‘Off-road’ is one of the most abused words in the Recreational Vehicle industry, as it can mean everything from a jacked-up caravan sitting on 6-ply tyres and little more to a fully-engineered caravan or camper trailer capable of following a serious 4WD tow car most places you’d want to go.
Off-road Caravan Brands
In the major league of off-road caravans, three makes stand out: Bushtracker and Kedron from Queensland and Victoria’s Trakmaster. All three specialise in building ‘long haul’ caravans for people planning extended trips in Outback areas. Where they differ is that Bushtracker and Kedron use aluminium body frames, while Trakmaster employs timber framing for all its models except the new Tanami (which has a fibreglass sandwich wall construction), claiming its benefits are lighter weight and more flexibility – a benefit in rough terrain.
All are custom built to order, but you must be patient. Waiting lists sometimes stretch for 12 months or more, depending on the model.
Most other manufacturers offer ‘off-road’ models, but these are generally based on their mainstream models, with the same body and frame dropped on a beefier chassis with more ground clearance and plenty of off-road ‘bling’, such as chequer plate sides (the more, the more macho), off-road wheels and tyres and added stone shielding.
Choosing an off-road caravan
If you are truly interested in spending a lot of time of bad roads, first get down on your knees to see what suspension is underneath and how well things are shielded from stone attached. Then visit the factory to see how the off-road model differs from its on-road brothers.
Other full-size, fully-featured off-road caravans worth looking at include Majestic’s Navigator, Roadstar’s Venturer and Lotus Caravans’ Trooper.
If you want a smaller off-road caravan that will follow your 4WD most places, look at the innovative Kimberley Karavan, Track Trailer’s interesting new Topaz, Off Road Campers’ new Quantum and Jurgens’ Stargazer.
Off-Road Caravan For
- Dedicated off-road caravans will last longer than conventional caravans
- Better dust proofing, cupboards and latches usually fitted
- Better suspension and ground clearance
- Most of the top ones are truly self-reliant
Off-Road Caravan Against
- They are heavier – most of the proper ones weight between 2 and 3 tonnes
- You don’t really need something as strong if you are only planning to travel on regular unsealed roads on the relatively short holidays.