Information on Off-Road Caravans

Submitted: Saturday, Nov 23, 2013 at 16:43
ThreadID: 105235 Views:3723 Replies:11 FollowUps:6
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After completing 4WD camping trips in our Toyota Landcruiser with roof top tent to the Flinders Ranges, the Kimberleys and Cape York and numerous camping trips in our Winnebago we have decided to replace the roof top tent and the motor home with an off-road caravan.
Can anyone please advise which brand would be best as there are so many brands out there and I am becoming confused with all the information.
Nothing beats experience so please, if you are happy with your off-roader, reply to this enquiry.
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Reply By: Member - Frank P (NSW) - Saturday, Nov 23, 2013 at 17:11

Saturday, Nov 23, 2013 at 17:11
Hi Sheryl,

You've been using two extremes in camping accommodation, one light, spartan and go-anywhere, the other luxurious and comfortable but a pretty restricted as to where it can go.

Are you looking for something light and nimble that you can take on tight tracks and fire trails to many of those special places - one that may require a little bit of setting up, is comfortable but not luxurious? One of the hybrids, maybe, that in camping style fit somewhere between your tent and your motorhome? eg, Kimberley Karavan, Quantum, Aust Off Road (AOR), Ultimate Nautilus.

Or are you after a full-sized all-road/off-road caravan that offers the luxury of a motor home but is towed and because of size, has some restrictions as to where it can go? eg Bushtracker, Kedron, Trackmaster and many, many others that profess, not always with justification, to be "off-road".

An indication of your requirements will help with answers.

Cheers

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Follow Up By: Member - Sheryl M - Saturday, Nov 23, 2013 at 17:39

Saturday, Nov 23, 2013 at 17:39
You have given us food for thought.
I am over the roof top tent style of camping.
We chose that mode of camping as we were travelling on some 4WD only tracks.
I guess we need something that can still get into some out of the way places and is easily towed by a Toyota Land Cruiser.
I need a little comfort now not necessarily luxury.
Also an island bed with an innerspring mattress sounds like heaven.

regards
Sheryl
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Follow Up By: Member - Chris_K - Saturday, Nov 23, 2013 at 18:30

Saturday, Nov 23, 2013 at 18:30
Hi Sheryl

Anything can be easily towed by a Landcruiser! :)

There are a few threads going around about this topic so you could probably do a search and get some opinions...we have the Quantum, and couldn't be happier. Goes wherever the car goes, and to date, no dust inside at all...and we've taken it to a few out of the way places, and the after sales service is second to none. Which is very important in my opinion.

As mentioned above - there are lots that claim to be "offroad" - but I reckon that in this space you get what you pay for...

Cheers

Chris
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Follow Up By: Member - Mfewster(SA) - Saturday, Nov 23, 2013 at 19:15

Saturday, Nov 23, 2013 at 19:15
You need to think through just how big you want to go/tow and what you are prepared to pay and how much effort you want to put into setting up/packing up. Do you stay just a night and/or camp along the road as you travel or do you mainly pitch camp somewhere and stay for a while?
Soft floor models tend to be cheaper but the setting up/packing takes quite a lot more effort so they aren't as good for overnight and move on trips but can be really good for set up and stay a week deals.
Hard floors pivot over the trailer and are faster to set up, but still slowish. Also heavier and more expensive.
Wind up roofs tend to be faster and usually have the kitchen inside the body of the unit, which can be a real advantage in poor weather or a disadvantage in good weather.
Then there are models like the TVan which are fast to operate and strong but get very pricey.
Maybe borrow/hire some different types and try them out before making a decision.
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Follow Up By: Member - Hunter Gatherer - Sunday, Nov 24, 2013 at 16:22

Sunday, Nov 24, 2013 at 16:22
The brands that FrankP mentioned plus Spinifex, most of the others profess to be off road but are not.
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Follow Up By: graham B9 - Sunday, Nov 24, 2013 at 20:53

Sunday, Nov 24, 2013 at 20:53
Hi Sheryl,

You arae probably rare in that you are seeking information before heading down the track of buying a off road van. Sme information above I would agrees with but some I would not. It is hard to answer your question without asking for more specific information.

Things like you budget? Where do you want to go and how long do you want to stay there for? It cost around $650 a week to be touring around in a caravan. If you stay in a off road van built for free camping it will generally cost more. In a cheaper van you will need to stay in parks more.. Everyone needs power and water and these are the two demanding things when traveling. Water is heavy and takes fuel to drag it around. Power means solar panels or a generator.

A landcruiser will not easily (and safely) tow anything. Even a TD 200 has limitations. A good proportion of Bushtrackers, Kedrons and most Humpbacks are towed by F250 , RAM or Chev 2500's.

The "real" off road caravan market has exploded over recent years. Spinifex, Free Spirit, Trackmaster, plus a range of Crossovers like Quantum,Kimberly, Complete Campsite, Topaz, Vista RV. You will have alot of research to do but this is also fun. Good luck.
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Reply By: pop2jocem - Saturday, Nov 23, 2013 at 19:41

Saturday, Nov 23, 2013 at 19:41
Hi Sheryl,

Something to consider, and you may have already, is that no matter what you tow it's going to restrict where you probably went with ease with the Cruiser. Consider even a 6x4 box trailer with 1/2 tonne of payload behind you, Because of the non driven wheels it will act as an anchor to a degree depending on the terrain. Also turning around on that track that looked ok at the start but is deteriorating rapidly to the extent you decide to turn around or back out. Maybe not so much of a problem with just the car but a lot more complex with something being towed.
Being as how you have already considered all that and towing is the most likely option I guess the next question as others have said is how much mobility are you willing to sacrifice for comfort. Are you happy with the camper trailer scenario or do want to go the whole hog, get the comforts of your mobile home and accept the restrictions that come with that option as far as where you can take it goes.
Another option that may be of some interest is a basically road oriented van which gets left at the nearest caravan park while you do short trips in the Cruiser. You may even be able to put up with your roof top tent just for the odd night or two.

Good luck with whatever you decide

Cheers
Pop
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Reply By: BUSH CAMPER - Saturday, Nov 23, 2013 at 20:35

Saturday, Nov 23, 2013 at 20:35
We have a LC 200 and took our off road van across the Oodnatta track, the Gib river road and up to Lawn hill with no trouble.
It depends on what you want to do, free camping etc.
Our van is an Elite Off road and currently on Gumtree and caravan sales, we are up dating.
Our Elite is under 4 year old and still has 3 months warranty.
Hope you find what you are looking for.
Regards Hugh
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Reply By: Member - Scrubby (VIC) - Saturday, Nov 23, 2013 at 21:33

Saturday, Nov 23, 2013 at 21:33
G`day Sheryl,
Just a couple of things you may like to consider. [ My opinion only]
Size of van, mine is a poptop 16`6" long and only 2 meters wide, necessary if you want access to your favorite fishing spot amongst the trees along the river, or go to the tip of Cape York etc etc.
The lower Poptop allows the van to be about the same height as the boat when it is on the vehicle pack rack. Thus with the narrow width and the low profile, wind drag is reduced, so fuel consumption is reduced also.
Independent suspension, with wheels the same size as the tow vehicle.
Three spares total for vehicle and van.
Steel Wheels, not Mag (alloy) wheels,they can break if the road/track is rocky. Steel may dent but easily knocked back to shape.
Duel water tanks.
Solar panels & Deep Cycle Battery.

Scrubby

I don`t know where i`m going but i`m enjoying the journey.

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Reply By: Member - Frank P (NSW) - Saturday, Nov 23, 2013 at 23:25

Saturday, Nov 23, 2013 at 23:25
Hi again Cheryl,

"I guess we need something that can still get into some out of the way places and is easily towed by a Toyota Land Cruiser. I need a little comfort now not necessarily luxury. Also an island bed with an innerspring mattress sounds like heaven."

The way I'm reading you, if you want to get into some of the out-of-the-way places a full width and height van is out of the picture. Sounds like you need a hybrid. I'm not sure you'll get an island bed in one of those, but happy to be proved wrong.

Like most people, I'm biased toward what I own. We have a Kimberley Karavan, which we think is the bee's knees. We tow it with a 120 series D4D diesel Prado, as do many in our Karavan owners club. The Prado works hard in the hills (the Karavan is 2200kg fully loaded) but otherwise the two are happy together. The majority of our members tow with full-sized 4WDs and to use a well-worn phrase, they're just cruisin'.

It tows like a dream, especially in the rough stuff. We have taken it to Bendethera (NSW) and Dingo Dell (Blue Mountains NSW) - both difficult, the old Gunbarrel HWY from Giles to Carnegie Station, Mitchell Plateau, GRR, Palmer River and Maytown (FNQ), Innamincka, Coongie Lakes, the Three Tracks, and poked around many firetrails and tracks in the Vic High Country and the Snowy Mts Nat Park, etc, etc.

The Karavan has no canvas (unless you want to set up an awning), is extremely off-road capable with high ground clearance, independent suspension, remarkable entry and exit angles and basically is limited only by the tow vehicle's ability to pull it. It is ideal for lengthy periods of self-sufficient camping in remote places.

Comforts - main items:
Our 2007 model has room heating, inside toilet and shower, air conditioning, ceramic cook top (diesel powered), diesel powered HWS, outside gas BBQ/oven, 130 litre compressor fridge, outside shower, queen sized bed that can be inner spring (ours is 3 layer smart foam) plus many other items that may or may not be important, depending on taste.

Ours is dustproof and waterproof to 800mm provided you keep it moving.

Later models have many bells and whistles including a full outside kitchen. See www.kimberleykaravans.com for more details.

Offsets to the above you may wish to consider:
It's a hybrid. You cannot step out of your car, walk to the door and step inside. If you park on a level site, basic setup is 5 minutes - push a button to raise the top, slide the bed out and it's done. Good for an overnight stay. Add another 5 minutes for a simple tarp-type awning or 15 to 20 minutes for a full, framed awning and more again if you want to set up walls on the awning for a base-camp.

The bed is not an island - you have to climb up onto it. If you've been using a roof-top tent that will not be a problem unless mobility is becoming an issue, step on a seat, step up to the bed.

You don't have to disemble the bed to pack up, but you cannot leave more than the sheets on the mattress. Doonas, blankets and pillows must be stored (on the seats or floor) for travel.

You'd find it smaller than your motorhome, nearly the same comfort levels, but much, much larger and more comfortable than your rooftop tent.

There's heaps more but that's more than enough for now to give you an idea. Sorry for the long post. No affiliation with the manufacturer, just a happy owner.

Perhaps other hybrid owners could post their summary.

PM me if you want more details.

Cheers
FrankP

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Reply By: Kilcowera Station Stay - Sunday, Nov 24, 2013 at 06:54

Sunday, Nov 24, 2013 at 06:54
We have had so many owners of Australian Off Road setups here and not a bad word about them. They all say the after sales service is outstanding and they are very happy and proud of their rigs. Even a bit smug you might say! Expensive though. Cheers Toni
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Reply By: Member - John and Lynne - Sunday, Nov 24, 2013 at 08:18

Sunday, Nov 24, 2013 at 08:18
A lot depends on the type of travelling you really want to do. Now we are retired we find we like to take our time as we are no longer limited by a return to work deadline. So we have settled for a very sturdy comfortable van with a good warranty. We value our island bed and bathroom these days. There is an awful lot of country we can reach with this van. There are places we can't take it. Then we are happy to set up in a great spot and do day trips from it in the Cruiser - we can even resurrect our tent if the places are beyond a day trip. This way we aren't towing anything on the extremely narrow or rough tracks. This arrangement works well for us. Everything to do with caravans involves some compromise but we can live independently and comfortably for months at a time in ours in all sorts of weather so we have been happy. John and Lynne
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Follow Up By: Member - Sheryl M - Sunday, Nov 24, 2013 at 09:16

Sunday, Nov 24, 2013 at 09:16
Thank you for this information as we hadn't thought of keeping roof top tent for use in areas unsuitable for a van.

regards
Sheryl
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Reply By: Maggsie - Sunday, Nov 24, 2013 at 10:11

Sunday, Nov 24, 2013 at 10:11
Hello,
we chose the Track Topaz as it met all our requirements. Designed for two,pop top,single axle, around 2 tonne loaded, excellent offroad and very easy setup, no canvas (annexe only). We deliberately chose a van without and internal shower/toilet. We can stay in remote areas for long periods and like everyone else our stay is only limited by water,food and fuel supplies.
Regards
Maggsie
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Reply By: Member - Paul K - VIC - Sunday, Nov 24, 2013 at 15:05

Sunday, Nov 24, 2013 at 15:05
Hi Sheryl

Have you thought about towing you landcruiser behind your Winnebago and get the best of both worlds

Regards Paul
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Reply By: Motherhen - Monday, Nov 25, 2013 at 00:05

Monday, Nov 25, 2013 at 00:05
Our Bushtracker is 18' internal, with a small combination shower and toilet and a 'climb over your partner' bed. It has plenty of room and packing space for us for touring months at a time, and can go most places. Where caravans are not permitted, we can camp out for a few days. We now tow with an F250 and the long wheel base with poor turning circle is more limiting. After all, we are towing a bedroom and a bathroom, with a living room the size of Australia. Being a full caravan with high clearance, it is tall so we have to look out for overhanging trees.

Mh
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Reply By: abqaiq - Monday, Nov 25, 2013 at 02:55

Monday, Nov 25, 2013 at 02:55
Hi Sheryl,

Have a look at Outback Camping/Touring/Equipment/RV Comparison

Food for thought. You can buy a lot of diesel for the price of an off road trailer.

Abqaiq
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