The Jayco Eagle Outback loves a little rough and tumble.
About three hours west of Sydney, across the Blue Mountains, is the old mining town of Newnes. It’s now mostly industrial ruins amongst the bush in the very scenic Wolgan Valley. It also happens to be an excellent place to take one of Jayco’s Eagle camper trailers, especially one fitted out as a rough road Outback model. It made quite a good match for the Kia Sorento tow vehicle.
One of the reasons I tested the Eagle out in the Wolgan Valley, is that the area is a good place for a family weekend away, and the rising roof camper is of the style that is excellent for the family. One of the challenges of the road into Newnes is that it is not exactly the smoothest I have seen, and getting to some of the campsites does require some rough road work.
What makes the rising roof style of Jayco camper suitable for families is that when it’s folded down for travel you don’t require a particularly large tow vehicle, and when it’s opened up, it offers a considerable amount of living area.
ROUGH ROAD READY
Like the whole Jayco range of camper trailers, the Eagle Outback is built on a hot-dipped galvanised chassis but it has 150x50mm RHS main chassis members and a 125x50mm drawbar. It also has beefed-up Al-Ko leaf spring suspension and shock absorbers. Increasing the ground clearance are 15x7in alloy wheels that are shod with 235/75R15 tyres. On the subject of height, the Eagle Outback is 250mm higher than a road-going Eagle – something to keep in mind if your storage shed happens to be a bit low.
Other Outback features include the jerry can holder on the drawbar, a double fold step, extra long corner stabilisers and offroad electric brake magnets. Protected by gal sheeting, the 90L tank is fitted underneath the chassis at the rear. Given what this camper trailer might get used for, I did wonder whether the water tank would be better located further forward.
Above the chassis, the body is built similarly to other Jayco products with a 42mm interlocking aluminium frame that has ply on both sides and fibreglass covering the outside walls. An Outback addition is the aluminium checkerplate, fitted to the lower sides.
Setting up the Eagle does take a little longer than a caravan but it is not a major effort – a matter of unclipping the corner clips and using the winding handle to raise the roof. Once that is done, the bed-ends can be dragged out and the bed stay supports fitted into position. Inside, the two-piece door has to be rearranged into a conventional one-piece and the bed-end frames pushed into position. With a few more items in position, like the corner wardrobe and window canvas flaps, it’s nearly time to put the feet up.
An advantage of this camper trailer style is that the slide-out bed-ends leave the main body of the camper for the general living area, which means that for a family, there’s a bit of personal space in between.
With a body length of 3.81m (12ft 6in), the Eagle is relatively spacious and features a front lounge which can also be used as a bed, an offside kitchen and a nearside dinette. All the windows are screened, with the body windows having clear plastic and curtains as well. Curtains are fitted to both bed-ends, and the 12V lighting consists of incandescent ceiling units for each bedroom.
Camper trailer kitchen benches are often slightly lower than they are in a caravan, but that does not necessarily mean that they are small. The Eagle’s kitchen is a case in point, with its four-burner cooktop, 90L Dometic fridge, stainless steel sink and a reasonable amount of benchtop space. The sink has both 12V pumped water and a hand pump. Our Eagle did not have a microwave, but you could have one fitted underneath the cooktop if you need it.
Underbench storage consists of four cupboards and a drawer. In addition, there is the three-quarter height wardrobe located between the kitchen bench and the rear bed. Not surprisingly, this being a pop-top, there are no overhead lockers fitted.
Opposite the kitchen is a four-person dinette – well, more like a two-and-two-halves. It has a table and simple bench-style seats. Underneath both are storage areas, including a drawer on either side.
Across the front of the Eagle is more seating, which is good if more than four people happen to be sharing the camper, especially as it can be made up into a bed. Under the seat is a fair bit of storage space, slightly lessened if the optional house battery is in place.
In the main bedroom areas, the front bed at 1.52m (5ft) is wider than the rear bed at 1.2m (4ft), so will be the bed of choice for the adults. Both mattresses are foam but can be changed for optional innerspring items.
On the road, the Kia Sorento with its 2.5L, 125kW turbodiesel coped towing the Eagle Outback without any dramas. Although the road into Newnes is not brilliant, about the only time we had to engage 4WD on it was when crossing the Wolgan River just before the old township site.
THE BOTTOM LINE
For a family (or even a couple) on a budget, the Eagle camper trailer is a good proposition. For someone considering a bit of rough road work, the Eagle Outback isn’t bad either. It has all the features for a comfortable level of camping at a price that doesn’t destroy the family budget, and has the necessary features to allow some of the rough stuff to be tried out as well.
Jayco Sydney, 63-67 Glossop Street, St Marys, NSW 2760, (02) 9623 1971, www.jaycosydney.com.au
For more information, including your nearest dealer, contact Jayco Caravans, www.jayco.com.au
• It’s generally a spacious camper with room to move inside, yet it’s not a large trailer to be towed.
• Drawers fitted to the seat bases. Yes, they offer slightly less space but are much more convenient to use.
• That camper trailer setup is relatively straightforward. With only a minimum of direction, it all comes together quite nicely.
• Reasonably sized kitchen bench in what is a relatively small RV.