been to the caravan show, now we are confused, after any advice!

Submitted: Saturday, Mar 20, 2010 at 23:19
ThreadID: 77048 Views:7328 Replies:8 FollowUps:9
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We have been to the show today to look at a variety of campervans and pop tops. As our car can only pull 1650 we are restricted to what we can buy
We have narrowed it down to Windsor Escape, Windsor Rapid poptop, Jayco Eagle/Dove style, Coromal Silhouette

I should start by saying that we have never camped before and live in Perth, plan is to use van for going away probably just for short weekend or school holiday trips, not offroad, not travelling for weeks at a time. We have 2 young boys, age 3 and 5

My hubby would have bought a trailer tent thing but personally I prefer to have a little more comfort and protection from extreme heat or cold, hence why I would rather spend $$$$ on something more substantial

The Windsor rapid to us seemed quite small inside, the cupboards being at head height seemed to make the living area seem much smaller. The Windsor Escape seemed a lot more spacious purely I guess because of more windows and no cupboards at the top

Does anyone have any practical experience with any of these vans/trailers that they could pass on to us. Its all very well the salesman telling you what is good and what isnt but until someone can tell you how they found the experience personally its hard to guage
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Reply By: Tenpounder (SA) - Saturday, Mar 20, 2010 at 23:48

Saturday, Mar 20, 2010 at 23:48
Hi there. Let's start with a couple of thoughts: a 'campervan' is a camper conversion to a delivery van (the old VW Combi campervan started it all, probably). So I think you are referring to campers, camper trailers and poptops. We have a poptop, and I can say that, in terms of protection from extreme heat and cold, a poptop is only as effective as the power output of your air conditioner or heater. So it may not be significantly better than a camper trailer (except for the time to erect and pack up).
But, yes, we are rapt with the comfort of a 'proper' van (no ends to extend; a couple of minutes (how often have you heard THAT at the show about pretty well every contraption on the market!) to raise the roof; kitchen and beds all ready to go, etc.
One of the biggest things we all have to face is that storage is the casualty of going small. We have a 17 ft 6in poptop for the two of us (and the dog), and the thought of going to say a 13ft alternative forces us to consider the sheer practicals of fitting our stuff into a van with perhaps a third of the storage!! We have a real wardrobe and a proper kitchen, and decent work areas to prepare and eat food.
Yes, we too appreciate 'more windows' but it comes at a price: poorer insulation against extreme heat and cold!!
Finally, you may find that older poptops are lighter than modern ones, so an ancient van like ours (1989 model, single axle van, 1400kg ATM) may be easier to tow that an equivalent new poptop which may well be a tandem axle and weigh 2 tonnes loaded.
A worry is that beds for four rule out a number of options, especially the mid-size van for ageing couples (like us!).
I hope these rambling thoughts are of some use to you
AnswerID: 409692

Reply By: Member - Captain (WA) - Sunday, Mar 21, 2010 at 01:00

Sunday, Mar 21, 2010 at 01:00
Hi Ann65,

Well I used to own a Windsr Offroad Rapid, currently have a Camprite camper trailer and just signed up for a Quantum "crossover" offroad van at the Perth show.

I originally bought the Rapid so my wife would have the creature comforts and also because our kids were 2 & 4 at the time (now 10 & 12). It was a great choice and we were very happy with it for ~4 years. While all vans are some form of compromise, we were more than happy with it and never regretted the model choice.

As the kids got older we "upgraded" to a more outdoor experience with the camper trailer (see My Profile for pics of all these). There are big differences in a van and a camper trailer, the mains ones being that with vans you tend to end up living inside too much as they are very comfortable. Yes, you could easily stay outside, but the reality is that you end up cooking, washing dishes and then sitting down inside. A camper trailer has you doing all that outside and we ve found we enjoy this experience much more.

But don't get me wrong, the Windsor was the right choice for that stage of our lives with young kids and my wifes preference of comfortable camping styles (which have evolved over time). Given the age of your kids and your stated preference for comfort, starting out camping in a camper trailer may not be the best introduction to the outdoor lifestyle, the choice of a van sounds very similiair to us.

And now we have just spent up big on a Quantum offroad van that has, for us at least, the best compromise between outdoor camping and van creature comforts. We have found that an outside kitchen is a must for us (the Quantum doesn't have an indoor kitchen - its all slideout like a camper trailer) but a rollout awning is MUCH more desrable than one that has poles and pegs (the Quantum has a rollout awning). We need a small size van due to my desire to go offroad (we had to replace both sides of the Windsor due to too big a van on too small a track) - the Quantum is only 500mm longer and 150mm wider than our Camprite so can tackle any track I would choose to take it on. But it now has the luxury of a/c, hot showers and flushing toilet. The point of this is that your needs change over time and you realise just what type of camping your prefer so you change accomodation to suit your current needs.

Now, given your 3 choices IMHO I would discount the Jayco's as they don't have the a/c and their setup is actually a lot more involved in comparison to the Rapid. While I hear you about the Rapids cupboards, don't discount the storage they offer. I am not sure what the Windsor Escape is (cannot see it on the Windsor website either) and have not owned a Coromal Sillouette. But given they offer flys for the beds, it means they must not be 100% waterproof. As the Windsor has a steel roof over the beds, you don't have that issue. Now our Windsor was a 2001 model and I am sure a lot has changed in that time, but I would prefer to get another Rapid over the vans you have listed. But either way, they all have compromises to some degree and I am sure that any one of those vans will be infinitely better than nothing!!! Another thought is to hire first off and see what actually suits you better.

Have fun and enjoy the outdoor lifestyle you are about to embark upon, your kids will love you for it.

Cheers

Captain
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Follow Up By: The Rambler( W.A.) - Sunday, Mar 21, 2010 at 15:28

Sunday, Mar 21, 2010 at 15:28
Captain,
I had a good look at the Quantum off road van and have to say Ithink you have made an excellent choice.It sure would be my van if I could afford it so in the mean time I will truck along with my Pioneer camper trailer.I am a bit jealous but enjoy your new van.
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Follow Up By: Member - Steve & Paula - Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 00:27

Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 00:27
Hi Captain,

Glad to read this post and the explanation of compromise. Camping is exactly that. We signed up for a Quantum after last year's show and love ours. our reasons are very similar to yours (we owned a Kimberley Kamper before). The number Quantum owners in Perth is growing! Their quality and customer support is second to none! I reckon we should form a Quantum owner's group here.... I know of at least 3 others!

Enjoy your "camper"!

Steve and Paula
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Follow Up By: Member - Captain (WA) - Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 09:32

Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 09:32
Hi Steve and Paula,

Apparently there are 9 WA based Quantum owners already and they have taken orders for 9 more so far at the Caravan Show. I get mine in July (they had an opening in the production schedule) but delivery is now out to March 2011. I have been told there is an owners forum on the Quantum website, will be logging on as soon as I get my password to check it out.

Look forward to catching up with fellow Quantum owners.

Cheers

Captain
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Follow Up By: GOPIES - Friday, Mar 26, 2010 at 23:07

Friday, Mar 26, 2010 at 23:07
Hi Fellow Quantum owners,

We placed an order after the show and as we are in no hurry we opted for March 2011 delivery even though they had November spots available, we hope to be in Tassie then.
A Quantum owners group i thinks a great idea, if any of you have suggestions to modifications , additions or changes they would greatly be appreciated.

Cheers

Mark






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Reply By: ann65 - Sunday, Mar 21, 2010 at 01:10

Sunday, Mar 21, 2010 at 01:10
Thank you for those couple of replies...very helpful....but still non the wiser!!!
My other half's concern is we spend $40k on a poptop and will never go anywhere!! My concern is we spend $40k on a poptop and I will still want my holiday to Bali or my holiday back to the UK to see my family and he will whinge that we have a $40k poptop to use !!

Whereabouts do you go camping in WA, apart from the usual Moore River, Albany, Busselton etc?
I just think taking the kids on a dozen or so weekends away and a longer trip in school holidays has got to be more fun than staying home, even if all you do is end up sitting inside your van or outside in your annexe!!

Are the deals they do at the Camping shows much better than what you will get from the dealers later on?

Sorry all this research brings up more questions than you start off with!
AnswerID: 409698

Follow Up By: DIO - Sunday, Mar 21, 2010 at 08:12

Sunday, Mar 21, 2010 at 08:12
Seems to me that you might not be really ready to commit to a van, camper etc. I suggest that you keep your money in the bank and if necessary rent a camper if/when you actually require it. At the end of the day you will be miles in front with your savings and be able to have more frequent trips to Bali or the UK or wherever. You will never have to worry about that $40,000 'white elephant' in the garage. Good luck.
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Follow Up By: Member - Captain (WA) - Sunday, Mar 21, 2010 at 08:31

Sunday, Mar 21, 2010 at 08:31
Gotta agree with DIO, you would be much better off in the short term hiring a van and seeing if you liked that style of holiday. Not only will that help determine if you like camping, but will also help with what you want in a van.

Cheers

Captain
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Reply By: Member - Carl- Sunday, Mar 21, 2010 at 08:44

Sunday, Mar 21, 2010 at 08:44
Hi Anna,

You want a Windsor Rapid off road. The reasons:

If your husband wants a camper trailer and you push for a pop up, it needs to be as little setup as possible. There a alot of difference between setting up a Jayco and a windsor. Hence the reason why Jayco has copied Windsor's design. If he has to set up something YOU wanted, it will p----- him off setting it up. Then he will not want to go camping or take you to Bali. Itismore than just which one to pick.

The windsor also has better resale value, better off road performance, quicker setup, better weather protection, better protection from bird droppings and leaves when set up. Remember that you want to set this up under trees to keep the inside cool.

Now your English and applaud your choice to immigrate to this great country. Frantastic weather and friendly people. The next choice is to get out to the outback and smell the ground after it has rained. Look up from your camp fire and see the millions of stars in the sky. As the sun sets over the waterhole (we call it a billabong here) you listen to just the cockatoos squarking as they fly overhead. Then the crickets that will serenade you to sleep at night or at least muffel a romantic night in the bush.

Not to mention extra accomodation when your relatives come to visit from the UK.

Good luck
AnswerID: 409707

Follow Up By: Member - Royce- Sunday, Mar 21, 2010 at 22:46

Sunday, Mar 21, 2010 at 22:46
Good comments.

Got me thinking.

I reckon a waterhole is a small spring or soak where as a billabong is a cut off piece of river, a big waterhole.

both Australian.

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Follow Up By: Member - Carl- Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 09:15

Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 09:15
Yes. Royce I take your point. Remember however that Anna has had a big step in coming here. There is alot to learn about Australia and the differences between here and "the Mother country".

Early immigrants did not have the advantage of the internet, not to mention all locked below decks for the 4 months of the voyage.

There are many things to learn about her new country. Here for example fish and chips do not come always covered in batter. Politicans are not always polite here in parliament. Not to mention she has the ability to cheer for a winning cricket team as well.

Then there are all the snakes and spiders we have. That takes some getting your head around.

So I will apologise for my error and you are correct. We owe it not to confuse, the new members of our Australian family.



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Follow Up By: Member - Royce- Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 12:59

Monday, Mar 22, 2010 at 12:59
I did my first trip overseas a few years ago and was amazed at the wild open places in Great Britain. Riding along a canal path a snake crossed my path... just like home.

I was very surprised by the remote places, well away from civilization that were still left.

I think the bulk of Aussies in the city and regional towns are just as novice at the outdoors, not to mention the outback. Many a third generation Aussie has no idea about the bush.
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Reply By: Dasherdes - Sunday, Mar 21, 2010 at 09:14

Sunday, Mar 21, 2010 at 09:14
Ann, Some good advice up above and hiring may be a good idea in the first instance. Why do you need to buy new? There are plenty of very good second hand vans, pop tops or campers out there and some are a real bargain. A lot of new vans etc appear to have minor faults which need rectification (mostly under warranty) and a recent second hand unit will have these mostly sorted out.
You also asked where to go for your holidays. I live in Sth Australia and I have to tell you that WA along with the Victorian High Country are my favourite holiday destinations. Perhaps for your first trip you could head down to Albany to Esperence but your state Holiday Centre will have heaps of great advice,

What ever you end up purchasing, keep relaxed and enjoy the experience.
AnswerID: 409714

Reply By: Member - John and Val - Sunday, Mar 21, 2010 at 09:46

Sunday, Mar 21, 2010 at 09:46
Hi Ann,

Here's another vote for hiring at least in the short term. That way you will be able to start to find some answers for your own questions - how much comfort do you want, where to go (endless beautiful places) and whether you want to travel mostly at home or overseas. Also as your children grow over the next few years your needs will change in that regard as well.

From my perspective many people overestimate the amount of comfort that they need to go camping. Young children do require a bit more organisation but one of the main joys of camping is being outside seeing all the amazing things that happen there - enjoying sunsets, campfires, fresh air and so on. It does seem that many caravan folk become wedded to their TVs A/Cs and kitchens and other "creature comforts" and miss out on a great deal. To the point where one wonders sometimes why they leave home!!

Dont feel intimidated by starting out on a camping life - we have all been around the loops and made lots of mistakes. If you make that big investment while you are still unsure about which way you want to go in terms of setting yourself up you may just set yourself up for la ess than satisfactory experience. Take it slowly, experiment and you wont look back.

Happy travels,

Val

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Reply By: Steve - Sunday, Mar 21, 2010 at 10:56

Sunday, Mar 21, 2010 at 10:56
When our kids were younger (now 13 and 16) we had a van with bunks but they do outgrow them because they are often not very roomy. We then had a flight of fancy and went for a Coromal Silhouette offroader. Lovely bit of kit and very roomy but..... for us, all the ropes and the putting up and down was a bloody nuisance....and yes, the end flys did get wet. Maybe we'd got used to the convenience and instant setup of a vanand the extra internal cupboard space. Campers are better for storage, being smaller they often fit in the garage but for us, not worth the other hassles. We're now back to that again and are very happy. The boys are now old enough to have their own space in the form of a small tent next to the van. For quick stops they bring in their sleeping bags and mats and sleep on the floor. The space we've saved by them tenting has allowed us to have toilet and shower. I would've thought a Windsor Rapid quite roomy but haven't seen the excape.

Also disagree with the previous poster saying that you tend to live in a van more than a camper. We cook and generally live outside and only use the van for sleeping and watching TV when it's rainy. Definitely po-top for us.

btw, looking at those hybrid Quantum type things with interest. Not ready yet but in a couple of years will probably take a serious look at them and I'm sure they'll've improved them further by then. Something to look forward to. Camping is constantly evolving and so are our different needs and requirements as kids grow older/leave home etc etc
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Reply By: ann65 - Sunday, Mar 21, 2010 at 11:21

Sunday, Mar 21, 2010 at 11:21
Thanks everyone!
Maybe i need to persuade my hubby to upgrade the car then we have a wider range of models we can consider as well!!! and more chance of buying 2nd hand...it seems that nothing we can tow has come up 2nd hand and I have been looking for a number of weeks. Then when they are 2nd hand its only a couple of $k more to buy new
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