail price

Adventure score

4/5

adventureguide rank

  • Light

    Dry weather gravel roads and formed trails with no obstacles, very shallow water crossings.

  • Medium

    Hard-packed sand, slight to medium hills with minor obstacles in all weather.

  • Heavy

    Larger obstacles, steeper climbs and deeper water crossings; plus tracks marked as '4WD only'

Price Guide

$35,990

Based on new car retail price

This price is subject to change closer to release data