When you've just hooked up one of the most badass looking camper trailers on the market for a couple of days exploring the dirt tracks of south-east Queensland, the last place you expect to head first are the streets of a leafy, riverside Brisbane suburb in search of speed bumps. But that's exactly where we found ourselves.
Riding shotgun with me for day one of our review was Rob Boegheim, General Manager of Brüder. I'd just had the benefit of learning about the ethos and design principles of Brüder from co-owner and CEO, Dan Bosschieter, and seeing how one of these impressive trailers are built from the ground up in their Brisbane factory, but now it was time for the fun part — I'm just not too sure how much fun my dog was having in the back of the ute!
IT'S TOW TIME
The reason why we were on the bitumen and driving over speed bumps was to put the suspension and towability of the EXP-4 to the test. While we love to get the campers out on the dirt, we know that there's a fair bit of bitumen between most offroad destinations in Australia. Apparently Rob was just trying to make sure the bitumen testing wasn't too boring.
The first speed bump was taken rather sedately, at well below the signed speed limit. Each subsequent speed bump was hit just that little bit harder and faster.
Hand on my heart, I can honestly say that there was absolutely no discernible effect felt through my ute from the EXP-4 trailing behind. There was obviously the initial whack of my front wheels hitting, and then the rear wheels following suit, but that is where it ended. The trailer soaked up those bumps, settled and carried on its merry way. Maybe I should have put my dog in the trailer?
After the ‘speed bump test’, we found our way onto the Ipswich Motorway, then the Cunningham Highway on our way out to Gordon Country in the Goomburra Valley.
With a low tare of only 1050kg, pulling the EXP-4 up the range at Cunningham's Gap proved to be a non-event, even for my old Patrol.
Country bitumen roads turned into smooth gravel, then pot-holed and corrugated dirt roads during the course of the afternoon. Every time, the Brüder EXP-4 dutifully followed behind, even when I tried to get things a bit loose on a fast section of flowing gravel corners.
Day two of our adventure saw the EXP-4 hitched up behind a dual cab X350d Merc for more offroad testing, as well as another 300km or so of typical blacktop and dirt road touring.
The EXP-4 can thank its exceptional towability to the chassis and suspension design and the fact a large portion of its overall weight is down nice and low.
QUALITY AT ITS CORE
From the ground up, these campers are built with a single-minded intent to be the best trailer on the market. Attention to detail can be seen wherever you cast your eyes.
Let's start with the fully sealed, powder coated chassis. That's right, fully sealed. No chance of mud or bull dust sitting inside the chassis rails and rusting from the inside out.
Then there's the provisions built into the chassis to allow for the running of wires and plumbing to keep everything up high and well protected. Future proofing is taken care of by extra service penetrations being added from the start.
An extra level of care and attention is added to each custom built Brüder due to 50 per cent of total sales going offshore. Different materials and/or welding techniques are employed depending on the final destination and climate to be encountered. This flows on to other accessories like diesel heaters and compressors.
A custom, factory style wiring loom is employed in each build, making diagnosing and fault finding much easier if ever a problem arises.
Hidden beneath a layer of black raptor coating, are closed-cell composite panels. Offering strength without weight, these panels also provide exceptional thermal efficiency, perfect considering these trailers are exported all over the world, from the deserts of Saudi Arabia to the tundra of Alaska.
While maybe not getting as close to the arctic conditions one may experience in Alaska, it was a pretty chilly night by south-east Queensland standards when I curled up on the queen-sized inner-spring mattress to rest my weary bones. Thanks to that those composite panels, I was as snug as a bug in a rug.
Another bonus is how much external noise is blocked out. With the doors and windows closed and the block out blinds drawn, the voices of the other guys around the campfire could not be heard.
While the EXP-4 doesn't look that big from the outside (maybe it's because black is slimming), when you lower the fold-down step, open the large side doors and step inside, you are immediately taken aback by just how much room there is.
Not only is there extra room all around the queen-sized mattress, there's also a considerable amount of clothes storage at the head of the bed. If you want, there's even space for hanging your shirts or pants.
There's no feeling of claustrophobia either, as plenty of head room allows for you to sit fully upright in bed. Twin 12V Sirocco fans, a roof mounted Dometic air conditioner, subtle LED lighting and USB and 12V charging ports complete the interior fit out.
When it comes to setting up camp at the end of the day, there's probably three main categories that camper trailers fall into.
A) The long and arduous set up.
B) The quick set up, and
C) The no set up.
I'll give you a couple of seconds to ponder this question — which category do you think the Brüder EXP-4 falls into?
(Hint: It's not A or B!)
That's right. The EXP-4 definitely falls into the ‘no set up’ category.
If all you need to do is pull up at the end of the day, grab the chairs out, cook up a feed then head to bed, it really couldn't be quicker or easier than with the EXP-4. The only thing you might need to do is adjust the airbags with the remote fob to make sure everything is level.
It really is that simple.
There is nothing to set up or pull out for the kitchen. It's just a matter of opening up the rear tail gate (which also provides cover while you're cooking) and getting stuck in.
The 60L upright fridge/freezer provides more than enough space for two adults when on the road. Cooking duties are looked after by the Dometic two-burner gas cooktop and a stainless-steel sink with flick mixer and filtered water is also close at hand.
Pantry items can be stored on the shelves above the PVC bench top, or below in the drawers and cupboards. Balsa ply has been used in the construction of the rear kitchen module to save weight, without sacrificing strength.
On the far left of the kitchen, a water and battery monitor take pride of place, along with switches for the LED lighting as well as 12V and USB outlets.
In terms of dedicated external storage options, I would have to say the EXP-4 falls a little short. While there are a couple of decent storage lockers located on either side of the camper, maximising that space is going to require some careful packing.
For instance, if you travel with a portable toilet, there goes one of your storage lockers from the word go.
Tables, fold up chairs or other bulky items will either need to be put on top of the bed during transit (not ideal if you've been camping in a muddy or dusty area) or strapped to the roof, making use of the tracks that come standard with the EXP-4.
However, if there's already a bike or couple of kayaks up there, you're back to putting them on top of the bed.
THE BOTTOM LINE
At the end of every road test and review, I always ask myself, “Would it suit my style of camping and would I have one?”
As far as the Brüder EXP-4 is concerned, the answer is a resounding YES.
It tows like a dream. It's set up for serious offroad adventures. It's got one of, if not the quickest set up time on the market. It's proudly Aussie made. It oozes quality and is built to my pretty high standards.
On top of that, prices start from only $66k. Of course, you can keep ticking boxes and adding options and watch the price rise, but at its most basic, it is one helluva trailer.
Oh yeah, and it looks pretty badass too!