Mobile Home vs Off road Caravan

Submitted: Wednesday, Oct 16, 2013 at 17:51
ThreadID: 104747 Views:3387 Replies:8 FollowUps:8
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I'm looking for feedback on the experience of others.

We are planning to travel around Aust for 2-3 years. We have previously hired a motor home for a 4 mth period and also tried a caravan for shorter periods.

Given that this is to be our home for up to 3 years, what are people's thoughts and experiences of mobile home vs off road van?

Also looking to get some thoughts on manufacturers of said vehicles?

We would hope to free camp as often as possible, so any advice on what is needed in relation to solar power, batteries, water tanks, etc would be invaluable. I believe you can now get (at a high cost) really thin solar panels and ultra light batteries. Does anyone have any experience with these?

Also, interested in hearing about insulation in the ceiling.

What are the pros/cons for beds north/south vs east/west?

Recommendations on fridges, stoves etc.

Anything else that the experienced people out there might think important that I haven't thought of!

Happy for peoples to send me an email to

Thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope to hear from some of you.

Sandra & Adrian Van Berkel
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Reply By: Member - Chris_K - Wednesday, Oct 16, 2013 at 18:26

Wednesday, Oct 16, 2013 at 18:26
Hi Guys

Lucky you having a few years off! I would personally go with an off road caravan as you can then unhook and go a explore further afield in the car. Most of the popular off road caravan makers like Kedron, Bushtracker, Australian Off Road, Kimberley etc would be able to help with the power (solar & battery) requirements and they would probably assist with fridges. We have a fridge in the camper, and one in the car for the day trips.

In terms of the bed - unless you like jumping over each other in the middle of the night - I'd go for the "north/south" solution. Finally, the adage of "you only get what you pay for" is true in off road caravans...many claim they are "off-road" - but are not. So I would go for the best you can afford...

AnswerID: 519820

Follow Up By: Member - Hunter Gatherer - Thursday, Oct 17, 2013 at 02:52

Thursday, Oct 17, 2013 at 02:52
If you do decide on a caravan don't buy a New Age, I did and am very disappointed in quality and after sales service, once they have your money don't want to know you.
FollowupID: 800123

Follow Up By: AlanTH - Thursday, Oct 17, 2013 at 12:26

Thursday, Oct 17, 2013 at 12:26
Same with Goldstream and their retailer George Day Caravans in WA.
They treated us very badly and we had to resort to Consumer Affairs and the minor claims courts to get satisfaction in the end.
Crap van badly put together with some bad design and faulty parts.
We bought from them because of past experience with a GS wind up camper which was good and overall we'd bought 3 rec vehicles off the retailer whose attitude was really bad.
Look carefully before buying, read this and other forums (try not to get too disheartened) and when they start talking "built to industry standards" go somewhere else because standards don't exist.
Happy hunting.
FollowupID: 800145

Reply By: Member - Kevin F (TAS) - Wednesday, Oct 16, 2013 at 20:50

Wednesday, Oct 16, 2013 at 20:50
Hi Folks, Well I reckon to get the best of both worlds and to see as much of the country as possible the best combination is a 4 wd set up as genuine camper for the rough and ready roads combined with a caravan all so fully set up as to sustain life in the harsh conditions. Use the caravan as a base, tour in the 4wd to the out of way places for a couple of weeks, then come back to 4 star luxury in the van, gives you a lot more options, less cost and a lot less head aches in regard to going into hard places towing a van with the likely hood of sustaining damage.

Example; store van in mango grove Kunannura, do the tour to Broome, Cape Leveque, come back via Gibb to cheap luxury, couple of weeks of amazing scenery and a 4 star hotel at the end.
AnswerID: 519828

Reply By: Robin Miller - Wednesday, Oct 16, 2013 at 21:12

Wednesday, Oct 16, 2013 at 21:12
Seems to me Sandra that you are not comparing a Mobile Home to an Off road van but rather 2 different lifestyles.

You need to sort out the lifestyle choice before deciding on how to implement it.

Off road van to most of us is one that gives the ability to tackle many 4wd tracks, this is not an option for most mobile homes.

If free camping is to play a big part then an off road van will fit better into that, but I would really wonder how one would live with the smaller tougher off road van for 3 years.
Personally I'd want a bit of real easy living within a 3 year journey.

Comparing a mobile home to a regular van might be more what your after as this still offers the real opportunity to leave it and go off for a few days.

Some do it the other way with a Mobile home that carries a small 4wd for off road excursions.

If basic low cost is a factor (not stated) then I would have a different recommendation.
Robin Miller

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AnswerID: 519831

Reply By: Eric Experience - Wednesday, Oct 16, 2013 at 22:44

Wednesday, Oct 16, 2013 at 22:44
There are 4x4 motor homes that are the best solution. Towing any thing is constant source of stress. Caravans made sense when vehicles were very expensive and fuel was cheap. Now the vehicles are cheap and the fuel is a major cost. We travel in a 4x4 Mercedes Sprinter that cost $20k second hand and does 10l/100k .The longest we have lived in it was 7 months. That was good and cost us less to live than towing a van because we had no repairs to pay for. Eric
AnswerID: 519837

Follow Up By: Krooznalong - Thursday, Oct 17, 2013 at 14:15

Thursday, Oct 17, 2013 at 14:15
G'day Eric
You weren't camped in the Pilliga a couple of months ago were you? Saw my first ever 4x4 Sprinter there - didn't know they existed before then. Didn't get to talk with the owners.

I agree with the towing point - it's a PITA, big time. Even with a camper trailer. Imagine a caravan to be much worse.

When I saw the Sprinter I thought that looked like a viable longer term solution.

What sort of off-road ability does it have?

As you lived in it for 7 mths I assume that there is sufficient internal room for 2 for when the weather turns sour?
FollowupID: 800151

Follow Up By: Eric Experience - Thursday, Oct 17, 2013 at 22:24

Thursday, Oct 17, 2013 at 22:24
Was not me. There are hundreds out there, because they are similar to the 4x2 most people do not notice them. I have had many 4x4's including 3 sprinters and the sprinters are just as good of road as the rest. the long wheel base makes for a smooth ride but it stops you driving over large humps so you have to pick you way off road more carefully than a Patrol. We find we have enough room for extended periods. there are many benefits with a vehicle that is totally self contained, temperature is the same, no need to get out if the insects are bad, if someone camps next to you and starts a generator you can just drive of without having to get dressed. Eric
FollowupID: 800193

Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Thursday, Oct 17, 2013 at 00:28

Thursday, Oct 17, 2013 at 00:28
Many 2WD MHs will go where off road caravans will not go.
A 4WD MH is the best answer and if it is not too big, it will go most places. This gives maximum campsite choice away from the crowds.

Solar, as much as you can fit on the roof. You can't have too much. Reducing weight is an essential plan, but will cost quite a lot extra. Do it.

Water, depends how often you want to shower. We carry 280L. A shower can easily be had with under 10L per person.

We have a N-S bed over the cab. We love it that way. You can climb in or out without disturbing your partner.

Fridge needs to be compressor for maximum performance in all conditions. Get one with a remote compressor and add lots more insulation to reduce power consumption.
Also, it does not need a "hole in the wall", so dust ingress is very much reduced.

Stove, yes, but oven is optional.
External antennae for the modem.
PSW inverter to run the laptop and camera chargers and the electric blankets :)
Good insulation is important, but so are lots of big windows to maximise ventilation.
Shower and cassette toilet are essential for full time on the road. Consider a diesel HWS (and central heating). Diesel is cheaper than gas and you will have it anyway. LPG bottles and filling can be hard to find in remote areas.

OKA196 Motorhome
AnswerID: 519840

Reply By: The Landy - Thursday, Oct 17, 2013 at 13:01

Thursday, Oct 17, 2013 at 13:01
Take a look at something like this. I've come across a few in my travels and most seem happy with them. If you are looking to travel (almost) anywhere, this could be the go without the hassle of the vehicle and van behind.

They are expensive, but so is a Toyota LC 200 with a suitable off-road van.

Ultimately, 2-years on the road will involve compromise, you just need to have a clear picture in your mind about what type of travel you will be doing, on average, and what works best for that...

Amesz 4WD Off Road Motorhomes
AnswerID: 519857

Follow Up By: Member - Chris_K - Thursday, Oct 17, 2013 at 16:14

Thursday, Oct 17, 2013 at 16:14
...there is also a thread somewhere on the forum about someone driving around in one of these:

FollowupID: 800161

Follow Up By: Alloy c/t - Friday, Oct 18, 2013 at 10:51

Friday, Oct 18, 2013 at 10:51
Friends of ours built very similar ,boat on top , 250cc trail bike on rear platform , their original plan was a 12mth lap , are now into their 2nd year with no plans to stop ,the whole setup custom built on a ex 4x4 rural fire truck [isuzu] cost less than decent 4x4 and c/van .
FollowupID: 800213

Reply By: sandravb - Friday, Oct 18, 2013 at 10:08

Friday, Oct 18, 2013 at 10:08
Just want to say a big thank you to everyone who has replied. We are taking on board all suggestions/opinions and working through them to see what fits with our needs.

We are just at the starting point of planning so we can take our time and (hopefully) make informed choices. We are certainly not going to rush in to anything.

Haven't decided whether we will buy new or second hand. We can afford the new up to 150K but just want to be certain about our choices in whatever we choose!

Sandra & Adrian
AnswerID: 519903

Reply By: Member - Neil B (VIC.) - Friday, Oct 18, 2013 at 13:08

Friday, Oct 18, 2013 at 13:08
Hi Sandra and all,

We are in a similar situation so very happy to see your question.

We have the Caravan and the 4x4 with the canopy with the intention to drop the caravan and go off exploring in the 4x4 as suggested by Kev.

Lately though, I have been wondering whether this really works in practice? Kev has found it has certainly worked for him but I wonder how many others have found it to be as simple as it sounds.

Are there others who have done the same and can report on positive experiences?

Are there some of you who have found the idea to be not as practical as it sounds?

I know there is no such thing as the perfect answer... I thought Peter and Margret's Oka was getting pretty close but I dare say even it has negatives. I must admit I have been trawling the 4x4 motorhome for sale adds a lot lately but I suspect I am not going to find a 4 wheel drive Tardis any time soon.

Neil & Di
AnswerID: 519916

Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Friday, Oct 18, 2013 at 18:01

Friday, Oct 18, 2013 at 18:01
Here is a 4WD "Tardis" :)
Not for sale though and currently in Nepal on the way home from Europe.

We could not buy (or afford) what we wanted rather, so went the DIY route. No regrets.
We owned an old slide on and 4WD F350 (that cost us under $20K all up) for 12 years before I built the OKA. We learned a lot with that vehicle (while we had a lot of fun) before we retired.
You can always do it better the second time around and that is a good reason to spend less on the first purchase, spend some time on the road and then have a second go.

OKA196 Motorhome
FollowupID: 800248

Follow Up By: Member - Neil B (VIC.) - Sunday, Oct 20, 2013 at 15:30

Sunday, Oct 20, 2013 at 15:30
Thanks Peter, had previously discovered that amazing build up. Wise advice regarding spending less the first time I reckon, just hope I get a second shot!
FollowupID: 800423

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