4WDs are known money pits. By the time you get to thinking about buying a camper trailer, you’ve often shot your budget. Dual battery system, fridge-freezer, storage drawers... It all adds up.
Trouble is you can’t comfortably sleep in a 4WD. You can add a rooftop tent, but that could exceed your weight limits, throw off your centre of gravity, and give you other headaches. And do you really, as a grown adult, want to kneel down among the ants, threading fibreglass poles through minuscule canvas openings and tensioning guy ropes with B-grade knots that boy scouts would scoff at?
The ideal fix is a simple trailer with all the essentials that you’ll barely notice the presence of, until you pull up at camp. And one that, once you’ve arrived at the end of a rutted offroad track, you can literally just climb into and nod off.
Such is the joy of the teardrop or hybrid pod style of camper. In such designs there’s not even a pop-top to deal with; but often there is a sizeable price tag. The Lumberjack Sheoak offers you that convenience for the staggeringly minute sum of $23,999. To think the price was actually reduced at time of writing!
This is definitely one to check out if you have a decked-out 4WD and are looking for a convenient sleeping and storage arrangement with a few added comforts that won’t throw you out financially or impact your savings in a significant way. Even if that’s not your situation, the Sheoak might suit you.
JUMPING OVER THE CANDLESTICK
The weight will have you double taking. How can you argue with a 740kg Tare and 1320kg ATM? Almost anything SUV can tow that, whereas a capable 4x4 will whip it around like a stick of fairy floss. The aerodynamic shape and positioning of the 65L water tank down low help too. Ball weight is 110kg, so you’ll still be able to carry heaps inside of your vehicle.
Lumberjack actually reduced ball weight a bit by moving the spare tyre from where it was originally, over the drawbar, to underneath. This decision also took the sidewall out of range of sharp projectiles launched by vehicle wheel spin. The stoneguard takes the first hit now. Underneath the camper it’s spick and span; nothing vulnerable will cop it.
Most impressive of all dimensions is the manageable length of 4.75m. The 2.2m width and 2.5m height are more to standard. Length is usually the problem so the Sheoak ought to fit into most garages. Do check the height of yours though, particularly if you plan to option on a Firefly rooftop tent. On the tow, the size will allow you to be aware, always, of the Sheoak’s exact whereabouts, and to avoid scrapes and dings going around tight bends or overgrown tracks.
The 3000kg-rated polyblock style coupling performed well on our mosey around Brisbane Ranges National Park, allowing a lot of flex, up and down on the hills and side to side on the switchbacks. As with the suspension, it’s not a known brand but is brought in from overseas. Such decisions enable the affordable price point.
The independent coil spring suspension doesn’t have miles to travel between compression and extension, which makes the ride a bit bumpier, but does increase stability. It so happened that on our review model, which wasn’t up for sale, the handbrake cable was routed such that, applied or not applied, it made light contact with the trailing arms. This was an anomaly and would be a simple fix.
If you plan to take this on very challenging offroad tracks, have a chat to Lumberjack and see what they can do for you. Optioning on Dobinsons shocks would be one way to boost suspension performance.
Goodyear Wrangler 265/75R16 A/Ts on Lumberjack branded six-stud wheels grab the turf. 12” electric brakes bring these to a halt.
SET UP BEFORE YOU CAN SAY ‘WHERE DO YOU KEEP THE POLES?’
There is virtually no set-up, beyond dropping the ARK XO 500 series jockey wheel and stabiliser legs (if you disconnect). You open one of the two doors, climb into your already set-up bedding, and dream about whatever it is you dream about. The camper is so light it has a handle at the front you can use to pull it into ideal position.
If you’re hanging around for longer, or are setting up a temporary day camp, the only extra thing you have to do is put out the 2 x 2.5m 280gsm rip-stop poly cotton Firefly awning. For this you unzip the travel bag, undo some velcro, unroll the awning, extend the horizontal support bars via twist lock and place them, extend the legs via twist lock and position them. Then you’re done. Set down is just as easy!
You can option on a double roof top tent if you have a kid or two, or a keen friend or couple you know, making the Sheoak a four-berth. This mounts directly onto the cargo rails up top. The in-house tent option is Firefly, either hard or soft top, which opens via automation.
Like the rest of the system, this RTT works off of 12V; you plug it in, press a button and up it goes. Be mindful, these sell like hotcakes! The roof can take 150kg so you can alternatively use it for storage of other big light items.
DINNER IS SERVED
The kitchen is up the back. Its pyramid shaped lid lifts on gas struts to form a shelter over the cook’s head. The sheltered space measures 1.53m wide, 85cm deep.
Along the bottom, taking up most of the width, a stainless steel kitchen slides out. On this you lift a lid to reveal the cooktop and hold it up with wind guards. I wouldn’t mind the option of not having the wind guards out, but your cooking flame will certainly be safe from gusts. The cooktop itself is a four-burner with a sturdy grate. To run the burners you remove the gas bottle from the holder and hook it up.
To the right of the cooktop is the sink, which you can drain out via pipe at the bottom. The tap of this runs via 12V pump, positioned to the left of the slide-out. Unless you option on a hot water system or are sold one as part of a package, the water will be cold. On top of the sink, there’s a water outlet on the drawbar that’s super convenient for filling a bucket, or, if you have a HWS, having a shower in a pop-up tent.
Above the kitchen, two carpeted drawers slide out. Then, in the fibreglass back wall, you find two cupboards (with a blank space in the centre occupied internally by a cupboard). These are fully open, without shelving, making them best for storage of larger items. When the cooktop lid is up you can only access the back right cupboard.
A good camping table stored in the back of the car ought to make up for the limited preparation space available in the kitchen.
At the top in the centre there’s a light, as there is down both sides of the body.
LUGGING YOUR CARGO
Near the back on one side there’s a jerry can holder; on the other side there’s a 4.5kg gas bottle ring. Up the front, over the drawbar, there’s a massive storage capsule that goes up smoothly on gas struts.
Most of this space is available, apart from the bit taken up by the battery in its protective box. This capsule is properly cavernous and a big win for storage. There’s a vent on its right which allows you to safely fit a fridge — up to 65L, we’re told. This’d run off the cig plug of the nearby battery. However, a fridge here would be hard to access and lift out, which is another reason this camper suits someone with a decked-out 4WD.
You will be able to use the storage space to full effect thanks to the 580kg payload (495kg with a full water tank and jerry). You could use the interior space on the mattress for storage of soft items too; there’s plenty of it.
WITHIN THE POD
You can enter via two doors, positioned opposite each other, in front of the wheel arch on both sides. The mattress sits about midway up your thighs when you’re standing so it’s easy to sit back on it and ease your way in backwards.
The queen sized mattress takes up the entire interior. It’s comfy 100 to 130mm memory foam. Anyone under 190 or 195cm should have more than enough room to lie down. Nothing but the TV, at your feet, juts into the space; there’s no protruding edges to bang yourself on in the darkness of night.
You can have the doors fully open; they lock onto the body. You can also have just the mesh doors closed. This allows for brilliant cross ventilation, as do the windows positioned approximately over the wheel arches on both sides. Your choices on these are fully open, closed, fly screen, or blacked out. There’s also vents on both sides.
Straight in front of the resting campers is a 17” inch TV on an adjustable neck. Above this, a multi-media player (CD/DVD). Sound booms sweetly forth from the dual in-built Sony speakers. The TV is mounted on the interior cupboard door and swings out with it. This cupboard is the same size as the external cupboards accessed via the kitchen. As we saw it, the TV cords hang across to where they attach to the 12V power, but you could probably secure them with a bit of handiwork. How good would it be to watch your favourite flick while rain pattered on the fibreglass and flashes of lighting lit the landscape outside?
There’s lights above both windows, control panels with labelled light and power switches, a flexible storage pocket down both sides, 12V outlets (cig and USB), a battery level monitor and a water tank gauge. Taking control and knowing the state of your camper is easy.
KEEPING YOURSELF GOING
The stainless steel water tank holds 65L and you can add 20L onto that by having water in the jerry can. With just the sink and bucket-filling outlet on the drawbar for drinking and washing up requirements for two people, that is plenty of life-giving liquid.
The gas bottle ring is made for a 4.5kg bottle. That’ll require refilling now and then but, unless you cook steaks around the clock, like my old housemate, that’ll last for long enough. Without a HWS the cooktop will be the sole accessory using gas.
A master-stroke of the system is that it is built to run entirely on 12V. Accordingly there’s nothing power-hungry sapping your battery. That means the 95Ah Century battery will last a surprisingly long time, particularly as you probably won’t have a fridge, which is usually the biggest battery-draining culprit.
Charge to the battery is controlled by a Firefly charger, which didn’t happen to be fitted on our review model. This charger allows you to top up via 240V power and the Anderson plug on the drawbar (via alternator or regulated solar panel).
All of the off-grid capacities are fit to purpose. Not overkill nor underkill for the amount the camper trailer will consume. Straight on the bull’s eye.
The Lumberjack Sheoak isn’t made for those who wish to simply disappear, only to emerge, leather-skinned, 10 years later with a poorly wrapped bowie knife at their nephew’s thirteenth birthday. If that sounds like you, look to the rest of Lumberjack’s varied range.
The Sheoak itself is best suited as a couple’s getaway machine or for folks who travel for extended periods within slightly more populous regions with more resources, such as NSW’s east coast. That said, a well set-up 4WD could have your overall set-up ready for almost infinite off-grid stays.
ONE LAST THING
Lumberjack offer a five year structural warranty and 12 months on the rest. They’ve got a show room in Corio near Geelong and one in Slacks Creek near Brisbane. Cameron Caravans is also an agent of theirs in SA.
If you want something lightweight and nimble, with basically zero set-up, that has you sleeping off of the floor, and that doesn’t double up on features you already have in your 4x4, the Lumberjack Sheoak is a must-see.
Ball weight 110kg
Suspension Independent trailing arm with coil springs and dual shocks
Brakes 12” Electric and handbrake
Coupling Polyblock style rated to 3000kg
Drawbar 100 x 50 x 4mm RHS hot dip galvanised
Cladding Fibreglass with white gloss
Wheels/Tyres Goodyear Wrangler 265/75R16 A/Ts on Lumberjack branded six-stud wheels, alloy rims
Style Hybrid pod/teardrop
Size (closed) 4.75m (L) x 2.2 (W) x 2.5 (H)
Body length 3.65m
Awning 2 x 2.5m (Firefly)
Gas 1 x 4.5kg bottle holder
Water 1 x 65L stainless steel tank plus 20L jerry can holder, 12V pump, outlet on drawbar
Kitchen Stainless steel kitchen slide-out with four-burners and sink, nearby pantry
Battery 1 x 95Ah Century deep cycle charged via Firefly charger, Anderson plug on drawbar
Automatic rooftop tent, foxwing awning, 240V power, fridge. See fireflycampinggear.com.au for more options and prices.
PRICE AS SHOWN
- Virtually no set-up required
- Weighs a tiny 740kg Tare
- 150kg roof carrying capacity
- Incredibly low price point
- Perfect for folks who own decked-out 4WDs
- Cosy internal sleeping, with some cool tech
- Limited suspension travel
- Lack of bench prep space
- Awkwardness of adding a fridge
CAMPER STAR RATINGS
Fit for intended purpose — 9.5
Innovation — 7
Self-sufficiency — 6
Quality of finish — 7
Build quality — 6.5
Offroadability — 6.5
Comforts — 7
Ease of use — 9
Value for money — 9.5
X-Factor — 8
Lumberjack Camper Trailers
Address (Vic) 290 Princess Highway, Corio VIC 3214
Address (Qld) 2/11 Moss St, Slacks Creek, QLD 4127
Phone 1300 30 40 45