There’s never been a better time than now to spend your holidays exploring this incredible country, and an offroad caravan is a perfect way to bring a bit of comfort and convenience with you as you search out the best spots off the beaten track. But finding the right offroad caravan can be a long process. Knowing what you’re looking for is the most important early step. So, to help you in your search, we’ve assembled a list of the key things to look for in an offroad caravan.
Suspension is obviously going to be key if you’re taking your caravan down any kind of offroad tracks. Independent suspension is key for an offroader, as beam axle suspension can drag between the wheel tracks on beaches or in offroad conditions. Airbag suspension systems can also be helpful when levelling your van in an offroad campsite. Spinifex offer a range of independent suspension options for our offroad vans, to meet your needs and ensure you’ll have the smoothest and safest ride possible for your offroad van.
The other, less obvious components of a suspension system are the tyres and wheels. Ensure you get true offroad tyres, with a decent side wall and thick treads.
Chassis and body construction
A strongly built chassis, such as hot-dip galvanised steel in a twin beam design, is essential for any van that will be headed offroad. This can come with added weight compared to a less durable onroad caravan, so be sure to keep your towing vehicle in mind when considering just how tough a caravan you need, and how large.
Water tanks, electrical cables and plumbing mounted on the underside of the van should be placed as high as possible and protected to prevent damage on rough tracks.
Aluminium frames are the standard for offroad van construction. Aluminium can stand up to the movement and vibrations of rough road travel, and in the event of water getting in during a crossing, an alloy frame won’t rot.
The basic ball coupling that will manage an onroad touring van just won’t cut it on rough dirt tracks. Limited movement means it could easily break off as the van rises and falls. An offroad hitch, like those used on Spinifex’s offroad models, will allow for a horizontal and vertical movement.
Dust and Water Sealing
Any caravan you plan to take offroad in Australia needs good protection against water and dust — dust especially on Australia’s outback roads.
Good sealing is the first and most important step, but to take things a little farther you can opt for an active anti-dust system that will create positive pressure inside the van while towing, to stop dust entering through the inevitable one or two spots that can’t be fully sealed.
If your van can get anywhere, that means you’re going to want to be able to stay a while once you’re there. There aren’t likely to be many power outlets or water taps at most isolated offroad campsites! That means plenty of battery capacity, solar panels, large water tanks and good food storage. The more you have of all of these, the longer you can enjoy your time in camp.
High water capacity in turn means a lot of weight, so any offroad van will need a good payload to allow for this.
Storage and balance
To maintain balance and safe towing, it’s important that the heaviest items be stored over the axle, rather than too far forward or back. It’s also best if heavier items are stored as low as possible, with only light items stored in high spaces. These storage considerations are important for safely towing any caravan, but doubly so if you’ll be headed offroad, so any well-designed offroad caravan will have storage spaces that accommodate this.
Ask the Experts
There is so much to consider when picking the perfect offroad caravan for your adventures. We hope this list has given you a good start for understanding what you need, but don’t be afraid to ask an expert! Contact [email protected] to talk about what exactly is right for you.