Home' Caravanning Australia : Spring 2012 Contents 84 • Caravanning Australia • Spring 2012
4WD and Off-Road
caravan work together to distribute impact between the two.
Just giving each type of suspension a visual once-over is enough
-- the single-axle example is bone jarring just to look at.
The way off-road suspension distributes the weight more
evenly than a single-axle and/or leaf-spring example also
means that the caravan is less likely to fishtail behind the tow
vehicle, and is not as likely to incur punctures, as less weight is
concentrated over each wheel. The caravan is also less likely to
get bogged, for the same reason. In ideal situations, the wheel
size and stud pattern matches that of the tow vehicle, meaning
that all wheels are interchangeable if the need arises.
Most off-road cabins are heavily sealed and waterproofed
along the whole underside, as well as at doors, windows and
hatches, to stop water seeping in during water crossings. This
also stops dust getting into the interior. Interiors of off-road
trailers are much the same as those in on-roads, with some
subtle changes added to well-crafted examples. These may
include securing items with nylon nuts to withstand vibration,
and heavier-duty locks, latches and drawer rollers. Some
models even use denser-grade
timbers and polyester coatings
to withstand vigorous scrubbing.
Appliances are geared towards
efficiency in the expectation that
an off-road RV will rely more
heavily on battery power.
The hitching system used
on most examples permits more
acute angles to be reached
between van and tow vehicle than
traditional vans, allowing a sharper
turning circle. A standard caravan
hitch cannot withstand much
articulation without encountering
trouble (around 20 degrees), while
an off-road hitch is a much more
robust design, with some able
to achieve a full 360 degrees of
articulation (not that it's possible to
use that much) and will withstand
a much heavier load.
The freedom to tow through
rough terrain isn't the only liberty
afforded by an off-road RV --
designers are aware that they
are generally taken off the beaten
path, away from typical facilities,
so added equipment reflects this,
and can include: larger fresh- and
wastewater tanks, more powerful battery systems and solar
power units, more energy-efficient amenities, longer range
communication systems, more storage capacity, bigger gas
bottles, heavier duty recovery gear, tandem axles, and increased
frame strength. The overall resilience of the exterior is also usually
fortified with checker plating and stone guards.
Off-road RVs are, of course, pricier than traditional models
(ritzier examples can hit six figures) and are also generally
heavier due to the added extras (especially with full-height
examples), but manufacturers are always endeavouring to use
lighter materials to cut down weight and limit strain on the tow
vehicle. The additional weight needs to be a consideration for
tow vehicles -- extra torque would be required for heavier models
(turbo diesel or an eight cylinder).
Pop-top and compact off-roaders help cut down on some
of this weight, making them a more fuel-efficient option, and are
generally more manoeuvrable due to their lower centre of gravity.
Pop-tops do sacrifice some insulation due to thinner walls, and
also have less overhead storage space as the roof compresses
down into the interior. When raised, an inset of approximately half
a metre, generally made of canvas or some other material, fills in
the added space while maintaining the van's weatherproofing.
Compacts have traditionally been smaller, hard-shelled on-
road caravans, but off-road examples are becoming increasingly
popular due to their superior tow-ability. They vary greatly in
design, some almost resembling a hard-shelled swag, but most
comprise body extension mechanisms to speedily increase the
When your off-road camper is bought new, specific
modifications can be made for your intended use. As weight and
price become further considerations with each added feature,
knowing where you will and won't go can save some strain on
the bank account and the tow vehicle.
If you have an on-road camper and you're itching to get
just that bit further off the beaten track, consider an off-roader.
Mountain ranges, sandy beaches and river crossings await! ●
Pop-top in Cape Range National Park © Australia's Coral Coast
DELUXE CAMPER TRAILER HIRE
Affordable rates -- anywhere off road
Ph 1300 790 153 Mobile 0417 816 649
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 82
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