Pop top outback touring capable carvan that will hold together

Submitted: Saturday, Mar 21, 2020 at 21:37
ThreadID: 139823 Views:12031 Replies:7 FollowUps:5
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Looking at caravans in a Jayco Swan Outback style (pop top plus 2 beds that pop out) that could be used for genuine outback touring on corrugated roads, and occasional high range offroad use.

There are plenty of dual fold offroad camper trailers I'm looking at, but the wife is set in the internal storage of a pop top, so I have to investigate both options.

Seems any Jayco Outback series will rattle apart on extended corrugated roads, and the warranty won't cover it when screws and rivents start pulling out.

So what other, if any, brands and models might be suitable? Budget is $15k-$20k, and prefer not older than 2005. Coromal, Goldstream & Goldwing RV look ok but I don't know enough about them.

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Reply By: RMD - Saturday, Mar 21, 2020 at 23:23

Saturday, Mar 21, 2020 at 23:23
Not sure if this applies to what you look at, but if going loaded off road a Jayco swan with leaf suspension and
trailng swing arm susp is probably not the best choice. Around 2005 they used a highly curved, non compliant 9 leaf spring pack attached to the trailing arm. In theory ok, in practice it breaks off stub axle from the swing arm. Saw exactly that at Kings Canyon in 2006 on a fairly new one. Had to be dragged 30 km on a timber skid. Costly repair in Alice, having to buy a trailer axle have it cut one side and welded to swing arm then back KC to reassemble. Reliability is paramount if remote travelling. Poor family was from Brisbane. Research compliant suspension as well as storage of van.
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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Sunday, Mar 22, 2020 at 08:58

Sunday, Mar 22, 2020 at 08:58
Saw another on the Mereenie Loop Rd in 2018. Leaf spring pack disintegrated, axle broken.

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Follow Up By: RMD - Sunday, Mar 22, 2020 at 15:23

Sunday, Mar 22, 2020 at 15:23
Frank P
Same road as killed the one I saw. I cannot for a minute believe the Jayco designers knew anything about suspension back then. If they did they wouldn't have made the suspension like they did. It showed a complete lack of understanding of basic princples. At first glance it was easy to see why it failed. Newer models have very different suspension for rougher use.
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Reply By: Member - peter_mcc - Saturday, Mar 21, 2020 at 23:36

Saturday, Mar 21, 2020 at 23:36
What about a Tvan? They hold together over corrugated roads really well and have heaps of internal storage. Plus they don't fill up with dust!

Compared to a caravan the main difference is that you cook outside.

You might struggle to get one at $20k but there are a couple for $22k on the Track Trailer or caravan sale websites. They do hold their resale value well so on the plus side you shouldn't lose much when you go to sell it.

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Follow Up By: Gronk - Sunday, Mar 22, 2020 at 08:07

Sunday, Mar 22, 2020 at 08:07
Might be hard to fit the criteria of 2 beds ? Nice trailer, but they also don't have much internal storage, unless you chuck it all on the bed?
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Follow Up By: Member - peter_mcc - Sunday, Mar 22, 2020 at 18:56

Sunday, Mar 22, 2020 at 18:56
There's a fair bit of space under the bed and in the locker but I guess it depends on how much stuff you want to carry.

I wasn't sure how to interpret the "2 beds" - I was going to "sleeps 2" rather than "2 separate beds" but I guess either is possible!

The problem I see is that for $20k there aren't a lot of options that will cope with corrugated roads and dust.

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Reply By: nickb - Sunday, Mar 22, 2020 at 02:19

Sunday, Mar 22, 2020 at 02:19
The Jayco pop up style will be ok if you drive to the conditions l. We’ve taken our Dove up the Oodnadatta Track and GCR with only superficial damage (brake wiring peppered by rocks, loose screws etc) but we took it pretty easy. They don’t seal from dust very well, you will need to cover all the vents and install a positive pressure device somehow if you want to be dust free. We never bothered and just give it a quick wipe when we stop after a long dusty road. ~1999-2005 were considered the most robust version, when the flat skinned model arrived in 2006 the build quality started going down (apparently).

Goldstream seem to have much better construction quality, check a few out and you will see the difference to the Jaycos.
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Reply By: Member - McLaren3030 - Sunday, Mar 22, 2020 at 07:57

Sunday, Mar 22, 2020 at 07:57
Hi Anth,

Both my B.I.L. & I have had Goldstream Gold Wing Off Road pop up camper trailers with pull out out beds. My B.I.L. still has his, over 10 years old. Never let us down, sturdy construction, nothing fell apart. We have moved up to a full size off road caravan now. My B.I.L. has travelled extensively on off road tracks & roads, the GCR, Gunbarrel Highway to Surveyor Generals Corner, Cameron Corner, Haddon Corner, Great South Road from Alice Springs to Finke and then on to Oodnadatta, Cape York, just to name a few. My B.I.L. has just had to have the roof winding mechanism replaced, and is the only thing that has given him problems, and only in the last year. Not bad for a 10+ year old van that has seen the best & worst of some of Australia’s outback roads.


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Follow Up By: rumpig - Sunday, Mar 22, 2020 at 09:12

Sunday, Mar 22, 2020 at 09:12
A mate dragged his older version Goldstream wind up over a good chunk of Oz and had good things to say about it, no idea what the newer vans are like though. They are a heavy and wide van though, so keep that in mind.
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Reply By: Tony T3 - Sunday, Mar 22, 2020 at 12:19

Sunday, Mar 22, 2020 at 12:19
Just a comment to encourage you to keep on looking.
I am sure you will find something that will suit.
The other comments have pretty much covered it but if you check the suspension setups on the well known "offroad" units they are clearly designed differently to the lighter units, for the obvious reasons and there is really no way around that.

I appreciate the budget, but the idea of a 2nd hand unit which is clearly "offroad" built (but expensive when new), and there are quite a lot of them out there, might be a good option with a bit of a budget stretch.
Good luck.
AnswerID: 630644

Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Monday, Mar 23, 2020 at 09:46

Monday, Mar 23, 2020 at 09:46
I have a Goldstream Storm Vacationer III, about 5 years old.
They are supposedly built to handle the outback tracks, but I have experienced minor problems internally, such as the kitchen drawers which have released while traveling. The particle board construction enabled the screws holding the plastic drawer closures to pull out. I fixed this by installing the next size up Tek screws in place of the originals, then adding the stick-on child security cupboard straps to the drawers to stop them from opening.
A minor inconvenience but then I am able to fix most things.
No real complaints with the Goldstream product.

My friends I usually travel with have a Jayco Penguin Outback and again, minor problems with screws vibrating out (mainly when van was new) occurred. But it goes wherever they choose to go and is now as reliable as my Goldstream.

As others have mentioned, if you drive to the conditions you should be OK, regardless of which van you choose.

Jayco has had some negative reviews at times, but considering how many vans are sold and out on the outback roads and tracks across Australia, they provide good value for money.

Just one final comment. You mention the Jayco Swan "pop top" with the beds that pull out.
Like my Goldstream Vacationer, these vans are not "Pop Tops" but "Wind-Ups".
A Pop Top van is a full sided van with the roof popping up about 600-800mm or so, to give higher head room when camping.

I'm diagonally parked in a parallel Universe!

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Reply By: LAZYLUX16 - Tuesday, Mar 24, 2020 at 18:24

Tuesday, Mar 24, 2020 at 18:24
Jaycos dominate the market. So uou will read a lot of complaints.I have Swan Outback 2010. Its very well designed and I feel like its quite luxurious. Mine has the$6000 suspension no shockers or coil springs to break. made in Melbourne and chassis is rock solid. If you drive to conditions all be right. Yeh a few things might come loose but most should be easy fix. I was going to buy Goldstream originally but you pay a lot more and things can fail on them too. You could always hire before you try. Good luck.
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