1/06/14 Introduction to Caravanning 101: Choosing Our Van
Di and I had been thinking on and off about going on a caravan adventure for the past couple of years, and have looked at a variety of caravan makes and models during that time. How confusing are those caravan shows! We came away from our first show much more confused than when we started! And don’t you love how everyone talks up their own van and talks down all the others. This quickly got very tiresome, especially the “wood vs metal caravan framing” sales pitch. However, despite the information and choice overload, the benefit for us of caravan shows was that we started to build up a set of criteria against which we could evaluate a prospective van.
- A caravan rather than a mobile home
- Built new to our specifications, not second hand that would probably involve compromising our requirements
- Ability for extended free camping as we’re not into caravan park lifestyle
- Tough off-road capability to get to the bush camps
- Very comfortable seating and bedding
- Outside cooking facilities as we didn’t want to cook inside unless there was no other option.
So with these requirements in mind, we looked at the available off-road caravans and narrowed the field to a particular make and model and headed off to the Brisbane caravan and camping show late last year with the intention of buying one at a special show price. On the way to that particular display, we stopped in the Kimberley display and spent the next two hours inside the Kimberley Kruiser with the salesperson. I particularly wanted to see the reclining leather seats that I’d come across on the internet while searching for comfortable seating alternatives.
The Kruiser was unlike any other caravan that we’d seen before, both in looks and features. We were blown away by the technology applied to the solar power generation and storage, the use of alternate construction materials, the extremely comfortable interior, and how the traditional Kimberley off-road camper technologies and experience have been translated to the high end full size off-road Kruiser. After spending time in the Kruiser, we then went on to the display of the van we had intended to buy. One quick look inside it, and we felt that we were comparing chalk and cheese. We turned around and went back to the Kimberley display for another talk with the salesperson. We were sold on the Kruiser!
We found that Kimberley and their local dealer, South East Queensland Campers, were very open to customising the van to meet our needs. Similar to the construction of a house, there was a myriad of things to decide on and options to choose, further complicated by the fact that this was our first van. We had no prior experience with caravanning so were on a very steep learning curve, but found that my camping and 4WD experience was able to translate quite well. And, we also did considerable internet research and joined caravanning forums. If you can sift through the general prattle on these forums and discussion groups, there a gems of information worth finding. By the time the van was built, we felt that we were pretty well set up with everything we needed and not too much of what we didn’t need.