Best off road caravans (toughest)

Submitted: Monday, Mar 01, 2004 at 18:20
ThreadID: 10919 Views:27265 Replies:3 FollowUps:0
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I would love to hear traveller's tales about their adventures with off roaders (vans and poptops, not fold ups). What did you find best about your rig? What could have been improved? How did you come to choose your caravan?
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Reply By: Lynn2 - Monday, Mar 01, 2004 at 22:41

Monday, Mar 01, 2004 at 22:41
Hi motherhen,

We bought a Coromal 505 Seka Pioneer XC off-road pop top van. It is approx 16ft.

We had tried out a Kymberley Kamper as we love to travel off the black top. It was great . . . . . but, we decided we needed a few more creature comforts. We also found setting up and closing up, especially in the rain, more than we were prepared to cope with.

We couldn't have made a better choice! Value for money - new van with heavy duty suspension, 16" wheels, 150 ml extra clearance, treg coupling, cut-away back, extra hinges on all cupboards and Coromal's construction technique-independent leaf "knee" suspension. We also have larger fridge, air-con (for when we have power!!!), on-board 120 ah battery, windemere TV antenna, electric water pump and an Aussie Traveller awning and annex. We also have 150mm higher walls to provide for much taller sons!!! The best about our rig - it has creature comforts, minimal set up and pack up, and tows like a dream over anything.

If you are looking for a true, go anyway bush-bashing rig, look at Bush Trakker, Trackmaster or Kedron (much, much, much more expensive and heavier than the Coromal!)

We bought our van at the Sydney Caravan and 4WD show 2 years ago, my husband questioned the salesmanager (who was from WA) mercilessly, especially about the suspension and no use of shocks. He showed us videos and talked us thru their philosophy. Still perhaps a bit apprehensive, we ordered it nevertheless, as compared to the most popular opposition brand there was no comparison, value for money and we could afford it - $32,000 (2 yrs ago).

We have since tried out our van on numerous occasions. Once in particular, to Mungo National Park via the corrugations. What a performer! Not one mishap. We have been one sand, corrugated roads, some water crossings and to various National Parks etc. without one hiccup.

We will really give it a tryout later this year as we are going to North Qld, and Fraser Island. We will probably tow on Fraser, but after much discussion on this forum, have decided against towing to the tip of the Cape.

This van won Dirt Road Caravan of the year in 2003 Caravan & motor home magazine. Web site www.coromal.com.au.

Good points - as above, what we should have done, however, was to include a hot water external shower.
AnswerID: 48813

Reply By: Member - Captain (WA) - Tuesday, Mar 02, 2004 at 00:22

Tuesday, Mar 02, 2004 at 00:22
I have the Windsor Rapid Outback and find this a great compromise for creature comforts, weight and size. It has a travel size of only 13"6', but folds out to 23". It has a solid roof and base for the sleeping area, but canvas sides which unzip for full ventilation.

Ours has R/C air conditioning, compressor fridge, 115Ah battery pack, full 12V halogen lighting, treg hitch, 130l water tanks, 6" fully galvinised chassis rails, dual jerry can holders, independent suspension with shocks, rollout awning + annexe, proper stabiliser legs (forgotten real name - can change a tyre with them) etc... Have only added a "A" frame mounted bike rack and mods to the cupboards (partitions only so far).

I looked at many different types of vans and while all have advantages and disadvatages, the Rapid suited us best (2 adults+ 2 kids - 6/4).
- The Kimberly Kamper type go further offroad, but are a LOT of work each night - not to bad if staying in one area. Outdoor kitchen is great in fine weather, but no fun when pouring with rain and trying to set up.
- The Jayco poptop/slideouts are good, but cannot easily access for roadside stops, cannot have rollout awnings (only"bag" type) and have fly covers for the bed ends in heavy rain. Plus take a lot more work to set up compared to the Rapid.
- The fullsize vans are good, but lack of floorspace with a permanent bed setup - fine for 2 adults, but limiting for us with young kids, especially in wet or very hot weather.

Different vans suit different people and the Rapid works out best for us. It has been on some very corrugated roads and come through with flying colours. Its biggest limitations offroad are its sheers size (have ripped off TV antenaes, indicators and scratched/dented panels) on tight tracks. Its weight limits you on sandy tracks (have been bogged to the chassis rails in an outback creek crossing - had to winch myself out). I have had no problems with ground clearance even though it does not have as much as other models. It does not have a fantastic departure angle, but have found its size/weight limits it more than ground clearance.

Corrugated gravel roads will do more damage to a van than 4WD tracks, where ground clearnce may be an issue. 4WD tracks are generally tackled slow and simply results in the van chassis getting a bang (6" means no damage if slow). But corrugated gravel roads can vibrate a van to death. I would recommend independent suspension and shocks for these conditions.

I find we use the van as much on-road as off-road. However, if one has a van that cannot go offroad, its a bit like only having a 2WD vehicle - pratical for getting close to the destination, but unable to get to the final spot.

Would I choose a Rapid again - definetely yes. However, i would opt for a shower/toilet as it makes it a true home away from home. If one is going to have creature comforts in the bush, then may as well have them all !!!

Cheers

MarkNissan 2003 GU 3.0TD
Windsor Rapid Offroad
AnswerID: 48829

Reply By: Member - Kevin (NSW/ACT) - Tuesday, Mar 02, 2004 at 14:25

Tuesday, Mar 02, 2004 at 14:25
We have a Supreme Getaway off-road pop-top caravan - 4.5m (15'). It is essentially a caravan top on an all steel off-road trailer. Purchased 18 months ago and built late 2000. It is absolutely brilliant for what we use it for - mainly outback dirt roads and bitumen roads getting there.

Ease of setup and absolute comfort are the best points of a caravan. We have been on several outback NSW trips and also Corner Country, Old Strzelecki Track and Innamincka with no problems at all. We don't have, nor miss, a shower/toilet and do most of our cooking outside on the fire or a stove. Plenty of bench and cupboard space is also a winner in our 'van.

However, the convenience comes at a price and for us this has been increased fuel consumption (from about 13 L/100 to about 18 L/100) and a reduction in 'spur of the moment detours'. The caravan is heavy at around 2000KG fully loaded and is a real pig to manouvre if you get stuck e.g. low tree branch on tight bend with a bank (or drop) alongside. Have not bogged it and don't relish that thought at all. So we have become much more selective about where we go compared to what we did with our Trak Shak camper trailer - which we just hitched up and took no matter where we were going, within reason.

We are looking at getting another camper trailer for the more remote trips we want to do and as long as finances hold out will keep the caravan for those we know are just 'rough road' trips.

Can highly recommend the lifestyle - and the Supreme Getaway.

CheersKevin - Top End in August '04
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2002 GU Patrol ST 4.2TD
2000 15' Supreme Getaway
AnswerID: 48881

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