Doing my head in over Off Road caravans ! Which one is best ?

Hi am new to the forum as have been a camper Trailer person up to now , now looking at trading up to a caravan . Owned a Camprite Camper trailer and loved it , but thinking of doing a bit of a extended trip around WA .
What am looking for is a Van that can sleep 2 adults and a 3 year old , have seen in posts to go for bunks rather than use the dining table as a bed.
Would like to go off road a bit but not to extreme , good dirt tracks and tracks to the beach , will be towing with a 200 series .
We are divided over a en-suite as I am a Jimmy Thunder Box man but SWMBO would like a bit of comfort if free camping.
Looked at the bushtracker and Kenron but think it might be a bit of a over kill for what we would like to do , think they are great but pricey , we would be looking 60k-70k and not not mind second-hand .
So thanks for reading and if can shed some thoughts would be very grateful.
Cheers Digger
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Reply By: Motherhen - Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 at 01:37

Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 at 01:37
Hi Digger

You have looked at the best heavy duty caravans but they are suitable for long and badly corrugated roads like the Tanami and Great Central Roads which it seems is not what you are looking at. For taking a few tracks to the beach slowly, a good quality van will do. You question is often asked, so have a search and read through the forum. I will not give advice on caravans I have not owned, and reputation of some may be due to good publicity. If you can get out into the campgrounds and talk to owners of the rigs that appeal, you will get honest information and far more revealing than anyone will give on the internet.

I always recommend buying pre-loved.

Your three year old will need a separate area in the van. A convertible area would mean that the table and that part of the caravan cannot be used by you when your child goes to bed.

With a child a toilet would be a must. Many caravans have bathrooms these days and a small combination shower and toilet will make your camping trips easier.

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Reply By: Member - Sanantone - Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 at 08:04

Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 at 08:04
G'day, I looked around extensively for similar, didn't quite have your budget though.
I was close to purchasing a new Crusader X-Country, price was $61k (on road).
I ended up with a 2014 Jayco StarCraft Outback model, it has everything I wanted for a great price imo. Besides what it had as standard, the other major thing that swung me was the fact that there a lot of Jayco dealers, they are probably not the best unit on the market, but they are everywhere, if you do run into problems.
An e.g. In my search, I found another mob, van looked good, but when I asked about warranty, they said that they would have to agree to pay for the rectifications or otherwise I would need to bring it back to the manufacturing yard in Melbourne, not much help if you are in Broome? Worth a look anyway.
Tony
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Reply By: Member - Chris_K - Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 at 08:27

Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 at 08:27
Hi Digger

We tow one of these with a 200 series - sleeps 3 with shower and toilet. Kedron & Bushtracker - you may have a problem doing beach work as they are pretty heavy?

We also agonised for a while over what to buy...and did the tour of a few manufacturers. We've been to quite a few place in our Quantum, and there are a couple of second hand examples on the market around your price point:

http://www.australianoffroad.com.au/models/Quantum/gallery-videos-Quantum

Cheers

Chris
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Reply By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 at 08:29

Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 at 08:29
Hi Digger,
I totally agree with Motherhen.

There are a lot of vans that will do what you require and a good many that won't as well.

The best thing to do is get under any prospective van you are looking at and check out the chassis to see if it appears heavy enough. Once you have looked at several vans you will get a good enough idea as to what is strong and what is not.

Most of the vans you will look at are capable of light off road work so long as it is a made track without deep ruts such that the van is trying to screw itself inside out.

My advice is go for 6 inch chassis rails with a good number of cross members. Vans such as mine with whip pars are not as good as deeper chassis rails in my opinion. For your expected "off road work" I would have the axles rotated (axle relocated under the spring as opposed to on top of spring) to give you more height. This will not effect the stability of the van unduly.

In your price range you will have many choices especially if you buy near new as opposed to new.

An ensuite, get a separate shower and loo, is a very good idea as it will give you the ability to camp anywhere that takes your fancy and if you have solar fitted to the van then your possibilities will be unlimited. Your only limiting factor then is water.
My advice is between 200 and 400 watts of solar and 2 to 3 X 100 Ah batteries.

The only trouble with dedicated off road caravans is that they are so heavy. At a starting price of around 3.5 tonne it means a lot more fuel and a lot more strain on your gear.

Like Motherhen I am reluctant to mention brands also but check out other campers and see what they say about their vans, this is the best research you can do. Most people are only too happy to talk about their vans and in the main can be slightly biased toward their van, me included.

Two recent model of vans I have or had are;

1 2000 Gazal Champion 18.5 foot. (second hand)
Excellent van, excellent value for money, heavy chassis, toilet and shower combined (not best solution), queen sized bed. not suited to an extra person but possible if a child.

2 2006 Jayco Sterling 24 foot (second hand)
Good roomy van, good value for money, reasonable chassis, a little large for off road tracks but it would not stop me if I wanted/needed to go there, all inclusions, seperate shower, seperate loo, front club lounge, good sized fridge, queen size bed, can accommodate extra people if needed in club lounge.

My advice would be look at 20 to 21 footers for your needs.
You certainly have the right vehicle for towing anything your looking at, pretty much.

Cheers, Bruce.
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Reply By: KevinE - Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 at 09:11

Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 at 09:11
I'd have a chat with people who have towed off road vans to remote places similar to those you wish to travel. We have & you'd be surprised at some of the candid info people are prepared to provide!

Chatting with people over a drink while the previous day's travel is still in the forefront of their minds is always good! We'd have some interesting chats with vanners at places like William Creek & Tibooburra - you'd be surprised at how many vans have seemingly small failures on corrugated roads that cause their owners fairly heavy trauma.

Blokes are often reluctant to divulge too much negative info about their pride & joy, but their wives often aren't, especially if they're the one cleaning up smashed eggs all over the inside of the van because the fridge door came off, or trying to sort out everything that got shook around inside the van when the cupboard doors came off.

My take is that the internet is too unreliable for honest opinions. There are too many who want to either build up their own stuff, or put crap on other peoples stuff.
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Reply By: ChrisK - Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 at 09:47

Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 at 09:47
Hi Digger,
If your looking for an off-road/ dirt-road van keep an eye out for one of the larger "Supreme Getaway's". The older ones have a full steel tub and are bullet proof, well almost. We had one for quite a few years and with a couple of minor modifications it went to all sorts of outback destinations with out any major issues. We have subsequently traded that one in on a Supreme Territory full van which I would class as a "dirt-roader" with an on-board combination toilet & shower. It's quite a bit heavier than our getaway but everything's a bit of a compromise.
Bet of luck hunting...
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Reply By: rooster350 - Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 at 10:39

Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 at 10:39
As most others have said , you do not need an "off road" van to go off road...we have travelled some of the roughest roads in Aus. with our dual axle Avan poptop and the worst that has happened to it is a broken spring less than 200km from home and on a smooth dirt road , just as well it did not happen half way along the Savannah Way...cheers
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Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 at 12:07

Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 at 12:07
There is no 'best one' of course, but you knew that I'm sure. Check caravancampingsales.com.au - drop the popular brand names into the keywords box and you'll see plenty of good used 'offroaders' for sale, some in your price range. Just keep in mind that vans are often compromised on tracks to beaches here and there - one issue is deep sand - the other clearance - vegetation is an issue for vans. We did the same move though - from 10 years with camper trailers up to the van - all the mod cons and comfort make for wonderful camping, even though we sacrificed some location access (and fuel economy - gulp). While we can all have a basic wash with a bowl of water and disappear into the bush when nature calls, at times the combo shower/toilet with hot and cold running water is pure gold.
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Reply By: AlanTH - Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 at 12:25

Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 at 12:25
The Cook and I went the same way just over a couple of years ago and decided to go for a small van to replace our Pioneer camper. We'd had a wind up Goldstream years before which was excellent and the retailer that we bought that off was still an agent for them so off we went to see what they had for sale.
We'd actually bought 2 new RVs from George Day C/Vans in WA and we foolishly thought we would be alright going back for yet another purchase from them and Goldstream.
Wrong! From the time we ordered our small "Explorer off roader" things were muddled by an interfering salesman who muscled in on the deal. Firstly it got delivered to WA although we'd specified pick-up in Melbourne and various other things were not as specified and they wanted to charge 3K for delivery.
I won't go right into it all but suffice it to say that we had to get both Consumer Affairs WA and the small claims court involved to get either the retailer or Goldstream to fix our van.
We're now reasonably happy with it now but have found even though it's only 14' there are many places we can't get to which has spoilt some trips. The bigger thare the harder it is and some of the toughest would need a dozer in front to clear a path into where ever they want to go.
Enjoy the search but bear in mind the 2 shysters named above.
AlanH.

PS. I've full got full court documentation and copies of every e-mail even those they refused to answer should anybody think I'm deliberately slagging off these people.
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Reply By: Member - bungarra (WA) - Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 at 12:36

Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 at 12:36
All good advice in previous posts

I suggest you also consider where/what your uses might be or grow into if it all works out.......

Like you we had many years camping then a camper trailer then a serious off road camper trailer..........nearly 3 years ago we decided on an off road 'van

I looked at all the well known brands....went through a factory in QLD...saw the construction etc.......spoke with owners...got underneath and poked and prodded ...all with the intention of finding a 'van that would not let me down and I could venture safely out there knowing that whatever road conditions I came across the fact that I had a 'van behind me was not going to stop me for fear of cracks, fatigue. etc

Being in WA I came across ExploreX up in Wangara. I found the 'vans to be absolutely top class the attention paid to my requirements by the owner (Greg) to be exceptional

We purchased one from them and have had the pleasure of giving it some serious tests in the last 2 years and I am delighted with its performance.......tows like a dream...no weigh equalising hitches needed..........no structural issues at all......we just love it

I have absolutely no affiliation with the company whatsoever but remain a very satisfied customer.......highly recommend you give them a call...go and see them ( I assume you are in WA?) and make your own mind up

http://www.explorex.com.au/

any questions or you want to see ours.....mess me

cheers
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Follow Up By: Member - Michael W14 - Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 at 18:39

Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 at 18:39
Hi Graham,
Bit out of his price bracket I think. I have never seen one for sale second hand. Maybe every one loves them so much they never sell them.
Making a few snags still ?
Cheers
Willie.
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Follow Up By: AlanTH - Thursday, Mar 06, 2014 at 12:15

Thursday, Mar 06, 2014 at 12:15
Agree with Bungarra regarding Explorex vans. We looked at them when searching but they were far too big (and pricey) for what we wanted as they really would need a dozer in front to clear a path for them in the bush.
I think their main intended use was for exploration drilling crews etc to use as bunkrooms or as the mess on remote camps and they would have had a path through bush already cleared for them.
Friends have one and love it but I hate to think of how he's ever going to get a spare off the back as he's only small and the wheels must be about 5 foot off the ground.
AlanH.
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Follow Up By: Member - bungarra (WA) - Thursday, Mar 06, 2014 at 22:59

Thursday, Mar 06, 2014 at 22:59
G'day Willie

good to hear from you......ExploreX also now make a lighter but still very acceptable off-road 'van and these are more competitively priced the "big boys" like ours......so I reckon the OP should take a look

snags still on the go.....its my "retirement hobby"

cheers...... see you on the fields this winter

Graeme
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Reply By: Member - Michael W14 - Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 at 18:31

Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 at 18:31
Hi Digger,

I definitely would not get a van where the child has to sleep on the drop down table. You would have to go outside,or to bed, when it goes to sleep.

There are some Bushtrackers going around for the money you talked about. They are quite old, but still great gear.

I have a 2001 Bushtracker and it will still be as good as new in ten years time. My 16' is probably only worth $50G - it would be much less if I had not just spent a heap modernizing the plumbing and electrics. No good fo you though, as it only has a queen sized bed. I tow with a 200 like you.

Just be carefull about some of the 'off rod' claims. Often they just get their normal road version and raise the suspension - this is the sort of van that disintegrates on corrugations.You need plenty of height, a hevy duty suspension and big water tanks.

Just for interest sake, my set-up has 180 litres of water, 4 x 135 solar panels, 300ah lithium batteries, diesel heater, combined toilet shower, 1800w inverter for using the microwave and a 110 litre compressor fridge. It has a tare of 2.3 tons.

A second hand older 18' with bunks might suit you nicely.

Cheers,

Willie

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Reply By: Gone Bush (WA) - Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 at 19:17

Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 at 19:17
Digger,

Click here: Site Link

Not my van, but it is in your price range.

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Follow Up By: Member - Michael W14 - Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 at 22:21

Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 at 22:21
Stephen,
He still has to put the baby on the drop down table doesn't he ? I can only spot two bunks.
Willie.
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Follow Up By: Gone Bush (WA) - Thursday, Mar 06, 2014 at 00:15

Thursday, Mar 06, 2014 at 00:15
He's only got one kiddie, a 3 year old. He will have a spare bunk.
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Follow Up By: Member - Michael W14 - Thursday, Mar 06, 2014 at 07:09

Thursday, Mar 06, 2014 at 07:09
Two adults in a single bunk ? A bit sqeezy !
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Follow Up By: Gone Bush (WA) - Thursday, Mar 06, 2014 at 09:56

Thursday, Mar 06, 2014 at 09:56
It's got an E/W bed for mum & dad and 2 bunks for the kids.

"2002 18ft Bushtracker Family Van. Yacht style queen bed with large storage area underneath. Rear bunk beds also fold down to lounge. U style dining. Airconditioner & heater. RWC. Gas Cert. Simpilicity suspension with new springs, bushes, pivot blocks. 2 x 120w Kyocera Solar Panels. 3 x 105 amp hr Deep cycle batteries. Prostar solar charge controller. Projecta 240 vlt battery charger. 2 x 12 vlt elec water pumps. Sony am/fm radio with elec aerial, aux, usb & cd player. 3 x 80 lt non potable water tanks. 1 x 80 lt potable. 4 x burner stove with separate grill & oven. 190 lt upright fridge/freezer. Remote gas hot water service. Combined shower/toilet cubicle. External shower. Twin tub washing machine. 650 w Subaru generator. Pull out awning & full enclosed canvas annex. Dust covers. Swing away door. 2 x spare wheels. 2 x gas bottles. Checkerplate sides & cutaway at rear. Always garaged. Located in Qld."
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Follow Up By: Member - Michael W14 - Thursday, Mar 06, 2014 at 20:37

Thursday, Mar 06, 2014 at 20:37
Stephen
I had a better look at the photos. Your right, it would be perfect.
Willie.
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Follow Up By: Member - Michael W14 - Thursday, Mar 06, 2014 at 20:44

Thursday, Mar 06, 2014 at 20:44
Don't you save some space with the east west bed. You could not get those bunks in with an island bed set-up. They are hard to make up, but worth the effort.
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Reply By: Digger - Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 at 23:05

Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 at 23:05
Thanks for all the input , did know my way round the old Camper trailer but Caravans a whole new world . Sorry took till now to reply , have had trouble logging on , all good now .
Think it will be Bunks and a ensuite , have been on the trader web sites and there has been some great stuff from all of you all .
Once again thanks all for your thoughts .

Cheers
Digger
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