Camper Trailer of the Year 2020: Ultimate GT360
Ultimate Off-Road Campers was a finalist in this year's Camper Australia Camper Trailer of the Year. Whilst we didn't win the overall award (Boo!) we did receive the accolade of Most Comfortable Camper Trailer. Proper order we say! Read what the judges had to say...
Ultimate Off-Road Campers' GT360 competed in the prestige Over $50,000 category at the 2020 event.
The gracious yet bulletproof exterior of the Ultimate GT360 expands, with ease, into a palace offering all-around awning coverage, interconnected internal and external kitchens, an independent kids’ sleeping area, a 130L Isotherm fridge, REDARC electric tech, and pleasant relaxation space. For just under $70,000, this outback tourer, 25 years in the making, will magnetise everyone who does it rough on the roads but classy at camp. So much so, that it took out the subsidiary award of 'Most Comfortable' off-road camper trailer.
Manufactured since 1994 on the NSW South Coast, and having one of the most iconic shapes in the industry, Ultimate Off-Road Campers went into voluntary administration in 2018, ‘ultimately’ being purchased by Eagle Outdoors Group. Under new ownership, Ultimate now has access to a wide network of companies to support it to grow, innovate and impress. Perhaps more importantly, Ultimate Off-Road Campers is set to continue to be made in Australia, by Australians. The GT360 cements Ultimate Off-Road Campers' return to the market with a high quality, luxurious camper from a team that’s obviously committed to continuous improvement.
The Ultimate Off-Road Campers' range of camper trailer are shaped like an upside-down boat. Indeed, out in Australia’s arid regions, the sight of an iconic Ultimate could readily put you in mind of the explorer Captain Charles Sturt hauling his boat overland looking for an inland sea. So, does the GT360 have the self-sufficiency to get you there and back?
The short answer is yes. For starters, the nose cone alone has an impressive 1,340 litres of storage. Here you’ll find a REDARC RedVision TVMS 1280, two 4kg gas bottles (or you can opt for one 4kg and one 9kg) and space for two jerries (water or fuel). And this cavernous storage compartment still has more space for whatever else takes your fancy. There are two 120Ah AGM batteries to help power the unit, including the 130 litre upright Isotherm fridge. And as for water, you’ll find three tanks: one 110 litre and two 50 litre tanks, one of which can be isolated to serve as a grey water tank if you choose. The hallmark 360 degree awning is made of 10oz Coolabah canvas with silver mica lining complemented by a tropical roof on the cabin. While solar is optional, this camper is hollering to be taken off the blacktop — so you’ll want to factor solar into your bottom line if you have ambitions to follow in Captain Sturt’s wake.
Talking of going bush, the GT360 comes with LT265/70/R17 BFG A/T KO2 tyres supported by Cruisemaster XT trailing arms with Lovell springs and Ironman shocks. Sitting on top of all this, bracing the camper, is a chassis with a central spine of 100 x 100mm with a 100 x 50mm lattice coated in Rhino lining, coupled by a DO35 hitch. As for clearance: well, with 300mm ground clearance to the bottom of the suspension trailing arm, this old soldier could easily leopard crawl underneath the rig with room to spare. Indeed the Ultimate GT360 had the largest departure angle of all campers judged. On inspection, the under body was clean of snags with the lowest point on the chassis being the hand brake.
And if you’re still wondering whether this rig is capable enough to follow you off the beaten track, then perhaps you’d be better off staying at home. With free PCD and wheel track matching, the Ultimate GT360 is ‘Good 2 Go’ wherever your tow tug of choice can take you.
Innovation might seem difficult in an off-road camper trailer format that’s been around for 25 years, yet the new Ultimate GT360 blew that away with over 80 new features.
Walking up to the GT360 the origins of the model designation are obvious, with the sweeping 360 degree awning around the camper. This does away with the smaller canopies which ran along each side of the opened camper, providing a huge 42 square metres of shade (with optional canvas extras, the best under the old system was 18 square metres) that includes a roomy new ensuite and the optional longstanding kids’ room beneath the fold-over top.
The awning is sustained by similar flexible support poles to those on previous Ultimates, but with a new and less physically demanding attachment design. Retaining ropes remain attached and are stored in under-awning pockets.
The optional external kitchen, always a bit of an afterthought, has been extended for greater practicality. Its location beneath the window outside the internal kitchen allows the two to operate in parallel, facilitated by the capacity of that window to be opened. The gas locker has been doubled for added storage, the lower body panels are now coated in UV-stabilized Rhinocoat (more difficult to apply but with greater stone resistance), all windows have been increased in size for a lighter and airier feel, the jockey wheel has been relocated for an added 150mm of travel, and plastic coating applied to the internal cables that sustain the fold-over top to prevent them snagging strands of hair.
One of the old complaints about Ultimates was the need to remake the bed each time you opened up, but that has largely been dismissed by the new interlinked mattress design. The permanent mounting of the internal spreaders at one end makes their installation easier and quicker.
The Ultimate GT360 takes up new tech in spaces. It has a Truma gas/240V hot water/space heater system, new Isotherm 130L upright fridge, smart new Thetford three-burner cooktop/sink combo, with decent sized burners for large pots and woks, and the REDARC Redvision TVMS digital electronic control system and 30A battery management system. Add the optional electronic opening set-up and you have quite the modern luxury camper.
Internally the Ultimate GT360 has a look of real quality, with all-new furniture in stark white, with Galaxy benchtop and swivel table and macrosuede upholstery.
The whole camper is now easier than ever to operate, with the huge radial awning requiring just seven minutes to deploy. With relocated tent bows with gas struts, the camper is easier to open and pack up, and it can all be done while standing on the back step.
Ultimate Off-Road Campers has been turning heads since its campers first hit the roads 25 years ago. Cementing its place within this market niche, the Ultimate GT360 offers a highly functional 360 degree awning that promises to keep the whole tribe dry, regardless of environmental conditions, under an impressive 22sqm outdoor living space. The roof is now taller to accommodate the increasing height of the Australian population. Meanwhile — for the vertically challenged — there’s a ‘short person helper’ for the spacer bar. So the Ultimate GT360 is ‘good to go’ for the long and the short of us.
The awning provides the immediate ‘wow’ factor for the Ultimate GT360, as does the production quality, evident wherever you look. But additional functional updates to the base model, largely in response to customer feedback, also provide strong evidence that the team at Ultimate takes particular pride in their ability to close the loop between customer and manufacturer. Combined with its high standard of build quality and comfort levels, this camper integrates technologies, such as the REDARC RedVision TVMS, demonstrating a solid grasp on innovation within the broader industry. Ultimate also offer free tyre and PCD-matching to complement the standard Lovell Springs and Ironman shocks on the Cruisemaster XT trailing arm. These quality inclusions underpin the Ultimate GT360’s credentials as a value for money rig which is highly capable for its intended purpose.
This camper is marketed towards couples or families with older kids looking for some independence. At its bare bones, it gets two adults comfortably off the floor under canvas and (optionally for $1,800) a few kids sleeping outside within an enclosed soft floor annexe. At $69,170 as reviewed, other campers achieve the same effect for less cost, but without the attention to detail and production quality that this Aussie-built offroader offers in spades. Where budget isn’t the primary driver, the Ultimate GT360 competes as a classy camper, oozing capability, and backed by a committed local team with an Australian wide support network.
TIM VAN DUYL
When you head to the outback you tend to only see the big-name campers. The likes of Patriot, BRS, Kimberly, AOR and of course Ultimate Off-Road Campers. That’s because, to handle the real rough stuff, you have to invest in quality. You cannot skimp on build quality if you plan to travel to remote regions.
Ultimate Off-Road Campers does not skimp on the key components, using 100 x 100mm BlueScope steel for the chassis’ spine and a 100 x 50mm lattice framework to support the composite body. It is galvanised then liberally coated in Rhino liner for durability. The Coolabah canvas is from top-supplier Wax Converters and is 300gsm or a bit over 10oz and carries a five-year warranty. The water tank is robust too with 6mm walls and its own stoneguard. All in all, it’s a quality build made to go the distance.
As tough as the build is though, it’s also very liveable with a high quality of finish. The composite body is made locally and looks great with its smooth edges, but don’t be fooled by its soft looks; the glasswork is properly thick in the leading edges and around key areas like hinges and walkways.
All four sides open fully to reveal excellent mozzie screens which are sheltered from the rain by the spring-pole supported extended roof. It’s a well-engineered system that maximises outdoor living opportunity and airflow through the camper without the need for poles everywhere. If you need more sheltered space, you can affix an extended awning as seen at this year’s REDARC Camper Trailer of the Year.
Recently Ultimate Off-Road Campers made a change to composite panels for the kitchen and cupboards, which not only saves some weight but also removes wood from the build. This is good news; wood is a pet peeve of mine, especially around wet areas like the benchtops. The serving bar, situated above the internal sink, works brilliantly with the external cooking bench. You can quickly pass dishes in or out and it doubles as yet more bench space.
With huge ground clearance, a low tow weight, heavy-duty construction and a compact body, the Ultimate GT360 will follow you wherever you choose to go. The payload, water and power capacity, and shelter that the easy-to-set-up camper provide will keep you comfortable for days on end. And with the knowledge and reputation behind the now 25-year-old company backing it up, you will sit back with the peace of mind that your journey has only just begun.
From an original article in Camper Australia, 7 February 2020