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Advice on Small Caravan + Towing Vehicle

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    Callie Theron
    Participant

    As an older couple, we are thinking of moving from a bakkie mate to a small 2 to 3 berth gravel road caravan… Any suggestions?  would also appreciate suggestions on a Towing vehicle that is not too big, we don’t really want anything as big as a double cab. We would appreciate and suggestions

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    Gerd Kopanski
    Gerd Kopanski on

    I assume you envisage a gravel van and not an off-roader  or 4×4   because most tend to be fairly heavy. I also assume you have discounted a single cab bakkie with a roof top tent.

    That leaves the “GRAVEL” Vans and the 2/3 bed versions are fairly light, i.e. from 800kg  to 1.100 kg GVM but offered types/models are fairly scarce compared to the other abovementioned types

    You MUST have a towing vehicle which is equal in Tare weight to the caravan but preferrably a bit more. Since you do not want a biggish vehicle, like a double cab, a single cab bakkie is the answer (towing capacity in kg, engine capacity in kW and engine power(torque) in Nm) The first and the latter  parameters are very important since they determine which van you can to tow reasonably comfortable (weight).

    Space for your camping /travelling gear is also very important, hence the single cab….

    The heavier the van the more Nm are required (together with kW).Luckily , todays bakkies  are offered with for example 2l Diesel engines , delivering sufficient torque  combined wit sufficient kw. You could also elect to have a petrol engine but bear in mind that engine capacities being  equal Diesel engines deliver the higher torque at low revs. therefore towing with a small to medium sized petrol engine (e.g 1.6 to 2.0 litres) will not result in pleasurable towing, particularly on longer trips (more than 200km) and with lots of up-and downhills..

    The word towing pleasure is my own creation , because I once towed a small ,normal

    caravan (GVM 750 kg) with the original Merecedes A-class 160i in Petrol. The car was a manual and I took the combination to Namibia for 3 weeks. There are not many up-and downhills there but quite a lot of wind. My car had a very bad time with an angled headwind for approx. 400 km on the way in and later again – ON A LEVEL ROAD -and I had to gear change between 4. and 3. and could not even maintain 80km/h. The 5th gear rusted solid !!! (If memory serves me right the old 160 petrol A-class delivered 90 or so kW and 17o Nm.

    See photos

    There you have it BUT I ENJOYED THE TRIP VERY,VERY MUCH, DESPITE…..

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    Callie Theron
    Callie Theron on

    Thank you Gerd for your advice, our bakkie mate fits onto our Isuzu 4×4 single cab, which is a great vehicle but we are thinking of selling that and my car – Hyundai ix35 and perhaps getting an x-trail 2.5 4×4 or Rav4 and smallish caravan, definitely not 4×4, which I would love but I know far to heavy

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    Callie Theron
    Callie Theron on

    Gerd, what caravan is that in the picture that you are Towing?

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    Gerd Kopanski
    Gerd Kopanski on

    Hi Callie

    I had the Gypsey Caravette 2 (Not manufactured anymore but you can get them still today second hand) It was ideal for me alone, as my wife passed on earlier. It is good also for 2 but not for 3..I had mine extensively modified..Fiamma manual wind out awning at side. Wooden doors at rear, permanent double bed with gas lifts, 3- fridge, Fiamma suction/blowing fan unit in roof and last but not least a caravan mover , without which I would not have been able to juggle that thing in and out of garages and “funny ” camping places. The  Caravette 2 had a tare of 500 kg and a GVM of (if I remember correctly 750 kg).

    The Sprite Scout was initially similar to the Gypsey but had the door later at the side. Later the design evolved and they made it a boit longer (and heavier) added additional beds via slide-out,, etc. I am not sure whether they stopped building them but the latest model I saw on the internet was from 2014…But as development progressed, so did the weight. I think the later models all are around a GVM of 1000-1100 kg

    I am not sure why you do not consider a proper off-road van , like the Jurgens X Cape or X-plorer(they are 1400/1500 kg GVM )I am sure the Nissan X-trail is sufficient for towing and if you love it, go for it BUT with one proviso. Have a caravan mover installed, parking and moving and hitching will be like a computer game….nice and easy.

    It is very difficult for elderly persons to move even a light caravan of 600 kg easily on a paved piece of road but some camping spots are something else (uphill, downhill, etc).

    Currently I have a ConquerorSupra 1 (GVM 1500kg) and with the mover I guide the trailer precisely onto my tow ball and I have uphill and downhill out of my garage.

    Whatever you decide, it is important that you enjoy the camping and  the towing combination as well as the accomodation

    NB You find the Caravette 2 on the internet but  to a lesser extent as compared to the Sprite Scout. If you research old  threads  on the various Forums you will also find lots of info about experiences people had with their caravans….

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    Callie Theron
    Callie Theron on

    Thanks for all you info Gerd it is much appreciated, although I really like the off-road vans I don’t think we would do enough off road to warrant the extra expense, I must say I quite like the scout but am not keen on the bed that extends out the side . You have been a great help, really appreciate it

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    Gerd Kopanski
    Gerd Kopanski on

    I trust you will make the decision which suits you best,

    I wish you lots of  interesting, happy  and peaceful camping trips.

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    Callie Theron
    Callie Theron on

    Thanks so much

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    Roy Kallaway
    Roy Kallaway on

    Callie. I have a Sprite Scout Nomad.
    It is a conversion of the Scout done by Kempton Caravans to a gravel roader.
    Dont be put of by fold out bed its quick and easy to set up and stow away.
    And the big plus is that you then have 2 beds.(the side one and the one in the front) So no trying scramble out over your partner in the middle of the night without waking her when nature calls.

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    Dean Boyd
    Dean Boyd on

    Hi Callie

    Don’t discount the Scout to quickly because of the fold out bed.

    I had my reservations as well but was presently surprised after purchasing my one in Nelspruit and on my way home it slept 4 adults quite comfortably and the plus point is when my wife and I go on our own a lot of stuff can be stored in the fold down bed while still enjoying the full space.

    Regarding the towing, initially when I started looking at the Scout models I met an owner who was comfortably towing his with a VW Polo1.9tdi

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    Callie Theron
    Callie Theron on

    Thank you Roy and Dean, it’s good to hear good report some of my concerns were security and weather when fold out and having pack away after rainy weather?

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    Gerd Kopanski
    Gerd Kopanski on

    Packing away after rain is not the problem – after all one can do nothing when it rains–but it is important to air the van sufficiently  (canvas extended and roof open…etc) when next the sun comes out or latest when home.Wet canvas packed away for a couple of days does no harm,provided it is not dripping…

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