Van Layouts

We are in the early stages of looking for a 14 -16FT off road van. We are a bit far away from caravan yards to look at them so we thought we would post here.
I am confused with the choices. Front kitchen,rear kitchen, Rear entry etc. What are the pros and cons.
Any help appreciated

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Reply By: Nomadic Navara - Saturday, Jan 14, 2012 at 15:36

Saturday, Jan 14, 2012 at 15:36
Centre kitchens make for a more stable van, particularly in the longer lengths. The other thing that upsets the stability of a van is hanging things like jerry cans, tool boxes and bike carriers at the end of the body.


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Reply By: Notso - Saturday, Jan 14, 2012 at 15:39

Saturday, Jan 14, 2012 at 15:39
So far I've had a Front Kitchen, a Rear Kitchen and now I've got a side kitchen. All with side entry.

The only thing I would really recommend is a door close to the wheels of the van. The things that this achieves are that it is covered better by an awning so you don't get rain coming in under the awning into the doorway and it gives better ground clearance entering and leaving steep driveways, gullies etc.

Aside from that an island bed is good if you are having a double bed. No climbing into or out of bed over your partner.
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Saturday, Jan 14, 2012 at 16:31

Saturday, Jan 14, 2012 at 16:31
A full sized island bed in a 14 - 16 foot caravan would make the rest of the van squeezy. I am quite happy 'climbing over' and rather like my cosy against the wall side of the bed (we fight over the privilege).


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Follow Up By: Notso - Saturday, Jan 14, 2012 at 16:38

Saturday, Jan 14, 2012 at 16:38
That's probably OK if you're not old and crotchety like me, there are a few 16 foot layouts around with an island bed particularly if you don't want a shower toilet.
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Follow Up By: Member - Eric H1 - Saturday, Jan 14, 2012 at 17:03

Saturday, Jan 14, 2012 at 17:03
We find having an East-West bed gives you more room
An L-shapped dinning with a table that you can remove or a table that fodls gives you more room
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Follow Up By: Member - barbara M (NSW) - Saturday, Jan 14, 2012 at 19:13

Saturday, Jan 14, 2012 at 19:13
We have an East-West at the moment, have had the other, I opted for this to give me more bench space, We only have a small van Track Topaz love the layout, have had a 16' and 14'9" both with a north south bed. Loved the layout with a front kitchen in the Supreme getaway, but the door was in front of the wheel which impacted on the clearance heaps, which was the only reason we got rid of it. hope this helps, i suggest you go to a caravan dealer and go through the vans and check out the layouts, sit in them and look for things that you feel are wrong for you, also if you ask van owners nicely if you can have a look at their vans and ask them for the reasons that they have for their layouts they will usually be glad to help.
Have fun and enjoy yourself and don't race into the decision, most people me included end up with a few vans as their needs and wants change.
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Follow Up By: wilco318 - Saturday, Jan 14, 2012 at 19:41

Saturday, Jan 14, 2012 at 19:41

I persoanly prefer rear entry. LOL
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Saturday, Jan 14, 2012 at 20:23

Saturday, Jan 14, 2012 at 20:23
All good advice from Barb Outnabout. My advice is to go camping into the sorts of areas you want your caravan for and ask other's what is good and bad about theirs. We did this pre-caravan days - for years.

One often quoted problem with rear door is dust ingression. Our van is much bigger than your target, at 18' internal, but a love my front kitchen with door alongside for air flow on hot days and easy to take hot food or drinks outside. There is nothing heavy about the kitchen itself, and fridge and areas where i store heavy products are over the wheel arches (we have dual). Our bed it in the rear, so we can back up to the view and lie back and enjoy. We've woken to some glorious sunrises. We needed the extra length of QS for my husband, so we'd lose a significant area of our living space if it was island.

As Barb says - most don't get it right the first time.


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Reply By: Member - Old Girl - Saturday, Jan 14, 2012 at 16:58

Saturday, Jan 14, 2012 at 16:58
We have had the front kitchen and now the side. Both are good. One thing i find enoying is the door opens to the kitchen window. So we cant hook the outer door open at the same time as the open window.
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Reply By: Member - barry F (NSW) - Saturday, Jan 14, 2012 at 17:03

Saturday, Jan 14, 2012 at 17:03
Hi David, We have had two vans, one with a front & our existing with a rear kitchen. In our opinion they are both much of a muchness. Centre kitchens look to be to me much more user friendly, but maybe you would need something bigger than a 14 footer to accommodate it.

Our first van was a 16 foot one with an Island bed, our existing van is an 18 footer with two single bunks.

We went the single bunks because,in our opinion, this configuration offers more practical usable space between the bunks rather than two narrow ones on either side of the Island. You will usually find that single bunks are a little longer than the double island bed, which was of importance to me.
To access one side of our Island bed you had to step around behind the dining lounge & over the wheel arch which was a bit of a pain as well.

My wife likes to read for an hour or so after hopping into the cot & with single bunks she can do so for as long as she likes without disturbing me!! The down side of single bunks is that it is more difficult to tuck the sheets etc in when making the bed.

If you have a look at the Jayco website ( or any other van manufacturer web site) and have a browse at the many floor plans available, it might help guide you towards what suits your needs prior to your visit to a van yard. Good Luck in your search.
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Reply By: The Bantam - Sunday, Jan 15, 2012 at 14:51

Sunday, Jan 15, 2012 at 14:51
A couple of things that realy bug me about most of the rigid vans being offered.

1 is to almost total inability to provide a full sized, innerspring queen bed ( or even full length double) in even the largest vans.

As far as I am concerned, the primary function of a carvan is somewhere comfortable to sleep......for me even though I am of average height that means a full length bed.

And that means you can use standard matresses, & bedding

Most of the soft side camper trailers can manage it, standard why not rigid vans.

2. Personally I don't want to cook in my years past many small caravans had a rear kitchen accessable from outside, the tail gate lifted up providing an awning and maybe some canvas sides.
I have recently seen some small vans with slide out, external kitchens ala camper trailer.

Removing the kitchen from the interior of the van frees up a hell of a lot of space as well as removing the cooking filth and the gas dangers from the vans interiour.

3. Of course don't get me started on internal shower & toilet........I find it fascinating that we have gone full circle from the chamber pot, to outside toilets, now we all want toilet smells in our bedrooms, both at home and in our a large scale, 3 tonne, mobile gin palace, fair enough have ya internal ablooter if you like, but trying to stuff one in a small van is simply rediculous.

Last caravan show saw a 12 footter with everthing inside including a shower & toilet......but hell there was barely enough room to observe ya morning meditations, let alone bend over to wash ya lower portions...this van must have been designed for short, skinny people......If ya needed someone to service the fridge, he'd need a confined spaces ticket and an observer to do the job under QLD current regs.
Fortunately the "small room" ( small being the word), was directly oposite the door, so if a fat person got stuck in there its would be a straight pull with a snatch strap to get em out.

I think often people expect too much inside their vans.

Another thing is there is so little variation, once you scrub away the fancy trim the vans of today don't look much different to what was arround 20 or 30 years little imagination.

Like there is no reason the axle has to be in the middle...I have seen a couple of vans where the axle is shifted quite some way rearward, this requires a different approach to load distribution, but it does allow some different choices to be made and solves the rear overhang issue.



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Follow Up By: Member - Frank P (NSW) - Sunday, Jan 15, 2012 at 17:21

Sunday, Jan 15, 2012 at 17:21
Great post, Bantam.

:-) :-) :-)


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Reply By: Member - John and Lynne - Sunday, Jan 15, 2012 at 18:26

Sunday, Jan 15, 2012 at 18:26
Our previous van was 17ft. It did not have a bathroom as we felt one would take too much space in a van that size and we wanted to be able to move inside the van! This van had a rear kitchen (fridge over wheels) and a centre door just in front of wheels. This gave us plenty of kitchen cupboards and bench space. The island bed was at the front and was extended at night to full length using a bolster and tucked back to increase space during the day. The dinette was in the centre, opposite the door. This was a very liveable layout. It meant that the kitchen was not the main thoroughfare and I did not have to keep moving out of the way when I was preparing food and He kept coming in and out to find his hat or whatever!
In a van smaller than 17ft single beds would probably give you more floor space and a more roomy feeling than an island bed. Enjoy your search! All layouts involve compromises! Lynne
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