Freedom to roam off-road
There are trends that can often be seen at camping shows and what stood out at the most recent Caravan, Camping & Motorhome Show was the number of rugged motorhomes for off-road, off-grid camping.
That includes Leeds-based RP Motorhomes, specialists in creating high-end leisure vehicles from large-scale van conversions. On display was the new Rebellion, utilising the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter with on-demand all-wheel-drive, increased ground clearance and BF Goodrich AT tyres.
At 7 metres long and 3.1 metres high, together with an engine showcasing the most recent low-emission technology, this is not the kind of overland-chugging, gas-guzzling beast that has been seen of old. The sleek machine has all the modern comforts of an up-market motorhome internally, with the two- or four-bed layout and technical specs to head off-road, and off-grid.
It’s the elevated rear-lounge/bed with large garage beneath, complete with an elevated clam-shell door, that sold it for me; practical when overlanding, and desirable when seeking out that perfect morning view. If you want one, place your order now – build slots for 2022 are full up so you’ll be looking to start your overland adventures next year.
If you’re looking for an alternative to RP Motorhomes’ Rebellion, have a look at the new TRIBAL Limited Edition from Premium Motorhomes. The dealership is based in Doncaster, a short hop across the M1 motorway from RP Motorhomes in Leeds, so you can view both relatively easily before you take your pick.
The TRIBAL is based upon the Knaus Van TI Plus 650MEG, a superior motorhome in its own right, but the limited edition TRIBAL uses the all-wheel-drive MAN TGE as its base vehicle. It’s a two-berth coachbuilt motorhome that’s, as it is promoted, ‘designed for wilderness camping’. With its modish matt-black cab and coachbuilt body, it certainly looks every bit the rugged adventurer. Internally, however, the appearance is much more of a standard (albeit top-end) motorhome, with high-quality stitched leather seating plus two longitudinal single beds over a large rear garage.
For the adventurer on a budget
Both all-wheel-drive vehicles featured above cost well over the £100k mark. If you’re looking for something that looks the adventurous sort on the outside, is practical for the outdoor adventurer on the inside – and is a fraction of the cost of the Rebellion and the Tribal – look no further than Moto-Trek’s Terrain. You can place your order for half the price of those featured above, at £59,995 OTR.
First-things-first, though, the Terrain is not an all-wheel-drive vehicle. It’s based on the Peugeot Boxer 2.0-litre 130BHP HDi. Internally and externally, however, it really is geared up for practical, outdoor adventures rather than sumptuous comforts. Externally, a rear ladder and roof rack, plus a lightbar can be added while, inside, there’s easy wipe-down benching at the rear, complete with storage areas for equipment and loads of light for tinkering with kit without worrying too much about getting posh upholstery dirty.
Dreaming of a campervan
Two years ago, when the Caravan, Camping & Motorhome Show was last held, the stand-out trend was pop-up roofs in larger van conversions; the pop-up roof, until then, had been the staple solely of small campervans. The trend for pop-up roofs continues to be seen – and that includes a new model from French brand, Dreamer.
The Dreamer FUN D55 UP, 5.99 metres in length, is added to the FUN range of leisure vehicles from 5.41m to 6.36m. The ‘UP’ refers to the heated pop-up roof with double bed, while there’s a full-width double bed in the rear of the vehicle, too, enabling a family of four to travel comfortably.
A fixed washroom with shower, 149-litre fridge in the galley kitchen and space for a 13kg gas bottle plus Webasto heating means you really will be able to tour for longer in a shorter-than-average motorhome.
At the show, I saw this new model with a striking black and red finish. If that’s too bold for personal taste, it is also available in white.
Italian style in a campervan
Most van conversion compact leisure vehicles have tended to come from British, French and German brands in recent years; it’s not so often that you find an Italian manufacturer making these. Along comes GiottiLine, an Italian brand from the gorgeous Tuscan city of Siena, with the GiottiVan.
There are three models from which to choose, all of which show beautiful Italian styling internally. All offer four travelling/dining seats; the 54T and 60T sleep three (2+1) while the 60B sleeps 5 (4+1) thanks to its two double beds at the rear plus a small single made up from the seating area at the front of the van. For something easier to park, the 54T is just 5.41m long, while the 60T, at 5.99m, offers a little extra living space.
The GiottiVan is available in the UK from dealers Yourstyle Leisure Ltd, in Cheshire, and Wandahome, in South Cave, East Yorkshire.
And more from Italy
GiottiLine is not the only Italian brand that caught my eye. So, too, Wingamm, which is sold exclusively in the UK by BC Motorhomes in Ayr.
Wingamm specialise in luxury, using a fibreglass, monocoque body to create small but beautifully formed watertight motorhomes. The model that really grabbed my attention was the Brownie, a 4-berth motorhome at a compact 5.89m long. Up front is an L-shaped lounge, made larger with the two swivel cab seats plus a small kitchen. There’s also a wash/shower cubicle. At night, snuggle up in the longitudinal drop-down bed at the front, while a couple of kids can make their own den in the rear bunks. If you’re only using the top bunk, fold the lower bed away to find a good-sized garage that will fit a bike.
But it’s the styling that sets the Brownie apart. This is a beautiful, compact van.
The best motorhome for a large family
Rimor, another Italian motorhome brand, specialise in family motorhomes – and they’re really good at them. There are lots of models from which to choose across three ranges – Seal, Evo and Super Brig, with Seal being the entry-level range.
And it’s the Seal 50 that particularly caught my eye. What a van for a growing family. For an entry-level van, there’s oodles of style, including a well-designed kitchen and attention to detail in the quilted upholstery that’s practical too as it’s washable and water-repellent, something worth noting if you’re touring with little ones. There are also optional Isofix attachment points for child car seats.
What I really love about the six-berth Seal 50 is the layout. There’s a spacious overcab double bed for parents while, at the rear is an unusual four longitudinal bunk beds, two either side of the washroom. There’s also a massive lounge with lots of seating and a big pedestal dining table.
All this in a vehicle that’s 7.3m-long. If I was starting out touring with a young family again, this is the van I’d choose. What a great motorhome!
In brief.. the best of the rest in motorhomes
Other new motorhome launches for 2022 that caught my eye included:
Coachman has gained a huge reputation and following for excellent caravan design. The TravelMaster is their first venture into motorhome manufacture, with a three-layout offering of sumptuously furnished vehicles for couples; my favourite layout is the 560, with French bed.
Auto-Trail has extended its Expedition range to add four coachbuilt models to its existing Expedition van conversions. These make excellent entry-level motorhomes sleeping between four and six people. The C63 is the most compact, at 6.34m long, with parallel settees and a rear kitchen; an excellent, spacious layout.
From Chausson, is launched the 660 Exclusive Line, with the French manufacturer continuing its tradition of innovation by offering two habitation doors – one on either side of the vehicle.
Inside, the 660 looks more like an oh-so-cool IKEA apartment than a traditional motorhome layout.
Joa Camp is a new name in the market for 2022. It’s a new entry-level brand appealing to a younger audience from the long-standing and ever-popular Pilote Group. Of the four coachbuilt models (and two van conversions), the 70Q stands out with spacious living for two, including a rear boudoir with island double bed.
There have also been some new A-Class launches and the one that stands out for me is the 854f from Rapido. It’s a manageable 6.7m-long and has a wraparound lounge at the rear that’s incredibly comfortable, with a chaise longue. The van sleeps four, but you can add a drop-down double bed above the lounge as an option. There’s also a rear garage for bikes and skis.
Lastly, two campervans to highlight include the Ford Air from Auto-Sleepers, which uses the Cotswolds-based manufacturer’s inimitable design skills in compact leisure vehicles (and coachbuilts) to create a campervan using the Ford Custom as a base vehicle.
With pop-up roof, the camper sleeps four. Staying with Ford, CampervanCo has launched its EcoCamper using a Ford Transit, which, it claims, has zero emissions yet zero range-anxiety. ‘Watch this space’! If you’re keen to know more about electric campervans check out our hot list here.
A caravan from Consett….
Particularly noticeable at February’s Caravan, Camping & Motorhome Show was that touring caravans are looking evermore glossy and upmarket. It’s quite difficult to find a truly entry-level tourer now at a reasonable price. But, the Xplore range, from Erwin Hymer Group UK has always come good for first-timers and, this year, they’ve introduced a great new layout for families, the 585.
The 5-berth unit has living areas front and back – two, parallel sofas in traditional layout at the front and then an L-shaped living area at the rear. It allows families to have personal living space, with a chill-out zone specifically for the kids – or the grown-ups. This L-shaped lounge can be made into a single or double bed, with a drop-down bunk above. As always, Xplore’s upholstery and soft furnishings is fresh and zingy. We love it!
If you’re looking for the same layout with a higher spec, the 585 is also available in EHG UK’s Avanté and Casita ranges.
And a caravan from…. Turkey
OK, it’s unusual. But you can’t help but be drawn inside by the unusual exterior design of the Turkish-manufactured Carpento caravan, with its large wraparound front window. Outside, it’s all curves. And inside, it’s all… curves. It’s also a pretty cool caravan. The two-berth 310 has a pale-wood effect curvy front lounge, with shelving – all with rounded corners. The overhead lockers, too.
There’s a soft, plush-yellow roof-lining while the – curved – seating, with blue and mustard yellow cushions is cosy. The washroom offers a small sink, with a Thetford toilet and a combined shower area.
The 310 and its bigger siblings, the 4-berth 360 and 5-berth 410, are available exclusively in the UK from lightweight caravan specialist, Freedom Caravans.
Adding new meaning to a camping car
Those that really stood out for me included the Tentbox Classic and Dometic’s TRT 120E. Starting with Tentbox, the Classic is a fantastic ‘tent’ that’s roomy inside but sits snugly to the roof of your vehicle when travelling.
It sits a metre-tall when the hard-shelled Tentbox roof is raised, so there’s ample room to sit up in bed for that morning cuppa, or nightcap while looking at the stars through the meshed windows on all four of the canvas sides. The ladder, mattress and fixing kit is included and there’s space to store the ladder and bedding inside, even with the roof closed. Who wouldn’t what to try out one of these?
New from camping and outdoor specialist Dometic is the TRT 120E rooftop tent. Available in forest green or ocean blue canvas, the tent can be set up in minutes as it’s powered by 12V operation, with a remote control. The high-density foam mattress sleeps two, while the telescopic aluminium ladder provides quick access.
Sleeping a little closer to the ground are the folding trailer tents from Dutch brand Alpenkreuzer, The 60-year-old outdoor adventure company launched three new models in the Netherlands last year that are now available in the UK (from Viscount Leisure). These include the OpenAir, sleeping up to six people, with a curved TenCate cotton fabric tent that sits above a braked Al-Ko chassis There’s a nine-metre square living area plus annex and a large double bed on a slatted frame that sits above the trailer.
Slightly smaller is the angular Waterfront, which sleeps up to four people, again on an AL-KO chassis with large above-ground double bed plus a living area that’s not quite as spacious as the OpenAir but, nonetheless, offers a lovely space for spending time outdoors.
If camping on the ground really is your thing, and you want to buy a classic tent, check out Bo-Camp’s Urban Outdoor Collection, which includes the four-berth classic-shaped Streeterville bell tent. The 4-metre-wide tent comfortably sleeps four and, at 2.5m to the apex, has plenty of standing room. The tent is made from 100% cotton in a sand colour and is complemented by a collection of camping accessories with slightly retro designs.
The Urban Outdoor Collection is not available in the UK, but is available to order online (in Euros) direct from the Dutch manufacturer, or enjoy a camping trip to Belgium and Holland, where there are dozens of dealers selling Bo-Camp products.