If you’re contemplating seeing what all of this “off-roading” fuss is about, or if your mates have twisted your arm and finally convinced you to come along with them on one of their sun-drenched, muddy adventures, it can be daunting to know exactly what you should be looking for when purchasing your first off road camper.
Off road campers and caravans themselves come in all kinds of configurations and sizes, but the best choice for you will always depend on your needs. Generally, there are a few things to keep an eye out for. This short guide will cover the most important aspects and features you should be considering when buying your first off road camper.
Consider the Material Your Prospective Camper is Made Of
Most off road campers look sturdy enough, but don’t be fooled, as they aren’t all made equally. A visual inspection won’t be enough to tell you anything meaningful about the materials the camper is made of and how much punishment they can withstand. Your best bet is to look up the model of camper you’re thinking of purchasing and find the specification sheet or chart on the company’s website.
Experienced travellers usually recommend campers with an aluminium frame. These are lightweight enough that most towing vehicles will be able to tow them with ease yet durable enough to withstand the often harsh and volatile weather patterns that can be experienced when travelling on the road. With aluminium being an abundant material, campers made with these frames are generally among the most affordable for first-time buyers.
What Amenities Will You Need & What Can You Go Without?
Due to the nature of road travel, you can’t take all of the creature comforts of home with you on the road. Which amenities you choose to include in your purchase of an off road camper is possibly the most critical consideration. The last thing you want is to be stuck in a remote location with no backup solar power or no means of communicating with others. Similarly, it will quickly become distressing being stuck out in the desert with very little water because you chose not to opt for the larger capacity water tank.
Off road campers usually come with enough basic amenities and appliances to get you through a casual long weekend. If you’re thinking of getting a little more adventurous however, you will want to put extra time and thought into which specific amenities are vital, and which ones are nice to have but not strictly necessary.
Have You Had Much Towing Experience?
Ripping down the trails in your 4WD is fun and feels as effortless as regular driving, but off road campers will usually add at least an extra tonne to your overall haulage. This makes driving with a camper a completely different beast than what you might be used to.
If you’ve grown up on a farm or in an otherwise regional location and you’ve been tow driving since a young age, then you’ll likely be capable of getting through a long weekend tow driving a camper, even if it’s your first time. However, if you grew up in the city, you need to be honest with yourself regarding how good you are at driving with a tow bar. There’s no shame in taking a few practice runs before setting off on your adventures. At every stage, you’ll need to be aware of what’s happening behind you, and extra consideration will need to be made when braking and accelerating.
Buying an off road camper doesn’t have to be stressful. By taking some extra time to consider the materials the camper is made of, the kinds of amenities and appliances you’ll need for the specific locations you’re travelling to, and the need for tow driving practice before setting off, you’ll be fully prepared to get down and dirty on your next off-roading adventure.