The freedom of exploring and going off the beaten track with the best off-road caravans is incomparable. Owning one of the best off-road caravans can make a huge difference from your old ones. Why should you own one of the best off-road caravans for your next adventure?
Travelling with an off-road caravan will give you peace of mind to free camp and explore all kinds of terrain without leaving the comforts of your home. These caravans are not only convenient but are also very practical. Choosing your destinations ranging from national parks, beaches to remote landmarks is a luxury for owners of these caravans. However, there are matters you need to consider before choosing your off-road caravan.
Let’s tread through this matter and read this article before you go on your next trip!
What Should I Know About Off-Road Caravans?
During the 15th century, caravans were used as a means of transporting goods. The first leisure caravan was designed and commissioned by a retired Navy Doctor, Dr Gordon Stables in 1885. It was named ‘’The Wanderer’’ and was constructed out of mahogany and maple wood.
This horse-drawn caravan measured 5.5 m in length, and he was able to fit a china cabinet, bookcase, and a piano inside. At this time, caravans became trendy and reserved for the wealthy upper classes. In 1919, the first commercial touring caravan emerged a year after WW1 with the Eccles car-pulled caravan. Eccles Moto Transport gave birth to modern British caravanning.
The Car Cruiser, in 1937, was marketed as more affordable and made accessible for middle classes. It was ahead of its time in terms of streamlining and using lighter materials. For example, the Car Cruiser Rally De-Luxe saw caravan design move on significantly in terms of aerodynamics.
The Streamlite Rover was developed in 1948 and the forerunner to the more affordable Sprite caravan. As they were made of lighter, cheaper yet more durable materials, caravans evolved from being box-like trailers to fully equipped vehicles with kitchen, multi-rooms and showers.
Nowadays, caravans are split into luxury travelling complexes, basic one-room caravans, storage and on and off-road caravans.
Off-Road Caravans are made to withstand the rigours of desert tracks, bush and unsealed roads. Camper trailers are nothing new, but off-road caravans are the ones that are ready to take on wildest terrain out there. Also, there are a lot of newer models that focus on modern technology.
What Are the Different Types of Off-Road Caravans?
Before acquiring any caravan, you must inquire first the difference between on-road and off-road caravans. There are three things that an off-road caravan differs from on-road caravans. These three things are higher ground clearance, better suspension, and more sturdy construction.
The amount of stress is mostly placed on the van by potholes, ruts and corrugation. It is only essential that these modifications are required for off-road caravans for suiting the intended use.
Off-Road Caravans are categorised into two: Full Height Caravan and Pop Top Caravans.
Full Height Caravan
Generally, off-road caravans that are full height are similar to on-road caravans. There are many features of on-road caravans altered to suit remote area stays and off-road use. The changes include larger and additional water tanks, durable construction of cabinets, stud pattern and wheel size suitable for tow vehicle, a stone guard for protecting tow vehicle and van from rocks, checker plate for protecting van’s bottom portion, 12-volt electrical system, etc.
The advantage of this type of off-road caravans is that it can live in relative luxury while exploring nature and out of the way spots. In addition to that, the amount of storage is enormous. This type of off-road caravan is massive and large, which is a disadvantage. Hence, the towing is expensive, and your destinations will be limited because of their height and weight.
A pop-top caravan is identical to a full height caravan in almost every aspect. The difference between the two comes in storage and travelling mode, as the height of the roof is 400 mm lower. Setting up this off-road caravan consists of popping out of the top portion, a relatively quick and easy task.
The roof of this caravan is hard, but the side portions of pop-top caravans are made of canvas or vinyl with fly screened, zippered and large windows on all sides. The open sides provide an airy feeling and excellent ventilation.
The benefits of the decreased overall height of this caravan include saving a large amount of fuel, the centre of gravity of the van is lower, and it can fit easily in a garage or shed of a house. Compared to a full-height caravan, the weight of pop tops is lighter, and it is also affordable. However, the length of the caravan is limited because of the pop-top roof, so it is quite cramped compared to full-height models.
Which Off-Road Caravans Are The Best?
The best off-road caravans should be fitted with all-terrain suspensions and all-terrain tires, equipped to follow your 4WD vehicle anywhere you want to go. Below is the list of the best off-road caravans on the market for 2020:
Australian Off-Road Odyssey
Australian Off-Road Odyssey is an 11-foot van. It has a smart design and manages to fit in a queen bed (hinges upward) and an internal kitchen, with a second external slide-out kitchen and an internal rear lift-up shower pod. Also, the Odyssey has a low towing height, at 1400 kg Tare and 2000 kg ATM, so it is suitable for medium-sized 4WDs.
This caravan has an off-road chassis and suspension system and excellent departure angles to handle rough and steep tracks. It has 300 watts of power from solar panels and a 1000-watt inverter.
Complete Campsite Exodus 14 has all-around comfort and capability. Exodus 14 I off-road-ready, it is built from a monocoque moulded fibreglass shell that offers rigidity, strength and insulation for harsh off-road conditions.
Inside this pop-top caravan are a comfortable lounge area, plus a kitchenette and queen-size bed. The roof-mounted solar has 300W and has a quality electrical set-up with Redarc Manager30 BMS, a 2000W inverter. It also has a 270 L water storage across two tanks, and both are well-protected.
Rhinomax Defender 15ft Hybrid
Rhinomax Defender 15ft Hybrid is manufactured using SolidWorks 3D design software, and precision laser cut components. The Defender has a full-length galvanised off-road chassis and Cruisemaster all-terrain suspension with twin shocks, and the option to upgrade to air suspension. Its walls and roof are 30 mm panels with a high-density closed-cell foam core, and it has no internal framing, Rhinomax says that it will not rot or go mouldy.
Inside the Defender are a bathroom, an external slide-out expandable kitchen, and queen-size bed. In addition to these features, it has the capacity for 215 litres of freshwater storage and vibration-proof composite cabinetry.
Jayco launched its CrossTrak line in 2019 and is available in 13-foot and a 16-foot model. The 16-foot model has a private bathroom or a set of bunks and an external rear suite. Also, the CrossTrak is an affordable Aussie-made hybrid that competes on price with imported Chinese vans.
The CrossTrak has insulated ‘’Toughframe’’ walls, it is JTech independent suspension, and has streamline hot-dip galvanised chassis. In addition to that, CrossTrak is equipped with a 100-amp hour battery and 150-watt solar panel.
Track Trailer T4
Track Trailer T4 is a hybrid camper-trailer; compact, hard-shell units with the comforts of a caravan and the off-road attitude of a camper-trailer. It offers you the choice of internal or external bathroom and kitchen.
T4 has some impressive technological inclusions like an electronic lifting roof, awning and app control vial Redarc’s RedVision Total Vehicle Management System. The feature also includes thick automotive rubber seals for effective dust sealing, custom military-grade MC2-R suspension, and a quality electrical set-up with solar and inverter.
What Are the Best Off-Road Caravans For 4WD?
Opus OP-15 is 15 feet long and seven feet wide caravan. It has an exterior set up that pops out of the trailer’s flank. The curb weight of Opus OP-15 is 2,250 kg, and regardless of what or how you tow it, it adds a bit of comfort to your off-roading adventures.
Lotus Caravan Off-Grid Trailer
Lotus Caravans’ Off-Grid Trailer is built to be put through paces. It is combined with heavy-duty Control Rider twin shock suspension. Also, it can be towed in even the most challenging conditions.
The Complete Campsite Exodus has an independent trailing arm coil suspension and twin shock absorbers on each wheel. Weighing 1800 kg with an ATM of 2500 kg hence, it is suitable for medium size 4×4 and has plenty of payloads.
Lotus Trooper has a tough exterior but has a soft interior. It is 21-foot-long and weighs 2800 kg and has an ATM of 4490 kg. Towing this caravan, you should need a larger vehicle because of its weight.
Roadstar Safari Tamer
Roadstar Safari Tamer is a high-riding van and has a purposeful stance on the road. It is suitable for rough-road work and willingly follows your 4WD through tricky terrain.
Otron Signature Series is a well-built van with a very comfortable travel and isn’t a small van. It also has a tare of 2960 kg, so it’s not difficult to tow.
How Do I Choose Off-Road Caravan for My Campervans or Motorhomes?
Towing an off-road caravan with campervans or motorhomes is unconventional but not unheard of. These campervans are for people who wished to travel with larger groups or with their whole family. For some, it can enhance the enjoyment and comforts while travelling. Matching a campervan or motorhome to an off-road caravan is almost similar to that of a car and caravan.
There are good reasons for towing an off-road caravan with either of the two. Added to that is more space and storage for you and your family or friends. However, you should also consider some drawbacks concerning reversing, reduced speed limits and the constraints of towing an off-road caravan.
It is always important to remember that weight matters on towing other vehicles. Understanding the figures for maximum towing capacity, maximum tow ball weight, and all related weight limits is crucial. You also need to ensure that you operate within the capability of the towing vehicle and the conditions of driving licence.
The four main points you need to consider when matching a van to a caravan are the van’s kerb weight, towing limit, Gross Train Weight (GTW) and the caravan’s Maximum Technically Permissable Laden Mass (MTPLM). It is recommended you only tow a caravan that weighs less than 75% of the car or the van’s kerb weight.
No one should tow a caravan that is heavier than the towing limit of the vehicle it’s behind. Generally, when choosing an off-road caravan for your campervans or motorhomes, these are the issues and necessary things you should remember:
- Driving licence issues
- Towing law issues
- Nose weight and towbars
- Towing limit
- User payload
- Towbars and insurance cover
- Parking issues
How Do I Choose Off-Road Caravan for My RVs?
Dedicated off-road caravans are built with underbody with high clearance, so you can have the best chance of making it through challenging terrain. However, matching it with other RVs will be difficult as it will limit the caravan’s movement on the road. Except that if your RV is a 4×4 van then, these parts of the caravan you should check before purchasing it:
- Chassis and frame
- Ground clearance
- Free camping capability
- Battery, solar, and water
- External armour
How Do I Choose Off-Road Caravan for My Camper Trailers?
Both off-road caravans and camper trailers are built for rough roads. Although, camper trailers have lower mass, lower profile, space efficiency in storage and access. It is a separate unit that you’ll attach to your car. Caravans are towed along behind your car, and you can just hook them up and go. You cannot tow a camper trailer to an off-road caravan.
What Are the Tips on Towing Off-Road Caravan?
Travelling while towing an off-road caravan behind you can be dangerous so, you will need all the safety precautions while driving. Breakdowns, mechanical issues, and unforeseeable incidents can be prevented. Here’s how to tow your caravan safely:
- Identify first the road conditions you will be travelling on. Weather conditions can affect the road conditions, so take note of that. You also need to consider what other traffic will be using these roads.
- You should know your equipment’s capabilities. That includes the maximum towing rate of your vehicle, the weight of your caravan, and your tow ball’s weight.
- Install electric brakes and a brake control unit. You must have your brakes fitted legally if your caravan exceeds 750 kg.
- Use a weight-distribution hitch system (WDH), and it can raise your rear end and help level out your whole set up for greater control and performance by spreading the load from your hitch point to your entire chassis.
- Learn the difference between a weight distribution height (WDH) and airbag suspension. Weight distribution hitch (WDH) spreads your tow ball weight evenly across your chassis while raising your vehicle’s rear end and correctly positioning your rear axle. Airbag suspension, on the other hand, will only level up or adjust your rear-end axle to the correct position.
- Always inspect and correctly inflate your tyres. Include your spare tyres during the inspection and check the load and speed rating are correct for your towing needs. You need to make sure your wheels nuts are tightened to the manufacturer’s recommended torque setting.
- Towing mirrors are used for that expansive view which can eliminate blind spots and give you a better view of your whole vehicle set up.
- Check your tow ball/hitch and safety chain set up for serviceability. The tow ball coupling is adjustable, so make sure the ball and coupling are fit to avoid coupling slipping of the ball.
- Book your vehicle to the nearest caravan repair centre for a complete check over. Remember that the number one cause of accidents involving caravans is an incorrect vehicle set up.
This is not a towing tip but in addition to everything, get insurance for your caravan. If your caravan needs repair, a good insurance policy is worth its weight in gold. It’s cheaper compared to regular car insurance.
What Is an Off-Road Caravan?
An off-road caravan is designed for off- the- grid life. Its purpose is to provide the traveller with a peace of mind to free camp off the beaten track for extended periods.
What Are the Top 10 Caravans in Australia?
Most of the best off-road caravans are built in Australia.
- AOR Quantum Hardtop
- Track Trailer T4
- Trakmaster Pilbara Extreme
- Bruder EXP- 6
- Sunland Phoenix
- Zone RV Summit
- Bushtracker 20 ft
- Spinifex Epix
- Kedron TopEnder TE’ 7
- Rhinomax Outback Defender
Do You Need an Off-Road Caravan?
No. Some consumers need an off-road caravan, but generally, these types of vans are not for most travellers.
How Long Do Caravans Last For?
Around 14 years. Most of the experts agree that the practical lifespan of a caravan is about 14 years, and that’s if the caravan is maintained correctly.