Off Road Caravans

Submitted: Tuesday, Aug 13, 2019 at 15:01
ThreadID: 138924 Views:1492 Replies:17 FollowUps:10
Hi all, we have a Kimberley Kamper (camper trailer) and have decided to upgrade to a Caravan.
We are looking for an off road Caravan and I would love to get feedback on what to look for when choosing one.
We have had a look at the Maverick Raider XXL and THE Wildtracker.
We have also looked at JB & Lotus.

Be interested to see what everyone thinks of any of our choices and should we be looking at another brand.
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Reply By: ken triton - Tuesday, Aug 13, 2019 at 15:32

Tuesday, Aug 13, 2019 at 15:32
Hi Krishar.
Firstly I don't envy you one bit, there is so much to choose from and a lot do not live up to the sales hype. Talk to as many owners as you can about the brands and models you are considering and do your own research. For me I moved from a camper to a van and the biggest mistake I made was to go to big, I have since downsized to a 17'6 single axle off road van, it's pretty good but the quality is not perfect. It is certainly a big step going from a camper to a van, size, manouverability, fuel consumption etc. Sometimes I wish I had my camper trailer back but the comfort and some of the luxuries of the van are pretty good. Best advice I can give is don't rush and don't let the sales people push you.
Good luck regards Ken
AnswerID: 627224

Reply By: krishar21 - Tuesday, Aug 13, 2019 at 15:39

Tuesday, Aug 13, 2019 at 15:39
Thanks Ken, hubby wants a dual axle but only an 18' van, not many around with dual axle.

Kristine
AnswerID: 627225

Follow Up By: ken triton - Tuesday, Aug 13, 2019 at 15:47

Tuesday, Aug 13, 2019 at 15:47
Check out North Coast Campers a friend has one and he is pretty happy. Had a couple of teething problems but seems good now.
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Follow Up By: duck - Wednesday, Aug 14, 2019 at 13:47

Wednesday, Aug 14, 2019 at 13:47
I was with your Hubby (dual axle) until this trip, dual axle better on road Not as good off road subject to conditions/weight etc .
Some places are now NOT allowing dual axle vans, trailers, Etc in
(eg) Bungle Bungles so when you arrive you have to leave your van in the park near the main rd & drive in (50klms 2.5hrs so the sign says) & out each day, (a 5hr return drive) You can tow any size van in if it is a single axle
We cheated as the trailer (not a Van) I was towing had dura touque axles so we unbolted the trailing axle sat it in side the trailer & towed it in & five days later towed in out & bolted the axle back under (total time, off & on 1hr) beat driving in & out each day
So now I,m changing my toy hauler to a single axle I tow it with a 4wd truck
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Tuesday, Aug 13, 2019 at 16:26

Tuesday, Aug 13, 2019 at 16:26
An 18ft dual axle caravan won't go far "off road" (whatever that means to you?).
Get yourself a 4WD motorhome and leave all the caravans behind :)
Cheers,
Peter
OKA196 motorhome
AnswerID: 627227

Reply By: nick g1 - Tuesday, Aug 13, 2019 at 21:46

Tuesday, Aug 13, 2019 at 21:46
First thing you have to decide is width. Standard caravans are 2.5 to 2.6m wide. An "off rd" van is 2.1 wide. Then you have to consider you tow vehicle. What is it capable of towing weigh wise. Then you look at the features you need or more to the pt, what she who must be obeyed, wants. Then it comes down to price and value for money.
Hope this helps
AnswerID: 627239

Follow Up By: Ron N - Tuesday, Aug 13, 2019 at 23:22

Tuesday, Aug 13, 2019 at 23:22
No current standard caravan is 2.6M wide. 2.5M is the widest legal width in Australia, anything over 2.5M requires an overwidth permit to move on public roads.

There really is no "standard" caravan width, most caravan manufacturers decide on their own caravan width.
They can vary in width from 2M wide to 2.48M wide (never seen one that's exactly 2.5M wide yet, because they allow a bit for caravan body projections, to ensure that nothing on the caravan is over 2.5M wide.

A very large percentage of caravans are around 2.1M to 2.3M wide.

The wider the caravan, the roomier they feel inside. Our family always noticed the interior room difference between a 2.3M wide caravan, and a 2.48M wide one, even though the difference appears to be minimal on paper.

Cheers, Ron.
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Reply By: Member - J&A&KK - Tuesday, Aug 13, 2019 at 22:34

Tuesday, Aug 13, 2019 at 22:34
Hi Kristine

It would be useful to understand your definition of “Off-road”.

Do you mean dirt roads that generally formed up and maintained, in some form or another by local authorities. semi off-road

OR

Do you mean unmaintained bush tracks, creek crossings, washouts, overgrown, deep sand etc. fully off-road.

A fully off road van will do both assuming you have the appropriate vehicle to match the vans weight, towball wt etc etc.

In addition it would be worthwhile understanding the duration of your off road sorties remote from power and water. How long do need need to be self sustained?


Cheers John

John
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Reply By: AlanTH - Wednesday, Aug 14, 2019 at 09:50

Wednesday, Aug 14, 2019 at 09:50
Hi Krishar21. Before even looking at vans have a good look at the Australian lemon RV and van website.
There's lot of crap out there but I'm sure you'll find something suitable, but do the research first.
And don't take any notice of the knockers of that site, it's there to inform people of what can happen in with vans costing over 100 grand.
We had many problems with our 'Off road" small van but it's not bad now we've fixed it with very little assistance from dealer or maker.....amazing what a bit of legal action can do though. :)
Good luck.
AlanTH.
AnswerID: 627243

Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Thursday, Aug 15, 2019 at 14:36

Thursday, Aug 15, 2019 at 14:36
I would not take much notice of what is on the Lemon ?? site, the Admins & Moderators (7) are currently awaiting a court appearance being sued for defamation, with at least two more lawsuits in the wind.

The site is full of unsubstantiated rumours, half truths & misleading information.

Macca.
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Follow Up By: AlanTH - Thursday, Aug 15, 2019 at 18:48

Thursday, Aug 15, 2019 at 18:48
The woman running the site was successful in her action against a very well known maker who discontinued their defence.
She has also appeared before government committees who are investigating the wilful disregard of Australian Consumer law by many in the RV industry.
The site has nearly 50,000 members with many complaints. I'm not saying they're all truthful but it doesn't hurt to look and get info. which may be helpful before purchasing.
You wouldn't by any chance be involved in the industry would you?
AlanTH.

PS. Her action was against the maker who tried the same "You've abused it, go away " attitude to some people we know well.... they didn't go away and we believe they won a claim for 6K of water damage.
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Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Friday, Aug 16, 2019 at 07:56

Friday, Aug 16, 2019 at 07:56
AlanTH, no I am not associated with the industry in any way whatsoever, I am speaking from personal experience with the Lemon site.

It is my understanding that Lotus withdrew their lawsuit suit because at the time they could not see themselves recovering their costs. So the case did not proceed, therefore not a win as such, she did not “prove” her case.

This time around, Bruder are going forward, having won their case against the first litigants.

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Reply By: Darian - Wednesday, Aug 14, 2019 at 10:45

Wednesday, Aug 14, 2019 at 10:45
The essentials to this question are (in my view :-).
1. Try and ID the types of places/terrain you'll want to access (eg, larger
vans provide more amenities and greater comfort but reduce you ability to go to some 'special' places). Prior experience with tents, then campers is valuable here.
2. Talk to current owners of vans in this segment if at all possible ! This can provide a wealth of information (and it will soon become apparent that makers all over the place use the term 'off-road and it can't be relied upon at all as a valid descriptor).
There is a degree of luck involved of course, but I did quite a bit of prior homework on my Trakmaster, waited 14 months for them to supply (gulp - they were busy), paid way too much in progressive payments before even getting title to the van, but have been quite happy with the van ever since....but that order was 9 years back, the company has new owners now and key staff that I knew have moved to other makers (one even has his own van company). Good luck with the project.
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Reply By: Member - John T (Tamworth NSW) - Wednesday, Aug 14, 2019 at 17:32

Wednesday, Aug 14, 2019 at 17:32
Hi krishr21,

I own an AOR QUANTUM off Road hybrid camper. My opinion is biased of course but These things are bulletproof and designed to be taken “off road”. Have a look at the products available from the company. They are expensive but you get what you pay for.

Cheers

John
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Follow Up By: Member - Mark C (QLD) - Thursday, Aug 15, 2019 at 09:08

Thursday, Aug 15, 2019 at 09:08
I second this. Our Quantum has same wheel track so not trying to pull around on sand or gravel roads. Also 2200 keg fully loaded so not a behemoth. Only need 3000kg TUH to pull easily and they now have a four berth model. I am also biased heavily.
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Follow Up By: Member - Wildmax - Thursday, Aug 15, 2019 at 14:29

Thursday, Aug 15, 2019 at 14:29
Agree with the above two comments; check out the AOR range.
We have an Eclipse (similar size to the Quantum), and have had trouble free off-road travelling for the past four years, since changing over from our trusty T-Van.
And speaking of the latter, it is also well worth checking out the Track Trailer Topaz (and I think they have just releast a new model). Like the AOR gear, they are all Aussie-made and have a bullet-proof reputation.
Wildmax
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Follow Up By: mepvic - Thursday, Aug 15, 2019 at 15:53

Thursday, Aug 15, 2019 at 15:53
Second, third and fourth the AOR Quantum. We also had a Kimberley Kamper for 11 years but wanted something a bit easier as we get older. Had the Quantum now for 4 years and couldn’t be happier. Been through dust, sand and water with nothing getting in. Water was over the wheels going into twin falls on the way up to Cape York. Spend the money and get a quality product.
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Reply By: Batt's - Wednesday, Aug 14, 2019 at 18:31

Wednesday, Aug 14, 2019 at 18:31
Have you checked the plate on the tow bar for off road towing capacity as it is usually reduced compared to on road. If no mention it would pay to check with the vehicle manufacturer.
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Reply By: Member - Neil T6 - Thursday, Aug 15, 2019 at 08:07

Thursday, Aug 15, 2019 at 08:07
Probably the most susceptible area on an " off road " caravan would be the suspension components. I can only speak as a retired mechanic having worked in country and remote areas at times. Where the shock absorbers attach to the body and spring assembly seem to be prone to failure. Once the effectiveness of shock absorbers is compromised then spring problems won't be far away.
Probably comes back to that old equation of too much weight x too much speed equals trouble.
One particular case while working in the Kimberleys involved an off road van bought in Adelaide and the shock absorber mountings on both sides were destroyed by the time it got to Kununurra.
The durability of the suspension would be my main concern with anything designated as off road.
AnswerID: 627268

Reply By: Member - McLaren3030 - Thursday, Aug 15, 2019 at 14:40

Thursday, Aug 15, 2019 at 14:40
Hi Krishar21, take a look at Kedron & Bushtracker. They are arguably the best full size off road vans on the market. Both companies offer full size vans to suite the towing weight of most 4x4’s.

Macca.
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Reply By: krishar21 - Thursday, Aug 15, 2019 at 15:59

Thursday, Aug 15, 2019 at 15:59
Thanks Macca, we are looking at the Bushtracker and Kedron.
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Reply By: krishar21 - Thursday, Aug 15, 2019 at 16:06

Thursday, Aug 15, 2019 at 16:06
Thanks Neil, the better half has spent a few thousand upgrading the suspension and a 2" lift kit.
AnswerID: 627277

Reply By: Marlee - Saturday, Aug 17, 2019 at 09:01

Saturday, Aug 17, 2019 at 09:01
Check out Zone manufactured on the Sunshine Coast.
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Reply By: Dave B18 - Sunday, Aug 18, 2019 at 11:41

Sunday, Aug 18, 2019 at 11:41
This whole off road caravan thing is crazy. An OFFROAD caravan is 12'/3.7M long and is 7'/2.2M wide with preferably independent suspension.
Anything much bigger is a dirt/gravel road caravan. You don't need massive chassis and wheels, you need something with independent suspsion, and something we'll built. Even up to a 19'/5.8M caravan a correctly engineered 100mm chassis is all that is needed. Due diligence to letting the tyres down a little, travelling a sensible speeds is all that is needed.
These supposed 'offroad' caravans with massive chassis and wheels and tyres are just ridiculous. Even more ridiculous are these supposed 'rock sliders' fitted to large caravans. Having extensive experience around Australia on all types of terrain, you will never see a supposed 'offroad' caravan off road. Why people get conned into these heavy behemoth off road monsters is just crazy. Good reason there are so many big caravans for sale second hand. People soon realise the big mistake they have made. They do one trip with the monster and then get something smaller and more sensible.
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Follow Up By: Member - Neil T6 - Sunday, Aug 18, 2019 at 15:32

Sunday, Aug 18, 2019 at 15:32
I'll go along with what DaveB18 says here, particularly the " dirt/gravel road " bit. Deciding what each person means by " off road " seems to be the main issue, apparently it means different things to different people.
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Reply By: David I1 - Tuesday, Aug 20, 2019 at 14:01

Tuesday, Aug 20, 2019 at 14:01
I have a New Age Manta Ray Deluxe 2015 model. These were said to be off road, whatever that means. In the true sense I have never taken it off road where I would take my 4X4. But the big difference with an off road van is usually it has a hitch that fully articulates NOT a BALL. They also sit higher off the road so you can get over angles pathways better than a low slung van. Despite all the expensive van brand mentioned here, yes they are well built and some are almost bullet proof. But I have NEVER seen one in the Vic High Country. I have never heard of one doing the Simpson Desert or Canning or Balfour track or doing the OTT . (OK I have seen one old van on Utube do the OTT). So having all that built in strength etc is really a waste of time...in my opinion. My van needed more underneath protection that what it came with delivered to me and a few mods inside so things did not keep falling off on corrugated roads. I have done many outback dirt roads and some that say 4WD only with van attached. Ie Walkers Crossing this year after the floods. I have done the Great Short Cut, Gibb and a few other semi serious 4WD tracks. What I do know is I can travel at speeds faster than people who are towing "road only" vans, and I dont get any damage as I have now protected everything. Mine is a single axle 16' van, which when new cost $70K. The protection and dirt road ready work I have done has probably cost another $1000 all up. It is dust proof which is a real must if doing dirt roads. Thats hard to achieve if you have gas appliances but is possible with positive pressure ventilation. I must say having talked to a few owners of Makes mentioned here when camping none have gone where I have taken mine, and most even said that wouldn't do that. Then I ask why pay so much for a van capable of doing it if you are not going to do it. Work out what you really want to go, then decide if a fully kitted north of $100K van is really required. I think you may well decide its not.
AnswerID: 627356

Reply By: Frank P (NSW) - Tuesday, Aug 20, 2019 at 14:58

Tuesday, Aug 20, 2019 at 14:58
We've had a Kimberley Karavan for 11 years now. It is smaller than the vans you mentioned in your opening post- it's a hybrid really and may not be big enough if you're looking for more room.

But if you want to go really off road and not have canvas, then it's ideal. We drag ours around the High Country, fire trails, forestry roads and tracks- in fact anywhere the tug (BT50) will fit and have traction to pull it, it goes.

Dingo Dell in the Blue Mountains via Banshea and Kowmung fire trails, Abercrombie NP, Talbotville (VHC), Abbeyard, Lake Cobbler, access tracks to lakes in the Snowy Mountains Scheme, hundreds of water crossings of varying depths and difficulty plus 11 years of comfortable outback touring on formed and unformed roads.

If the size is right I cannot recommend it highly enough.

And Kimberley is back in business under sensible new management so service is or will soon be available should you need it.
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