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trailer shelters, vans and caravans for camping

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  • I don't sell any of these nor do I receive any remuneration if you buy them, and I have not personally reviewed all of them, they are listed here to give you perspective
  • if you drive towing a trailer or caravan, your chances of mishaps increase substantially and you may lose everything if this occurs in a remote setting - not to mention delays to medical care
    • 4WD and trailer/caravan roll overs can occur unexpectedly such as a rear tyre blowout, even on relatively flat roads and will likely end your trip!
    • Risk of trailer sway and roll over
      • addressing causes of trailer sway:
        • ensure trailer is not too long - choose the shortest trailer possible
        • ensure optimum mass distribution - mass should be mainly low down over the trailer wheels - not at the front or rear of trailer
        • tandem wheels should have same road grip and hence same load - and thus trailer must be LEVEL
        • avoid long distance from rear wheel of vehicle to hitch point (avoid tow bar extensions) and avoid rear overhang loads over hitch point
        • ensure low centre of gravity for both tow vehicle and trailer
        • ensure correct tow ball mass of 5-10%
          • too heavy and trailer will be too stable and not turn with tow vehicle plus less load and hence grip on the vehicle's front wheels
          • inadequate tow ball mass although making trailer easier to maneuver, makes the trailer unstable
        • ensure correct tyre pressures as determined by load on each wheel
          • too low - increases risk of trailer sway, squirm and float
          • too high - increases trailer bounce and loss of grip
        • SLOW DOWN - 90kph is much safer than 110kph!
          • reduce speed and thus reduce trailer momentum (momentum = mass x velocity) and shorten your braking distance
          • take care downhill as trailer momentum and gravity forces tend to have trailer “overtaking” tow vehicle which increases sway - ensure you reduce speed at start of downhill parts and increase the proportion of braking to the trailer brakes!
          • take extra care in wet weather or with gusty winds (eg. passing a truck)
          • take extra care on bumpy roads that bounce the trailer around
    • ensure your vehicle is appropriate for the towing and braking needs and the tow ball load is appropriate and you learn to drive appropriately towing a van
    • driving after sunset dramatically increases risk of hitting a camel or similar large animal, if you swerve suddenly you may end up with a rollover or into a tree
    • motorhomes and caravans occasionally catch fire
    • if your negligence results in an incident which causes harm to others, you do risk life long guilt and also potentially inprisonment!


  • many campers prefer to tow a trailer or van for their camping trips as these may provide:
    • more amenity (gas fridges, stoves, better beds, storage space for extended cooking equipment and cutlery)
      • most have a 2nd external gas stove which can be pulled out for use and avoids the cooking smells becoming embedded inside the van
    • greater water storage capacities
    • often less accessible to animals/insects seeking food
    • in some cases better security although most only provide security against opportunistic thieves and not against professional thieves
    • potentially less set up and pack up time as self-contained and most gear is already ready to go without packing
  • the downsides are:
    • they are much more expensive and tend to depreciate in value
    • more can go wrong - gas leaks, water leaks, towing issues, wheel issues, etc
    • need a fairly large area of reasonably flat ground plus use of ramps under wheels to ensure relatively flat
    • high risk of accidents whilst being towed, including loss of control at speed, hitting pedestrians due to poor visibility, or poles when cornering due to poor judgement or visibility
    • they will require use of more fuel to tow
    • some do take some time to set up and pack down
    • they can get very hot in summer time if there is no air conditioning
    • they can get very cold in winter unless you add extra heating such as a diesel heater but this can be noisy for other campers
    • some require considerable physical abilities to set up and pack down, and some require a 2nd person to assist
    • require storage
    • constant risk of them being stolen by being towed away by thieves when unattended
    • requires an appropriate tow vehicle for the load

Design options

  • full size caravan
    • popular with families going to caravan parks
    • provide reasonable security although extra measures are needed to mitigate tow away risks by thieves
  • pop-top caravan
    • eg. Jayco Poptop ($AU57K), All-Terrain pop top ($AU73K) all are 17'
    • travel heights are usually 2.5-2.7m
    • only a relatively small upper ceiling pops up to provide more head room, shorter people can stand up even if this is not poped up
    • door remains in situ when towed
    • some have extension wing-like annexes at end eg. Expanda Pop Top ($AU65K, 4 adults, 2kids)
  • “camper trailer” pop-up caravan
    • eg. Jayco Penguin 3 person 22' ($AU29K)
    • travel height 1.6-1.77m so less wind resistance and less fuel
    • double bed, child sofa bed, fridge, stove, sink, cupboards
    • top half walls are mainly canvas hence not really secure
    • top half of door is folded up into ceiling for towing
    • some have extension wing-like annexes at end that can accommodate extra people eg. Jayco Swift, Swan ($AU32K), Lark ($AU25K) and Eagle models
  • J Pod
    • light weight trailer style, roll out side sink, fridge
    • eg. Jayco Sport ($AU24K) and Outback ($AU30K)
      • can carry a kayak or bike on the roof
  • A-frame fold up caravan
    • popular with solo women as provide better security against forced access and are reasonably easy to set up and pack down
    • less wind resistance and less fuel than a full van
    • ends have low head room which can be annoying
  • pod style camper trailers
    • tend to be designed for off-road use and thus can be very heavy to make them robust and durable
    • often have an optional rooftop tent
  • other niche fixed trailer designs
    • some are mainly wooden for better security
  • camper trailer with fold up canvas shelter
  • camper trailer with rooftop tents
australia/trailershelters.txt · Last modified: 2023/08/10 14:11 by gary1

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