There is no doubt that Australians love to explore the great outdoors and in doing so, often push themselves, and their vehicles, to the extremes. However, in order to explore our great country properly and actually enjoy the journey in safety and comfort, you need a safe and reliable off-road caravan.
However, what actually makes an off-road caravan? What should you look for to ensure the off-road caravan you choose is capable of withstanding some of the most inhospitable terrains on the planet?
If you want to genuinely tackle the toughest terrain that Australia can throw your way, it is critical you know what to look for in a fully off-road caravan. In today’s blog post, we will explore off-road caravans in more detail, and what you need to look for when purchasing one.
The chassis is the very foundation on which everything sits. Don’t take it for granted, especially when you are going to take it off-road. Make sure the chassis is manufactured in Australia from Australian steel, and to Australian standards.
It should also be hot dip galvanised to ensure extra durability and pay attention to its structure. Keep in mind that a heavier chassis isn’t necessarily always stronger. A strong chassis relies as much on its structure as the quality of the steel.
An off-road caravan must have an independent suspension system. This is much more durable and stronger than traditional suspension. An independent suspension system will not only keep you comfortable as you tackle tough terrain, but will also last much longer compared to traditional systems.
Make sure your off-road caravan has the appropriate ground clearance. We recommend a minimum of at least 500 mm. It should have a bigger rear departure angle (at least 40 degrees) to prevent the rear end from scraping when driving on undulating roads and tracks. Bigger wheels will also help with ground clearance and off-road tyres will offer you better traction and performance.
When you are away from civilisation, you need to have your own power and water. Ideally, you should carry a battery with a capacity of at least 200 Ah. Also, the caravan should have appropriate space for solar panels. Ideally, you should get the solar panels mounted when you buy the caravan. This will allow you to travel anywhere you like and be completely off the grid.
It should have a freshwater capacity of around 200 L or more and a separate greywater tank. Some caravans have split water systems where the main water tanks are separate from drinking water which allows you to refill the main tanks from other sources while keeping drinking water safe.
Most caravans come equipped with standard ball couplings but those are not really suitable for off-road touring. For an off-road caravan, you should ensure it has the appropriate coupling with 360-degree articulation.
It is a common misconception that heavier is better for going off-road. While it is true that the caravan needs to be well-built to withstand off-road conditions, this typically means the use of heavy-duty components.
However, towing a heavy caravan is not that easy and also affects fuel efficiency. This is why you need to strike a balance between weight and strength. Heavy-duty material should only be used on the chassis and drawbar whereas lighter materials should be used elsewhere.
Ask the manufacturer about the build quality as well as the testing performed by them. Pay close attention to how the cabinetry inside is connected to the body and how the body gets attached to the chassis.
Various manufacturers use the term “off-road use” as marketing jargon. However, their caravans are not really designed to withstand the unforgiving and punishing terrains of the Australian bush. This is why you should ask them directly about the type of terrain their vehicle is truly capable of handling.
These manufacturers are clever about the words they use. For instance, they might try to pass it off as appropriate for graded gravel tracks which means they aren’t really designed for off-road use.
If the manufacturer makes both on-road and off-road caravans, politely ask the salesperson to explain the difference. Keep in mind that some manufacturers use the same external materials for both on-road and off-road caravans, so you really need to dig deeper into the things we have covered above to determine if the caravan you are interested in is a genuine off-road caravan.
Australians love exploring the bush and it is a real passion for many people out there. There is so much demand for good quality caravans that many companies have jumped into this business even when they don’t have the expertise to build durable and reliable off-road caravans.
Retreat Caravans has been building high-quality, sturdy, reliable and durable off-road caravans for around 15 years. We offer several models with an extensive selection of floor plans and add-ons so that you can choose a layout and design best suited for you and your family.