Great for starters
Jayco’s entry-level camper has classic retro teardrop looks and more
By David Cook
Let’s face it, not everyone wants to go travelling with a hard-nosed camper able to battle its way behind a big 4WD across rivers, down Cape York’s infamous Gunshot drop-off or leave a dust trail across the gibbers of the Simpson Desert. For most, camping is meant to be a more relaxing and easy going experience.
It’s this market Jayco is going for with the simple and well packaged J-Pod camper.
It’s basically a fibreglass box on wheels, but within that dismissive description is a touch of flair and a good measure of comfort.
The J-Pod design is inspired by the classic teardrop caravan of the 1930s. It’s a practical format and even today offers enough flexibility to make it a worthy holiday home for just about any couple or even a small family. It’s small and light enough to ride comfortably behind just about any vehicle, giving you much more convenience compared to bigger and more expensive campers.
The J-Pod is built on a light 70 x 50mm hot dip galvanised chassis and draw bar, all riding on a simple yet effective underslung four-leaf slipper spring suspension. There are no brakes – with a GVM of just 749kg, it stays under the 750kg mandatory breaking limit. This makes maintenance easy and you can avoid getting an expensive electronic brake controller or a clunky inertial brake system.
Giving the trailer an added touch of class is a pair of alloy rims shod with 155R13 radials. A spare travels in a cradle under the rear floor of the trailer. The bolt-on guards are plastic and so easily replaced in the event of damage.
The hitch is a standard 50mm ball, with a removable jockey wheel. With a ball weight of just 42kg this little camper can be picked up at the front and wheeled around by any healthy adult, so manoeuvring into tight spots for camping or storage is easy.
The fibreglass body is light, easy to clean and functional. Access is via a large tilting rear door, assisted by gas struts. Oncer open it shelters the rear of the camper and gives easy access to the interior, which is entirely dominated by the bed.
It’s based on an inner spring mattress which is slightly above a double bed in size (1390 x 1890mm) and is 130mm thick. The lower half of the bed base lifts with gas strut assistance to access a 940 x 1280mm storage area underneath. Along each side is additional room where longer items such as tent poles and fishing rods can be carried.
The rest of the interior is fairly stark, with just a single 12 volt LED light in the ceiling. As there is no separate power source, you’d need to keep the J-Pod hooked up to vehicle or get by with lamps and torches.
There are two European-style push-out tinted windows. They are double glazed and equipped with fly screens and blinds. The roof is also equipped with a screened hatch, which should be able to capture a breeze on hot days.
Under the front of the trailer is a roomy storage locker, with lockable access doors on either side. Stored inside is a jack, wheel brace and handle to wind down the two rear stabiliser legs, leaving space for other items which you might want to carry. As the trailer has no hand brake, you’d want to make sure that somewhere there’s room for a pair of wheel chocks.
Almost certainly among the add-ons for most people is the optional tent. Costing an additional $591, it’s designed to attach to the rear of the camper via a length of sail tracking on the roof and four press studs down either side. The trailer itself is 1935mm high, and the tent is a roomy 2000mm high in the centre. The tubular connecting way between the tent and the rear of the camper can be used separately simply as an enclosed extension to the trailer, and it comes with a zip-up closure to keep out the weather and the bugs.
The main tent zips on to the connecting tube and provides heaps of living space, either for couples or for somewhere for the kids to sleep. The tent takes a bit of getting used to when it comes to erecting it, but after a while you’d probably be able to get it down to around 15 minutes.
Other options include a roof rack, which can be used to carry bikes, surfboards or other toys, and a tool box which can mount on the drawbar.
Does the J-Pod, with all its simplicity, lack anything? Well, there’s no form of cooking or eating equipment, nor any in-built water carrying capacity. When you add on all that weight, the lack of brakes could be an issue. It’s surprisingly easy to stack up 269kg of load capacity. The tent, tool box, roof rack and a couple of bikes would soon eat up close to 69kg of that. By the time you add clothes, bedding, cooking and crockery appliances, plus table, chairs and other necessities, you’d be close to the limit.
Still it’s not too hard to carry some of these essentials in the car itself. When you take in consideration the price at just $10,654, the J-Pod is a very affordable and practical way of getting about and enjoying this country.
For the full review and specs, see Issue 23 of ROAM