Caravan or camper trailer? It’s the first question many people will ask when looking to upgrade their camping setup. There are pros and cons to each and often it comes down to two things; budget and how you like to camp. We’ve put together a few key things to consider when trying to decide between a caravan and camper trailer.
Why choose a caravan?
Have you ever considered buying a caravan? Fully self-contained, caravans are a perfect choice for those seeking ease, convenience, and comfort. Most new caravans include toilets, showers, kitchens, televisions, air conditioning, and heating systems meaning no more walking to the cold caravan park bathrooms at midnight. Being fully self-contained can also be especially handy if you have kids or are looking to travel in the more extreme climates. With all the comforts of home, caravans mean you’re often more protected from the weather, be it extreme heat, rain, or wind.
Caravans often have the space to be able to store bikes and other camping gear.
Setup and Storage
If convenience is what you’re after, a caravan is the way to go. With almost no setup required, parking a caravan can be as easy as pulling up, unhitching, and you’re done. As far as storage, caravans enable you to have permanent storage for cutlery, plates, clothes, shoes, and anything else you can think to bring. This means less packing and unpacking at the end of the day.
Cost & Budget
Unless you’re looking to spend upwards of $50k on a state-of-the-art 4WD camper trailer, caravans are ususally the more expensive option. If you’re looking to buy a new or good condition second-hand caravan prices start at about $35k, and while you can buy an older or more basic caravan for less, you will get what you pay for which may require more work in the long run.
Caravans are also more expensive when it comes to towing and getting on the road. If fuel economy is something you’re worried about, a caravan may not be the way to go. As they have four solid walls, caravans are quite heavy often weighing between 800 and 1800kg. With the extra weight and added height, they can mean more fuel stops on the way to your destination.
Many offroad caravans exist these days allowing you to explore in comfort.
Towing a Caravan
This weight means that a regular sedan is going to really struggle towing it, so investing in a caravan can also mean investing in a vehicle beefy enough tow it. It can also mean needing an electric brake controller. By law any vehicle towing over 750kg requires electric trailer brakes, these brake controllers detect when you are braking and activate the brakes in your caravan or camper trailer, meaning that you’re not only relying on your vehicle’s brakes.
Why choose a camper trailer?
Camper trailers are the other popular option when looking to upgrade your camping setup. With so much variety, new and innovative camper trailer designs are popping up every year. With so many available there is a type of camper trailer for almost everyone. From pop up, hard-floored styles to soft-floored fold out canvas, to new self-inflating technology, some camper trailers are even made to be just as capable off-road as your 4WD is. Camper trailers allow you to embrace the outdoors whilst still having access to all the creature comforts of home.
One of the perks of a camper trailer is their compact size, perfect for garage storage.
Setup and Storage
All camper trailers require a level of setting up, with entry level canvas, soft-floored campers being the most labour intensive. This setup can mean winding up the roof of a pop-up top, setting up the canvas annex, or sliding out the kitchen. The draw for many people when choosing a camper trailer is the element of outdoor living that is encouraged. With less, if any, solid walls, no inbuilt bathrooms, or fully enclosed living spaces, living in a camper trailer often means embracing the outdoors more so than you would in a caravan. This can be a good or bad thing depending on how you like to travel.
Cost & Budget
Camper trailers can be a more budget friendly solution to a camping setup, with many second-hand, fold out canvas models starting at $10k or below. There is also a lot more variation in price range with some of the brand new, state-of-the-art models costing up to $65k or above means there’s often a solution for every budget.
Another thing to consider is that whilst caravans tend to have everything needed to power them inbuilt, camper trailers might need a bit of setting up depending on where you’re looking to go and how you intend to camp. This could mean having to spend a bit of extra money on a dual battery setup, solar, or battery management system. REDARC’s all in one value kits are an easy, cost effective way to get all the parts you’ll need for your setup in one go.
Offroad camper trailers are built as tough as your 4WD is.
Towing a Camper Trailer
Camper trailers are often much lighter than caravans, generally between 600 and 900kg, making them much more tow friendly. Being lighter also means that the tow vehicle doesn’t need to be as beefy as if you were towing a caravan. As most camper trailers have an element of folding away into a smaller, more compact trailer, they are often more fuel economical and storage friendly as well.
Being smaller than caravans, camper trailers are easier to tow.
Essentially, the choice between camper trailer and caravan comes down to your preferred camping experience and your budget. Do you like being organised, having all your facilities within arms reach and have a bit more money to spend, maybe a caravan is for you. Alternatively, if you prefer the outdoor camping experience and need your camping setup to be able to travel as remotely as you do, maybe consider a camper trailer.
If you're looking for the ultimate total vehicle management setup for both your caravan or camper trailer look no further than RedVision. Able to be seamlessly integrated into any setup it provides control and monitoring of multiple onboard devices such as batteries, lights and fridges via the mounted screen or the bluetooth app.