We’ve all heard of teardrop campers, but how about squaredrop campers? Just like teardrops, squaredrops eliminate the need to set up and enable the use of tight campsites due to their non-expanding footprint, while also offering greater internal headroom and superior roof storage potential. On the one hand they look like a throwback to a former era that valued practicality over glamour; on the other, their macho angularity and folksy aesthetic recall the leading-edge displays at America’s premium outdoor show, SEMA.
Rod and Jodie of Origin Campers have been quietly plotting a squaredrop revolution in Australia since 2017. Both are passionate campers with a track record to prove it (including a formidable Canning Stock Route trip), and Rod has been able to draw upon his history of boilermaking, carpentry, and working with sheet metal to design three distinct models — the Contour, Borderline and Long-Range — or four, if you count their latest, the Long-Range V2 with side entry.
The sleeping space is entered via a side door on either side and is easily gained without the need for a step. The mattress covers the internal floor space, measuring 1.99m long by 1.47m wide, making for north-to-south sleeping. Those much over 6ft may find their toes touching the wall when fully stretched out.
Sleepers lay on a 100mm-thick foam mattress; however, the design allows for the addition of a mattress topper or an upgrade to an innerspring mattress. Either side works as the bedhead, so your head needn’t ever be lower than your feet at uneven sites. A spirit level on the drawbar helps you to level out in the first place.
High on the rear-end wall, two flush drawers secure with magnets and hinge downwards, revealing storage recesses. On the front-end wall, a generous open storage recess stretches the entire interior width; below this on the wall there’s a dual cig and USB outlet, collapsible bottle holders and hooks for hanging items (such as keys, a hoodie, a cap). There’s 1150mm headspace all-round; the squareness of the trailer allows for this evenness, which surely trumps the oft-slanted ceilings of moulded fibreglass when it comes to internal use.
Dual transom vents keep the interior fresh, as does a reversible ceiling fan. Two windows either side hinge outwards to allow airflow through midge screens, while the lower halves of the doors can similarly be opened. Aluminium composite walls and 50mm roof insulation keep the heat moderate. As we saw it, the Long-Range V2 had no way to black out windows, meaning moonlight, sunlight and light from buildings or street lamps could flood through, but Origin can add curtains.
The interior space suits two adults, but the headroom does allow for the addition of an optional ‘shelf’ style bed, whereby a 1470mm by 750mm platform is put above the feet of the parents to accommodate a child, lying perpendicular. It’s a good option for those who prefer their child inside with them, where it’s safe. If a second young one comes along there is the full-width storage recess mentioned — but that may be getting a bit claustrophobic. A rooftop tent or swags on the roof rack could also extend sleeping capacity.
THE BARE BONES
The Long-Range V2 comes with a 3.5-tonne-rated McHitch offering supple articulation in all planes and easy ‘automatic’ coupling. AL-KO dominates the fittings from the jockey wheel, electric brakes, handbrake, and two rear stabilisers, to the Outback leaf spring suspension with a rigid axle underneath. While leaf springs may offer less damping and suspension travel, Origin chose them to make life easy for customers.
Leaf springs are easier to work on than independent suspensions and their parts are fewer in number and easier to source. Rod and Jodie say they’ve heard a tale or two about people having to wait weeks in the outback for independent suspension parts to arrive, and they have personally had the trailing arm of a trailer they bought as customers in 1999 shear in two on them during an adventure on the Great Australian Bight.
The Long-Range V2’s drawbar and chassis are both 3mm DuraGal, and the drawbar is buttressed with a ‘strap’ of metal running underneath each side. All of this is painted with an autograde enamel chassis paint for additional protection. That level of care continues with the use of stainless steel screws throughout and the fact Rod first cuts, drills and fits the aluminium extrusions, and then removes and powdercoats them before refitting each one — such that rust or corrosion do not have a ‘way in’.
The floor is Specrite F17 17mm waterproof formply. I wouldn’t mind seeing an aluminium liner, raptor coating or other protection over this for offroad use, but Origin Campers is confident an additional waterproofing liner is unnecessary and would only add to the cost passed onto the customer. Meanwhile, the walls are aluminium composite laminated with an AA grade marine ply. Onto the slick satin black exterior powdercoat, Origin apply its distinctive, trademarked stickering: a greyscale camo pattern made up of Australia-shapes.
The package is nimble with its chamfered rear end, 1350kg max weight, 4415mm length and decent clearance all around, and falls nicely in the vehicle’s slipstream with its 2060mm height and narrow 1510mm body width, in a way that combats any compromise to aerodynamics as a result of the flat surfaces.
A real win for the Long-Range V2 model is how it pairs this petite unit with the lack of setup, a strength that is generally preserved for small caravans.
The tyres, as seen, were LT245/75R16 Mud Trac Maxtreks, riding on Mullins CSA alloy wheels. On a camper that may not be used for extreme 4WD tracks, such tyres may unnecessarily increase fuel economy and road noise. Depending on your intentions, consider asking for all-terrain tyres.
The front side of the custom-made front box on the A-frame holds the spare tyre and, behind this, is covered with powdercoated checkerplate protection. On the flat top of the box, a channel each end allows you to adjust the position of two tie-down points each side, in order to most effectively lash the load down onto a rubber matt (itself with checkerplate pattern for aesthetics). A raised rail around the edge of this flat surface further improves tie-down capability. This might be a good spot for firewood, although it is uncontained.
From the passenger’s side of the box extends a fridge slide that can take a 40 to 50L fridge depending on the brand. This slide features tie-down points and is held in place by slide-locks, supplanting the more common push-to-open trigger levers each side. This saves you from depressing two levers each time you take out and put in a fridge at camp (often), but also prevents the slide from locking out at full extension — meaning it may tend to slide back in when unattended at a slanted camp.
Opposite the fridge, on the driver’s side, is a storage space with tie-down points appropriate for a porta-potti or generator. There wasn’t a partition between this and the fridge slide on the day, but Origin Campers still had a few final touches to make and fitting an internal panel here was one of them.
Towards the rear from the slide, still on the driver’s side, is the electrical compartment I’ll go into in a minute. Opposite this on the passenger's side is a door opening on to a recess extending about two-thirds of the camper’s width, ideal for stretchers, camp chairs and other longish paraphernalia.
Nearer the rear, a hollow tube with a lid on both sides extends the width of the camper, catering for awning poles or two-part fishing rods, or stubby offshore or overhead rods with the reels removed. Both sides of this tube expand into a triangular prism, allowing the storage of a hammer, hatchet, recovery straps or other tools.
All drawers are marine-carpeted and most have LED lights with a switch on the light itself. The internal bed space can be used for storage too, on the proviso you remove your gear whenever sleeping.
Origin Campers supplies three roof rack crossbars standard, and these can be placed in six different positions — five of which are flat, while the sixth one, at the front, is slanted (I can picture grey recovery tracks here). Each bar can also be adjusted to sit at three different heights. Standing on the flat-topped wheel arches, made of 3mm aluminium checkerplate, enables easy fitment or removal of gear. Taken together, the racking is versatile to a level rarely seen in a camper trailer of this price. With this roof rack as is, or with low profile racking fitted if necessary, the camper will likely fit in your garage, protecting it from the elements and placing it where you can keep the batteries charged.
The back end of the camper is a door, secured by over-centre latches, which lifts upwards on gas struts to reveal the grand food prep space within. An upper shelf stretches the width at the top, tailor-made to fit plastic tubs. Below this at working level is a shelf of oiled pine wood. Suspended above this there’s a 12V charging hub with voltmeter (it’s a good place, where you’ll always see it). Below the central shelf, on the right side, a two-stage drawer pulls out; the part closest to the body becomes a wooden prep bench, from which extends an expansive cutlery tray. Meanwhile, underneath the central shelf on the left side is recessed space, ideal for plastic storage tubs.
Aesthetically, it’s a very appealing kitchen space — homey, warm and welcoming. I’d like to see an Origin Campers’ kitchen after five to 10 years of use, to form a better idea of how the wood holds up. Taking good care of it and treating it occasionally would help to preserve its appearance.
We didn’t see this on review, but Origin also fits aluminium slides to the camper’s side on either side of the kitchen, into which can be slotted self-supporting shelves, which further extends the kitchen working space.
The fridge isn’t right at hand, but neither is it far. There’s no cooktop nor sink, meaning you’ll need to use portable options. Not having these features keeps expenses off the price sheet and also preserves storage space.
The question is whether you are happy to fill a pop-up sink with a manual hand pump and cook using a portable one-burner cooktop and discardable butane bottles.
The back door/lid itself forms a big shelter over the cook’s head, itself with 25mm insulation. We were on slightly slanted ground during review and I found I had to duck a fraction to fit my 183cm of height under it — something that will happen with tall folks now and again, given campsites are often uneven (but sometimes, when the ground drops off, that actually helps). This lid has an LED light to illuminate le chef in action and angles downwards away from the hinge, encouraging water run-off away from the hinge, which is nevertheless covered with a fabricated aluminium deflector acting as a rainguard.
When it comes to eating, there is no dinette either (an absence to be expected in a teardrop), so camp chairs and a folding table will be the way to go. There’s an external LED light on both driver and passenger sides and a 2m x 2.5m awning fitted as standard. Supa Peg 180-degree awnings, worth more than $800 each, could theoretically combine with the kitchen lid to form nearly all-round shelter.
GETTING AWAY FROM IT ALL
The 140Ah AGM battery stores in the electrical compartment on the driver’s side, along with easily accessible fuses, a battery killswitch and the Projecta 16A Pro-charge 240V charger. This charger has a power cord running off it, which attaches to an extension cord and leads out an openable circular hatch in the compartment’s floor to extend to a powerbox or powerpoint.
The camper’s only power demands are the fridge, LED lights, reversible ceiling fan, and anything drawn from the cig and USB points. Compare that to other campers with 12V pumps, inverters, air-cons, and so forth.
Yet while the 140Ah capacity is sufficient for demand, it will still run down quickly without DC/DC charging. Away from 240V power, the camper’s power demands would drain the battery in two to three days.
There is an Anderson plug on the drawbar, and this could be used with a regulated solar panel placed on the ground — but these are best used by stationary campers (not everyone’s style) and, unless they are large, may not be sufficient. This Ando plug could also be used for charge from the car but said charge would need to be regulated either by a DC/DC charger or a voltage sensitive relay. Basically, if you want to get away from caravan parks, either because you’re headed where there are no parks or you want to save money, ask Origin Campers about adding these options to your camper, or have a chat with an auto-electrician.
I’ll also note here that Origin has included a smoke alarm in this electronics compartment (to complement the one in the internal bed space), just in case anything ever sparked and caused a blaze. That’s a nice safety-conscious touch you don’t see often.
Water-wise, two Camec 59L poly tanks reside underneath. These are both filled from the same filler and run into each other, and so, the Long-Range loses that oft-praised ‘redundancy’, whereby you have a back-up if one tank becomes contaminated when out bush. Filling is easy; you just hook on a hose attachment, and can tell when the tanks are full, as a neighbouring air release will start to let the excess out if opened. While there are a few well-run pipelines and wires protected within split conduit underneath, these are set far back from the front and so ought to be out of range of flick-back from the car’s tyres. As always, there’s a small possibility that these, the pipe fittings and the hose attachments on the passenger side could potentially come into the firing line from the camper’s tyres.
The 120L water capacity ought to last longer than it would in another camper because, as with the battery, there aren’t many demands on it. Water comes from a hand pump on the passenger side wheel arch; there’s no showerhead, no sink, no drawbar tap, and accordingly no 12V water pump. Using a manual pump reminds me of paying by cash, not card — somehow the resource you’re using becomes real, and the fact you have to lift out every note by hand helps to keep your usage down.
If you want to shower away from caravan parks, you’ll need to heat water on a campfire and use a portable shower and tent. Really, I don’t miss a built-in shower or hot water system, because there are few contexts in which shower run-off won’t flood other people’s campsites. The absence of running water and of hot water may perturb some comfort-lovers but it does remove gas from the setup as well as expensive components such as cooktop/sink slides (which reflect in the final price), and components that open the door for Murphy’s Law.
A gutter on the roof at the slanted front end of the camper catches water and forces it to run out of a hole on the side. This hole, fitted with a hose, can direct water down into a bucket, and this bucket can then be used for washing-up or hand-washing, or emptied away from camp to prevent the living area from becoming muddy.
Rarely do you find a camper trailer put together on Australian shores, from Aussie components where this is possible, for $32,100. While the Long-Range does lack a few popular features found in other trailers, like a cooktop, running water, and a DC/DC charger, the price is accordingly lower, and in a way, things are simpler. General warranty is 12 months, with the chassis extending out to 24 months.
The Origin Long-Range V2 impresses me with its small but helpful innovations and the custom-build of many elements, many of which are not recognisable from other trailers I’ve seen. I’d say this trailer suits those who despise long-winded setups and relish a comfortably sheltered space to sleep, who enjoy their recreational toys and a warm, welcoming food prep space.
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Payload 450kg (calculated)
Ball weight 120kg (unloaded)
Suspension AL-KO Outback leaf spring with rigid axle
Brakes AL-KO electric brakes and handbrake
Chassis/Drawbar 3mm DuraGal, 100mm x 50mm for drawbar, 75mm x 50mm for chassis, with black enamel painted surface
Body Aluminium composite
Tyres 245 x 75 x R16 mud terrain (with spare)
Rims Alloy black spoke Raptor 16 x 8
Style Square teardrop (Squaredrop)
Height 2060mm (including roof rack and awning bag)
Body length 3110mm
Overall length 4415mm (including drawbar
but not hitch)
Width 1510mm (body), 2110mm (including
Bed area 1990mm x 1470mm
Kid’s bed area 1470mm x 750mm
Internal head height 1150mm
Water 2 x 60L Camec poly tanks, hand pump on wheel arch
Gas None comes standard; however, a gas holder is optional for $50 or a custom black checkerplate holder can be fitted for $290. Both options hold a 4.5L bottle.
Kitchen Rear recessed kitchen, with ample shelving and a cutlery drawer, plus timber prep space and side tables; to be used with portable sink and portable cooktop
Battery 140Ah AGM battery, Projecta 16A Pro-Charge 240V charger, Anderson plug on drawbar
Inspections by appointment, Sunshine Coast, Qld
Ph: 0490 776 837