Choosing the right off road caravan- Caravan buying guide
Off road caravanning gives you a glimpse of natural wonders across Australia, there are mountains, waterfalls and rivers to be explored. Over the years, an increasing number of people have started revelling in caravan adventures, with an equal increase in those who take up off road caravanning.
Benefits of Having an off road caravan
Off road caravans offer the following advantages over regular caravans.
- Truly on-the-go: Most caravanners take up caravan adventures as they believe that they are free to go wherever they want to and are not limited by the need to stop at hotels, like you would on a car trip. However, in regular caravans, you need to find caravan camp sites where you can park for the night or for a few days. Off-road caravans, though, can be taken anywhere and you can park anywhere.
- The trip will cost less: As there is no need to park the caravan in a paid caravan camping park, the trip cost will be drastically reduced.
- Better ground clearance: The off road caravans are designed to run well on roads that are unsealed, so they have better ground clearance.
- More space: An off road caravan will also function as your second home, so the bathrooms are bigger and the kitchenette a little wider.
- Multi-terrain vehicles: These caravans are built to be driven over multiple terrains, without the risk of skidding. So, now you can explore sandy beaches or even rocky campsites. we have also compiled a list of great places that you can visit including Ararat, Grampians, Bright & More. An ideal off-road caravan should be able to withstand a long period of driving over corrugated roads, stay balanced when you are driving downhill and be minimally affected by the water or sand that it may be subjected to.
Advantages of Owing An Off Road Caravan
There are many advantages in owning an offroad caravan but you need to buy the right one to truly benefit from owning one. Here are the features to look out for when selecting an off road caravan
The suspension of the off road caravan should be really good as there will be a lot of unpredictable terrain that an off road caravan would have to ride over. The touring caravans usually have a ‘rock and roller’ leaf suspension while an off-road caravan should have coil spring suspension system.
Load sharing suspensions will help in distributing the weight when the caravan is driven over rough terrain. When the front wheel drive over an obstacle, the load is transferred to the rear wheels
Some caravans are designed to have a larger rear departure angle, which prevents the caravan from getting damaged on rough roads.
Wheels and tyres :
The wheels and tyres of an off road caravan need to give it sufficient ground clearance and should have the required amount of traction to keep it from skidding.
Unlike a regular touring caravan, an off road caravan will ride over a lot of rough terrain and strong wheels are the starting point towards a good off road caravan.
The chassis provides the strength to support the entire vehicle. There are high quality Australian made steel that are sturdy and should be used instead of important ones. A 6 inch frame is a must to handle the rough terrains.
Look out for chassis that are built using thin steel, instead a thick one is required. Certain manufacturers even include a chassis raiser that is essentially an additional piece of steel added to increase the strength of the chassis and to ensure better ground clearance.
Camping resources :
One of the major highlights in using an off-road camper is that they double up as parking gears. However, the resources available in an off road camper is not non-exhaustive, so you will have to have an eye out for how much you have left.
Water is the most used element, with most caravanners running out of this essential commodity more often than fuel. Standard caravans offer 2 water storage containers, however, if you intend to travel for longer days, then you may have to add to this.
Apart from water, you will also have to check your solar power capacity so that you will be able to manage off-grid for a period of time.
The requirement for these commodities are based largely on the number of days that you intend to go off the grid.
Ideally, a 300W roof mounted solar panels, 190L of fresh water storage capacity and 200Ah capacity is sufficient. Some of the added benefits provided by some manufacturers include
- 450 W solar panels
- 300 W inverter
- 3 tanks with a capacity of 95 litres
- 240 Ah lithium battery
- Separate storage tanks for drinking water and separate tanks for general purpose water, this allows general purpose water to be filled from multiple sources along the way.
Hitch coupling :
The coupling between the towing car and the caravan are important as proper articulation will ensure that the caravan turns smoothly in the undulated terrains. There should be good horizontal as well as vertical articulation, and easy hitching mechanism. The standard ball coupling mechanism may not be sufficient for offroad caravans.
Body of the caravan :
The body of the caravan will bear sufficient brunt of the journey, so it should be built with a metal as strong as Aluminium. Other important aspects that need to be checked is if the cabinetry has been fixed well and how the body is fixed to the frame. The strength of all these will help in determining how sturdy the off road caravan will be when you take it out.
Most off road caravans have a one piece wall, with the body nailed to the chassis for greater stability.
Weighty matters :
The weight of the caravan plays an important role in how well it manages over undulated terrain. These caravans are generally much heavier than caravans that are used for on-road driving pleasure.
There are many camper trailers and pop top variants that have been successfully designed to be great off road caravans and are lightweight. This way , you would not have to go in for a different tow car that can pull heavier caravans.
Apart from these engineering aspects, there are design aspects that you should look out for when buying an off road caravan. These offroad caravans will usually house you for as long as your holiday lasts, which means that you need to give the “home-like” feel to it. For this, you need the right amenities, especially a washing machine, a TV for entertainment and the right number of beds to sleep in.
The off road caravan should also have dust sealing and protection from stones as these will prevent the caravan from getting damaged during the drive.
These are some of the important features to look out for, all other aspects depend on personal preferences and specific needs. Happy offroad caravanning