Dirt road caravan purchase

Submitted: Wednesday, Mar 13, 2013 at 15:06
ThreadID: 101068 Views:6430 Replies:7 FollowUps:2
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Hello there. We are keen to make the big upgrade to an off road/dirt road caravan and have narrowed our list to the following::::
1). Retreat Kepler 16.6 with single axle and ind. suspension, shower/toilet (not a pop-top).

2). Crusader X country 16 with the above or similar features.

Has anybody got "hands on" experience with either of these vans ?
Are there any other makes/models on the market that we should also look at ?

We are in the $50k to $60k spend range.

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Reply By: rusti2 - Wednesday, Mar 13, 2013 at 15:18

Wednesday, Mar 13, 2013 at 15:18
Concept Caravans
AnswerID: 506706

Follow Up By: baz&pud (tassie) - Wednesday, Mar 13, 2013 at 19:20

Wednesday, Mar 13, 2013 at 19:20
We purchased a CC Van in 2006, it was 6 weeks old when we towed it across the Gibb River Road, held together, couldn't fault it, believe you can pick up second hand for the price you have mentioned.
Ours had Simplicity Suspension.
Go caravaning, life is so much shorter than death.

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Follow Up By: Don J1 - Saturday, Mar 16, 2013 at 21:04

Saturday, Mar 16, 2013 at 21:04
Thanks Rusti and all the others who replied.
Today purchased a new Concept Belmont off road 16ft van with queen bed, shower/toilet, ind coil sprung suspension , duel shockers, solar, etc, etc.
Dealer did a good deal on the van in stock. So very happy. Pick up in two weeks.
Seems to be equal or better built than original choices (crusader and retreat) for slightly less money.
Time will tell.
Thanks to all.
FollowupID: 784043

Reply By: Member - Bruce and Di T (SA) - Wednesday, Mar 13, 2013 at 16:01

Wednesday, Mar 13, 2013 at 16:01
Hi Don,

We have a 16' Crusader X-Country full van with the shower and toilet. We love it. We are about to head off on a major dirt road trip later in the year.

The bed is comfortable and is a decent length without having to add an extender. We headed to Melbourne and the factory to seee how they were made before we settled on our van. We went to visit the factory of another well known maker of offroad vans. They made good coffee, but did not show us over the factory; reason for visiting. Crusader, on the other hand, met us, gave us safety jackets and then took us through the factory. We began with the chassis, control rider suspension and were then taken through every other stage. We saw just how the frames were put together, how the cupboards were fixed to the frame, even how the curtains and seats were made. We were impressed and went ahead and ordered one once we got home.

We were disappointed in the other company's attitude as they had been our first choice in our initial research.and reason for heading to Melbourne. They knew the reason we were coming to Melbourne, the date and purpose as we had made an appointment with them. When we arrived the person who was supposed to be showing us everything was away on a caravan tour and we were left with the impression that other people did not know why we were there.

We haven't used it on dirt roads yet but have been to Darwin and back in it as well as to Queensland (Sunshine Coast) and back. In truth we believe that based on the construction it will perform well. Our neighbours have the 17'6" X-Country and have used it on dirt roads and it has performed well.

When we added what we wanted our spend was greater than that, but your spend should be possible.

AnswerID: 506710

Reply By: Member - Julio C (VIC) - Wednesday, Mar 13, 2013 at 18:45

Wednesday, Mar 13, 2013 at 18:45
Hi Don, we have had our 16' X-country for two years and have been through some nasty dirt tracks and corugations, and a couple of deep river crossings. we can't fault the van.
AnswerID: 506721

Reply By: graham B9 - Thursday, Mar 14, 2013 at 08:51

Thursday, Mar 14, 2013 at 08:51
Hi Don,

I have just finished a work contract with one of the best off road manufacturers. Almost all vans are basically the same. It is numbers, there arre only so many ways you can make a box, put it on wheels, fill it with applicance and make some profit. In caravans you get what you pay for. No one can sell a rolls for the price of a falcon.

There are some things to look for however that give you an indication of how much attention to detail the manufacture put into the vans. So a new thing is bolt on suspension. G&S chassis in Melbourne make almost all chassis for caravans. Their new chassis have this bolt on suspension. So down the track (time I mean and not distance) you can upgrade the suspension by just bolting on a new system and removing the old. In the past suspension has been welded to the chassis.

Look at the way the brakes are wired up. Crawl under the van and look at how it has been sealed for water and dust. Get a ladder and look on top of the van for the same. You will scare the salesman once you start getting on top top of a van.

Ask about things like LPG generators and LPG bullets. This is new and a LPG tank like in a car. It get away from gas bottles and is much cheaper to run. You fill the LPG at the petrol station. Ask about split system AC and not just to roof top units. Much more but no space to write.
AnswerID: 506761

Reply By: BUSH CAMPER - Thursday, Mar 14, 2013 at 08:53

Thursday, Mar 14, 2013 at 08:53
We purchased the first Elite offroad caravan (Goulburn ) built, 3 years ago.
It was spec'd to our requirement.
Have done the Oodnatta track, Dalhousie, Mt Dare, old Guahn railway though Finke. Chambers Pillar and the Gibb river road.
Apart from a few window problems(now fixed ) the van was great.
Control rider suspension and nearly every extra that you could imagine.
Total weight loaded about 2300 kgs.
Full ensuite.
They now make a few different types now and look great.
I don't think $50 - 60K will will be enough for a really good offroad van.
I friend travelled with us last year with a well known offroad van and had a lot of trouble, and didn't do the Gibb river road.
If you want more info let me know and we could get speak on the phone.
regards Hugh
AnswerID: 506762

Reply By: Motherhen - Thursday, Mar 14, 2013 at 13:40

Thursday, Mar 14, 2013 at 13:40
Hi Dj

As with most equipment purchases, better to buy a good second hand top of the range product than a new product for similar money. Look at brands that built for rough road (the term I prefer as off road on models often merely means they can be taken off the bitumen occasionally) as a brand, rather than an upgraded for the label off road model from a black top manufacturer.


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AnswerID: 506777

Reply By: Member - kym111 - Saturday, Mar 16, 2013 at 11:35

Saturday, Mar 16, 2013 at 11:35
Hi Don
My hubby and I ended up going with Sunland, and have been very happy with it, although it came out at the upper end of the price scale (we added lots of extras and ours is over 22 foot, family van). Enquire about their Patriot, as they look to be just as tough, but cheaper.

We've had our Sunland Longreach up to Landor Races and back with no dramas (I thought the Murchison road was ok last year, but others have told me it was hideous!) and into the beach on Tamala Station at Shark Bay over Christmas.

What sort of independant suspension is the Retreat? The Crusaders have coil suspension, and we looked at them, probably would have got one if we hadn't discovered the Sunland. I wouldn't have anything but coils or airbags.

In saying that, my parents buy a standard on-road caravan, and take them to Ningaloo, Landor, Tamala and don't have problems. But they only travel a couple of times a year. Friends had a Crusader X Country built last year, and love it. And it's a very nice, sturdy looking van (it is a pop top).

We are doing an extended trip around the block, so wanted something that could handle what we intend to throw at it.

Either way, both would be very good vans (they have excellent reputations!).
Good luck
AnswerID: 506886

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