Nine times out of ten, camping in Australia means going off-road. It would be a waste not to, with our long winding corrugated roads, stretches of stark desert right up to the rain drenched northern tip of our great island. With such a big country to explore, and all the fun stuff out there leaving the black top behind, what’s the difference between a camper trailer or caravan that is going to last under the strain of off-road conditions, and one that won’t?
Essentially you can break it down to a strong foundation, go-anywhere suspension, a concentrated center of gravity, and strong, lightweight and durable external materials. While not essential to the ruggedness of your off road camper trailer or caravan, off-the-grid power, water capacity and storage space are also big considerations when going off the grid.
A Strong Foundation
The chassis of your camper trailer or caravan holds everything else up, and is a make or break element when it comes to strength and durability. A strong chassis will increase the overall strength of the unit and will be the difference between getting it home or leaving it in the cape. To assess the strength and durability of the chassis in question, ask about the materials it is made from.
A high grade chassis will be made up of hot dipped galvanised low weight steel, preferably marine grade. Country of origin should also be a consideration, with Australian steel at the top of the list.
Fully articulating hitch
If you’re going to be bashing through troubling terrain with your camper or caravan attached, a fully articulating hitch is a must have item. Without the articulation in the hitch, a camper trailer or caravan will twist your vehicle drawbar if put on too much of an angle. Too much strain and your vehicle may roll. Cruisemaster DO35 is a really popular hitch on the market, and worth a look if you are currently weighing your options.
Suspension is a huge factor in the off-road ability of a camper trailer or caravan, and it’s often the hardest consideration due to the amount of suspension systems available. For a truly reliable suspension system, look for dual shock independent suspension to keep your RV steady and balanced through uneven terrain.
Durable external materials
When going off-road, you can expect all kinds of stones, dents and scratches if you’re not careful, and that’s what makes the durability of the materials so important. Look for things like rhino lining for stone deflection, strong materials that have been thoroughly tested, and Australian Made where possible. Another consideration are air filters and the right seals, to make sure you’re protected against the outback bull dust that will try and make its way in.
Departure Angle & Ground Clearance
Getting over obstacles is the key to decent four wheel driving, and usually those extra special camp sites, too. A decent departure angle of more than 40 degrees, and a ground clearance of 500mm of more will ensure that your caravan or camper trailer can climb steep ascents and fine to tackle obstacle filled tracks. Of course, you can tailor that number to how adventurous you yourself are.
Power, Water and Storage
While it doesn’t contribute to the ruggedness or your camper trailer or caravan, serious power capability, water storage and general storage are big factors when you want to disconnect and truly go off the grid. Power will allow you to charge your mobile phone, power any internal systems like water pumps, and will ensure a more pleasant experience.
No matter how remote your location is, having enough water should be one of your number one priorities. Ensure the water is clean and you have plenty of storage for water or water tanks with a large capacity.
Storage comes in handy for everything else, including tables and chairs, water, fuel and gas, food, clothing, first aid and everything in between. If your camper trailer or caravan offers less than 2000 litres of storage, ensure that your vehicle can handle the rest.