Real list of offroad vans

Submitted: Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 01:37
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Hi, Been searching the web high and low for a real and unbiased list of true offroad vans.
Something that outlines the manufacturer, materials of frame etc etc.
I know of Kedron, Bushtracker, and maybe one or 2 more that have ali frames and are true offroad/unrestricted use caravans.

Who can help me find a list??
Or alternatively lets start one here. i dont want to hear about softroad vans only those that can take a beating and survive.

Rob
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Reply By: Member - John T (Tamworth NSW) - Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 04:59

Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 04:59
Hi Rob,

Have a look at “Caravaners Forum”. Down near the bottom of the index page there is a heading for Recreational rional Vehicle suppliers etc. This is a list of “all” rv’s with the type of van listed. There are quite a few noted as being “off road”.

I personally have an AOR Quantum that I take anywhere my Nissan can tow it with no concerns.

Cheers
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Follow Up By: AlanTH - Friday, May 18, 2018 at 09:17

Friday, May 18, 2018 at 09:17
Check this site before making any decision: Lemon caravans and RVs of Australia.
Read the horror stories and excuses the makers make when the van falls apart on road or off.
Not all bad but gives you an idea of the extent of the problems many have had and the efforts they have to go to to try and get them rectified....with some times little help from all those taxpayer funded bureaucrats whose job it is.
AlanTH.
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Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Sunday, May 20, 2018 at 09:43

Sunday, May 20, 2018 at 09:43
I wouldn’t take much notice of what you read on Lemon Caravans & RV’s. They currently have 2 court cases pending with regard to false & misleading claims.

Macca.
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Follow Up By: Gone Bush (WA) - Sunday, May 20, 2018 at 11:17

Sunday, May 20, 2018 at 11:17
That doesn't mean they are wrong, Macca.

It just means there is a battle of the wallets looming.

Take it from me, the smaller wallet can be right, and can win.



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Follow Up By: Shaker - Sunday, May 20, 2018 at 17:05

Sunday, May 20, 2018 at 17:05
It’s also a place for people that don’t like being told it was their fault,
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Reply By: Gronk - Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 06:49

Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 06:49
This is always a contentious issue because of the definition of offroad ?
I wouldn't call a big Bushtracker offroad because they are so big you really can't take them too far offroad.........but they are good for outback dirt roads where corrugations test out the build quality of a van.
See where the difference is ?
You need to determine what sort of offroad you intend to do before making a list.
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Follow Up By: Gone Bush (WA) - Friday, May 18, 2018 at 21:01

Friday, May 18, 2018 at 21:01
Yep, you really can't take Bushtrackers very far offroad.





By the way, that's not my Bushtracker. This is my Bushtracker in its (my) natural habitat.

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Reply By: Robmeoff - Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 07:12

Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 07:12
I guess im thinking would i tow it into honeymoon bay up past Kalumburu? or out to mitchell falls etc
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Follow Up By: Rangiephil - Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 11:12

Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 11:12
Robmeoff, I was stopped for lunch coming back from Kalumburu when a Disco 1 trundled past towing a 1970s on road van complete with louvre windows.

So you can take anything as long as you drive to conditions.
The road into Honeymoon bay is narrow and very sandy in sections, and maintained by dragging a tractor tyre along it.
I would think light weight would be important to avoid bogging, which is usually NOT a feature of modern off road vans.
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 22:24

Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 22:24
You are no longer permitted to take caravans up to Mitchell Falls. Better to leave it at the King Edward River camp regardless of it ability.
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 10:49

Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 10:49
"The park is only accessible by road to four-wheel-drive vehicles and high clearance, single axle, towable units."

Parks advice on towing.

To me that says Camper trailers or off road small vans are ok but not those big Kedron / Bushtracker / Trackmaster vans with dual axles. Makes sense. I think the bungle bungles are the same.
Tony
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 19:01

Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 19:01
Yes, small single axled high clearance trailers (including caravans) only on the track into Purnululu. This was changed a few years ago from no caravans when people were getting in with larger camper trailers than some of the caravans which were turned back.

The wording for Mitchell Plateau from your link has been made similarly streamlined.
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Follow Up By: OutBack Wanderers - Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 23:32

Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 23:32
I'm curios now, would a BT-50 with a slide-on be allowed at 2.8 tonne?
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Sunday, May 20, 2018 at 09:10

Sunday, May 20, 2018 at 09:10
Yep. No Problem.
Tony
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Reply By: Iza B - Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 07:26

Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 07:26
How do you measure offroadness? Robust chassis means lots of weight to tow through rough ground and over soft surfaces. Long soft leaf springs, coils, and airbags reduce the vibrations from corrugations. Offroad means different things to different people. Descriptions of road condition lack any kind of objective measure. Frames? don't get me started. Any list you might find or derive would need to disclose the criteria necessary to get inclusion on the list.

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Reply By: Member - Penski - Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 07:47

Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 07:47
I agree with Iza that there needs to be an agreed criteria. To me offroad goes beyond construction and should include a size/weight that can reasonably be dragged along a narrow track. I am currently considering a CC Exodus 16 over less expensive larger "offroad" vans because if my vehicle can fit through the horizontal or vertical gap so can the camper in many if not most cases. The more twists and turns in the track, the more size comes into play. Having said that I doubt I would take an Exodus along the Old Telegraph Track but would certainly take it to the Mitchell Plateau or similar. Then there is the reduced towing capacity of vehicles offroad, published or not, but that's another story....
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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Friday, May 18, 2018 at 10:55

Friday, May 18, 2018 at 10:55
"Then there is the reduced towing capacity of vehicles offroad, published or not, but that's another story...."

Yes not many do publish the off road towing capacities? My Disco tD5 had a 3.5 T tow capacity but the handbook said 1000 kg off road. I suggest most vehicles should be derated by similar amounts.
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Reply By: Member - abqaiq - Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 08:36

Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 08:36
We just went though the exercise and found most "off-road" caravans meant off asphalt! We travel light but are getting up in age so had to give up the RTT for health reasons. Found the Ellis Recreational Vehicle site and settled on the Basecamp Light as what suited us. Very robust and simple, high ground clearance and can go where the Troopy can go. Just an option, to look at.
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Reply By: KiwiAngler - Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 09:28

Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 09:28
I have a Conqueror UEV490 and have been on the road full time for almost 9 years and have done close to 300,000kms including:
Cape York
Anne Beadell
CSR
Simpson
Gary Junction

All of above multiple times

And I intend to keep going

This is the latest version of the 490

https://www.conqueroraustralia.com.au/campers/uev-490-platinum/
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Reply By: Darian - Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 11:18

Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 11:18
The problem with this topic is the definition of "offroad" when applied to vehicles...there is no consensus. I chose a new Trakmaster (conventional timber framed / metal skin but with expensive independent air suspension), because they seemed quite robust, well built, well appointed and would easily handle the terrain I intend to cover*. To further muddy the waters, some manufacturers have "offroad" models that use the smooth, glossy composite sandwich type frame / wall construction. For some users, the "offroad vans with reputation" would be overkill ($$$); and there are of course plenty of vans that carry an offroad label that may well prove inadequate.
It also seems true that some makers of vans that don't use an "offroad" label will 'beef up' aspects of their products to do the job; and may well be just as good and at a good $ saving.
I think the best approach is probably to highlight the types of terrain you hope to cover and then invite suggestions on the various vans from owners. My guess is you will find some names mentioned that don't necessarily figure on traditional "offroad van" lists.

Good luck with the project....huge fun out there in the vast outback !

*I do about 95% sealed roads these days (long drives to other parts of the nation :-), with the occasional modest runs on gravel....rarely on rough ground now.
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Reply By: Keith B2 - Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 12:55

Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 12:55
If you have a look underneath the van and see exposed plastic plumbing then, in my humble opinion, it's not only not an off road van, it's not even a gravel road van.
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Follow Up By: Robmeoff - Friday, May 18, 2018 at 01:26

Friday, May 18, 2018 at 01:26
Especially if its PVC and not poly!!
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Reply By: David I1 - Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 18:59

Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 18:59
The other issue is what is a caravan? What should be inside the van as standard and what is OK to be outside. I have looked at a few of the makes mentioned on here and to me they are little more than beefed up camper trailers. Ie nowadays nearly every caravan made has a shower and toilet (most separate and not in the shower cubicle), a stove and fridge inside the caravan. A lot even have a TV and washing machine. A number mentioned here have a external fridge (ie for a Engel or similar) and external cooking facilites and sink. So are they caravans in the true sense or upmarket camper trailers? My 16' caravan has separate shower, and toilet, washing machine, stove, grill and oven, fridge,sink table TV air conditioning, diesel heating, Queen size bed. It says its off road but I would NEVER take it everywhere I take my 4WD. Neither the car nor the van could do it. Ie Can you take your off road up Trigg track or along the Balfour track? Or any other extreeme track? If you cannot then its not off road in the true sense. It however might just go into a few places a big van would not fit.
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Reply By: Member - J&A&KK - Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 20:30

Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 20:30
Hi Rob

Your question on a “real and unbiased list of true offroad vans.” cannot be answered IMHO.

Others have raised valid questions on the definition of “off road”.

It’s advisable that you carefully consider what you want to do, when towing a van, off the bitumen. There is a lot to consider.

In our case we have a Kimberley Karavan. It has proven to be reliable in difficult conditions including deep water, savage corrugations, steep side creek crossings, etc etc. HOWEVER there are many many circumstances where the Prado and the Kimberley in tow will not proceed due to conditions and rig configuration.

The rig is around 11m long and weighs 4.9t fully laden. Immediately you are faced with rig dynamics and manoeuvrability issues that severely limit your choices when off-road. On three occasions we have had to disconnect the van, then skull drag it into position, to either continue or retreat on our journey.

For us the KK has proven to be very off road unless we are in very soft sand or mud due to the van weight and the limited power of the Prado diesel.

I have seen so many “non off road vans” on ugly roads that I often question the value for money of the KK purchase. But also I have no idea what damage has occurred to those other vans.

Life lessons state that “ you get what you pay for”. This may not be the case with caravans but is a useful starting point.

Cheers John
John
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Reply By: Robmeoff - Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 20:47

Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 20:47
Ok time for some clarification.
I have towed a camprite camper into king George falls(yes it can be driven to) and the CSR and out further so am not unfamiliar with outback travel. I'm not asking for recommendations on my driving ability or my ability to get a van into the places I've mentioned. What I'm after is a real run down of vans that can take the punishment of off-road travel, miles of heavy corrugations, mud, river crossings, rocks etc.
most chassis these days are pretty reasonable and with care will make any trip( even towed an old Jayco penguin through places where others fear to walk!) what I am looking for is cupboards that don't fall apart, drawers that stay snug, I guess I'm saying build quality and ruggedness.
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Follow Up By: andoland - Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 21:10

Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 21:10
We towed our Tvan into King George Falls last year, was an awesome trip.

We camped at McGowans Island which is north of Kalumburu and there was a couple with a large Trakmaster van there which they told us they tow up from Perth every year and they seemed happy with it. We saw a couple of other Trakmaster vans that people told us regularly towed over rough tracks into parts of the NT and WA.

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Reply By: Motherhen - Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 22:30

Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 22:30
Rob, you can break any caravan, even the toughest off-roaders. Or you can crawl over the corrugations with a middle of the range caravan. Driving to suit the road and your rig, tyre pressure, speed and maintenance all come into it. I know you didn't want questions about how to drive, but no-one can recommend a tough off roader without that qualification.

We chose a Bushtracker as the best made and toughest. There are quite a few newer ones on the market now, but most have not stood the test of times.

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Follow Up By: Robmeoff - Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 23:58

Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 23:58
Ive been looking at bushtrackers, Kedrons, and a couple of newer players but can tseem to nail down a "list" of lets say "equals" to the BT and Kedron
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Follow Up By: Member - Penski - Friday, May 18, 2018 at 06:34

Friday, May 18, 2018 at 06:34
Maybe there are none (possibly Trakmaster) which is why they command such a high price. I noticed recently Bushtracker is continuing with their smaller narrow body range including pop tops but the price is even higher than the Complete Campsite Exodus I am considering (the BT example I saw was very highly spec’d though). I know a couple of Bushtracker owners and I think what sets this end of the market apart from the lower cost options is their ability to hit the rough trip after trip. I won't mention any brands but I am sure the less expensive off road models would be fine for a trip or two like the Gibb but may not hold up in the long term. For many this is the plan anyway - a couple of outback adventures and then some more modest touring.
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Friday, May 18, 2018 at 09:05

Friday, May 18, 2018 at 09:05
Because everyone's list would be different Rob, based on what they have, what they have seen, and what they have read about someone's 'horror story'.

I will never suggest brands, and my experience is limited to what we have, and experiences of friends (good and bad). Because someone gets a lemon does not mean that every model produced of that brand has the same results.

For a true off roader, make your list form those that make dedicated off roaders, not a general make that puts out a so called off road model. And read the find print. When I started out researching, some sold as off road models said things like suitable for sealed road travel with occasional tracks to campsites or sights.
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Follow Up By: Shaker - Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 18:56

Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 18:56
I looked at a Golf Savannah 499 Off-road because the layout interested us, I thought it appeared quite flimsy compared to our AOR Quantum, so it didn’t surprise me to find nearly buried on their website this disclaimer, ‘warranty does not cover damage caused by rough roads or corrugations’, or words very much to that effect.

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Reply By: 3ways - Friday, May 18, 2018 at 11:39

Friday, May 18, 2018 at 11:39
Rob also incude SLR caravans in your search. We did the factory tour when we were sourcing our van. They build serious off-road vehicles.
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Reply By: Member - graeme W (WA) - Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 08:57

Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 08:57
Also have a look at wonderland caravans. There build method is different using cnc cut interlocked marine ply for the walls. No restrictions where you take them , choose your own chassis build etc. After a lot of research and narrowing the field down we finally ordered a 16ft 6inch wonderland.
cheers Graeme
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Follow Up By: Shaker - Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 20:08

Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 20:08
“Wonderland RV caravans are not designed or intended for use on four-wheel drive only tracks.“
Extract from their warranty along with quite a list of onerous conditions & exclusions.
The other thing that I couldn’t find on their website was any reference to dimensions & weights.
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Reply By: Chris B26 - Sunday, May 20, 2018 at 16:25

Sunday, May 20, 2018 at 16:25
Australian Off Road.
All their models are made to take on just about any road. Having said that, you better have some grunt to tow them, they aren’t light.
They also have absolutely superb after sales service, assistance. See their forum to get an example of what their owners think of them.
(Yes I have an AOR quantum)
Chris
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Follow Up By: Gronk - Sunday, May 20, 2018 at 23:14

Sunday, May 20, 2018 at 23:14
I think when a Bushtracker gets mentioned, the weight of an AOR wouldn't be a worry.

I like the idea of something like the AOR because of the smaller footprint and weight compared to the BIG vans.I like the ability to get into that small secluded campsite, regardless of whether it involved "offroad" travel to get there.
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