In the world of Australia’s longest standing manufacturer of camper trailers, Cub Campers, the Brumby is an icon. The forwardfold Frontier may be their largest seller, but when it comes to a proven design that represents all that Cub stands for and has historically specialised in, the Brumby is it.
The Brumby LE — the acronym means Limited Edition (limited, Cub says, to probably mid-2020) — looks in many ways similar to what we’ve seen before. However, the idea was to design and build an up-specced edition that in some ways returns to the toughly engineered versions from the past. At the same time Cub have added some new offroad features that are coming out of the Cub factory in 2019 to make this an even more competent performer in extreme conditions, plus they’ve blended it with a few luxury-orientated additions.
The LE is, in short, a trial ship for what could potentially be a new luxury-cum-durability package that will become a regular option across the Cub range. At the same time, the LE is a way of market-testing ideas for regular inclusion in either the Brumby alone, or across the range of Cub models.
TWO BRUMBIES, SIDE BY SIDE
Our review camper was the first off the production line, and had been equipped with the factory’s Adventure Pack, adding a second battery and water tank and the rear swing-away utility rack arm to mount the rear wheel. All of this adds a little to the weight and price, but it’s common sense in terms of the bushability of this camper.
Superficially there is a new paint scheme: a Carbon gloss skin with some highlighting in red and dark grey that looks quite smart. Unfortunately the Carbon might as well be called gloss black and that is a colour that tends to show off dust, so if appearance is a ‘thing’ in your life then you might want to consider the option of a custom colour, now available through Cub’s installation of a spray painting booth.
The 17 x 8in alloy Gun Metal wheels all round, including the spare (replacing the old steel spare rim), also look good, and go with the chunky-look Goodyear 265/70R17 mud terrain rubber that is also bigger than in the standard trim Brumby. Again, there’s good well-known brands throughout and no cheap short cuts.
The wheels are more secure, now being mounted on AL-KO 50mm stub axles rated to 2000kg and now with dual Rox Shocks, replacing the standard issue single shock set-up. The reduced load per shock in theory adds to a longer life and a better suspension. And soon to come — though not yet evident on our review camper — will be a new set of trailing arms made from larger 65mm diameter steel, rather than the current 50mm, a move that will be made throughout the Cub fleet. This is a preemptive move designed to add strength to a system that comes under heavy load. It’s a welcome step where there have been stories in some imported campers of failures due to inadequate construction.
The brakes — 10in standard on the Brumby — have been stepped up to 12in AL-KO electric drums.
The drawbar, reduced to 100 x 50 x 3mm pre-galvanised steel for the normal Brumby, has gone back up to 150 x 50 x 3mm as a nod to extra strength in the supporting components. A drawbar of 100 x 50mm is generally considered strong enough for a camper with a Tare of less than 1000kg, but for the LE, with a designated destiny to tackle the toughest of tracks, the extra few kilos of weight come with an added assurance that nothing is going to worry this set-up.
The coupling on the LE is a DO35 as standard, though others (including AL-KO’s offroad ball and Trigg) are optional. The DO35 goes well with the Cruisemaster handbrake and heavy-duty AL-KO removable jockey wheel.
The bodywork has a larger front box. In standard trim the Brumby had an upper limitation of a 75L WAECO but has now been upgraded to suit up to a 95L WAECO, still in that aluminium checkerplate that is so diagnostic of Cub campers. The box has the 11 ventilation holes through to the storage box behind, but on our test we did note the gas-strut-equipped black access door becoming extremely hot even in winter sun. Though WAECO and Evakool have suggested the internal venting is okay, it might be found that a simple layer of insulation on the inside of the door would do much to assist the load on a contained fridge, especially a large 95L model which would leave little air gap around it.
The box contains an Anderson plug for electricity supply, the stabiliser winder and, below the carpeted slide, a handle for the supplied jack. Again, we commend Cub for the supply of a jack, something rarely seen in the industry and which often leaves owners struggling in the event of a flat tyre. There is even a socket to match the wheel nuts. Top marks.
The painted leading edge of the access door is exposed to stone damage but we are told there’s a fix already on the way in terms of how the stoneguard on that side is mounted. The current stoneguard gives excellent access to the dual 4kg gas bottles, taps, winch and dual 20L jerry can holders behind it, looks neat and does an excellent job of dampening errant stones. We’re sure a fix will be an easy job.
One of the neat things about the gas bottle set-up is the separate lines, each with its tap, to a common central regulator, which makes for more common sense handling of gas rather than having to switch bottles or the regulator when one bottle runs out.
On top of the fridge box is a rack, suitable for carrying a firewood box, spare canvas or other bulky item.
The electronics are again upgraded, with the once optional REDARC BMS30 battery manager now a standard fitting. This ensures there’s an input of up to 30 amps per hour from mains, solar or alternator, where supply is available, and battery capacity is optimised.
The standard fit-out of the LE is a single 100Ah AGM battery, but with our camper enjoying the options of the Adventure Pack we had the second battery. To be honest if you are going to make the most of the BMS30 that is pretty much a must-have, otherwise you are wasting capacity in the charging side. The batteries are still mounted in an exposed style beneath the flip-up bed base.
And we still like the way Cub wire their Anderson plugs on the drawbar with 6B&S cable. Top marks again.
In other respects the LE is well-equipped electrically. There is a 15 amp 240 volt in plug and an external outlet as well as two internal outlets, all covered by an RCD safety switch. There are two external Merit 12 volt outlets near the kitchen and one near the foot of the bed next to a cigarette socket, as well as a dual USB outlet. Lighting includes bedside reading lights and 3700mm and 1200mm strip lights with dimmers. The kitchen also has its own stalk light.
Our review camper with its Adventure Pack came with a second heavy-duty poly 80L water tank, again a smart move for those longer trips beyond the edge of civilization. These tanks, in the LE, now come with galvanised steel stoneguards. The dual water filters, dual filler inlets, drawbar hand pump and gauge all complete the picture.
Another optional feature for the regular Brumby is a utilities outlet on the driver’s side, below the front box.
The passenger’s side has an outlet port for gas and water to supply the kitchen, but if you want, say, a shower tent with an instant gas heater, then the second utilities port on the other side will be greatly appreciated. On the LE it’s standard.
To sustain that option, when there might be a desire for use of both a shower and the kitchen at the one time, the water pump capacity has been increased to 10 litres per minute as standard on the LE.
ERECTING YOUR KINGDOM
In keeping with the paint theme, the all-Aussie Wax Converters Dynaproof grey canvas is finished in a smart red trim.
After swinging away the rear utility rack, which mounts the spare, the tent is easily set up and packed away courtesy of Cub’s excellent winch system. We have seen individuals in a competitive environment get the tent out and erect it in just over two minutes, but that involved a lot of running and scrambling. A more leisurely four minutes is very doable.
Adding the 5440 x 1840mm awning, with its five poles and eight spreader bars, takes a bit longer, but the aluminium poles with clamp adjustment for length makes it all fairly easy. The standard pack does not include walls or draught skirt but all are readily available as options.
Frankly, I’d like to see at least one end wall included (that could be installed front or rear) and a half wall for the outer edge. Rain rarely falls vertically and there are times when you need that added shelter from wind or rain just to make life livable.
Internally the LE also includes a queen sized (2100 x 1350mm) pocket spring mattress on a tilt-up base which gives you plenty of storage space beneath and room for knick-knacks down each side. There are five midgee mesh windows around the camper, plus the large entry door. When the camper is packed up there is plenty of room on the bed for chairs, table and/or leaving the awning attached, the latter of which is recommended to save the fiddly job of reattaching it to what is a high peak tent.
The rear floor is covered in vinyl and at 1660 x 2160mm is roomy enough for a couple of cots, sleeping bags on air beds or a table and chairs. Cubs do have a hefty 500mm high step up onto the rear floor which may prove a little challenging for older knees but small steps are cheap and easily carried.
The kitchen, in line with all Cub campers, is topped with the textured Rimex stainless steel which was designed for the catering industry. It remains bright and shiny and does not accumulate fine scratches and scuffing like standard stainless. At 1370 x 700mm it’s a good size and is aided by a Rimex 900 x 260mm side shelf that clips onto the side of the body and travels in a slot beneath the kitchen.
It has a Dometic two-burner cooker and stainless sink, each with a glass cover, and there are four drawers built in for cutlery, some crockery and other appliances.
The LE acquires an additional 85kg of mass over the standard Brumby, and with the Adventure pack it goes up to 1032kg – not that that’s much to worry about today when we see some forwardfolds at 1600 to 1800kg for a pretty similar level of fit-out. The ball weight comes in at 135kg when empty.
There is a good range of options available to extend the camper’s flexibility, including hot dip galvanizing, a boat loader, the rear utility rack as a separate item, a driver’s side door to the tent, shower rooms, awning walls and other canvas, including the new Ezy Awning which is a simple velcro-on canvas awning that requires only two poles (the Brumby LE is the first of the 2.2 Series of Cubs to be compatible with this).
The Cub Brumby LE is a pretty competent and well equipped rearfold camper. You’re getting all that’s necessary – plus a few luxuries – in a neat and lightweight package. This is the sort of thing you were paying around $60K for from, say, Aussie Swag two years back, but here, as we saw it, the price is $40,015. Without the Adventure Pack additions it’s $37,990, but it is that second battery and second water tank (which then requires the rear mounting of the spare) that make this a true offroader that has some real capacity to go the distance away from the comforts of regular towns and power and water.
Yeah, maybe you can get something similar at a cheaper price from an import, but this is built here, with all-Aussie steel and canvas and all-Aussie know-how (and that’s got to be worth something). If you ever have a problem you know where it’s built and by who and you can get it fixed. If you haven’t stopped and looked at a Cub for a while then do so at the next show; you might be surprised.
Payload 618kg (calculated)
Ball weight 135kg (empty)
Suspension Dual shock trailing arm independent
Brakes 12in drum
Coupling Cruisemaster DO35
Chassis 100 x 50 x 3mm Duragal
Drawbar 150 x 50 x 3mm Duragal
Body Zincanneal, front box aluminium
Wheels Six-stud 17 x 8in alloy
Tyres 265/70R17 Goodyear mud terrain
Body size 1700mm x 2230mm
Awning size 5440 x 1840mm
Gas cylinders 2 x 4kg
Cooktop Two-burner Smev
Kitchen Stainless steel with zincanneal drawers
Battery 2 x 100Ah AGM
Options fitted Second 100Ah battery, second 80L water tank, rear swing away arm and spare wheel carrier
PRICE AS TESTED
- All Aussie build and design
- Excellent kitchen
- Ease of set-up and pack-up
- Excellent canvas
- Good electricals
- No tropical roof
- Paint shows dust and scuffs
- Needs some awning wall(s)
CAMPER STAR RATINGS
Fit for intended purpose — 9.5
Innovation — 9
Self-sufficiency — 9.5
Quality of finish — 9.5
Build quality — 9.5
Offroadability — 9.5
Comforts — 9
Ease of use — 9.5
Value for money — 9.5
X-Factor — 9.5
Address 23 Loyalty Road, North Rocks, NSW 2151
Phone 1300 226 746