Words and pictures by Grant Spolander
I don’t know where to start. The Conqueror Comfort has more features and compartments than a Chinese treasure chest. This ain’t just an off-road trailer, it’s the ultimate contraband smuggling device… not that I’m endorsing that kinda thing.
I suppose the best place to begin is at the beginning, some 22 years ago when Conqueror manufactured their fi rst trailer for the SA army. In those days Conqueror was building and designing mobile military target systems that could be carted onsite and in the battlefi eld. Th is highly sophisticated target system included an onboard battery pack used to power the device. Conqueror built these trailers from scratch and installed all the necessary components and equipment.
In ’94 Conqueror expanded their business into the commercial sector, designing their fi rst off -road trailer in ’95. Th e company now has a total of 10 caravan / trailer products: fi ve off -road trailers, two off -road caravans and three on-road caravans.
Sometime in ’09 the company launched the Comfort model, a highly versatile trailer which is now their biggest selling off -road unit. In fact, the Comfort constitutes 50 to 60 percent of Conqueror’s total trailer sales.
FORM & FUNCTION
As a camper unit the Comfort has been designed around three primary considerations: sleeping, eating and storage. Th e rooft op tent is manufactured from military grade rip-stop canvas and opens on the LHS of the trailer when viewed from the tow-hitch side. Th e trailer includes a wraparound awning that covers an expansive 49 m².
When erect, the tent forms a large sleeping area (2.1 x 2.1 m) up top and a sizeable living area (2.1 x 21. m) down below. Th e top bed can comfortably accommodate two adults while the ground-sheeted living area will happily house an infl atable double bed or two single camping stretchers.
Pitching the tent is a labourious task and requires two pairs of hands. It can be done alone, but be warned, you’re gonna work up a sweat. Lastly, as far as the tent goes, I was very impressed by its hard-wearing quality and excellent ventilation.
The Conqueror Comfort sports numerous storage compartments; you’ll be most interested in the massive nosecone upfront and the two drop-down storage compartments on either side – the LHS acts as a bedroom cupboard while the RHS doubles as a bar / food prep area with fridge slide on the side.
But the real magic happens at the rear of the trailer where an L-shaped kitchen slides out on a robust drawer system. I don’t think there’s a chef in the world that would scoff at this setup. Among the kitchen’s endless features you’ll find: hot and cold water supply (pressure pumped and geyser heated), two basin inserts, a cutlery drawer, extra storage bins, worktop surfaces, glass / mug holders and a twin-plate SS gas stove with push-button ignition and glass top – very swish.
As mentioned before, the Comfort features an optional gas-geyser unit that can be permanently mounted within the nosecone. Th e geyser has the ability to run on gas and 220 V power when available. A comprehensive switchboard – within the kitchen – controls the geyser, water pump and all the necessary power / charging options like the ability to run on 220 V power or dual onboard deep-cycle batteries (12 V). As you may have gathered, the Comfort is also fi tted with twin 75-litre water tanks.
The only major critique I have of this trailer is the hinge / latch design. It’s pretty good as far as simplicity and durability go, but the latch itself off ers very little mechanical advantage and they tend to pop open if not secured with a cable tie, carabineer or small padlock. Th e door seals are thick, which is a good thing for dust prevention, but this makes the doors hard to close and some shoulder weight is often needed – a small woman or child will battle. If the latches were cam operated it would make this process far more user-friendly.
NUTS & BOLTS
For a long time now I’ve looked at Conqueror’s products and thought to myself, “Why the heck would you build an off-road trailer with pop rivets? That’ll never last!” As it turns out, I couldn’t be more mistaken. After doing some research on the subject I found that these rivets are there for alignment purposes only. The construction, strength and integrity of the trailer comes from the high-grade polyurethane glue that’s used between each body part.
I know what you’re thinking. I had a similar response when I heard this fact. “Glue? Seriously? This trailer is glued together? You’re telling me that the only thing holding this trailer together is chemically-made snot?” Scary hey? But here’s an even scarier thought: every time you climb into a plane or jet you basically put your life in the hands of this super-duper glue. That’s right, aeroplanes are made the same way – it’s all pop rivets and glue. And here’s the twist: that glue is the secret behind a plane’s (and the Comfort’s) structural strength and reliability.
When a machine is faced with über tough working conditions, it can be designed in two different ways, all-out rigidity or yielding flexibility. Generally speaking, when it comes to hard-jarring environments, you want a structure that can flex and absorb shock and vibration. An off-road trailer is the perfect candidate for such a setup. Rigid structures are often bulky, heavy and overly engineered.
If the Conqueror Comfort was welded together the welds themselves would undergo high frequency oscillations and could start to crack from metal fatigue. What’s more, when metal is exposed to extreme heat conditions it often becomes softer and more likely to break – a common scenario in metal weld applications. So, in short, the fact the Conqueror Comfort is glued together and not welded / bolted together is actually a good thing – it’s a noteworthy strength and not a weakness as I previously thought. As for the rest of it, well, the body panels are made from mild steel of a similar grade used to manufacturer vehicle body panels. In the Comfort’s case these panels are electroplated and powder coated for improved durability and aesthetics. The chassis is also sandblasted and hot-dip galvanised. Despite its full steel construction the Comfort is surprisingly light (590 kg tare). Conqueror have achieved this meagre mass in several ways. One: they use glue with no bolts, nuts or welds. Two: the trailer’s covered with purpose-drilled holes that significantly reduce the unit’s overall weight. Three: instead of using a double-skin panel design, Conqueror uses a single skin that’s bent and contoured for rigidity and strength – see pic on page 82. This trailer’s very well balanced. Even with water in the twin tanks the tow hitch is easy to lift. What’s more, the water tanks are low-slung in the chassis, spread across a wide area for the lowest possible centre of gravity. We tested this trailer in the Magaliesburg, at De Wildt 4×4. Fortunately, I had LA Sport branch owner Gary Swemmer with me. Gary’s a Conqueror dealer and avid supporter of the brand; he’s also very familiar with the product’s abilities. At one point during our test we squared up to a long hill descent riddled with axle-twisters; I must’ve looked anxious because Gary quickly commented: “It’s a Conqueror, you’ll never break this trailer, the Navara will fall apart first.” Despite the fact that we ploughed the earth on several occasions, I never once felt worried about the trailer after witnessing that cross-axle challenge. Th e Comfort shakes off knocks, bumps and scrapes with ease. I don’t know if this has anything to do with its fl exibility, but it made me realise why Conqueror has stubbornly stuck with their all-steel design. It may not be the lightest, most weatherproof material, but few materials can beat steel when it comes to all-out toughness and elasticity. (Unlike aluminium, steel has superior memory properties and is far more likely to return to its original shape aft er being bent or twisted. Th ink about a steel leaf spring versus an aluminium one). On-road, the trailer felt great. Th ere were no signs of trailer sway and our Navara Kingcab handled the load with ease. However, due to the Navara’s obvious turbo lag at low revs, the fully laden trailer did feel heavy from a standstill. TOW 2 TOW Th e Conqueror Comfort’s not for movers and shakers. If you’re the kind of traveller that likes to visit a diff erent campsite each day, you should not get yourself a Comfort – the tent and awning combination is just too much work for that. If that’s the case, maybe consider something along the lines of the Conqueror Supra.
For me, I’d say the Comfort requires a minimal stay of three nights per camp – that way you’ll get to appreciate the trailer’s many features without getting frustrated with its lengthy setup time.
When compared to similar trailers, the thing I like most about the Comfort is its layout. Conqueror’s designed this trailer in such a way that the features and functions are all accessible and neatly arranged in a specifi c location. It’s a case of ergonomics, an oft en overlooked quality that’s lost on an industry driven by a more-is-better philosophy. Somehow, Conqueror’s managed to balance these two factors by producing a trailer that’s not just filled with features, it’s well-designed and thoughtfully presented too.