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Keep your caravan ‘extension’ looking great and in top condition with our handy cleaning and maintenance guide

 

Caravan awnings are vital additions to our touring lifestyles, delivering supplementary living space and storage, and providing extra insulation when cold-weather touring.

 

In recent years, the design and materials technology in modern awnings has exploded, and the prices have increased too. A good-quality awning now typically costs from £600 to £3,000, so it makes sense to look after your expensive caravanning accessory, by keeping it clean and ensuring it is fully waterproof and ready for your next touring holiday adventure.

 

Our guide reveals the techniques and products you should consider to achieve both.

Cleaning a caravan awning

 

caravan awning cleaning

 

Cleaning a caravan awning is essential to maintain its appearance, keep it serviceable, and prolong its lifespan. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to clean a caravan awning effectively:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Timing is crucial

how to clean a caravan awning

Awnings should only be stored away when dry, so you’ll need to choose a dry day for your cleaning session. Ideally, you’ll have warm weather with a light breeze, as these conditions will speed up the drying process. 

 

This means you’ll be able to see the results of your endeavours quickly, and get the awning packed away, confident that there is no damaging moisture lurking in the folds.
Start cleaning as early in the day as you can, as this will allow plenty of drying time.

 

2 Choose a suitable location

cleaning your awning

 

Awnings can be big and somewhat awkward to deal with. Even a ‘small’, two-metre porch awning can be cumbersome, so plan your cleaning session well. To work easily, you’ll need an area as big as the ‘footprint’ of the awning, with at least a metre (three feet) of space all around.
Find a level and open space to work in.

 

 

3 Spot clean or complete clean?

 

Okay, are you targeting one or more specific areas of dirt, grease, or grime on your awning, or are you planning a complete spring clean of it?
If it’s the former, you might get away with laying the awning out on the ground, or over a heavy-duty ‘washing line’. I’m talking about a very strong cord or rope, here, as awning material can weigh more than 20kg. A standard washing line won’t cut it, I’m afraid.

 

 

cleaning process

Take care if laying the awning out on the ground to clean it, and consider laying it on top of your awning carpet, to keep it as clean as possible.

 

If you’re giving your awning a total wash-down (and‌ reproofing it afterwards), you’ll be better off erecting it. This could be independent of the caravan, and, while it may take a bit of time, it’ll ease the cleaning process and really accelerate the drying time.


It should take just a few minutes to blow up an air awning, but a bit longer to build a pole awning, which will need four vertical poles, i.e.: including the two that go next to the side of the caravan. Once erected, it makes sense to peg both down with four ground pegs and two or four guy-lines.

4 Remove loose debris 

clean caravan

 

Once erected, start the cleaning process by lightly brushing any loose dirt, leaves, or other debris off the awning fabric with a soft brush or dry cloth. This will help to prevent any abrasive particles from damaging the fabric during cleaning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Prepare the cleaning solution 

awning cleaner

Next, you need to prep the detergent solution. This may be a pre-mixed, ready-to-spray, mild detergent, or you may need to dilute a concentrate in a bucket of water. Follow the awning manufacturer’s instructions for the correct dilution.

 

6 Test a Small Area 

 

awning manufacturers

 

Before applying the cleaning solution to the entire awning, it’s worth testing it on a small, inconspicuous area to make sure it doesn’t cause discoloration or damage. You may want to leave it for 30 minutes to check for any delayed effects. 

 

7 Pre-treat stubborn marks

tent cleaner

 

Consider pre-treating any grease or dirt marks that look like they may be stubborn with a specialist cleaner or a slightly stronger dilution of the detergent mix. Allow 20-30 mins for the solution to take effect. 

 

8 Clean the awning fabric 

 

Using a soft cleaning brush, mitt, or sponge, gently scrub the awning fabric with the cleaning solution. Start from the top and work your way down. At this point, you can pay extra attention to those particularly badly soiled or stained areas.

 

9 Rinse thoroughly 

 

Using a hose pipe or a bucket of clean water, rinse the awning thoroughly, removing all traces of the cleaning solution before it dries, and making sure there’s no soapy residue left on the fabric.
In warmer weather, you may want to clean one panel at a time, to limit the risk of the cleaning solution drying on the fabric.
Naturally, all this is much more difficult with the awning laying on the ground.

 

10 Check for stubborn marks

 

awning fabric


With the awning washed down, you’ll need to let it dry (at least partially) to see if your efforts have been successful in removing any marks and blemishes.

 

 

 

 

 

11 Re-treat any persistent marks

 

caravan bucket


If you find that some marks are still visible, you could retreat those areas with a strong dilution of cleaning fluid, or seek out a stronger detergent such as Ultramar’s Power Cleaner. Use these solutions as instructed and be mindful that you may cause fading of the awning material if you overdo it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 Dry the awning 

 

caravan reproofing

Once you’re satisfied with your cleaning efforts, it’s time to dry the awning.
As mentioned, this is easiest with the awning erected. If it’s laid out on the ground, you may need to lift and rotate it sporadically to make sure all the sides dry out. 

On a warm, breezy day, an erected awning should dry out within an hour or two.

Check seams and folds for dryness – you must NOT put the awning away with any wet or damp areas, as this will inevitably cause mildew and mould to grow on it.  

 

13 Roll it up

 

Once you’re happy that the awning is completely dry, you can dismantle it. Make sure the ground below has also dried out before you do this, and consider collapsing it onto the awning’s carpet for protection. 

Now, carefully roll it up, taking care to crease the plastic windows as little as possible. Once it is compact enough, it can go back into its bag.

 

14 Reproofing your awning (Optional) 

awning cleaning product

 

Once your awning is clean and dry, you have the option of reproofing the material with a specialist reproofing solution. These come in spray-on and paint-on forms, from a range of manufacturers. You’ll know if this is needed, when your awning shows signs of water not beading on the fabric.


Consider using a water-based solution to proof an awning as it won’t smell as strongly as solvent-based ones, and is better for the environment. The reproofer shouldn’t affect the breathability of any fabrics it’s used on, e.g.: awnings, tents, jackets, etc. Some also provide UV protection for the awning fabric.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and coverage.

 

15 Awning cleaning tips 

caravan awning birmingham

 

  • Don’t use harsh or abrasive cleaners, as they can damage the fabric and the waterproof coating.
  • Avoid using a pressure washer, as the high-pressure stream can damage the fabric and the seams.
  • Regular maintenance, including brushing off debris and keeping your awning clean and reproofed, can help to prolong its life.
  • Try to avoid camping under trees on campsites, due to the damaging tree sap they produce, and the higher risk of bird muck.

 


16 Awning cleaning materials and accessories

caravan brush

 

You will need…

  • A mild detergent or specialist awning cleaning product
  • A (long-handled) soft brush, mitt, or sponge
  • A hose or bucket of warm water
  • Soft, clean cloths or microfibre towels
  • Awning reproofing solution (optional)

tent proofer


Awning cleaner contacts

Fenwick’s at Raymond James Caravans or in-store

HLS Supplies hlssupplies.co.uk

Ultramar ultramarxl.com

Onechem assured products.co.uk

Fabsil fabsil.com

Essential Caravan Awning Maintenance: Tips and Products from Raymond James Caravans

In wrapping up, it’s paramount to keep your caravan awning in tip-top shape, not only to bolster its longevity but also to maintain its aesthetic appeal.

At Raymond James Caravans, we’re well aware of the significance of proper awning upkeep. We offer an extensive array of products and expert guidance to aid you in this endeavour. Our guide lays out a detailed roadmap for cleaning and maintaining your awning, making sure it’s waterproof and ready for your forthcoming holiday escapades.

For additional tips and counsel on caravan upkeep, as well as to peruse our broad selection of caravanning accessories and cleaning products. Our knowledgeable staff are always prepared to provide you with tailored advice and effective solutions to maintain your caravan and awning in pristine condition.

Regular maintenance isn’t just about enhancing your touring experience; it’s also about making sure the durability of your caravan’s vital appendages.

 

The author

John Sootheran is a seasoned caravan and motorhome journalist who previously edited Caravan magazine, and now writes for Britain’s best-selling caravan magazine, Practical Caravan, along with Practical Motorhome and the Camping & Caravanning Club magazines. He also works with a number of major caravanning brands.

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An in-depth guide to Shakespeare’s county, Warwickshire, home to premium leisure-vehicle dealership, Raymond James Caravans

caravan dealer warwick

 

We always recommend staying close to your caravan dealership for your first night or two in a new van. That way, if you have any questions or issues, the experts are on-hand to provide the solutions.

 

This regional guide will also help you have a memorable day when you take your caravan for its annual service at RJC. Drop your van off and go see the sights.
Read on, to discover the best historic and modern-day attractions in Raymond James’ county – Warwickshire.

 

caravan dealer warwick

 

 

It may surprise you, but Raymond James Caravans’ head honcho, Bill Chilver, ISN’T the most famous William to ever have worked in

these parts! 

 

A certain well-known scribbler, by the name of Shakespeare, also called wonderful Warwickshire his home, and it’s his legacy that makes the leafy region such a fantastic place to spend a day or two in your caravan.

Read on, to learn our favourite attractions, for anyone spending time in the county.

 

Warwick

caravan dealers warwick - raymond james

 

Warwick is a beautiful and ancient town that boasts one of the world’s finest castles at its heart.

 

Park in the Pay & Display at St Nicholas’ Park (CV34 4QY) where the maximum charge is up to £7 for the day (card and RingGo app only). There is a 2.1-metre height barrier.
St Nicholas’ Park, with its thatched café, is a great place to ease yourself into the day with a coffee or breakfast. 

 

It’s a treasure trove of perfectly-manicured lawns and sweeping pathways, interspersed with mature trees and formal flowerbeds. It sits right on the bank of the gently-flowing River Avon, and is perfectly placed for a picnic later in the day. 

 

The café is open all year, and there’s crazy golf, tennis, a skate park, paddling pool and a funfair – so it’s perfect for kids. 


Visitors can also hire canoes, kayaks or pedalos and ‘navigate’ a couple of hundred metres down the Avon, to take in the vast majesty of the castle’s defences. 

 

Boats are available from 10am to 5:30pm, every day of the week in June, July and August, and on weekends in March, April, May and September. It’s worth planning ahead… call 01926 494 743 or check online at warwickboats.co.uk.

For details of St Nicholas Park, visit warwickdc.gov.uk.


One iconic view of the Castle is from the A425 Banbury Road bridge over the River Avon, right next to the Park. From here you can frame the impressive fort between huge trees.

 

Next, walk the short distance into the town centre, keeping your eyes peeled for the amazing architecture and details that are all around. These include magnificent St Mary’s Church, the intricate stone archway on Castle Hill and the façade of the Tourist Information Office with its ornate detailing. 

 

However, you’ll need to walk the length of Jury Street and the High Street (not that far in reality) to see the very best architecture outside the castle. The Lord Leycester Hospital, a timber-framed, medieval building at 60 High Street, is no longer a hospital, but its charmingly wonky exterior is packed with 900 years of history. 

 

Expect entry costs to be around £10 for adults when it reopens in Summer 2023, though it’s possible to download a 20% discount voucher from the website.


caravan sales warwickThe building was a chapel from 1126, before a Guildhall was added. Later, in 1571, it became a hospital for wounded and aged soldiers. 

 

In 1617, the Great Hall held a feast to celebrate the visit of King James I to Warwick. It must have been the mother of all parties… it took the town 10 years to pay off the bill! 

When it reopens in Summer 2023, after a major refurbishment, the Lord Leycester gardens will be open all year (c.£3 entry) and there’s also a lovely café in the medieval surroundings.


Those fascinated by the history can pay from £11 for a guided walking tour, or save some money by downloading the free ‘Warwick Town of Treasures’ app, and take a self-guided tour of the hospital and town. 

 

I would consider taking headphones along, as Warwick is a busy town and, I would say, slightly spoiled by all the traffic! Also, remember to download the app beforehand, when you have a strong wifi signal. 

 

The app is excellent, and will enhance any visit to the town. It even includes a guided tour of St Mary’s Church, along with a fascinating ‘walk through history’ in between the two locations. 

 

All this history will make you hungry, and Jack’s Shack in Jury Street is a good tip for refuelling. It offers an excellent range of cakes, snacks and beverages. It’s a fun spot, and its refreshments are great.  

 

Warwick Castle

 

William the Conqueror built Warwick Castle in 1068, although it took another 100 years before it was constructed using stone. 

 

This incredible fort has a history worthy of a season of Game of Thrones, and there’s barely a decade when it wasn’t at the centre of some drama; from civil war and sieges, to murder, torture and mayhem. The gory details are revealed in all their bloody excessiveness, when you take a Castle day-trip (£34 for aged 3+).


There’s also a range of live shows within the castle walls each day. These include wizards, falconry, jousting and archery, plus a giant working trebuchet catapult. 

Meanwhile, the Castle’s Dungeon reveals why it was sensible to toe the line back in medieval times. 

 

The endless tales of grisly ways to die might appeal to those with an appetite for the gruesome endings! The dungeon, of course, is extremely popular and costs a £8 supplementary fee.

The Castle itself is quite astonishing. On the outside there are the towers, ramparts and 64 acres of stunning gardens; while, inside, the Great Hall and staterooms are sensational. 

 

There’s plenty to keep kids engaged, too. See if they can escape from the Horrible Histories’ Maze, then find a seat at the War of the Roses Live Arena.

 

There’s enough at the Castle to keep you enthralled for a full-day, so perhaps take a picnic and save a few bob as you soak up all that history.

 

 

British Motor Museum 

 

This expansive automotive museum is located right next door to Jaguar Land Rover’s HQ at Gaydon (CV35 0BJ).


Admission costs £14.50 for adults, £12.50 for concessions and £9 for kids; but there’s enough here to keep you entertained for at least half a day. Inside, you’ll find hundreds of unforgettable British automobiles, commercial vehicles and motorcycles.


It helps if you’re aged over 45, and can recall the heyday of British car manufacturing in the 50s, 60s and 70s. All those cars you were driven in, or you coveted, in your childhood and teens are on display.

 

Car enthusiasts will be hit with a tsunami of amazing memories – many involving broken fan belts, steaming radiators and hard shoulders!

Every British automobile your youth is likely to be on display along with many historic motors from racetrack and TV screen.  

 


The British Motor Museum was expanded a few years back and now has an additional annex crammed with fascinating meta, including F1 cars and some one-off concept road cars. 

 

 

Stratford-upon-Avon 

 


William Shakespeare’s legacy has made Stratford a huge tourist trap, but it’s still unmissable, especially if you head there slightly out of season. Park in the Windsor Street Shoppers Car Park (21 Windsor St, CV37 6N), as it’s both cheap and very close to the town centre.

 

From there, the first stop must be the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and its environs. Here, you’ll find the River Avon with its boat hire and tourist cruises from the Marina, Bancroft Gardens, sculptures and room for kids to play. Plus, just over a footbridge is the lovely Stratford Butterfly Farm.


I can recommend the nearby Pen & Parchment pub for coffee or lunch. You’ll find it on Bridge Foot Road, next to the Tourist Information Office. It offers a wide choice, excellent value and decent quality. There’s, free WiFi, too.

 

In addition to the RSC, there are five main Shakespeare-focused attractions around the town. These are: Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Shakespeare’s New Place, Shakespeare’s birthplace, Mary Arden’s Farm and Hall’s Croft. 


Shakespeare addicts will want to see all five, but the less fervent can happily make do with two or three. A 12-month, Shakespeare’s-Story Ticket for three destinations costs £25 for an adult, £12.50 for a child and £20 for concessions. 

 

Meanwhile, tickets for each attraction cost £20, £10 and £16 respectively, so, if you’re planning to visit more than one, it makes sense to buy the Shakespeare’s-Story option. You can always pop back within 12 months to see the remaining properties. (shakespeare.org.uk)

 

 

William Shakespeare was born in Stratford in April 1564. His parents were wealthy and the house where he was born still exists in Henley Street, next-door to the Shakespeare Gift Shop and close by the Shakespeare Centre. His father, John, was mayor of Stratford, so William attended the local grammar school.

 

In 1601, John Shakespeare died, so William, as the eldest son, inherited the house. It was passed down through the family for two centuries, before the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust bought it in 1847.

 

Aged 18, William married Anne Hathaway and the couple had three children, but, soon after, he moved to London to pursue his writing career. Within a few years he gained both fame and fortune, with many of his most famous works being written from 1589 to 1613.


It’s believed that Shakespeare retired back to Stratford shortly before his 50th birthday. It was here that he died, three years later. By then he had created over 39 plays and 154 sonnets.

 

 

Shakespeare’s birthplace is an impressive and elegant house on Henley Street. Close by, at 22 Chapel Street, is Shakespeare’s New Place, the house it’s believed he retired to. The latter is an intriguing interpretation of William’s life, featuring wonderful gardens filled with sculptures.

 

While in town, consider visiting the amazing Mechanical Art & Design Museum, at 4-5 Henley Street (which is just 100m from Shakespeare’s Birthplace). 

 

This excellent museum is packed with engaging attractions for grown-ups and children, all of whom will love the collection of weird and wonderful machines on display. It’s Steam Punk meets Scrapheap Challenge… a delight for anyone who loves their engineering delivered in a fun way!


M.A.D is perfect for kids who love their STEM subjects at school, while adults will appreciate the design and sculptural beauty of these mind-boggling machines. 

MADmission is £8.80 for adults, £7 for concessions and £6 for 6-15 year olds. Under 6s go free, while a 2+2 family ticket costs £25.

 

 

Mary Arden’s Farm and Anne Hathaway’s Cottage are located in beautiful countryside just outside Stratford. 

 

You could walk the mile to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage (CV37 9HH), but tit’s easy to park if you decide to drive. 

 

This is where William romanced his wife to be, and it’s a picture-perfect setting, especially the sensational gardens. 


Anne was born here in 1556 and her descendants lived in the house until 1911! The cute cottage has nine acres of gardens, orchards and woodland, making it a lovely place to chill-out on a sunny day. Maybe, take a picnic and enjoy all that this divine cottage has to offer. 


Further out of town (CV37 9UN), is Mary Arden’s Farm, the childhood home of William’s mother. This is a working Tudor-age farm that delivers all the sights, sounds and pungent smells of a 16th-century small-holding! 


Bad odours aside, period-costumed staff carry out the daily tasks you’d have seen on a Tudor farm. Energetic visitors can also partake in some duck-herding and archery.
There’s plenty to keep kids engaged, too. As well as a large adventure playground, there are butterflies, nature trails, a falconry display and opportunities to ‘Meet the Farm Animals’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both historic attractions are fascinating and photogenic.

 

 

Where to stay


Stay very near Raymond James Caravans on the lovely Lime Tree campsite at Ratcliffe Culey. It’s just 2.3 miles from the dealership.

Lime Tree Caravan Park

 

Main Road, Ratcliffe Culey, Atherstone CV93PD
Open All year

Price £23 (£21 for seven nights or more)

T 07891 145467

W limetreecaravanpark.co.uk/

This small, family-run caravan site has flat pitches, along with toilets and showers. There’s a pub nearby, and the lovely spacious pitches make it easy for novice caravanners to get set up. The 16A electric hook up is the cherry on the comfy-camping cake!

 

Or explore the region, basing yourself at one of these recommended sites.

 

Harbury Fields Caravan Park

Harbury Fields Farm, Middle Road, Harbury CV33 9JN
Open Until late-November (27 November in 2023)
Price from £18 in high season

T 01926 612457

W harburyfields.co.uk

This stunning campsite has 58 flat, hardstanding pitches, set in lush, rolling countryside. It’s located 15 minutes from Leamington Spa and Warwick, making it perfect for visiting the county’s many attractions. All the pitches are spacious, with full-service pitches also available. The facilities are clean and modern, plus there’s a cosy reception with seats. 

 

Warwick Racecourse CAMC Site

Hampton St, Warwick CV34 6HN
Open Early March to early-January (to 3 Jan 2024 this year)
Price from £17.40

T 01926 495448

W camc.com

This idyllic tree-lined site is ideally-located for some Shakespeare-based action!

It has 56 pitches, 31 of which are hardstanding. The facilities are Club-class, though it is open to non-members, too.  It’s perfect for lovers of dogs, walking and cycling… or all three! Located close (but not too close) to the M40, it’s a pleasant 15-minute walk into Warwick town. Alternatively, meander down to the Grand Union Canal at picturesque Hatton Locks.

 

Other Attractions

 

The National Motorcycle Museum

Coventry Road, Bickenhall, Solihull

T 01675 443311

W nationalmotorcyclemuseum.co.uk

 

Kenilworth Castle

Castle Green, Kenilworth CV8 1NG

T 03370 3331181

W english-heritage.org.uk

 

Royal Leamington Spa

Court Street Car Park CV31 2BB

W royal-leamington-spa.co.uk

 

Charlecote Park

Charlecote, Warwick CV35 9ER

T 01789 470277

W nationaltrust.org.uk

 

Plus…
• warwickshirewalkingtours.co.uk
• britishmotormuseum.co.uk
• themadmuseum.co.uk

  • shakespeare.org.uk
  • warwick-castle.com
    • visitwarwick.co.uk
  • lordleycester.com
    • royal-leamington-spa.co.uk
    • butterflyfarm.co.uk (Stratford Butterfly Farm)
    • hattonworld.com (Hatton Country World)
    • tudorworld.com (Tudor World)
  • Google – Jephson Gardens, Leamington Spa
    • thenec.co.uk (National Exhibition Centre)


The author

John Sootheran is a seasoned caravan and motorhome journalist who previously edited Caravan magazine, and now writes for Britain’s best-selling caravan magazine, Practical Caravan, along with Practical Motorhome and the Camping & Caravanning Club magazines. He also works with a number of major caravanning brands.

 

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We explore the best heating systems on the market for today’s modern tourers 

There’s nothing quite as cosy as a warm and comfy caravan interior on a windy and wet winter day. Shut the door, whack up the heating, close the blinds, and cuddle up on the sofa to read or watch a movie. It is the absolute definition of ‘hygge’.

In this article we’re exploring the different heating systems in caravans, how they work, and their pros and cons.

 

Stay warm in your caravan

 

Modern caravans are designed to retain their heat when ‌outside temperatures plunge. These days there are two types of heating system to choose from to keep you warm:

  • Blown-air space heating: essentially, a giant hair drier blowing warm air through outlet vents around the van. 
  • And, radiator-based hot-water systems, a bit like your domestic central heating.

 

heaters for caravans uk

 

 

 

Truma, Whale, and Alde currently make the most popular caravan heating systems. Typically, these generate ‌4-6kW of heat using gas, electricity (when on hook-up), or a combination of the two.


All three manufacturers produce combination heaters that are designed to heat the caravan and your hot water in one unit. 

 

heaters for caravans uk

 

 

The heaters are controlled from a central panel, which, in modern caravans has a touch-sensitive LED display. In older caravans, the heating system was normally composed of one unit situated close to the centre of the caravan. This unit had an air vent that released hot air and a control panel on the front. Caravan heaters of this design were very popular until about 20 years ago. If your caravan still has one, you should make sure it is serviced each year from a safety and effectiveness point of view.

Spares may be difficult to source, but a reputable caravan salvage business, like spares experts, KTG Caravans, could be a good option.

Oil-filled radiators are a popular choice for caravanners seeking efficient heating solutions, especially for those who prefer oil filled heaters for their consistent heat distribution.

Electric heaters are often favoured for their energy efficiency, making them a cost-effective option for caravan owners. Heaters with an electric heating element are known for their quick heating capabilities and durability.

Heaters designed for small spaces are ideal for caravans, as they provide sufficient warmth without occupying too much room, providing a comfortable living environment even in the most compact areas.

Heaters with a 2000 watts capacity are suitable for those who need a powerful heating solution for larger caravans or colder climates.

An adjustable thermostat is a key feature in caravan heaters, allowing users to precisely regulate the temperature to suit their personal comfort level, providing efficient energy usage and enhanced comfort during their travels.

 

Blown-air heating

 

best caravan heater

Blown-air heating systems are a popular and efficient way to keep caravans warm and cosy during chilly weather. These systems work by blowing warm air throughout the living space. 

Blown-air heating systems consist of a heating unit, usually powered by gas and/or electricity. And a network of ducting and vents that distribute the warm air around the various rooms in the caravan. 

The heating unit warms the air. The system then blows the air using a fan into the ducts. It then releases it into different areas of the caravan through these strategically-placed vents.

The aim is to spread the warming effect evenly around the caravan. This makes sure that every part of it is heated, thereby preventing cold spots.  

All the ducting is hidden behind and under furniture or boxed-in, and the small vents can be opened and closed according to your needs.

It has to be said that some users report that blown-air heating can create an uneven spread of heat throughout their tourer, with hot and cold spots. I have never noticed this, but those who feel the cold more just might. 

 

What is true, is that blown-air systems warm a caravan faster than the wet, Alde-style radiator heating. Mind you, both will transform a cold caravan interior into a warm and comfy place to be within an hour. 

So, a well-designed duct and vent system should make sure that heat is fairly evenly distributed. But check where the outlets are before you buy your next caravan. For example, is there an outlet in the washroom.

Blown-air systems can use gas or electricity, so you can choose which is best for you.

Often, ‌maximum heating output is achieved by using both gas and electric at the same time. Blown-air heaters come with thermostatic controls, enabling precise temperature adjustment and providing a comfortable living environment.


Blown-air systems are compact and lightweight, and much simpler than wet heating systems, which require pipework, reservoirs, and radiators. Blown-air heating is also ideal for caravans where space is at a premium.

These systems can help reduce condensation in the caravan by maintaining a steady and comfortable temperature.

The fans inside blown-air systems can sometimes be heard inside the van and may be particularly audible at night when you’re in the front, make-up double-bed above the heater.

To counter that, noise, heaters are available, which mount on the underside of the caravan, and are protected from the elements by robust casings.

Brands that create blown-air heating systems are: Truma, Whale, Propex, Webasto and Eberspächer, with the first two being the most common in the UK.

The Kampa Diddy Portable Heater is a popular choice among caravan enthusiasts for its compact size and efficiency.

 

Wet/Alde Heating Systems

heater for caravan

 

 

 

These heaters work like traditional domestic central heating, with a gas and/or electric boiler at the heart of the system. 

The hot water it produces is pumped around the caravan through pipes and radiators, which diffuse the heat around the interior. The radiators are tucked behind the sofa ba230v230V electricity.  Warm feet, happy caravanner!

A Summary – The best caravan heaters

 

The best choice of caravan heater depends on your requirements, but there are plenty of great options to choose from.

Caravan owners can choose between various heating technologies, including fan heaters for rapid heat distribution and convector heaters for a more uniform heating experience.

Many modern caravan heaters offer multiple heat settings, enabling users to easily achieve their desired temperature.

Look for features like a carry handle for easy transportation and precise temperature control for optimal comfort.

Stick to the big brands and you won’t go far wrong with a 4kW or 6kW heater. The more people you tour with, the larger your van, and if you tour all year, the more likely it is that the bigger 6kW versions are for you.

They’ll heat hot water more quickly and warm your living space more effectively, too. However, if you tour as a couple in summer, a 4kW model should be just fine.

Again, the choice of energy source depends on your needs, but there are gas, electric, and even diesel models (mainly for camper vans) out there. If you tour on hook-up, using mains electricity is probably cheapest, while off-gridders will rely solely on gas.

When selecting a caravan heater, it’s crucial to consider safety features such as overheat protection and tip-over safety mechanisms.

When it comes to blown-air versus wet radiator systems, again, the choice is yours. Both perform admirably, with Alde wet heating‌ perceived as the ‘posher’, but pricier option.

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Choosing the right tow car can be tricky. Raymond James Caravans explains all the factors you should consider, to avoid the pitfalls and the potholes!

One of the great benefits of caravanning over motorhoming is that, when you get to your destination, you have your lovely car to tootle around in, not a huge, rattly van.

Easy to manoeuvre and park, a good tow car is the secret to successful caravanning, and in this article we’ll explain all the main factors you should consider when making your choice.
Buy wisely and your tow car can also be your sensible ‘main car’ for everyday use… that’s everything from trips to Tesco and the tip, to cross-country dashes to see the extended family or dropping the kids off at swimming/dance/football.

These days there are plenty of options that deliver all this versatility, along with comfort, performance and, dare I say, ‘status’!

How difficult can it be? Let’s crack on…

The Weight of Your Tow Car: Why it Matters?

Big caravans need big tow cars, like this hefty 2015 Volvo XC60

The weight of your car (in relation to your caravan) is‌ THE most important factor in your choice of tow car, as it’s not just about practicality, but also legality.

You should always aim to have a tow car that’s heavier than your caravan, otherwise you may encounter situations where the ‘tail is wagging the dog’ as an overweight caravan proves difficult for the car to control.

Both major caravanning clubs and the National Caravan Council agree that novice tow car drivers shouldn’t tow a caravan that weighs more than 85% of the kerbweight of the vehicle towing it. This percentage increases to 100% once the driver has gained some significant towing experience. This thinking is explained in detail in our Caravan Weights Guide.

Put simply, the MTPLM weight of the caravan (found on the weightplate by the caravan’s door), should never exceed the kerbweight of the tow car (found on a weighplate in one of the front door jambs). If it does, and you were pulled over, the Police could fine you and demand that weight is removed from your caravan before you proceed
.
This simple graph gives you some examples of the acceptable weight limits:

Minimum Towcar Kerbweights’ Guide

Caravan MTPLM Min Kerbweight Novice (85%) Min Kerbweight Experienced (100%)
750kg 882kg 750kg
1000kg 1176kg 1000kg
1250kg 1470kg 1250kg
1500kg 1764kg 1500kg
1750kg 2058kg 1750kg
2000kg 2352kg 2000kg

So, as a big caravan needs a big tow car, it’s worth remembering that your initial purchase cost may well be higher, as will your insurance and your fuel bills.

Also, you may have to drive a large car around everyday which could be costly and impractical. However, with our current predilection for big SUVs, it may not be an issue for many.

How Tow Car Size Impacts Your Journey?

It's important to match your tow car to your caravan!

As heavy cars tend to be big cars, you may well end up needing a bigger vehicle than you would ideally have chosen.

Of course, you may well need a large spacious car, especially if you have kids and pets, and like to tour long distances.

Only you can find the right balance between the practicalities of everyday driving

The Role of Engine Size in a Successful Caravanning Experience

The Polo SE 1.0 TSI makes an astonishingly accomplished tow car

These days, most sensible caravanners focus on economy and torque when choosing the engine in their tow car. Modern tech means that two-litre diesel engines offer the perfect mix of power, smoothness and economy for towing most caravans.

For a family caravan, I recommend choosing a family car to tow with at least 150bhp-plus and 400Nm (295lb/ft) of torque – that’s all the power you need for speedy getaways, while the engine will be sitting in its powerband for efficient and quiet motorway cruising.

For the frugal, eco-friendly caravanner VW’s 1.0 TSI petrol engine is an absolute gem, especially when popped in a Polo. It’s power delivery and smoothness blew me away, and it’s only three cylinders!

Body Style: A Key Factor in Choosing the Ideal Tow Car

Saloon cars, like this Polestar make excellent towcars. In this electric car, the heavy battery results in a high kerbweight

Caravanners tend to be practical people, so most commonly you’ll see them in estate cars, SUVs and even pick-ups, not just because of the weight, but also because of the ease of transporting lots of people in comfort, with lots of stuff.

I’m a big estate car fan, as I feel you get all the handling and performance benefits, and the fuel economy, of a road car, along with lots of storage space and versatility.

That said, many bigger SUVs have large boot spaces that are ideal for luggage or pets, while most saloon cars have vast boot spaces these days. Both also include the option to fold down the rear seats in a 60/40 split configuration.

Pick-up trucks, like Nissan’s Navara, Toyota’s Hilux and VW’s Amarok have become much more refined in recent years and make excellent tow cars, especially if you have one of the large, luxury caravans like the Buccaneer Barracuda, with its MTPLM of 1990kg.

Of course, pick-ups are also perfect for outdoor sports lovers, as you can easily throw mountain bikes, camping kit or fishing gear in the back, for a quick activity break.

Petrol, Diesel or Electric/Hybrid? Which Fuels Your Caravan Adventure Best?

Diesel engines are low-revving and ideal for towing. A petrol engine would be doing at least 1000rpm more at 60mph

Not many years back, the ideal power delivery for caravanning came from turbo-diesel engines, with their oodles of low-down torque, excellent efficiency and (back then) low-CO2, green credentials.

In recent times, the cat has been thrown well and truly amongst the pigeons, as diesels are now deemed planet killers and electric/plug in hybrid vehicles have become disruptors within the sector.

The basic requirements for a good tow car haven’t changed though, we all want plenty of torque at low revs for those nippy junction getaways, and we want fuel efficiency. If we also achieve low noise levels and smooth power delivery, they’re a bonus.

Modern diesels still do all this, but so do good petrol engines, even though their power-bands are much higher in the rev range.

I’ve driven perhaps 200 outfits on the road and in awards testing, and the only truly bad vehicle was the SsangYong Turismo; every other tow car did at least an average job, with most being very good or excellent.

Diesel engines do have a slight advantage, with their petrol equivalents not far behind and electric cars coming over the horizon…quickly…with their smooth rides, masses of torque, hefty kerb weights and low centres of gravity. The electric Tesla Model X weighs over 2459kg (that’s 344kg more than a Range Rover!), so it’s perfect for pulling big, luxury vans.

At the pumps, a litre of diesel was 15-20p more expensive until recently. Now that gap has closed, making them cheaper to run than their E10 petrol competitors, thanks to the extra miles you get per gallon.

I’d still say diesel is best for towing capacities, but in the next few years that may well change.

Gearbox Showdown: Automatic vs. Manual

 Luxury motors like this Touareg have seven or eight-speed auto gearboxes these days and are super-smooth

Most experienced caravanners will tell you that automatic gearboxes are best for towing, and I have to agree. They literally take much of the legwork and elbow grease out of towing, and when it comes to tricky caravan manoeuvring, they can save your clutch a world of pain!

Modern automatics are also now as efficient as manual gearboxes, when it comes to fuel consumption. There’s nothing wrong with choosing a manual tow car, but life’s easier in an auto!

The Touareg features excellent four-wheel drive

The Power of Four-Wheel Drive (4WD) in Tow Cars

 Škoda used to have a poor brand image in the UK, before its reinvention in the 1990s. Now it can blow most of the opposition away!

Four-wheel drive adds weight, grip, and traction to tow cars, so is generally seen as a good thing by caravanners, even though 4x4s drink more fuel. This extra grip can be crucial on grass or muddy pitches and when towing on wet roads. All-wheel drive also adds to the kerbweight giving better stability… it’s a nice-to-have for those that enjoy basic CL and CS off-grid camping.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unmasking the Best Brands in Tow Cars

A factory-fitted removable towbar

In the tow car awards, certain brands seem to score consistently higher than their competitors.

The most outstanding performances, year after year come from the multitude of amazing cars in the VAG stable: VW, Skoda, Seat and Audi. These tow cars – and I’m talking ALL of them – share platforms, so there is a consistency right across all the brands.

This means that every model, from the titchy VW Polo 1.0 TSI to the beefy Audi Q7 performs brilliantly in tow-car testing, as confirmed by the never-ending accolades and awards. It could be a happy accident, but the consistency seems to suggest not.

Other serial award winners include Volvo, Nissan, Land Rover, Ford, BMW and, coming up on the outside rail, Hyundai.

The Importance of a Reliable Towbar

Roofboxes can add a lot of useful storage space

Is your proposed tow car compatible with a towbar… some cars aren’t. If it is, will you order the car with it fitted, or buy an aftermarket one from the likes of Witter Towbars?

Is Your Tow Car Roofbox-Compatible? Here’s Why it Matters

Choose a towcar that will minimise fuel stops

One reason I love my BMW 3-series Touring estate car are the handy roof-rails. These allow me to fit my Thule roofbox in minutes, and that gives just enough extra space so the kids don’t have to sit with some luggage on the back seat.

Roofboxes are excellent for getting weight (often up to 75kg) out of the caravan, and they’re great for stuff like beach gear that you’ll be using at your destination, keeping damp and sand out of the car.

Check if your tow car is roofbox compatible, but avoid universal-fit mounts and roofbars as they rarely seem to fit as securely as you’d like.

Wrapping Up: The Sum and Substance of Choosing the Ideal Tow Car

My favourite car for a long tow (1650 miles) was VW's luxurious 3.0 TDI Touareg. A beast under the bonnet, but pampering luxury inside!

It is essential that your tow car also functions as a great everyday ride for most of the population who typically drive without a trailer or caravan in tow; it should be dependable, fuel-efficient, comfortable and the ideal size to easily navigate and park.

Putting all your eggs in the ‘towing basket’ might turn out to be an expensive or uncomfortable mistake, though, it has to be said, most modern cars are stunning all-rounders.

Our Curated List of Top-rated Tow Cars (New or Used)

 Raymond James Caravans' Osprey has an MTPLM of 1412kg, while my BMW estate's kerbweight is 1505kg. That's an excellent 94� match for an experienced towcar driver

Small
VW Polo 1.0 TSI
Citroën C4 Cactus

Medium
VW Golf
Skoda Octavia
Volvo XC40
Hyundai i30
Dacia Duster
Ford Focus
BMW 3 Series

Large
VW Touareg
BMW X5
Nissan Navara
VW Amarok
Skoda Superb
Volvo XC90
Volvo XC60
VW Arteon
BMW 5 series
VW Passat
Skoda Karoq

The Perfect Tow Car is Just Around the Corner

Choosing the perfect car capable of towing is a mix of science and personal preference. As our comprehensive guide has demonstrated, several factors contribute to this decision. While weight, size, engine size, body style, type of fuel, gearbox type, and brand play a crucial role, the compatibility with a towbar and a roofbox can also make a difference.

Whether you prefer a small, medium, or large vehicle, there are ample choices in each category that deliver versatility, comfort, performance, and economy.

Our caravan holidays are meant to be enjoyable and stress-free. The beauty of choosing a tow car is that it doesn’t have to be a hassle. In fact, the process can be enjoyable, especially when you have expert advice at your disposal.

Need More Caravan Advice? Contact Raymond James Caravans

Don’t hesitate to reach out to Raymond James Caravans for further advice on choosing the best tow car for your caravan holidays. With years of experience and a passion for caravanning, our team is always ready to support you with the advice and essentials for your caravanning needs.

Let us be your trusted partner as you embark on your next caravan adventure. Contact us today and make your caravanning dreams a reality!

The author

John SootheranJohn Sootheran is a seasoned caravanner and motorhomer who previously edited Caravan magazine, and now writes for Britain’s best-selling caravan magazine, Practical Caravan, along with Practical Motorhome and the Camping & Caravanning Club magazines. He also works with a number of major caravanning brands.

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Acadia may be deemed Coachman’s ‘base range’, but the quality of the layouts and build seems exceptional

 

Coachman’s new-look Acadia caravans for 2024 deliver everything we’ve come to expect from the Hull-based manufacturer: style, comfort, versatility and practicality.
These four luxury caravans come in standard (seven-foot-five-inch) and Xtra (eight-foot) widths.

The standard-width 545 and 575 roll on single axles, while the wider 630 Xtra and 660 Xtra boast twin-axles, which some believe makes caravans even more stable.

All Acadias feature refreshed exterior graphics, light-grey side panels and white ABS front and rear panels. Add in the dark-tinted windows and you have four very cool-looking tourers.

Overall, the Acadias look modern and aerodynamic, without relying on lots of stuck-on plastic accoutrements.

Inside, the Acadias get soft-close hinges on their top lockers, a ventilated microwave oven, and integral USB sockets in the fixed-bed spotlights. The single axles feature a 91-litre Thetford fridge/freezer, while twin axles have huge 137-litre equivalents. Alde wet central heating is standard.

Finally, a Teleco Teleplus TV aerial with DAB radio reception is now fitted as standard across the range.

 

Acadia 545

Caravan Review: Coachman Acadia & Acadia Xtra 2024 range -Raymond James Caravans

This van has a traditional front-end lounge with parallel sofas separated by a useful centre console. This tourer is light and airy, thanks to its large window area, including a vast panoramic roof window.

The kitchen is adjacent and has a Thetford dual-fuel hob (3 gas rings + 1 electric) along with a grill and oven, there’s also decent storage in cupboards and lockers. A fold-up worktop extension gives more space for meal prep, and opposite is more worktop area with a decent-sized fridge beneath. At head height there’s a flatbed ventilated microwave.

A ’corridor’ cleverly separates the bedroom from the living area. On one side is a large shower cubicle, and opposite is a separate room with toilet, washbasin and heated towel rail.

 

Caravan Review: Coachman Acadia & Acadia Xtra 2024 range -Raymond James Caravans

Caravan Review: Coachman Acadia & Acadia Xtra 2024 range -Raymond James Caravans

 

This ‘en-suite’ layout means the entire bedroom area can be separated from the front of the tourer using one or both doors, which is excellent for privacy. Front, make-up bed users don’t have to traipse through the rear bedroom to use the loo either. Win, win!

The bedroom features an extending island bed coming off the rear wall. It’s a luxurious setting, and each occupant gets a small wardrobe, bedside table, and locker, plus, of course, there’s voluminous storage (for lightweight payload) under the bed.

 

Acadia 575

Caravan Review: Coachman Acadia & Acadia Xtra 2024 range -Raymond James Caravans

The 575 shares a traditional parallel-sofa-plus-console lounge area with the 545. It feels airy, light and spacious partly thanks to the ageless, light-grey upholstery. Top locker storage, a Din-sized stereo FM radio and neat, chrome spotlights all add to the sense that Coachman has thought of everything.

The kitchen is similar to the 545, too. There’s a stainless-steel sink with stylish, pivoting chrome mixer tap, next to the Thetford hob, grill and oven. Worktop space is enhanced with a fold-up extension, and there’s more worktop behind the cook, too, above a 93-litre low-level fridge/freezer. A kitchen-area rooflight helps to create a positive airflow to reduce cooking odours.

The 575 varies from the 545 in the bedroom department, which is found in the middle of the caravan, so this tourer has a washroom at the rear.

 

Caravan Review: Coachman Acadia & Acadia Xtra 2024 range -Raymond James Caravans

Caravan Review: Coachman Acadia & Acadia Xtra 2024 range -Raymond James Caravans

 

The transverse, fixed double bed comes off the nearside wall and extends at bedtime, allowing for a wider walkway when it’s not in use. Both occupants get a side table, reading light and wardrobe, plus there are three sizeable lockers above the bed.

The spacious washroom, with its swivel-seat Thetford loo, generously-sized shower and stylish basin, is accessed via a sliding door. It also features a heated towel rail and plenty of storage.

 

Acadia 630 Xtra

Caravan Review: Coachman Acadia & Acadia Xtra 2024 range -Raymond James Caravans

Apart from having four stylish, black, diamond-cut Laufen alloy wheels instead of two, the 630 Xtra shares its elegant external appearance with the Acadia four-berths.
Step inside, though, and the ‘Xtra’ is immediately apparent, as the added seven inches of width makes itself felt!

I can never get over how such a modest ‘enlargement’ makes such a huge difference to the feeling of spaciousness in a caravan. These eight-foot-wide Acadias, really do feel like luxury hotel rooms on wheels – except this one is a family sized room!

The vast L-shaped sofa is super-comfy, with plenty of room for five to cuddle up and watch a movie. This area quickly makes-up into a huge bed at night. Next to it, is a similarly oversized side-diner, which also converts into a large bed. This layout really does look great for harmonious family hols… even if it’s raining!

 

Caravan Review: Coachman Acadia & Acadia Xtra 2024 range -Raymond James Caravans

Caravan Review: Coachman Acadia & Acadia Xtra 2024 range -Raymond James Caravans

 

The kitchen has exceptional worktop space on two levels, lots of storage, a stylish sink and versatile Thetford hob and oven.

Next to the kitchen is a wardrobe and drawers, and opposite those are two bunks for the kids, which are wider than many caravnning-kids’ beds. Each bunk gets its own window and privacy curtain, too.

Finally, at the back of the van is a good-sized and tasteful washroom, with a toilet, heated towel rail, contemporary-style basin, and large shower, that’s adequate for XL-sized caravanners.

Acadia 660 Xtra

Caravan Review: Coachman Acadia & Acadia Xtra 2024 range -Raymond James Caravans

The 660Xtra shares the brilliant lounge and side-diner of the 630, but this model opts for a fixed double (French-style) bed instead of the make-up-bed-and-bunks combo.

The fixed bed is enclosed on 3.5 sides, so very private, but also relatively easy to access. It’s located next to the well-sized washroom, with its swivel Thetford loo, stylish basin, heated towel rail and large shower cubicle.

Again, the sheer amount of space is immediately apparent when you get inside this tourer. I dare say, it would be very easy to sleep two adults and four (sub-teen) kids comfortably, as both the lounge and diner quickly convert to sizeable beds.

Storage in the kitchen is excellent, and the diner table offers extra prep space to complement the work top. A dual-fuel, four-burner Thetford oven and hob is perfect for family cooking, and the large sink should aid the kids washing up (I’m joking!).

 

Caravan Review: Coachman Acadia & Acadia Xtra 2024 range -Raymond James Caravans

Caravan Review: Coachman Acadia & Acadia Xtra 2024 range -Raymond James Caravans

 

A tall, slim-line fridge freezer offers sufficient cooling space to cater for larger families.

Like its Acadia brethren. The 660 has shock absorbers for smoother towing, a Whale external BBQ gas point, double-glazed windows, excellent insulation for four-season touring, fully-bonded awning rails (so, no troublesome screwholes) and superior fixtures and fittings all round (including dovetail-jointed furniture and soft-close lockers).

All-in-all, this is a world-class tourer that matches comfort and convenience to an almost matchless standard.

Summing up the Coachman Acadia and Acadia Xtra Caravan 2024 Ranges

Right across the range, these Acadias have a real feeling of quality about them. The layouts are versatile, too, so there’s something for everyone.

Smaller families, or couples who have occasional guests, will love the 545 and 575, while, families who need lots of space, will find that the 630 and 660 are sensational options.

I’ve seen few caravan interiors as stylish and tempting as these amazing Coachmans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Coachman’s 2024 luxury Lasers caravans have reached new heights (and sizes) in Xcel form. Let’s see exactly how good a caravan can get


Coachman’s four 2024 Laser Xcel tourers – the 845, 850, 855 and 875 – are bringing domestic practicality, comfort and luxury to a campsite near you!

These sumptuous, eight-foot wide caravans all run on twin-axles for added stability on the road, and are jam packed with high-quality furnishings, well-appointed kitchens, opulent washrooms and super-comfy bedrooms.

For me, these are luxury couple’s caravans, but families of four could also experience the extravagant touring lifestyle they can offer, with smaller kids (or guests) sleeping on the vast make-up front beds.

Each Laser is constructed with insulative 25mm wall panels, consisting of an aluminium-skin and polystyrene-cores. Meanwhile, the floors are made of 45mm insulated sandwich-composite.

Throw in Alde’s fantastic programmable, wet central-heating system, and you have true four-season tourers, that will offer cosy and warm retreats from the worst weather a British winter can muster.

Coachman has improved the already-impressive spec of its 2023 models, by adding 40-litre onboard water tanks; voluminous 159-litre Thetford fridge/freezers and Teleco Teleplus TV aerials with DAB radio reception, plus a host of other desirable practical and styling additions.

Laser Xcel 845

Caravan Review: Coachman Laser Xcel Caravan Range [2024] Raymond James Caravans

 

This lavish tourer features a plush L-shaped sofa next to a slim console cupboard. The floor is a durable vinyl, but these Lasers come with deep-pile, loose-lay carpet for added warmth and cosiness. The sofa converts into a vast double bed for guests or kids.

 

Caravan Review: Coachman Laser Xcel Caravan Range [2024] Raymond James Caravans

Caravan Review: Coachman Laser Xcel Caravan Range [2024] Raymond James Caravans

Adjacent is a stylish, compact L-shaped kitchen which boasts a fold-up extension, lots of storage, stainless steel sink (with cool, flexible mixer-tap nozzle) and a versatile Thetford hob and oven. Opposite is a 159-litre fridge/freezer at a useful mid-height, with additional worktop space next to it.

A corridor, with the spacious shower on one side and well-equipped washroom on the other, leads to the rear bedroom, with its island bed coming off the back wall. The dark wood-effect wall panels exude a quality feel which is enhanced by the layered lighting options and multi-angle reading lights. The bed retracts in the daytime to create more space in the bedroom.

Laser Xcel 850

Caravan Review: Coachman Laser Xcel Caravan Range [2024] Raymond James Caravans

The new 850 model offers luxury couple’s accommodation that few airbnbs can match. Parallel sofas in the lounge feature premium, sprung construction and high-quality, durable grey fabrics. The ‘hygge’ quotient is enhanced with three tasteful cushions on each side, in coordinating shades of beige and gold.

 

Caravan Review: Coachman Laser Xcel Caravan Range [2024] Raymond James Caravans

Caravan Review: Coachman Laser Xcel Caravan Range [2024] Raymond James Caravans

Like the other Laser Xcels, the kitchen offers expanding worktop space, three drawers, plus a pan locker and a large cupboard for provisions. A large locker and the flatbed, ventilated microwave are at head height, with a rooflight/vent above.

The washroom and shower are found ‘amidships’ separating the lounge and kitchen from the bedroom rather neatly. The washroom has a large mirror and lots of cupboard storage, plus a super-stylish bowl-style washbasin in a dark mushroom colour. On one side is a heated towel rail, with a Thetford swivel loo opposite.

The shower has a transparent hinged door, and is big enough for the larger caravanner. The shower tap and showerhead both look like quality items, and the unit has two small, built-in shelves.

Laser Xcel 855

Caravan Review: Coachman Laser Xcel Caravan Range [2024] Raymond James Caravans

Step inside the luxurious Laser Xcel 855 and you’re immediately confronted by one of the biggest (and comfiest-looking) sofas in the world of caravans. This L-shaped settee has deep, sprung cushions, and occupants are treated to a lovely bright and airy environment, thanks to the large windows and huge front roof-window.

That said, the nearside front window is missing, having been replaced by a mount for a pleasingly-large 32in television. I can’t think of any other caravan that looks quite as inviting as this for a night watching a movie with the ‘other-half’ or family.

Caravan Review: Coachman Laser Xcel Caravan Range [2024] Raymond James Caravans

Caravan Review: Coachman Laser Xcel Caravan Range [2024] Raymond James Caravans

The kitchen sits on the nearside, and has plenty of worktop space with the fold-up extension in place. A good-sized sink and Thetford hob (three gas burners and an electric hotplate) deliver domestic levels of practicality.

The rear bedroom is separated from the lounge and kitchen by the mid-washroom arrangement, which has the large shower on one side, opposite the well-equipped washroom with its loo, basin and towel rail.
The bedroom has an island double bed coming off the offside wall. The bed base lifts to reveal a vast storage space below, and also retracts to create a wider walkway around the bed, during the day. A window on the rear wall and a rooflight provide plenty of daylight illumination.

Laser Xcel 875Caravan Review: Coachman Laser Xcel Caravan Range [2024] Raymond James Caravans

 

The 875 is a dream of a couple’s caravan, as it just feels so spacious and welcoming – from the sumptuous parallel front sofas to the opulent island double bed in the middle of the van.

Like all Lasers the kitchen is well equipped, with top-class appliances and bags of practical storage, there’s also lots of space for people to get past the cook (which isn’t always the case). The highlight is perhaps the capacious fridge, which will provide more than enough chilled storage for four.

A neat concertina screen pulls across easily, to separate the bedroom from the front of the tourer.

Caravan Review: Coachman Laser Xcel Caravan Range [2024] Raymond James Caravans

Caravan Review: Coachman Laser Xcel Caravan Range [2024] Raymond James Caravans

In this van, the washroom is at the rear, and divided from the rest of the caravan by a sliding door. It’s one of the most spacious washrooms around, with plenty of floorspace, as well as a Thetford swivel toilet, bowl-style basin, large shower and lots of storage.

Summary

The devil’s in the detail with these vans. You can see Coachman’s focus on ‘going the extra mile’ in its dovetailed furniture joints and the soft-close function on many of its lockers and drawers.

But if details aren’t your thing, just immerse yourself in a specification list that puts many competitors to shame – seriously, we’re talking three pages of A4!

Yep, the Laser Xcel range genuinely gives all other tourers a run for their money, so get yourself down to Raymond James Caravans in Atherstone to check them out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Coachman Laser caravans have always been among the most luxurious tourers available. So, what do the new-for-2024 models have in store?

Coachman’s three 2024 Laser Xtra tourers – the 545, 575 and 665 – are luxurious eight-foot wide caravans. The 545 and 575 feature single axles, while the 665 Xtra has twin-axles, all three deliver exceptional living spaces with well-thought-out lounges, kitchens, bedrooms and washrooms. in this eight-foot-wide format, they genuinely feel like extravagant apartments!

In addition to the already amazing spec of the 2023 models, these Lasers offer 40-litre onboard water tanks; spacious fridge/freezers (137 litres in the 545 and 575, and 159 litres in the 665), ventilated microwaves, flexible black and chrome kitchen taps, black LED reading spotlights and a Teleco Teleplus TV aerial with DAB radio reception.

Each Laser is constructed using very insulative 25mm aluminium-skin-polystyrene-core sidewalls, and 45mm insulated sandwich-construction floor with extra bracing. This means the Lasers are ideal four-season tourers, especially as they boast Alde’s excellent programmable, wet central-heating system with radiators discretely tucked away behind sofas and stylish boxing.

Externally, the Lasers have contemporary light-grey side panels with 3D decals, and aerodynamic, white ABS front and rear panels. Stylish 10-spoke alloys finish off the look perfectly.

Laser 545 Xtra

Caravan Review: Coachman Laser Xtra Caravan Range [2024] Raymond James Caravans

This tourer is light and airy with the huge, ‘banquette-style’ L-shaped sofa adding a real sense of extravagance to proceedings. All furnishings feature superior, sprung-construction and the plush, dark-grey material matches the stylish wood-effect wall panels perfectly, while the large window area and vast front roof window let light stream into the caravan. Six plump, colour-coordinated cushions only enhance the sense of indulgence that this van exudes. Safe to say, visitors will be green with envy!

The 545’s kitchen is also L-shaped, and features a fold-up worktop extension, to provide additional prep space. The composite worktop is stylish and hard-wearing in a ‘white-pebble’ finish, while the sink tap features more innovation, with its black flexible spout, which can be manipulated and twisted to make washing-up easier. A circular ‘fill-in’ panel covers the sink when it’s not in use.

Caravan Review: Coachman Laser Xtra Caravan Range [2024] Raymond James Caravans

 

The dual-fuel Thetford hob (3 gas rings + 1 electric) sits above a grill and decent-sized over. Opposite is a tall, slimline 137-litre fridge with adequate food storage for four or more. All the Laser windows feature Softrollo pleated blinds and flyscreens.

Beyond the kitchen, the 545 narrows, with a ‘corridor’ leading to the bedroom. This delivers a pleasing sense of separation and privacy, and, as the shower room is on one side and the loo and basin on the other, it means that front-bed occupants don’t have to ‘sneak’ through the bedroom to get to the bathroom in the night! This really is a great layout on so many levels, especially as not one, but two doors can be used to separate the bedroom.

 

Caravan Review: Coachman Laser Xtra Caravan Range [2024] Raymond James Caravans

 

The shower is generously-sized, so even XL caravanners won’t be bashing their elbows, and the washroom has similarly ample proportions. It features Thetford’s swivel loo, Alde heated towel rail and a stylish bowl-style basin. You’ll never want to visit a campsite loo block again!

This layout gives a real sense of having a luxury en-suite bedroom, and this feeling is only heightened by the retracting island double bed that comes off the rear wall. As well as sleeping on a quality foam mattress, each occupant gets a wardrobe, bedside table, flexible reading light (with USB charging port) and magazine/book holder. Plus, there are three spacious lockers above the bed.

Laser 575 Xtra

Caravan Review: Coachman Laser Xtra Caravan Range [2024] Raymond James Caravans

 

This tourer shares its overall dimensions with the 545, but the lounge has reverted to the traditional parallel-sofas layout, with a fold-away table that can be positioned between them for dining. The extra width of this eight-footer, makes that dining experience more pleasurable, as there’s ample legroom and sofa length for four.

A front console between the sofas provides practical storage with its deep drawer and locker beneath, and its pull-out table top.

At night, the illumination inside the Lasers is quite something, letting you create that perfect ‘hygge’ environment of soft mood-lighting, and more intense, multidirectional reading lights. Coachman calls this ‘layered lighting’, with ‘integrated downlighting’ to enhance the ambiance. It genuinely enriches the environment, and the sense of cosiness.

 

Caravan Review: Coachman Laser Xtra Caravan Range [2024] Raymond James Caravans

 

The L-shaped kitchen worktop has an extension flap and sits above three drawers and an under-counter lock. With top lockers, too, there’s ample storage.

The all-in-one Thetford hob, grill and oven, has a pan locker below. Opposite this is a tall and slim 137-litre Thetford fridge/freezer.

Behind the kitchen is the bedroom with its large, retracting island bed butting up to the nearside wall. Again, each occupant gets a wardrobe, bedside table and locker, and three top lockers are positioned above the bed. The retracting bed means that there’s ample walkway space to access the rear washroom when the bed’s not in use.

 

Caravan Review: Coachman Laser Xtra Caravan Range [2024] Raymond James Caravans

 

The elegant washroom traverses the rear of the van and features a Thetford toilet, a chic washbasin, an Alde heated towel rail and a large shower cubicle. The fixtures and fittings are exceptional and the washroom exudes an air of luxury and comfort.

On the outside, Laser caravans share a whole host of additional features. These include: an underslung (steel) spare wheel, shock absorbers for smoother towing, heavy-duty corner steadies for stability and a Whale cold shower, gas BBQ point, and a 230V external socket.

Laser 665 Xtra

Caravan Review: Coachman Laser Xtra Caravan Range [2024] Raymond James Caravans

The 665 is 18 inches longer than the other new Laser Xtras, and shares its rear-bedroom layout with the 545, although, in this case, the beds come in twin-single form, rather than a double. This increasingly-popular bed choice, gets a boost in the 665, as the two singles are extra wide, with a good walkway to the mid-washroom between them.

 

Caravan Review: Coachman Laser Xtra Caravan Range [2024] Raymond James Caravans

 

Like the 545, having the shower room and washroom in the middle of the caravan, creates an en-suite effect and more privacy for those in the bedroom. Both washing facilities are spacious and stylish, and the two-position door to the washroom/loo serves a dual purpose, in that it can seal off the rear of the caravan, or just provide privacy for those using the washroom. It’s a neat bit of design.

The 665 kitchen combines decent worktop space with excellent storage, a sizeable fridge and a versatile oven, grill and hob unit from Thetford.

 

Caravan Review: Coachman Laser Xtra Caravan Range [2024] Raymond James Caravans

 

The 665’s lounge has parallel sofas with deep sprung cushioning for excellent comfort and cosiness. Two occupants can bag a sofa each, get their feet up (shoes off!) and watch a TV positioned on the bulkhead next to the fridge. There would be few nicer places to chill out and relax!

Summary

These new Coachman Laser Xtras, really are something – three versatile layouts with options on beds, lounges and washrooms. Everything from the upholstery to the lighting effects, and the premium foam mattresses to the XL-sized shower cubicles is designed to deliver the highest levels of comfort, practicality, privacy and, let’s face it, show-off-ability!
These really are next-level caravans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Review of the Coachman Lusso Caravan Range for 2024

Lusso is Coachman’s new elite range. The Hull-based manufacturer had already set a high bar, so just how good are these new, improved tourers?

Coachman’s new Lusso caravans take luxury, comfort and practicality to new levels.
For 2024, there are two vans in the range, the single-axle Lusso I and the twin-axle Lusso II, which measures almost half-a-metre longer. 46.5cm may not sound like a lot, but it does add noticeable interior space to the extravagant Lusso II.

Both vans feature a whole host of added extras, including air-conditioning courtesy of Truma, Alde wet central heating, E&P’s brilliant self-levelling system, shock absorbers for smoother towing, an under-locker extractor fan, a 40-litre onboard freshwater tank, a Phantom Vanguard alarm system, a 100W solar panel and even a Dometic safe!

Add to that all of Coachman’s standard fare, like premium upholstery and stylish interior design, and you have a range of tourers that can compete with any opposition in the luxury-lifestyle stakes.

Both Lussos have bold interior and exterior styling touches that set them apart from their peers, and despite their size and weight they are easy and safe to tow thanks to their excellent AL-KO chassis and suspension, plus AL-KO’s essential ATC safety system and the company’s AKS 3004 hitch stabiliser.

Lusso living really does give comfort and convenience on the campsite, a new meaning!

Lusso ICoachman Lusso range [2024] Raymond James

 

Coachman Lusso range [2024] Raymond James Step inside the Lusso I and you’re immediately confronted by the vast L-shaped sofa in dark grey. The furniture features superior sprung upholstery and high-quality, premium fabrics. This is enhanced with six coordinating cushions in various shades of grey and silver. The dark fabrics and med-dark wood panels add an air of class and exclusivity, but the large windows and front roof window keep this living area feeling bright and spacious.

In the locker above the sofa is the Teleco Teleplus TV aerial with integrated FM/DAM receiver. The Lusso is also 5G-ready – ideal if you need to work (or stream TV shows) while you’re away.

Next to the lounge is an L-shaped kitchen with excellent worktop space and very good storage options. The composite ‘Silver Pebble’ worktop features a useful fold-up extension, and has a circular stainless steel sink set into it. This can be covered with a drop-in circular insert to increase workspace further.

A snazzy, chrome mixer tap with flexible black, latex spout is designed to make washing up and rinsing easier.

A Thetford, oven (3+1) hob and grill gives the caravan cook plenty of options, and opposite this there’s a slimline 137-litre fridge/freezer.

A large ‘letterbox’ window sits behind the worktop, which is ideal for removing cooking odours from the van.

The kitchen is separated from the bedroom by a fabric concertina, pull-across blind.

Coachman Lusso range [2024] Raymond James

The spacious bedroom has a double, island bed coming off the off-side wall panel. The bed base lifts easily to reveal storage space below, plus each bed occupant has a bedside table and locker, with four further lockers above the bed. A wardrobe and cabinet at the foot of the bed offer further room for clothes and footwear.

 

At the rear of the Lusso is a spacious washroom with stylishly-designed fixtures and fittings: a Thetford swivel-seat loo, Alde heated towel rail, contemporary bowl-design basin and a large shower cubicle.

Coachman Lusso range [2024] Raymond James

Both Lussos come with deep-pile, stain-resistant loose-lay carpets, though these are not included in the photographs where you see a hard-wearing, vinyl covering in a Grey French-Oak design.

The bedroom also has a large mirror, dressing-table area and all connections for a TV.

Lusso IICoachman Lusso range [2024] Raymond James

 

Coachman’s Lusso II shares its super-sized sofa with its sibling in a lounge area that also has a narrow console and worktop on the nearside wall. This could be the ideal place to pop a free-standing TV.

Coachman Lusso range [2024] Raymond James

The van is warmed with Alde’s brilliant wet central heating, its radiators cleverly concealed behind the furniture. It also has an alarm sensor, stereo and speakers, flexi-spotlights, a wireless phone charger and enough legroom for four adults… easily.

 

The L-shaped kitchen offers masses of storage space, both low-down and at head height, and a useful amount of worktop space that makes cooking for four or more a doddle.
The Thetford hob has three gas burners and one electric hotplate, framed by a stylish cast-iron trivet. The cooker also boasts a good-sized grill and fan-assisted oven. Below it is a pan locker, while above is a premium Russell Hobbs flatbed microwave, designed to cook food more evenly.

Opposite the oven is a 159-litre fridge/freezer which has separate compartments and doors.

Directly to the rear of the fridge is a neatly-concealed, fabric, concertina blind, which pulls across to provide privacy to bedroom occupants, and next to this is a suite of wardrobes and drawers. These are doubly impressive, as, not only do they feature dovetail construction, but the drawers have soft-close mechanisms (as do the kitchen drawers). These are neat touches which really highlight the lengths that Coachman has gone to with its 2024 tourers.

Coachman Lusso range [2024] Raymond James

The retractable, double, island bed, can be pushed back during the day, to allow easier access to the rear washroom, or when you might just be reclining on the bed to read or relax. It also lifts up to reveal a vast storage space below. The Lusso II also has a chic padded headboard in a coordinating grey, velvet fabric; bedside tables with two deep drawers and mirrors; a small shelf for phone charging or a watch, plus multi-angle reading lights. It’s a superb place to sleep.

Finally, at the rear of the caravan is a large transverse washroom, with lots of floorspace, an XL-sized shower cubicle, elegant bowl-style basin in grey, flexi mixer tap, Thetford toilet and Alde heated towel rain. A double-width mirror adds to the sense of quality and space, while a rooflight increases ventilation.

Caravan Review: Coachman Lusso Caravan Range [2024]

These two Lusso vans really do offer next-level caravanning, with almost every home comfort you can dream of cleverly included. As global temperatures appear to rise unabated, the air-conditioning will be a boon to many caravanners, especially those that venture south on the continent. Meanwhile, highly insulated wall and floor panels allied with Alde central-heating make these true four-season tourers, meaning buyers can really maximise the use of their investment.

Cooks will love the Lussos (as will their guests), and if you just want to chill-out and relax there really is nowhere better – especially if you find a pitch with a view. Safe to say, if you paid £200-plus for a hotel room anywhere, you’d be very happy if this is where you got to stay!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Coachman’s VIP range for 2024 is as extensive as it is brilliant.

Five standard-width VIPs – in two, three and four-berth layouts – cater for all caravanners with high expectations of their mobile accommodation.

As the name suggests, the Coachman’s VIP range offers a level of leisure-lifestyle luxury that few caravans can match.

VIP comes in a variety of popular layouts, and excels in every department, from sleeping to lounging, and cooking to washing. The materials and fabrics that Coachman has chosen exude quality at every turn, and the designers’ attention to detail is both impressive and reassuring.

Coachman’s interior designers have gone to town on these 2024 VIPs, which boast luxurious soft furnishings with co-ordinating scatter cushions; cranked-style locker doors and contemporary worktop surfaces that are as stylish as they are hardwearing.

You’ll also find a ventilated microwave (which uses flatbed technology to cook more evenly), high-quality and capacious Thetford fridges (91-litre in the single axles, 159-litres in the twin axles), plus a new Teleco Teleplus TV aerial for improved reception.

VIP 575

Coachman VIP range [2024] Raymond James

 

This sumptuous, single-axle tourer has a traditional front lounge with parallel sofas and a large, practical console in between. The darker wood effects add a real sense of quality and class to the interior, but don’t think for a second that the VIP interior is dark, as six Primo Polyplastic windows let light flood in.

The front panoramic roof window in particular spreads natural light throughout the lounge and kitchen, and, while it does have a blind, you never need to use them as no-one can see through a window at this height.

So, let’s check out the details: a high-quality, Din-sized stereo system powers two speakers in the front pillars; four multi-angle reading/spot lights add to the ambience at night and there’s even a cable-free phone charger on the front window sill.

The kitchen is compact, but comprehensively kitted-out with a folding worktop extension, round sink (with fill-in panel to expand the prep space), stylish chrome mixer tap, combined Thetford hob, grill and oven… and oodles of storage space.

 

Coachman VIP range [2024] Raymond James

 

Opposite is a low-level, 91-litre Thetford fridge/freezer, with even more usable worktop space above, and, above that is the aforementioned microwave. This is both a functional and stylish place to cook.

A combination of wall panels and an extending concertina blind, separate the front living space from the bedroom. The bed is a transverse, island double with a large storage space below the easy-lift bed base and mattress. Being close to the axle, slightly heavier stuff can be stored under here.

The bed has a high-quality foam mattress and retracts in the day to allow a wider walkway to the rear washroom.

Each occupant gets a wardrobe, bedside table, reading light and locker space… and, we’re pretty sure, a great night’s sleep.

The washroom is accessed via a sliding door and contains a Thetford electric-flush toilet, Alde heated towel rail, stylish basin with chrome tap and a super-sized shower cubicle.

VIP 675

Coachman VIP range [2024] Raymond James

 

The lavish VIP 675 offers quite similar accommodation and luxury to the 575, but it rolls on twin axles, which gives a more stable tow.

The parallel-sofa lounge is very comfortable with superior sprung furnishings and co-ordinating cushions, while a centre console with locker, large drawer and extending tabletop separates the two sofas.

The kitchen has wider drawers than the 575 but otherwise is similarly spec’d with oven, grill, hob and microwave. Where it does exceed the brilliant 575, is in the fridge department, where this tourer boasts a massive,159-litre fridge-freezer combo.

 

Coachman VIP range [2024] Raymond James

 

The 675 has a large transverse, island, double-bed with plenty of storage and hanging space for its inhabitants to utilise, while excellent blinds on the window and rooflight ensure the bedroom can be kept very dark even on those bright summer mornings.

At the rear, a washroom stretches the full width of the van and offers a luxurious environment for your ablutions, with its swivel-seat Thetford loo, fashionable bowl-style washbasin, heated towel rail, XL-sized shower cubicle and bags of storage in cupboards and lockers.

Three other models from the 2024 range were not on display at the launch. They are the VIP 460, VIP 520 and VIP 565.

VIP 460

Coachman VIP range [2024] Raymond James

 

The VIP 460 is a couple’s caravan, where the sizeable front lounge converts into a supersized double bed in just a few minutes. The kitchen sits amidships and offers all the same quality and convenience as its bigger siblings: a Thetford hob, oven and grill, plus a capacious 91-litre fridge freezer and a decent amount of worktop space.

 

Coachman VIP range [2024] Raymond James

The large rear washroom is home to two good-sized wardrobes, as well as the ubiquitous Thetford loo, lovely basin and cabinet and large shower cubicle. This really is a couple’s haven in a relatively compact package.

VIP 520

Coachman VIP range [2024] Raymond James

The VIP 520 is a three berth tourer, with a make-up front double (from the lovely lounge sofas) and a side-diner that converts into a single bed. This could be ideal for couples with a younger child, or for hosting an occasional guest. In warmer climes, where you can live outside, the bed could be left made-up, for added convenience.

The well-equipped kitchen sits on the nearside wall opposite the diner, which means the diner table can easily be used as extra prep space when cooking.

 

Coachman VIP range [2024] Raymond James

At the rear is the large washroom, which features two wardrobes plus a Thetford swivel-seat toilet, heated towel rail and sizeable shower cubicle. The stylish basin sits atop a low-level cabinet which boosts storage. As always, Coachman’s focus on classic interior design means this is a pleasant, as well as practical, space.

VIP 565

Coachman VIP range [2024] Raymond James

The VIP 565 is the range’s only twin-single-bed model, with two good-sized single beds towards the rear of the caravan. This space can be sectioned off to create a separate en-suite bedroom layout, as the well-appointed washroom sits behind the bedroom.

 

Coachman VIP range [2024] Raymond James

In the front is a spacious lounge with parallel sofas and a console in between. The compact kitchen features a Thetford hob, oven and grill, a low-level 95-litre fridge/freezer and there’s also a good-sized wardrobe opposite.

Summary

The VIP range of tourers offers two, three and four-berth options, all of which share the brand’s luxury DNA. The fixed-bed options in particular, bring a touch of extravagance to proceedings, and you can choose between island double bed or domestic-sized twin singles. If you prefer a slightly smaller caravan the two-berth 460 and here-berth 520 are both brilliant options.

Whichever one you go for, you’ll definitely feel like a VIP when you’re comfortably ensconced in these fabulous tourers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Discover which touring caravan layout works best for you

Choosing the right caravan layout for your needs is a crucial part of buying a tourer.
First-time buyers often make the wrong choices, prioritising cool looks or features, or underestimating the space they require. Only later, after a few trips, do they realise that the floorplan doesn’t quite suit their needs and is cramping their lifestyle.

Often, they’re not big issues. The caravanner just realises another layout may work slightly better, so they plan to update their tourer.

two-berth caravan interior

We’ve broken down the caravan layout choices into the four main sections: lounging and dining, cooking, sleeping, washing, oh, and we’ve also included a short section on ‘other considerations’.

In this caravan layout guide, each part reveals the main options you can choose from.
Caravanners should bear in mind that compromises often need to be made, as it’s almost impossible to have lots of living space in every part of the tourer. I’d argue that only couples who tour in four-berth caravans can have a tourer perfectly suited to their requirements.

Lounging and dining in a caravan

Many British-built tourers feature parallel sofas with a centre console at the front – for storage and occasional dining areas – or U-shaped front lounges with no cabinet.

The cabinet design is ideal for couples who don’t need the extra seating areas, and can dine at the pull-out table top, without the hassle of erecting the fold-up table. However, families, may appreciate the extra seating a U-shaped lounge offers.

caaravan lounge

One of the nicest things about couples’ caravanning, is that they each have a sofa to recline on, feet up. This is great for reading, relaxing, or, and watching TV. If this is your plan, ensure the sofas are long enough to accommodate you in comfort.

As a family of four, when the kids were smaller, we liked to make up the front bed, then use it as a vast sofa, and all snuggle up on it with cushions and throws to watch a movie. It doesn’t get more ‘hygge’ than that!

Buccaneer Bermuda interior - l-shaped lounge

‘L-shaped’ lounges have become popular in luxury caravans and some two berths. This design delivers lots of legroom, which might suit six-foot-plus caravanners. A number of Coachman Lusso and Elddis Buccaneer tourers have embraced this floorplan.

German caravan interior

A few British vans and many European ones feature C-shaped or G-shaped lounges with tables, which can be more like the booths you find in restaurants. This design feature is one that reflects a popular European preference for eating and living outside their caravans as much as possible, when in the warmer climes of southern Europe.

caravan interior for kids

Some larger caravans offer two lounges, one at each end of the caravan. This layout suits families with older children, who want their own privacy and space. Ideally, the spaces can be separated by a solid or concertina door, to minimise any noise.

An alternative to this is a kid’s area at the rear of the van, which typically includes the washroom, bunk beds and a small lounge/diner area. Having their own space keeps kids (and therefore adults) happy!

Bailey caravan interior

caravan interior with pop up dining table

 

Most caravans combine lounging and dining with space for a pop-up table between the two sofas. The table is usually stored in a cupboard or under the double bed.

If you are an XL-sized caravanner like me, you should consider space and legroom, to make sure you can accommodate four or more people around the table comfortably. Usually, the centre console can be used as extra surface space for condiments, bottles , and dishes of food that aren’t being used.

caravan interior with dinette

Side-diners/side dinette are popular in family vans. Often, they’re positioned opposite the kitchen and appear to have reasonable space for four people to dine.

In reality, once your kids reach school age, dinettes can be a bit limited, especially as there is usually a portion of inner wheel arch, or some pipe-concealing trim, protruding into the diner’s leg space.

In my experience, unless your kids are small, many dinettes are really only sensible for two people. That said, the extra table space is handy when cooking.

u-shaped caravan dining area

A small number of UK vans do have a larger style of side-diner with ‘wrap-around’ seating, while the diminutive Elddis Xplore 304 has a great side-diner space for two to dine in comfort.

In general, smaller caravans tend to have smarter solutions to make the most of the limited space on offer.

caravan kitchen area

Mastering the Art of Caravan Kitchens: A Key Component of Your Ideal Layout

You should decide how important cooking in the caravan is to you, as this will dictate how much space you need in the kitchen area. Are you a budding Nigella or Jamie, who requires lots of space for preparation, or do you prefer to take prepared meals for the weekend that you can just warm up?

We do a mix of both, but also tend to cook outside on the barbecue as much as possible.
Apart from some two-berth vans, where the kitchen is against the back wall, many popular caravan layouts have kitchens in the middle.

caravan layout - kitchen area

Things to think about in the kitchen department, include:

  • Is there enough space for people to get safely past you when you’re cooking?
  • How much worktop space do you need?
  • Is there any work surface or table/diner behind you?
  • How many burners does the hob have?
  • Is the fridge big enough?
  • Is there plenty storage in cupboards and lockers?
  • How high up is the microwave?
  • Is there an extractor fan fitted?
  • Or a window directly behind the hob?
  • Are there enough power points?

Bailey Pamplona interior

In my experience, you need all the prep space you can muster, so fold-up worktop extensions and worktop sink covers are both useful. My advice is to do all your prep, then cook. There’s rarely enough space to do both at the same time.

island bed in a caravan

Decoding the Best Bed Options for Your Caravan Layout

The bedroom department is where caravans offer the most choice.
For starters, do you want a fixed bed or a make-up bed? Are you happy to construct your double bed each evening?

I’m too lazy for that, though, when we had the Adria Thames, we left the front make-up double bed in place all day, as we were in a warmer location and living outside.

Caravan lounge before making up the bed

caravan lounge with the bed made up

Choosing a make-up double-bed over a fixed-double bed, does free up a lot of space for larger washrooms, kitchens, and side-diners, so, if you don’t mind the extra effort, they can be a great choice. Just work out where you can store the bulky bedding conveniently.

If, like me, you prefer the convenience of a fixed bed (and all that lovely storage underneath), you have a lot of options to choose from.

caravan island bed

The first is, do you want an island bed (where you can walk around three sides) or a French bed, tucked-up against three walls, where both occupants access it from one side?

The latter takes up less space, but you have to climb over your sleeping partner to exit the bed when nature calls! Again, it’s convenience versus van space, and only you can make that call.

Many island beds which come off a sidewall, feature an extending/retracting bed base, which allows you to have a wider walkway through to the rear washroom during the day.

French bed in a caravan

French beds tend to be situated next to the washroom towards the rear of the caravan, while island beds typically protrude from the side wall or back wall, and can be paired with a rear washroom or mid-washroom.

Most French beds have a section of the mattress cut off to allow easier access past them. I’ve never had an issue with it, but check that you are comfortable with this design feature.

caravan en suite

The ‘en-suite’ washroom crosses the middle of the van, so there’s one door into it from the front, and another door or doors connecting it to the rear bedroom. My kids are very noisy sleepers, so I like the idea of solid bedroom door(s). The other benefit of this design is that front-bed occupants, don’t need to go through your bedroom to access the loo.

In some tourers, the en-suite arrangement, features a shower in the corner of the bedroom.

single beds in a caravan

In recent years, twin-single beds sleeping areas have become a more popular option in caravan design. As we get older and a good night’s sleep becomes a more valuable commodity, many couples make the choice to sleep separately.

All the major manufacturers offer twin-single bed options, usually along with a rear-end washroom, and the major benefit is that you won’t disturb your partner if you have to get up in the night.

pic 20

caravan layout

Kids’ bed choices depend very much on the size of your sprogs. When ours were younger, we’d pop them both in sleeping bags on the make-up front double. As they got bigger, they went into bunks, but they soon outgrew those, so they then used the front sofas as single beds. As the boy passed six-foot, we had to create a bed extension, using cushions to support his feet, before chucking him into a pup tent!

bunk beds in a caravan

Bunks are great until the kids reach the age of 10-12. You have two options: fixed bunks and make-up bunks. The latter is often found over a side diner and a bit of a pain to erect, plus you have to store the mattresses. In general, only large families who need five or six berths are likely to use these fold-up beds.

Finally, always take a tape measure with you to check frame/mattress sizes. I favour the mid-washroom layout, as it creates a double-barrier from the front of the van where kids or guests might be sleeping. However, many of the accompanying beds are only 5’10” long, and I’m 6’2”!


caravan layout en suite layout

Exploring Optimal Washroom and Toilet Layouts for Your Caravan

There are two main factors to consider regarding the washing and loo layout in your caravan: where the facilities are positioned, and how they are delivered.

You typically have three choices when it comes to the delivery of washroom facilities:

  • An all-in-one washroom, where the loo, basin, and shower are all in one space.
  • A very compact space containing the three facilities (basically a shower-room space with a loo and basin in it!). As it saves a lot of space, this can be an effective choice if you are happy to use the site facilities, and just need the loo for night-time convenience.
  • Two separate rooms, one containing the shower and the other with the toilet and basin.
    Also, a few modern caravans feature an en-suite arrangement, with the shower cubicle in the corner of the bedroom.

caravan washroom

 

caravan washroom compact

caravan en suitecaravan layout interior

The second factor is the position of the washroom and loo. As always, the best layout is a very personal choice, with each option having its own merits: the rear washroom is well away from the living and cooking areas, while a mid-washroom separates the bedroom from the front make-up bed(s).

Some larger caravans have the toilet and basin in a room positioned centrally, while the separate shower room is on the other side of the caravan corridor.

caravan toilet

While most washrooms are compact, Thetford and Dometic caravan toilets feature a swivel seat so that they can be adjusted to ensure sufficient leg-room.
Larger families may find that separate loo and shower rooms can speed up the whole morning ‘ablutions’ process, as they can be used at the same time.

 

caravan cupboard storage

caravan storage cupboard

Caravan cupboard

Key Factors That Take Your Caravan Layout from Good to Exceptional

The four sections above are the obvious layout considerations, but there are other important factors to think about.

Storage space is perhaps the most important of these and shouldn’t be underestimated. Always check that you have enough payload space in top lockers, drawers, wardrobes, under sofas and beds, and in externally-accessed lockers, like the front gas locker.

In recent years, eight-foot wide caravans have grown massively in popularity. The extra few inches of internal space makes a surprising difference to the accommodation, creating the sense of being in an apartment rather than a caravan.

caravan lounge

Dog lovers should also factor in space for their beloved pets, remembering you’ll need space for a dog bed and bowls.

Of course, using an awning makes a huge difference to your caravan layout choices, as they can double the amount of living and storage space available.

Awnings can be real game changers, especially if you add a bedroom annexe. With an awning, warm-weather caravanners may never need to use the caravan lounge.
European caravans, like those from Hymer and Dethleffs

caravan interior

Concluding Thoughts: Navigating Choices for Your Ideal Caravan Layout and Embracing the Adventure with Raymond James Caravans

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to choosing your ideal caravan layout. Just be mindful that you can rarely have it all, compromises will have to be made, and there’s a good chance you won’t get it right first time.

Safe to say, practicalities will inevitably trump luxuries in the long term, so, while ‌ mood lighting is lovely, it’s more important that your bed is long enough! Have a good think about your priorities, and how you’ll use the caravan. Make a list of essentials and ‘nice-to-haves’ and you can start shortlisting your perfect layout from there.

In summary, finding the perfect caravan layout can seem overwhelming, given the wealth of options available. This guide aims to help you navigate these choices, highlighting the importance of prioritising your specific needs.

However, nothing beats a personal consultation with experts. For that reason, we highly recommend a visit to Raymond James Caravans. Their friendly, experienced team understands the intricacies of caravan layouts and are ready to help you in making the best decision for your lifestyle.

So, why not make your caravan adventure even more exciting and memorable? Visit Raymond James Caravans today, and let them guide you towards your ideal caravan layout.


The author

John Sootheran

John Sootheran is a seasoned caravan and motorhome journalist who previously edited Caravan magazine, and now writes for Britain’s best-selling caravan magazine, Practical Caravan, along with Practical Motorhome and the Camping & Caravanning Club magazines. He also works with a number of major caravanning brands.

 

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There’s a huge range of caravan styles to choose from. You could pick a titchy teardrop, a titanic twin-axle, or any size and style in between. John Sootheran explains the pros and cons of each.

Matching a caravan to the touring lifestyle you’re pursuing is easy, as there are so many brilliant choices out there. I’ve split this guide into six sections:
• Teardrop trailers
• Folding and pop-top tourers
• Trailer tents
• Small caravans
• Family vans
• Luxury and lifestyle tourers

Read on to discover which option might be best for you.

teardrop caravan

Teardrop trailers

Tiny teardrop caravans score highly for cuteness and ease of towing, but they don’t offer the same level of practicality as regular caravans.

In some respects, teardrops are a step up from camping, as you’re sleeping off the ground in a comfortable environment. But they’re really only for sleeping and relaxing in, as you can’t stand up inside. You’ll also have to head outside to cook, and use the campsite facilities, as there’s no loo or shower.

For the more adventurous caravanner, teardrops are a great option, especially when touring in warmer climes, as you can live outside most of the time.

Pros

  • Compact and lightweight, making them easy to tow and manoeuvre.
  • Sleek designs deliver aerodynamic advantages and excellent fuel efficiency.
  • Simplicity of construction means lower maintenance and servicing costs. Storage is also easier and cheaper.
  • Cosy interiors typically include sleeping accommodation and basic amenities.
  • Affordability makes them an attractive option for first-time buyers or those on a tight budget.

Cons

  • Limited interior space restricts the number of occupants and storage capacity.
  • Lack of integrated bathroom and kitchen facilities may require the use of external amenities.
  • Minimal headroom can be inconvenient for taller individuals.
  • Smaller size may limit comfort during extended trips or unfavourable weather conditions.

Check out…
W
mink-camper.co.uk
W diddyvans.co.uk
Google ‘Teardrop Trailer’

 

eriba caravan

Pop-Top and Folding Vans

These compact tourers feature clever mechanisms, allowing you to quickly and easily expand the living space inside. The result is a small and easy-to-tow caravan while on the road, and a more-roomy living space once on pitch.

Folding caravans look like medium-sized trailers before the sides and roof are folded-up into place. Once ‘erected’ they look rather boxy, but they do their job well and have windows and a full-height door like a regular caravan. The benefits include a low weight, easy towing and they’re simple to store.

Pop-top caravans, like the Eriba, take a different approach, with a pop-up roof section that’s folded flat while on-tow, but can quickly be unclipped and elevated to add 12-18inches of extra headroom inside. Normally, the roof panel is solid, while the side sections are made from a durable fabric.

Once you’ve had a cutesy Eriba you may not want to go back to a standard caravan. As they say: “Once you’ve popped, you can’t stop”!

Pros

  • Compact when folded, offering low MTPLM weights, plus easy storage and manoeuvrability.
  • Quick and easy set-up process, allowing for faster deployment and convenience.
  • Expanding living space when unfolded, providing more room for occupants.
  • Integrated amenities, including lounges, kitchens, and bathrooms, delivering increased comfort.
    Once ‘popped’, caravans with elevating roof sections can accommodate caravanners over six-foot tall.
    The Eriba is considered a design classic, which holds its value very well.

Cons

  • Limited insulation in some models may result in them only being two-season tourers (except for the hardiest caravanners).
  • Relatively smaller interior space compared to conventional caravans.
  • Folding mechanisms and pop-top roofs may require occasional maintenance.
  • Folding caravans have a greater number of joints where moisture could get in.
  • Even when expanded, both types of caravan tend to be on the compact side.

Check out…
W
eriba.com
W trigano.fr/fr/caravanes/silver
W goburcaravans.co.uk (pre-owned caravans only)

 

Opus trailer caravan

Trailer tents

Trailer tents make a comfortable half-way house between camping and caravanning. They’ve been popular for decades, as they deliver most of the amenities you’d see in a caravan. However, the roof and most of the sides are entirely fabric.

One trailer-tent stands out in particular, and that’s the Opus Air folding camper. This clever camping vehicle starts off as a full-on, Action-Man-spec trailer, but converts in about five minutes into a vast living space, containing a lounge, kitchen and two double beds (and that’s before you add the vast optional awning).

Opus Air features air-beam technology and inflates quickly to create an impressively rigid structure. In trailer format, Opus can be loaded with outdoor gear like mountain bikes, surfboards or canoes, to increase its already substantial ‘cool-quotient’!

Pros

  • Versatile and lightweight design allows for easy towing and setup.
  • Expandable living space, with the option to add annexes for additional rooms.
  • Quick and straightforward assembly process, making them ideal for shorter stays.
  • Considerably cheaper than caravans offering equivalent space and spec.
  • Easier storage and parking due to their compact nature.

Cons

  • Some trailer tents can take longer to set-up than a traditional caravan, though the Opus Air doesn’t.
  • Limited insulation and weather resistance may pose challenges during extreme conditions, and limit year-round usage.
  • Integrated facilities are sometimes minimal, necessitating trips to the campsite loos and showers.
  • Less durable construction compared to solid-sided caravans.


Check out
W
opuscamper.co.uk
W camperlands.co.uk

Swift Basecamp

Small caravans

The small-caravan sector has a huge range of style options within it, and they can offer a cool and trendy alternative to ‘white box’ caravanning, the image of which puts some people off.

The previously-mentioned Eriba is a great option in this sector, but there are also some brilliant adventure caravans like Knaus’ Sport & Fun and Swift’s excellent Basecamp. These two offer all the benefits of comfortable and cosy caravanning, but in compact and sporty packages.

Knaus Sport&Fun

They’re ideal for the outdoor enthusiast who likes the idea of a campervan, but doesn’t appreciate their lack of practicality and versatility, or the huge prices.

A well-spec’d small caravan can be bought for less than half the price of a campervan, and, once you’re at your destination, you have your tow car to travel in, not a van!

Other great brands worth a gander are Wingamm with its Rookie, the GoPod Going, or the Jetstream from the excellent Polish brand, Freedom.

Barefoot is another superb small caravan, but I’ll cover that in Lifestyle Caravans.

Pros

  • Small footprint and lightweight construction offer excellent manoeuvrability.
  • Reduced weight allows for towing with smaller vehicles, saving on fuel costs.
  • Efficient use of space ensures comfortable living areas within a compact design.
  • Integrated amenities, including kitchens and bathrooms, provide convenience.
  • Ideal for solo travellers or couples seeking a minimalist lifestyle.
  • Clever design touches offer excellent sports-equipment storage in some small vans.

Cons

  • Limited interior space may feel cramped during extended trips or when inclement weather forces you inside.
  • Restricted storage capacity requires careful planning and organisation.
  • Limited headroom in some small vans may be an issue for taller caravanners.
  • Lower overall weight may make them more susceptible to wind turbulence when towing.
  • Washroom facilities may be compact, and the smallest vans may only offer a portaloo option.Check out…
    W
    swiftbasecamp.co.uk
    W
    knaus.com
    W freedomcaravansnorth.co.uk
    W go-barefoot.co.uk

Bailey Caravan

Family vans

These are the traditional (usually white) caravans that account for most touring caravan sales in the UK. The design of these caravans has evolved and been perfected over the decades, to the point where they offer the very best combination of size, weight, facilities, practicality, and comfort.

They tend to come in a weight range from 1100kg to 1700kg (MTPLM).

Typically, they’re available in two to six berth layouts, so ideal for couples or larger families. British-built models feature extensive lounging, cooking, sleeping and washing facilities, with even budget models delivering excellent comfort and versatility.

There’s a wide choice of bed options available.

For starters, you should decide if you want fixed or make-up beds. Fixed beds remove the hassle of ‘building’ your bed every night, but they do take up more space. From there, you can select double beds, single beds or bunks.

Almost every van offers extensive kitchen, dining, washroom, and loo amenities, but these come in a vast range of lay-outs, with different elements prioritised. You’ll find more information in our Ultimate Caravan-Layout Guide.

Pros

  • • Spacious interiors with dedicated sleeping and dining areas for the whole family.
  • • Ample storage options to accommodate personal belongings and equipment.
  • • Enhanced insulation and weatherproofing ensure comfort in various climates and seasons.
  • • Integrated facilities, including larger kitchens and bathrooms, cater to family needs.
  • • Wide range of layouts and configurations available to suit different family sizes.

Cons

  • The larger sizes require a suitable tow vehicle with adequate towing capacity.
  • Increased weight may affect fuel efficiency and require more robust towing equipment.
  • Manoeuvrability can be challenging, especially in tight or crowded spaces.
  • Higher initial cost compared to smaller caravans or teardrop trailers.
  • Almost always some compromise to be made in selecting the best layout.

Check out…
W
baileyofbristol.co.uk
W coachman.co.uk
W elddis.co.uk
W swiftgroup.co.uk
W
adria.co.uk

Airstream caravan

Luxury and lifestyle tourers


Each major British caravan manufacturer offers several luxury tourer options in its ranges.

The Buccaneer range from the Elddis Group is one of the best known, and typifies the luxurious interiors that you can expect to find in this sector.

Since the 2019 model year, every manufacturer has offered eight-foot-wide caravans. These are just six inches broader than previous models, but that makes a huge difference inside, giving the feel of a luxury apartment rather than a tourer.

Check out the Buccaneer collection; Bailey and Swift’s Grande ranges, Coachman’s Laser Xcels, Elddis’ 800-series vans and Adria’s Adora and Alpina eight-footers.

The extra three inches of width at each side makes a negligible difference when towing.

Barefoot Caravans

Luxury vans feature high-quality fixtures and fittings inside, along with superior panel and fabric finishes. They also tend to offer more appliances and equipment, from motormovers and solar panels to auto-levelling and air-conditioning.

If cost and weight aren’t an issue for you, check out the extensive specifications on offer before you buy. Of course, cramming all that extra spec and equipment in, inevitably results in a bigger and heavier caravan, so check that your tow car can pulling your preferred option.

For the heaviest vans, you’re looking at a large SUV, such as a Range Rover or VW Touareg, or a hefty pick-up, like the Nissan Navara or VW Amarok. Most luxury vans run on twin-axles, which makes towing safer and more stable.

Many modern luxury caravans are now nudging the £50,000 price point, so it’s important that you make the right choice.

Lifestyle caravans are increasingly popular. That might be an iconic polished-aluminium Airstream or the uber-cute Barefoot two-berth, which is perfectly designed for festival living!

You pay a premium for this type of caravan, but, if image is as important to you as versatility and build quality, then these vans are well worth considering. And remember, thanks to their rarity, they’re likely to hold their value well.

Pros

  • Premium features and high-quality materials offer a luxurious and comfortable caravanning experience.
  • Spacious and well-designed interiors provide ample living space and storage.
  • Advanced amenities, including fully-equipped kitchens, luxurious bathrooms, and entertainment systems.
  • Enhanced insulation and climate-control systems ensure year-round comfort.
  • Superior craftsmanship and attention to detail create a stylish and sophisticated ambiance.
  • Labour-saving devices enhance the caravanning experience and can extend older participants ‘caravanning years’.

Cons

  • Higher price points may be prohibitive for budget-conscious buyers.
  • Increased weight may call for a larger, more powerful tow vehicle.
  • Larger dimensions may limit storage options.
  • Complex systems and high-end features may require additional maintenance and expertise.
  • Less manoeuvrable compared to smaller caravans, requiring more planning when selecting sites.

Check out…
W
baileyofbristol.co.uk
W
coachman.co.uk
W
elddis.co.uk
W go-barefoot.co.uk
W adria.co.uk
W swiftgroup.co.uk
W airstream-uk.co.uk

Conclusion

In the realm of UK-made touring caravans, each category offers its own set of advantages and drawbacks.

Teardrop trailers appeal to those seeking simplicity, affordability, and ease of towing.
Folding and pop-top tourers combine compactness with expandable living space and integrated amenities.

Trailer tents offer versatility and affordability, but require more time for set-up. Compact caravans cater to solo travellers or couples seeking efficient use of space.

Family vans provide spacious interiors and dedicated family-oriented amenities. Luxury and lifestyle tourers offer the pinnacle of comfort and sophistication, albeit at a higher price point.

By considering the pros and cons outlined in this article, prospective buyers can align their preferences and requirements with the diverse offerings of UK-made touring caravans.

Whether you’re embarking on a solo adventure, exploring with the family, or indulging in a luxurious getaway. There’s a touring caravan perfectly-suited for your travels throughout beautiful Britain and beyond.

The author

John Sootheran

John Sootheran is a seasoned caravan and motorhome journalist who previously edited Caravan magazine, and now writes for Britain’s best-selling caravan magazine, Practical Caravan, along with Practical Motorhome and the Camping & Caravanning Club magazines. He also works with a number of major caravanning brands.

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Almost every element of caravanning involves weight considerations. This crucial factor affects your tow car, packing, licences, manoeuvring, additional equipment, and much more. Our comprehensive caravan weights guide explains all.

Knowing your tow car and caravan weights, and how they impact your towing, is all important.

The key things to know about this are:

  • Your caravan MiRO, MTPLM and Payload figures
  • The 85% rule (for towing novices) and 100% rule (for experienced tow car drivers)
  • Noseweight
  • Driving licence provisions

We’ll start this guide by explaining what the most important weights in caravanning are.

Mass In Running Order (MiRO/MRO)

MiRO is the empty weight of the van in kilogrammes when it leaves the factory. I say ‘empty’, but it includes the following:

  • the weight of one gas bottle
  • flush water
  • and an amount of freshwater stored in any onboard tank.

Surprisingly, it doesn’t include the weight of a leisure battery, even though they can weigh more than 12kg.

Find the MiRO weight and other details on the weight plate near the caravan door in modern tourers.

Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass (MTPLM)

caravan weight plate
Caravan weight plate

The ‘Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass’ is the heaviest weight at which you can safely tow your caravan. The weight plate displays the weight in kilogrammes. For most caravans, the MTPLM falls between 1000kg (for lightweight two-berth caravans) and 2000kg (for larger, luxurious family tourers).

As well as the weight of the caravan, the MTPLM encompasses all items inside or attached to your caravan. These items include the leisure battery, flush water, clothing, foodstuffs, awnings, motormovers, and air conditioning units, etc. When weighing your holiday tourer, it should be lighter than the maximum weight allowed for your van.

In fact, the MPTLM figure isn’t a legal limit. Factors like axle and tyre ratings determine its basis. Exceeding it could invalidate your warranty and insurance.

A police check could result in authorities charging you for careless driving, towing a dangerous load, or breaking a general law. Overloading a caravan can significantly alter its towing performance and safety.

Payload

Payload refers to the weight of items you can load into your tourer before exceeding its weight capacity. To calculate the allowable payload, simply subtract the Mass in Running Order (MiRO) from the Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass (MTPLM).

This will give you the weight in kilogrammes of contents that you can safely carry in your caravan when towing.

Typically, this includes:Motormovers

  • clothes
  • food
  • gadgets
  • toys
  • books
  • games
  • sports equipment
  • awnings
  • camping furniture
  • your water carriers
  • and other accessories.

For instance, in the weight plate image, the MTPLM of the Coachman 630 Vision caravan is 1701kg. While the MiRO is 1531kg, leaving a potential payload of 170kg.

The weight of clothes and food may seem like a lot. But there are other things to consider.

These include leisure batteries, motor movers, satellite dishes, bedding, footwear, televisions, and awnings. These items can add significant weight to the van.

Noseweight  caravan weightplate

The noseweight is the force that pushes down on the towball. This happens when you lift the jockeywheel and corner steadies of the caravan.

Noseweight is measured in kilogrammes and should ideally be between 5% to 7% of the fully-laden weight of the caravan. For example, a 1500kg caravan should exert a downward force of 75kg to 105kg on the hitch.

Noseweight limits are also specified by the tow car and the towbar manufacturers, and should not be exceeded.

Typically, a towbar has a weight limit of around 80kg to 110kg. Refer to your car’s manual for specific details. Some car towbars only have a weight limit of 50kg. These models are not suitable for towing a caravan

You measure the noseweight of a caravan using a noseweight gauge, a specialist scale which you place between the caravan hitch and the ground. When you raise the jockey wheel, the gauge supports the weight on the nose of the caravan, allowing you to read the weight measurements.

Make sure that the gauge meets the BS7961 standard. A 130kg model can be purchased from Milenco for £43.52.

Alternatively, you could place bathroom scales on the ground under the hitch and place a piece of strong wood in between the hitch cup and the scales.

The Caravan's A-frame is the point where its noseweight presses down on the towbar
The Caravan’s A-frame is the point where its noseweight presses down on the towbar

As you carefully wind up the jockeywheel, you’ll see the weight on the scales increase, until the jockeywheel is off the ground. At this point, you can read the noseweight.

Achieving the correct noseweight should result in the caravan having a slightly nose-down angle. This delivers optimal stability and aerodynamic effect while towing.

Reading a car’s weightplate

Usually, a vehicle’s weightplate is found inside one of the front door jambs.

Typically, they display four weights. From the top these are:

Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) aka Maximum Allowable Mass (MAM)

These terms describe the same thing: the maximum weight of a vehicle for safe driving. It includes all contents, luggage, fuel and passengers. Driving above this weight is likely to cause damage and produce an unsafe drive.

GVW is the weight used when working out the total mass of a caravan outfit for B+E purposes. Do not use the kerb weight for this calculation.

Usually, GVW is around 400kg more than the kerbweight. My tow car, for example, has a kerbweight of 1730kg and a GVW/MAM of 2115kg. That means I can carry 385kg of people and luggage. Get to know your car’s kerbweight.

Gross Train Weight (GTW)

tow car weight plate
A tow car’s weightplate. You can see its GVW is 2115kg. The GTW is 3790kg. The front and rear axle maximums are the two numbers below that

This describes the combined maximum allowable mass of the tow vehicle and trailer.

It’s the combined weight of the tow car’s GVW and the caravan’s MTPLM. It’s shown on the data plate in the picture as 3790kg.

To find the weight of the maximum allowable caravan weight, you subtract the GVW figure from it. In this case, a caravan weighing up to 1675kg could be towed.

Front and rear max axle loads (respectively)

Here, the front axle can carry 945kgs and the rear axle 1180kgs.

Kerbweight

Your tow car’s kerbweight is used to assess your 85% and 100% tow-match status.

It denotes the weight of the tow car with all standard equipment and a full tank of fuel – but no driver, passengers, or cargo.

You can find your tow car’s kerbweight figure in the owner’s manual, on the manufacturer’s website, on your V5 registration document (G Mass in Service – XXXXKG) and sometimes on the car’s weightplate.

Kerbweight shouldn’t be confused with other weights like Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) and Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM).

The 85% and 100% towing rules

tow car kerbweight
Your tow car’s kerbweight is used to calculate its 85% and 100% tow-match status

The NCC, both major caravan clubs, and a number of industry experts came together to develop the 85% rule, guidance which is designed to provide safer towing on Britain’s roads.

While not a law, the advice is eminently sensible and infringing it could cause problems in the event of an accident or insurance claim.

The 85% rule states that novice caravanners should only tow caravans that weigh no more than 85% of the kerbweight of the tow car.

As an example, if your tow car weighs 1600kg, a novice caravanner can safely and sensibly tow a tourer with an MTPLM weight of up to 1360kg. (1360 is 85% of 1600).

Conversely, if you’ve bought a caravan with an MTPLM of 1450kg, you’ll need a tow car weighing at least 1705kg.

Once the caravanner has racked up a few towing miles and become a confident tow car driver, this limit is raised to 100%. That means the same 1600kg tow car can safely pull a caravan with an MTPLM weight of 1600kg.

Under no circumstances should you tow a caravan that is heavier than the tow car.

These rules may contradict other guidance on the tow vehicle’s weighplate or in the manual, but these figures are accepted across the industry as safe and sensible.

Our graph below shows the suggested minimum kerbweights for a number of caravans with different MTPLM figures.

Minimum Towcar Kerbweights’ Guide

Caravan MTPLM Min Kerbweight Novice (85%) Min Kerbweight Experienced (100%)
750kg 882kg 750kg
1000kg 1176kg 1000kg
1250kg 1470kg 1250kg
1500kg 1764kg 1500kg
1750kg 2058kg 1750kg
2000kg 2352kg 2000kg

Knowing your car’s towing limit and towing weight capabilities are important factors to grasp.

 

Packing a caravan

loading your caravan
This caravan front gas locker is vast, but you can’t just fill it with heavy items, or your noseweight will be too great.

Imagine your tourer is a seesaw with the axle as the fulcrum. The more weight you load towards the front of the caravan, the greater the weight pressing down on the towbar. Conversely, if you load weight further back behind the axle, that will push the rear of the caravan downwards and lighten the load on the towbar.

The aim is to create a modest amount of downforce on the towbar, typically between 70kg and 120kgs. This keeps the rear end of the tow car ‘planted’ improving traction and control, and the front of the van slightly nose down, which is most stable for towing.

It also creates a safer tow, as it’s less likely to induce any snaking in the caravan. Loading significant weight towards the back of a tourer can create a ‘pendulum effect’, which means that, once the caravan starts swaying, that snaking effect can be hard to bring under control.

Watch this short video to see the dramatic effects of poor loading: https://bit.ly/3wkAbjM

Loading your caravan correctly is an important aspect of safe towing.

Pic 11

The safest way to pack a caravan is to keep all heavy items down at floor level and as close to the axle as possible. That way, you get less see-sawing effect, and a smoother towing experience.

If you have a rear island bed with lots of storage space beneath, don’t be tempted to tow with heavy items stored there.

To lighten your caravan, put heavy things like awnings and wheel locks in the boot of your tow car. Or use a roof box mounted on your roof rails.

When packing a caravan for the first time, use a noseweight gauge to make sure your packing has a suitable noseweight. You can tweak it by moving contents around inside your van, for example, by putting something substantial in the front gas locker.

Replating your caravan for extra weight allowance

caravan weight plate
Caravans can be ‘Re-plated’ to a hevier weight. Typically this service costs under £100

Caravans have two MTPLM figures. There’s a minimum weight for standard caravans, but there’s also a maximum weight limit. The caravan’s structure including its chassis and axles, define this upper limit.

Some caravanners find that after adding several devices, maybe a motormover and air conditioning, they have severely limited their payload. In this instance, they can pay the manufacturer or dealer to replate their tourer to the upper limit.

For example, a tourer might have a payload of 140kg, but the owners add a motormover, a solar panel, a second gas bottle, and air-conditioning. This eats up 80kg of payload allowance, leaving them only 60kg to play with.

As the chassis and axles have some leeway in their design, their caravan can be replated, raising its MTPLM by between 40 and 70kg. This gives owners plenty of payload allowance to continue their luxury touring lifestyle.

Expect to pay £50 to £100. Bailey, for example, charges £65 for many van weightplate upgrades.

 

B+E driving licence category

B+E is a driving licence category that allows the holder to operate an outfit with a combined weight (Gross Train Weight) of up to 8250kg, as long as the trailer MAM doesn’t exceed the weight of the unladen vehicle.

Before 16th December 2021, laws surrounding the B+E licence category limited many drivers’ tow car choices. The rules in Britain changed. Now, anyone with a UK driving licence can tow a trailer/caravan weighing up to 3500kg maximum authorised mass (MAM).

police e caravanns
The Police sometimes set up weighing-stations in motorway services to check caravan weights in the busy summer period

This law change is a boon for younger caravanners who passed their driving tests after 1st January 1997, and previously had to take a tricky and expensive extra driving test to tow a heavier tow car/caravan combo.

This law change doesn’t apply in Northern Ireland, so the B+E test is still required there for those who passed their driving test after 1st January 1997.

The DVLA has revised its database with the new categories, and B+E will be added to driving licences when they are renewed.

What happens if my caravan’s too heavy?

Towing an overweight caravan is dangerous and doing so could put you and other road users at risk. Towing dangerously is frowned upon. From time to time the police will install temporary ‘weigh stations’ at services on busy holiday-route motorways.

For example, Wiltshire police recently pulled over 100 outfits and found 13 of them to be infringing the law on the M4. These drivers received fixed penalty fines, but also had to sort out excess weight issues there and then. Not a great start to any holiday!

The author

John Sootheran is a seasoned caravan and motorhome journalist who previously edited Caravan magazine, and now writes for Britain’s best-selling caravan magazine, Practical Caravan, along with Practical Motorhome and the Camping & Caravanning Club magazines. He also works with a number of major caravanning brands.John Sootheran

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