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4wd Camper Trailer Setup

If you’ve spent a lot of time around camper trailers you’ll know that pretty often they don’t look much like the nice tidy ones they show in the brochures. Browse the maker’s website or flick through the shiny magazines in a camping shop and all that bright, clean canvas looks like it’s just been scrubbed and ironed. Roofs are stretched tight, corners are square and the whole thing looks so good you just want to sell your house and live in it. Back in the real world you’re on the campsite standing beside something that looks like a sack of wallabies, wondering where it all went wrong.

Well, it might not be your fault. A lot of camper trailers use imported canvas components that sometimes vary slightly in size. That can leave the tent looking loose and sloppy when it’s set up. The good news is, set it up the right way and you can get that perfect look anyway. It just needs a tiny bit of planning.

The first thing to do is look at how your trailer sets up. What you need to get sorted are the poles – but not all of them. There’s usually a small number of poles that handle the basic structure, with the rest there to add some stability and prop up extra bits. Work out the main poles and start by getting them right. If your trailer has an adjustable pole it’s probably that one. Anyway, set up the essential parts then step back and have a look at them. Looking right? Probably not, so adjust as necessary until you’re happy. Look for creases in the canvas – they usually show there’s stress somewhere and it’s probably because a pole’s a bit out of line. Adjust until the canvas is uncreased and looking pretty tight. Now you can set up the rest of the poles, get the guy lines pegged down and crack open a tinnie.

No, hang on, don’t do that just yet. Now you’ve got it all set up spending a few minutes will help you get it right next time, too. Mark all the adjustable poles so you know how far they should be extended. Draw a line round where the sections meet with a permanent pen; if it won’t stop you sliding the pole closed put a ring of duct tape round that point as well, as an extra marker. Do the same with your guy ropes. A handy way to do that is to place all the pegs the same distance from your trailer – say three paces – then adjust them to the right length and mark them. If you want to be really clever number them all, then write the same number on the pole each rope attaches to. That way you just have to fit them to the right pole, take three paces out from the tent and bang in the peg.

There are a few other tips that will help you get the perfect setup, as well. For a start always pick the flattest site you can. You’d think that would be obvious, but people set up over all sorts of bumps when there’s a patch five metres away you could play cricket on. We don’t know why.

To keep your trailer clean put a groundsheet down before setting it up. That will protect the floor from ground water, mud and sharp stones. A canvas or mesh one will protect grass from your trailer. If your trailer has an extension get a groundsheet for that too. A doormat won’t take up much in your wagon and helps keep things clean too.

Getting your trailer properly set up won’t just leave you looking like proper campers instead of a bunch of tinkers; it will stand up to weather better, last longer and give you a more comfortable place to sleep. It’s worth getting it right.