How do I choose the right caravan? Choosing an offroad caravan can be confusing, especially when a first-time buyer. Luckily, we’ve compiled this guide to help you through the whole process!
Caravans WA: Off-Road Caravans
Let’s start by differentiating between on-road and offroad caravans. The main differences are ground clearance, structural strength and self-sufficiency.
For example, Jayco Offroad Caravans, Australia’s largest manufacturer of caravans, offers three levels of off-road ability: Outback, All Terrain and full off-road Hybrid caravans.
Here are the different types of caravans you need to know about if you want to go off-road:
- Outback models were designed for entry-level off-roading. With increased ground clearance and minor protection against stone damage, these caravans have the ability to camp off-grid for a night or two at most.
- All-Terrain models can be towed on rougher, corrugated roads due to their more robust chassis and internal fittings. Their off-grid ability is extended to a week in good weather or until they run out of water.
- Full off-road caravans have high performing suspension components, and their electrical systems are top-of-the-line.
- Extreme off-road caravans combine everything you need for off-grid severe adventures and are usually custom-built.
Of course, other companies also specialise in caravans for small adventures, like Western Australia’s caravan builder, Elross. These custom caravans take the issues of ground clearance, strength, and self-sufficiency issues to new extremes.
How Much Should I Pay for a Caravan?
Those considering buying a caravan should know that you’re making a substantial financial investment. New, entry-level vans start at around $50,000 up to more than $120,000 for deluxe models, while second-hand caravan sales climb, with decent models costing well over $25,000.
What Questions to Ask When Buying a Used Caravan?
So, before making such a big purchase, you have to ask yourself a couple of questions.
1. Where Do You Intend to Travel?
Where you plan on travelling will largely determine what type of caravan you should purchase and what features it should possess.
If you’re planning to travel long distances with the entire family, a larger van with more beds and amenities is necessary. However, a smaller caravan will do if you plan to use your caravan for shorter getaways.
2. What’s The Vehicle’s History?
Purchasing a second-hand caravan can reduce your up-front costs, but finding out more about a vehicle’s history will determine whether your money was well-spent or simply a waste.
Ask questions about the vehicle’s maintenance history and if there have been any major repairs or damages to work out any significant ongoing costs.
3. What Are The Warranty Details?
Warranty details are of the utmost importance, as many factors impact your warranty. Do you need to undertake warranty repairs? Can specific actions void your warranty? These are things you need to know.
4. What Do Experienced Caravanners Have to Say?
Online reviews are helpful and a vital part of the caravan-buying process. Before sealing the deal, make sure you research the model you want to buy. If you have any caravanning friends, why not ask for their advice? It’s better to be safe than sorry!
5. What Does Your Budget Look Like?
We can’t emphasise this enough. Always finalise your budget before even looking to buy a caravan. Seek the guidance of a specialised caravan finance broker to arrange pre-approval for a loan. Knowing how much you have available to spend will weed out the caravans that aren’t for you.
Remember to ask about the costs not included in the ticket price, like dealership fees, additional taxes and registration costs.
Small Off-Road Caravans
What size caravan should I get?
Once again, consider who will be using the van to determine what size, layout and features you need. A solo traveller will do well with a smaller pop-up caravan, whereas a more prominent family will need more space.
By making a list of your needs, you’ll be prepared to buy the caravan best suited to you. Consider things like the toilet and shower, air-con and heating, stoves, interiors, slide-out barbecues, coffee makers, washing machines or rear-view cameras.
And remember to check the size of your garage before browsing the best caravans Australia has to offer!
You’ll also have to buy caravanning essentials such as these:
1. Towing Mirrors
If you’re towing a caravan, you need to see 20 metres behind you and four metres on either side of the caravan.
2. Spare Rear Number Plate
It would be best if you had a number plate on the back of your caravan. Remember that it must be the same as the car you’re towing it with, reflective, with black characters on a yellow background.
3. Water Carrier
Ensure you’ve got a water pump and hose to attach the carrier to your van’s water inlet.
4. Wastewater Carrier
A wastewater carrier captures the greywater that drains from your shower or sink.
5. Electric Lead
The standard 25m orange cable is ideal.
6. Gas Bottle
Typically, you’ll need a 6kg or 7kg gas bottle. Look out for refillable alternatives.
7. Regulator and Gas Hose
This ensures the gas pressure is correct as it leaves the bottle to burn.
8. Gas Spanner
If your gas cylinder’s empty, you’ll need a spanner to undo the hose thread.
9. Hitch Lock and Wheel Clamp
These are the most commonly used security devices and deterrents.
10. Caravan Step
A sturdy caravan step makes getting in and out of your van quicker.
11. Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm
Since you’ll be cooking in and around your caravan, these are both potential lifesavers. Remember to check the batteries regularly.
12. Leisure Battery
This powers your 12V equipment when you’re camping away from electric hook up and isn’t generally supplied with new caravans.
13. First Aid Kit
Include plasters, bandages, painkillers, antihistamines, disinfectants, bacterial wipes and sanitising gel.
14. Fire Bucket, Extinguisher and Blanket
Fire buckets are great for tent fires, while blankets and fire extinguishers can help to stop small pan fires.
15. Basic Tool Kit
A small kit with a hammer, a few flat blades and screwdrivers, adjustable spanners and the likes should help you with most running repairs on your adventure caravan.