Quick Guide To Towing Weights

Oops

Yup. Here we go again. Another quick guide to towing weights. Incredibly, confusion seems as rife as ever regarding what we can and can’t, legally, tow on our licences and with our chosen tow cars. Of course, we have, already, covered all aspects of towing in various previous articles, but it seems that the most common sources of confusion remain how we calculate what our car can tow, and what we can, ourselves, tow on our own driving licence.

In order to try and address this, I have produced a quick, two page guide, focusing just on these two areas, in the hope it will help to clarify the legalities, especially as we race towards what, for many of you, will be the start of the holiday season. If you are in any doubt, feel free to check out our latest guide, the Quick Towing Weights Guide.

Posted in News And Information | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

85% Of Kerb Weight. Law, Guide Or Myth?

range-rover-sdv6

For decades, now, many, including much of the towing industry, have worked on the basis that, for safe towing, we should, always, aim to stick to a trailer or caravan that weighs no more than 85% of the kerb weight of the towing vehicle. Over and over again, we hear; Well. The Caravan & Motorhome Club recommend it, so it must be right, but what, exactly, does it mean? Is there any scientific basis behind it, and, if not, what factors are important, and what weights should we, actually, be using?

Increasingly, trailer manufacturers are coming out and challenging the validity of the ‘85% rule’, and, it would appear, with good reason.

There are, it seems, a number of inherent flaws in the Caravan & Motorhome Club recommendation. Some of them are genuine flaws, whilst others are more down to errors of interpretation, than anything. A classic example of the latter is that many quote 85% as the figure recommended for anyone towing. Of course, this is incorrect, and the clubs recommend up to 100% for anyone who is more experienced at towing. The 85% hypothetical figure is for those new to towing, only, and, also, relates only to caravans, due, in the main, to their unique towing characteristics.

Is It Law?

law1

Another very common misconception is that the 85% is law, and must not be exceeded, under any circumstances. This is not true, and never has been. Indeed, and, more worryingly, some cars have a legal towing capacity that is, actually, lower than 85% of kerb weight, meaning that, using the latter, will, actually, render the driver illegal.

Whilst most are aware that the 85% is not a legal figure, there is a much more widespread belief that 100% is a legal limit. This is not, entirely, surprising. At the time of writing this, the web sites of the Caravan and Motorhome Club, Camping & Caravanning Club, National Trailer & Towing Association*, UK Tow, and just about every professional source I can find, clearly state that, on a post 1997 licence, the MAM of the trailer / caravan cannot exceed the kerb weight of the towing vehicle.

This is completely incorrect, but, to date, only the Camping and Caravanning Club have made a partial correction, on one part of their web site. The truth of the matter is that, from a purely legal perspective, there is no problem with towing a trailer or caravan that is in excess of the kerb weight of the towing vehicle, even on a standard B licence (provided it is, also, within both the physical towing capacity of the car, and the licence parameters of the driver).

Government sources did, originally, state that, on a post 1997 licence, trailer MAM could not exceed vehicle kerb weight, but this is no longer the case, and has been removed from all official Government sources (although not, it would appear, the majority of other industry sources).

Technological Developments

The 85% Guide (we will refer to it, as that, for now, as that is the term that is familiar to most) was conceived decades ago, before manufacturers, actually, specified an official braked towing limit for their vehicles. It was, also, put in place prior to the introduction of a significant number of technological developments, both in terms of vehicle, and trailer manufacture.

stabilisers0_0aks-all-three-rev2

We have seen significant advancements in things like suspension and brake design, ABS, ATC, stabiliser hitches etc. Towing, as a whole, is a lot safer than it was 30 or 40 years ago, provided we are mindful of other key factors, such as speed, loading, driving style etc.

Unfortunately, there has been no change in the recommended safe towing limit, since the mid 80’s, in order to compensate for this.

Why Was It Introduced?

The guide was, originally, introduced, in order to provide a measure by which those new to towing could gauge what was a safe figure to tow, with their chosen vehicle. Again, there are a huge amount of misconceptions as to why this was necessary. These range from; “it needs to be lighter, so that the car can brake more easily” to; “It needs to be lighter, so the car can pull it”.

The facts, however, are that a heavier car, relative to trailer, is preferable, as it is, generally, believed it helps to control any snaking that might occur. Caravans have very different handling characteristics, from other trailers. They are high sided, non aerodynamic boxes, with high centres of gravity, and low internal density.

This means they are more prone to snaking, caused by cross winds, overtaking lorries, etc, than other trailers. If this happens, then the theory is, that a heavier car, relative to the caravan, will help to prevent the ‘tail wagging the dog’. There is, of course, an element of common sense in this, however, in the modern world, with all the technological advances listed above, a correctly loaded caravan, with the right tyre pressures travelling within the speed limit, is far less likely to experience issues than it would have done thirty years ago. Of course, that is not, in any way, to suggest that it cannot happen, simply that the risks which were around when the guide was devised, are, now, significantly reduced.

How is it Calculated?

calculator-png

This, in my personal opinion, is where the 85% guide really falls down, as it takes no account, whatsoever, of actual weights involved.

Contrary to popular misconception, you do not apply the 85% to vehicle towing capacity, or gross weight. You apply it to kerb weight.

So, we take the maximum gross weight of the caravan, and compare it to the kerb weight of the car.

That can give rise to some rather ridiculous inconsistencies. Let’s take a look at one, potential, scenario.

  • A car has a kerb weight of 1,600kg, and a max gross weight of 2,200kg
  • A caravan has a net weight of 1,500kg and a gross weight of 1,700kg.

The C&MC rule takes the maximum gross weight of the caravan, and compares it to the kerb weight of the car. In this case, gross weight of caravan / kerb weight of car equals 1,700kg / 1,600kg, which equates to a towing ratio of 106%. This would be rejected, out of hand, as a bad match, by our friends at C&MC.

OK, but that assumes the caravan is full, and the car is empty. So, what if it is the other way around? Net weight of caravan / gross weight of car equals 1,500kg / 2,200kg which works out to 68%.

Clearly, these are two completely different scenarios, however, according to the C&MC, they are EXACTLY THE SAME! Really? Of course, it is unlikely you will ever be travelling with a car that is fully loaded, towing a caravan that is completely empty, but is that, really, any less realistic than the C&MC version of towing a fully loaded caravan with a totally empty car? I suspect not.

Just for the purposes of comparison, let’s assume that both the car and the caravan are loaded to 50% capacity. The calculation, then, becomes 1,600kg / 1,900kg, or 84%. Ooh. Good. Spot on then. Again, all hypothetical, but it does expose the inconsistencies in the theory, and pushes it, still, further, into the realms of; ‘myth’.

Another way of looking at this is to take the example of a couple of potential tow cars. The Renault Grand Scenic 2 Litre and the Land Rover Defender have an almost identical kerb weight. The latter has a type approved towing limit of 3,500kg. That of the Renault is 1,300kg which, as it happens, is, almost 300kg less than 85% of kerb weight. In spite of this, the 85% Guide would have us believe that these two cars are equally competent at towing a caravan. Whilst I would not, for one second, advocate the towing of a three and a half tonne caravan with the Land Rover, it does, once again, highlight the potential issues with the guide.

Meanwhile, Back In The Real World

OK, so it appears that the C&MC guideline is both outdated, and riddled with inconsistencies, but what do we use, instead? I guess the simple answer is; a mixture of manufacturers’ towing limits and common sense. Another of the many misconceptions surrounding towing weights is that the manufacturers’ specified towing capacity, simply, represents the amount the car can tow up a 12% incline. This is not the case. That is, indeed, a factor, but these figures are the maximum amount we can legally tow. It is naive, in the extreme, to assume this is based, purely, on what it can tow up a predetermined gradient, with no recourse to suspension, braking capabilities etc. The manufacturers’ braked towing limit is the amount the vehicle can legally and safely tow, taking due consideration of engine capabilities, suspension, brakes etc. That said, we would be foolish to completely ignore the unique challenges afforded by towing a caravan, if, indeed, that is our accommodation of choice, and, in most cases, the ‘happy medium’ is, as you would expect, likely to be found somewhere in between the C&MC guideline, and the manufacturers’ specified towing limit.

How Do Towing Capacities Work, And What Can We Tow?

The commonly held belief is that we can tow, up to the limit specified on the car’s VIN plate. This is, to a large extent, true, however, it is a little more involved than that. A typical VIN plate will include four weights (see below).

VIN

The top weight represents the maximum allowed gross weight of the car.

The second weight is the maximum gross weight of car plus trailer (Gross Combination Weight).

The last two weights are the maximum allowed load on each axle.

It is a widely held belief that the difference between lines one and two is the maximum amount the car can tow. In the case of the plate, above, this would be 1,695kg (4,200kg – 2,505kg). In some cases, this may well be the case, however, what this, actually, represents is the maximum amount the car can tow, when it is, itself, fully loaded. It is, perfectly, possible, that the actual towing capacity could, in fact, be more, and, often, the V5 will show a higher figure. The only thing that is legally enforceable, in UK law, is the Gross Combination Weight. Provided this is not exceeded, you will be towing within the law. Hence, in the example above, if the car were only loaded to 2,305kg (under loaded by 200kg) then the trailer could, theoretically, be loaded to 1,895kg, and still remain within the required Gross Combination Weight. Just as a point of caution, though; the Department For Transport Guide To Towing With A Car does advise that exceeding the amounts on the VIN plate / V5 “…is likely to be construed as using a vehicle in a dangerous condition”. So, legally, we are covered, as long as we are within Gross Combination Weight, however, if we abuse that too much, it could go against us, so it’s always best to remain within the limits of the VIN plate / V5 wherever possible.

Also worth pointing out, at this stage, that, whilst driving licence restrictions** (where applicable) work on plated maximum weights, vehicle towing limits are based on actual weights, so, in this example, provided the actual weight of car plus trailer does not exceed 4,200kg, it will be legal.

Conclusion

There is absolutely no doubt we should, always, take whatever steps we can, in order to ensure we are driving / towing both safely and legally, and driving with an appropriate weight ratio is an important part of this, of that, there is no doubt. The question, here, is what, if any, place the 85% guideline has in this equation, in the modern world.

Clearly, there are far more important factors to consider, when towing, including, but not restricted to;

  • Correct distribution of load and nose weight
  • Correct tyre pressures
  • Use of a stabiliser hitch, such as an AL-KO or Winterhoff hitch
  • Adherence to the legal speed limit, when towing
  • Appropriate driving style, avoiding heavy braking, accelerating and cornering
  • Use of ATC, if fitted

All of these will help to minimise the risk of the kind of snaking the 85% guide was introduced to help us control. (A case of prevention being better than cure).

The important thing is to apply common sense (something the guide fails to do, as it doesn’t address actual weights of car and caravan, only kerb weight of car and gross weight of caravan).

Rather than blindly following an outdated, and, largely, illogical, guide, common sense dictates we look at what both car and trailer, actually, weigh and work on that ratio.

Obviously, the heavier the car, relative to the trailer, the better, but let’s keep things realistic, when working out what we can, and cannot tow.

*    Since writing this, the NTTA have responded, as follows, although, as of August 2017, they have, yet, to update their web site.

“Good afternoon Mr. Young

Thank you for taking the trouble to point out the inconsistent answer on our FAQs page.

I am inclined to agree with you, especially as the confusion relating to kerb weights was withdrawn by DVLA earlier this year. There was a kerb weight restriction that applied to those drivers who passed their driving test after 01/01/1997 but confusingly, this did not apply to those who gained their licence on or after 19th January 2013 as the EU Third Driving licence Directive 2006/126/EC was implemented.

DVLA agreed to make this the basis for all licences so things are now more simple.
I would suggest that we change the wording on the FAQ Answer to:

The 85% figure is a recommendation, not a legal limit, given by caravan clubs to give good power to weight ratio for successful towing. The recommendation is aimed especially at those inexperienced in towing.

You may legally tow up to the car manufacturer’s towing limit as ascertained from the vehicle’s type or chassis plate (see the first question, above).

Does this make more sense? We will be reviewing our advice items as we revise our website in the course of the next few months. I expect that we will need to change a number of points that are a little out of date.

Thanks again for your input.

Kind regards,

Larry Lambert

Company Secretary
National Trailer and Towing Association Ltd”

**  For full details on licence restrictions, and all other key aspects of towing legislation, check out our earlier article; The Layman’s Guide To Towing In The UK.

Posted in News And Information | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Camp Site Review: Upper Lynstone Caravan & Camping Park, Bude

800_4715-1024x576

Upper Lynstone Caravan & Camping Park is a smallish, 4 star, family run camp site, a five to ten minute walk outside of the North Cornish coastal town of Bude. Its elevated position gives it excellent views, and it is just a stone’s throw from the coastal path, which offers, amongst other things, a more scenic walk into Bude, itself. The site takes pretty much any type of unit, including tents, trailer tents, folding campers, caravans and motorhomes, making it an ideal location for larger family groups to meet up and share one site, regardless of the accommodation they are bringing with them. The site, also, offers a number of static caravans, which can be booked directly with the site.

Facilities

The site, currently, offers approximately 40 pitches, with 10Amp electric hookup, plus a similar number of non EHU camping pitches, some of which are pre bookable. The site is sloping, but those pitches that aren’t on level ground have been terraced, to ensure that, wherever you are on the site, sloping ground will not be an issue.

20170617_183442

The pitches are, in the main, separated by very low wooden fences, and are a minimum of 11 metres wide, which is pretty impressive, for a site of this size. All are grassed, with no hard standings that I am aware of. The main camping field is somewhat less formal, offering a number of open plan camping pitches.

There is one main facilities block, but there is a second, smaller one, close to the main reception, where the recycling area and laundry facilities are, also, located, as is the shop and children’s play area.

800_8040

The facilities are modern, and clean, and more than adequate, for a site of this size. What was particularly impressive was the attention to detail, and some of the little touches, such as cloths to wipe down the sinks, in the wash room areas, drainer racks in the dish washing areas and hand gel at the chemical toilet emptying point.

Site Review

Upper Lynstone Caravan & Camping Park is situated on the Lynstone Road, approximately half a mile outside of Bude. The site is approached via a short driveway, with the reception, shop, and, presumably, owners accommodation directly ahead. This is very picturesque, with the main accommodation being a typical, if rather large, chocolate box cottage, with thatched roof.

7000422

The Shop, Although Not Huge, Contains Most Of The Basics

Inside the main reception area, there is, also, a small shop. Whilst this is rather diminutive in size, it has a reasonable array of products, for its size, including both the basic food produce items (bacon, eggs, milk etc) and the key camping essentials, in case of emergencies. There are, also, a number of non essential items, such as a rather tempting ice cream freezer. A freezer pack service is also provided, as is a phone / mobile device charging service, both at a small charge. The site does have wi-fi, although this is not compatible with some of the more high usage streaming sites.

Having checked in, we drove past the children’s play area, recycling area and laundry room, through the small selection of statics, and up into the main camping fields. As already mentioned, the pitches were large, level and with both excellent views, and EHU.

800_7260

Modern Amenities Block Is Clean, And Well Maintained

The toilet block is commensurate with the size of the site, with around half a dozen showers in both male and female facilities. These areas were extremely well maintained, and very clean. Hair dryers were, also, provided, if required. As is the way, with many camp sites, these days, showers are a push button affair, with no temperature adjustment. No great issue, normally, except we happened to be visiting in the hottest June for 40 years, so the ability to turn the temperature down, just a touch, would have been more than welcome (especially with my own, customary, sun burn). Other than that, it really is difficult to fault the toilet / shower facilities provided, especially in such a small, family run site.

Washing up facilities consisted of a couple of sinks in the main facilities block, and a couple more in the laundry area. Again, about right for the size of site, and the plastic drainers provided were a nice touch, surprisingly lacking in many sites.

20170620_142719

One Of The Two Dish Washing Areas

The chemical toilet emptying point, likewise, was very modern and the addition of a hand gel dispenser on the wall did not go unnoticed. A simple, but often lacking, touch.

20170619_211105

The Well Equipped Laundry Room, With Additional Washing Up Sinks. You Can, Also, Hire An Ironing Board And Iron, If Required

Away from the main facilities block, near to reception, is the laundry area / second washing up area. This, also, doubled as an additional information room, with a large array of brochures and flyers for local attractions and events.

20170619_115700

Comprehensive Play Air With Extensive Views Behind

Immediately opposite the laundry room is the children’s play area. This is a very respectable feature, for the size of site, and set in front of some pretty impressive views.

Bude, itself, is a lovely town, with a great beach, plenty of pubs and eateries, and a decent array of shops and super markets. The main beach, also, features an outdoor tidal sea pool, which is a bit of a tourist attraction in its own right.

20170618_102429

Bude Canal And Wharf, Looking Towards The Sea

A 10 minute, max, walk into Bude, brings you to the canal and harbour area, with car parks and a number of pubs and eateries, including the Brendon Arms, Falcon Hotel and the Olive Tree Restaurant.

20170618_102439

The Falcon Hotel. One Of The Many Pubs & Eateries In Bude

A further two minute walk along the wharf brings you to the main beach, with sea pool, traditional beach huts, and highly recommended ‘Life’s a Beach’ Bistro / Restaurant.

20170618_105733

The Outdoor Sea Pool, With Beach Huts Behind

Behind the beach is the main town, with its selection of shops, cafes and super markets. Plenty to see and do here, even when the weather isn’t the greatest.

Dogs are welcomed on the site, at a small additional cost. There are no specific dog facilities on site, but almost unlimited walking options just outside.

Conclusion

Upper Lynstone is an excellent little site, in an exceptional location. Facilities are modern, and well maintained, and pitches are large, level and with, in the main, excellent views. Cost of an average pitch, with EHU, ranges from £18 to £25, depending on the season. Awnings and dogs, again, depending on season, range from £1 to £2. What I loved about this site is that it is the best of both worlds. Family friendly, but without hundreds of kids running around. Well maintained but without too many rules and regulations. Large enough to have a bit of atmosphere, and all the facilities you could need, but small enough to provide a relaxing and welcoming stay.

Local facilities, in Bude, are excellent, with plenty to see and do. All in all, the whole package makes for a very enjoyable experience, and one we will be looking forward to repeating in the forseeable future.

To take a look at the main Upper Lynstone web site, click Here.

For details of pricing and booking, click Here.

7000423

Posted in Site Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Towing Mirrors. A Quick Look At The Law.

PAGE_126_0020_Rock_0020_Steady_0020_Mirror_0020_main_0020_pic

In our earlier article; The Layman’s Guide To Towing In The UK, one of the items covered was that of the legal requirement (or not) of fitting extended mirrors, when towing, however, towing mirrors, as a topic, is, along with licences and towing weights, possibly, one of the most heavily debated topics on the internet, and it is clear that a significant percentage of those commenting, actually, have no idea as to what the law, really, is. In view of this, I thought it was worth looking at the topic of mirrors, as an issue, in its own right, to clarify exactly where we stand on them, when towing.

The Big Myth

By far the most common myth we are, currently, hearing, is; “The law has changed now. You must always fit extended mirrors when towing. They are now a legal requirement”. This is, in actual fact, not true. The law, simply states that we must have the prescribed rear view. This view is defined as an area that is 4 metres out from the side of the vehicle, at a distance of 20 metres back, as shown on the diagram below. Indeed, if we already have that required field of vision, then, in all likelihood, fitting extended mirrors will, actually, render us illegal.

Towing-Mirrors-1024x589

The Law

The wording on the Government Web Site seems to change with the wind, however, at the time of writing, it, currently states;

“You must have an adequate view of the road behind you. Fit suitable towing mirrors if your trailer or caravan is wider than the rear of your car”.

Anyone familiar with the likes of the Highway Code will know that use of the word ‘must’, in this context, means a statement is law, as opposed to recommendation. As the site, clearly, states; “you must have an adequate view”, that is the legal requirement, not the fitting of towing mirrors. The site then goes on to say that you should fit suitable mirrors, if your trailer or caravan is wider than the rear of your car. In most cases, if the caravan or trailer is wider, then towing mirrors will be required, in order to achieve the legally required rear view.

Another worrying thing we hear, on an, almost daily basis, is; “You may as well fit them, even if you don’t need them, just to be safe”. This is extremely poor advice. Whilst the vast majority of us will, indeed, need mirrors when towing, as mentioned above, fitting them when not required will, actually, render us illegal. OK, so why is that?

It is all to do with not allowing the mirrors to protrude too far beyond the side of the vehicle / trailer combination.

The Road Vehicles (Construction And Use) Regulations 1986 state;

“Where the bottom edge of an exterior mirror is less than 2 m above the road surface when the vehicle is laden, that mirror shall not project more than 20 cm beyond the overall width of the vehicle or, in a case where the vehicle is drawing a trailer which has an overall width greater than that of the drawing vehicle, more than 20 cm beyond the overall width of the trailer”

Ok, so, in layman’s terms; if a mirror is less than 2 metres above the ground, it is not allowed to protrude more than 20cm* beyond the side of the trailer / caravan, so as not to provide a further obstruction, and cause damage or injury to persons or property. This is, also, the reason why we are not allowed to use towing mirrors, when we aren’t, actually, towing, as this would mean the mirrors were, automatically, extending beyond the allowed limit.

Also just worth mentioning that, if the car was registered after 26th January 2010, extendable mirrors must be E-marked to show that they comply with EU safety regulations.

Penalties

Failure to comply with the law, on towing mirrors, is not cheap. Whilst fines can be as little as £50, the maximum allowed penalty for non compliance is £1,000, and three points PER MIRROR. This is why many advocate ‘caution’ and suggest fitting them, when they aren’t required, however, as already stated, that, too, can be an offence, if they aren’t necessary.

Summary

OK, so the vast majority of us will need towing mirrors, if what we are towing is wider than the rear of our car. For some, however, especially those towing with larger, commercial vehicles, or towing smaller trailers, such as some of the smaller 4 berth folding campers, towing mirrors will not be required, as we will, already, have the required rear view, and fitting them will, actually, render us illegal. As with many aspects of the law, it is not a case of ‘one size fits all’. We need to understand the basic principles of the legislation, so we can best apply it to our own, individual, towing situation.

* – For cars manufactured after 26 January 2007, this distance has been increased to 25cm

Posted in News And Information | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Camp Site Review: Riverside Caravan Park, Stratford Upon Avon

Riverside Caravan Park can be found about a mile out of the centre of Stratford, itself, and is situated right on the banks of the River Avon. The site takes all types of caravans, motorhomes and folding campers, and also provides it’s own glamping pods, wooden lodges and static caravans, as well as having a separate residential park homes area. It does not accommodate tents or trailer tents.

Pitches, Although Not Segregated, Have Plenty Of Space Between Them.

The site has approximately 100 touring pitches, all with electric hookup. A small number of river side pitches are, also, available, at a small premium. The pitches are set out over two or three main areas, and are not segregated in any way, from each other, although spacing between pitches was more than adequate.

Facilities

Although A Little Dated, Facilities Are More Than Adequate, With a Number Of Wet Rooms, Containing Both A Shower And Wash Basin

The site has one, well maintained, shower & toilet  block.

This contains all major amenities, you would expect, including fresh water, grey water disposal, chemical toilet emptying point and motorhome emptying point.

There is a laundry room, and washing up facilities, as you would expect, with a site of this quality.

The jewel in the crown for this site is the on site bar / restaurant, which also provides conference and wedding / private function facilities.

Below this is a themed children’s play area, and crazy golf course.

The site, also, provides a water taxi to the centre of Stratford.

Not only does this perform an essential function, it is, actually, an attraction in its own right, and is definitely recommended.

Site Review

The site is situated about a mile out of Stratford, on the Tiddington Road, just before you get to the village of Tiddington, itself. It is approached via a long driveway, at the end of which is the main reception building. We arrived a little late, so we pulled up to the late arrivals area, and were shown to our pitch by a warden, and asked to pop in to reception the next day, to book in, properly, and pay the balance of our account.

The Outlook From One Of The Small Number Of River Side Pitches Is Definitely Worth The Small Premium. Even Picnic Tables Are Provided.

We paid a little extra for a river side pitch, and I have to say, it was well worth it. The location was gorgeous. Every pitch we saw appeared to be very level, and all included their own electric hookup.

Just 5 minutes walk from the site entrance is the village of Tiddington, which incorporates a post office, convenience store, pub, Chinese and Indian restaurants (both offering a takeaway service) and a tapas bar. I can’t comment on the quality of these, as, in the three days we were at the site, we never had the need to wander outside its perimeter (other than the daily river taxi ride into Stratford).

The toilet / washroom facilities are a little dated in terms of decor, and could probably do with a bit of an update, from that perspective, however, they were clean, well maintained, and feature under floor heating, for added comfort. Many of the showers were in separate rooms, with their own wash basin, chair, etc, so everything you need to get ready for a day or night out, in one convenient place. One shower room even had a toilet in there, as opposed to a sink, which was a little unusual, but still plenty of space in there. There is, also, a separate disabled washroom, with easy access for those with their own RADAR key.

The Riverside Bar & Restuarant

On the edge of the site, and adjacent to the River Avon is the Riverside Bar, Restaurant & Function Rooms. This is a very new addition to the park, and, at the time of writing, is still not showing on Google Maps.

It is a very contemporary design, and its elevated position, whilst designed to avoid flooding, also provides an excellent vantage point to relax with a drink, and enjoy the view.

Whether You Are Enjoying A Cup Of Something Hot, Or A Glass Of The Cold Stuff, This Is An Exceptional Place To Do So.

The River Taxi Pulls Up To The Jetty, At Riverside Bar & Restaurant, Ready To Collect Another Up To Half A Dozen Passengers

Below the building is the crazy golf course, and, to the side, the themed children’s play area. A few feet from the building is the jetty, which is used by the site run river taxi service. This service runs from 10am until 5.20pm and, at £2 per person, is the ideal way to make your way into Stratford, itself. There are two river taxis (three at peak times) running at 20 – 30 minute intervals. The journey is 10 – 15 minutes long, and the taxi can carry up to 6 passengers (including dogs, who are a common sight on there).

Stratford Town Centre Has Plenty To Keep You Occupied, Including Shops, Eateries And Tourist Attractions

Stratford, itself, is a great day out, with shops, bars and restaurants, and, of course, the many and varied tourist attractions, both Shakespeare oriented and others. Only living 12 miles from the town, we didn’t make too much of the attractions, but we still travelled in, daily, on the water taxi, for something to eat, and to stock up on supplies from the shops.

The View From The Riverside Restaurant Is Quite Exceptional, And An Excellent Backdrop To Any Meal

On of the many reasons for choosing this site (and one of the many reasons we will be returning) was the Riverside Bar & Restaurant. It has to be said, the menu was not the most imaginative in the world, especially when you consider the quality of the surroundings, but there are more than enough options to choose from, and the quality of both the food and the service, when we were there, was excellent. To check out the current menu and specials menus, take a look here.

Canine visitors to the site are, also, well catered for. Dogs are welcome (up to 2 per pitch), there is a dedicated walking area, and plenty of poop bins / poop bag dispensers dotted around the site. When we were there, there was one dog to our right, two to our left, and two cats on the pitch behind. As mentioned above, well behaved dogs are, also, welcomed on the river taxi, as well.

Conclusion

It has to be said; Riverside is now my new favourite site, and I’m extremely pleased it is only 12 miles away, as I’m sure we will be returning on a reasonably regular basis. The site is clean, well maintained, and the both the location and the facilities make it a really outstanding place to take a break.

The River Taxi Is Just One Of The Nice Little Touches That Makes Riverside Caravan Park A Really Unique Site

Washroom facilities, whilst a little dated, are of a reasonably high standard, and more than adequate for purpose. The Riverside Bar and Restaurant means you don’t have to venture too far, for something decent to eat, but, if you do decide to wander off site, then both Tiddington and Stratford Upon Avon are just a few minutes away on foot or by water taxi. If I’m honest, I’m struggling to find anything negative to say about this site. When we stayed there, the cost, for two of us, on a riverside pitch, with no awning (an additional cost of £2.50 per night) it came to £26 per night, which is far from being the most expensive site I have, ever, stayed on.

If you want to check out the main Riverside Caravan Park web site, take a look here.

To take a look at a quick promotional video of the site, click here.

Posted in Site Reviews | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Taking A Look At The Caravan Camping & Motorhome Show 2017

This gallery contains 2 photos.

The Caravan, Camping & Motorhome Show is the UK’s second largest motorhome and caravanning event. It is also an excellent opportunity for the public to see all of the new 2017 caravan, motorhome, holiday home, folding camper and trailer tent … Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Car Tax Changes, From April 2017. How Will They Affect Us?

 REGISTEREDDcar-tax-disc-249287

Many of us will be looking at increased car tax, on any new vehicles we buy, when the proposed new changes to Vehicle Excise Duty kick in on 1 April 2017. In fact, current estimates are that 70% of new car owners will be paying more than they would have done under the original scheme.

Some of you may be surprised to know (others, less so) that those hardest hit will be the lower emission models, who’s green credentials have, until now, kept car tax rates to a bare minimum.

Impending Changes

OK, so we know a change is coming, but how, exactly, does it affect us?

Firstly, it’s worth pointing out that these changes only affect those cars first registered on, or after, 1 April 2017. Cars owned prior to that will continue to be taxed under the old regime.

Currently, all vehicles are taxed on a relatively straight forward basis. We pay an annual car tax, based on the emissions of our chosen vehicle, with all vehicles under 99g/km of emissions being tax exempt. I’m sure it will come as no surprise to many that the new system is due to be a little more complicated, and will be based on a three tier system, with different Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) rates for year one, as opposed to subsequent years. Thus, the current 13 band system will be replaced with a new 3 tier system, classified, simply, as; zero, standard and premium.

The zero band will, now, only apply to those cars which, actually, have zero emissions. Premium will apply to all cars (even those with zero emissions) costing more than £40,000, and standard will apply to everything in between.

The new bands for VED will be as follows:

New VED System for All Cars Registered From 1 April 2017

Emissions (g/km)                    Year One Rate                         Ongoing Annual Rate*

0                                                                        £0                                                           £0

1 – 50                                                               £10                                                         £140

51 – 75                                                              £25                                                        £140

75 – 90                                                            £100                                                      £140

91 – 100                                                          £120                                                      £140

101 – 110                                                         £140                                                      £140

111 – 130                                                         £160                                                      £140

131 – 150                                                        £200                                                      £140

151 – 170                                                        £500                                                      £140

171 – 190                                                       £800                                                       £140

191 – 225                                                     £1,200                                                      £140

235 – 255                                                    £1,700                                                       £140

Over 255                                                     £2,000                                                      £140

* Cars over £40,000 pay a further £310 supplement for five years.

What Does It All Mean?

So what does this all mean, for the majority of us? Well, as mentioned above, some 70% of drivers are expected to be worse off, under the new system. The vast majority of these, however, are going to be those who drive what were, traditionally, considered to be eco friendly vehicles. For those of us that tow, however, these new changes are likely to work in our favour.

This is because, once we get beyond the first year for any sub £40,000 car, we will be looking at a flat rate of £140 per year. For any cars with emissions of between 1 and 99 g/km this will represent an increase of £140 per year, however, for those of us with larger cars, and 4 x 4s, more commonly associated with towing, £140 is likely to represent a not insignificant saving on the current system.

Zero emission cars will continue to attract no VED, unless they cost in excess of £40,000. If they do, then even a pure electric car will still attract the £310 surcharge for the first five years. This gives us the somewhat illogical scenario that a £39,000 car, with ultra high emissions, of say, 250g/km will cost £140 a year (after year 1) to tax, whilst a £41,000 all electric car will cost £450 a year, for the first five years (£140, plus £310 supplement). Not a popular choice with the green fraternity, but a far more popular one with those of us who love to tow. Who would have thought it?

Posted in News And Information | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

TV Licensing. Do We Need One When Touring?

tvlicense

TV licensing laws have changed, relatively recently, and this has not helped the ongoing confusion surrounding them, especially insofar as they relate to touring, as opposed to static caravans.

When it comes to caravans and similar holiday accommodation, there are, basically, two main options;

  • Static caravans and moveable chalets
  • Touring caravans, vehicles and boats (including folding campers etc).

Different rules apply, depending on which of the above we are staying away in.

Static Caravans And Moveable Chalets

Although not really relevant to those of us who have folding campers and other touring units, it is important to understand the rules, as they relate to statics, as these are, often, confused with those appertaining to tourers.

The simple rule for any static caravan or moveable chalet is that we are covered by the TV licence we have at home, and do not require a separate TV licence for these, PROVIDED the TV in the caravan is not being watched at the same time as the one at home. This is more common than you might imagine, with many couples going away and leaving older children, or family members, at home to look after the house, pets etc. That said, it is nigh on impossible to imagine how this might, possibly be enforceable, and seems to be on a, largely, voluntary basis. To notify TV Licencing that you don’t need a separate licence, you can download and complete a; Non Simultaneous Use Declaration Form.

It is important to emphasise that this only applies to static caravans, not tourers. They must be able to be moved, either by towing or on a flat bed lorry or trailer. A fixed premises, such as house, cottage, bungalow or flat will not apply, and you must obtain a separate licence to watch TV in one of these. (Unless the item is powered by its own batteries and is not connected to either a power source or aerial point, in which case it is covered by our home licence).

Touring Caravans, Campers, Vehicles & Boats

The rules for tourers are even more straightforward. Any touring unit (even one sited on a seasonal pitch) will be covered by our home TV licence, and will not require a separate one, under any circumstances (unless we don’t have one at home). This includes all caravans, folding campers, trailer tents, tents and motor homes.

TV Licencing. General Points

There are a couple of general, non camping specific, facts relating to TV licencing, which are, also, worthy of note.

  • Until recently, no TV licence was required for watching catchup or streamed TV, only. This has now been revised, and a TV licence is now required to download and watch programs on BBC iPlayer. This does not apply to the downloading of programs via applications other than iPlayer.
  • It is a common misconception that you don’t need a TV licence, if you don’t watch any BBC channels. This is not true. A licence is required to watch any live TV program. The ‘BBC only’ restriction applies only to downloaded programs, watched on BBC iPlayer.

Irrespective of these two points above, the domestic TV licence we hold at home will cover us for all touring units, and, provided we have one in our main house, we will NOT require one for watching TV, of any kind, in our folding camper, caravan etc.

If you want to check out the specific criteria for requiring a TV licence, you can do so in the Do You Need A TV Licence section of the TV licencing web site.

Posted in News And Information | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Model Review: Echo 4×4 Centre, Echo 4

echo-4-camp

This week, the Motorhome & Caravan Show, at the NEC, saw the show debut for Safari Trailers & Campers, and the entry level offering from Echo 4×4 Centre; the Echo 4, an innovative trailer tent model, originating from South Africa. Other models in the UK range include the Echo 5, Echo 6 and flag ship model, the Kavango. The company does produce smaller models (Echo 1 – 3) but they aren’t, currently, imported into the UK by Safari Trailers & Campers.

According to the Safari Trailers & Campers company web site; “The ECHO 4 is an extreme off-road camper and a step up from the conventional off-road trailers. With enhanced features, such as ample storage, dust sealing, water capacity and weight distribution, this trailer is a reliable addition to the 4×4 enthusiast. This rugged off-road trailer is known for its comfort and its ease in towing, making it one of the ultimate campers to suit ANY wilderness adventure. Tried and trusted, the ECHO 4 remains a favourite for the serious outdoor explorer”.

Not too much to add to that, I don’t think.

The Basics

The Echo 4 is a two / four berth trailer tent. Like all of the Safari range, it is top end, both in terms of price, but, also, in terms of quality and attention to detail. The whole tent opens out from the trailer, leaving the main double bed in place. This creates a spacious living area to the left of the camper (looking at it from the front). To the right, is the kitchen area. This can be protected from the elements with either a short awning canopy, or a full length, two metre canopy, as seen in the picture above.

One of the great things about the Echo 4 is that its accommodation is modular. The main living area, itself, can be adapted and extended, using a series of velcro attachments. The basic unit comes with the Add-A-Room extension included. This annex will sleep a couple of adults, or three children. It is, also, possible, to add a large toilet compartment on to one of the side doors, using the same velcro type attachments.

The kitchen is typical of this style of trailer, but comes with all required fittings and accessories, as well as a load of dedicated storage.

Specifications

The Echo 4 is an extremely rugged design, built with the intention of off road usage. It features a hot dipped zinc galvanised chassis, electro galvanised body and military standard rip stop canvas. Folded, the trailer is 133cm long, 104cm wide and 90cm high. When opened up, on site, it extends to 371cm long, by 180cm wide and 153cm high. The trailer, itself, weighs 445kg.

The list of items included with the unit is comprehensive, to say the least, and is covered below, however, it does come with a pretty hefty price tag, of £13,495, including VAT.

Review / Appraisal

Initial reaction is that this is one cool trailer. It is designed for off road use, and it has that rugged look you associate with this style of trailer. The trailers are built by Echo 4×4 Centre, in South Africa, and imported into the UK, by Safari Trailers & Campers.

The basic trailer is unhitched, and wheeled into place. It is then opened out, leaving the bed in situe on the top of the trailer, with living area to one side, and kitchen area to the other.

dscn3265

Main Bed Area With Ample Storage Below. You Won’t Get A Much Better Vantage Point To Wake Up In.

The bed, itself, is very elevated, and can only be accessed via a ladder inside the main living area. Once in the bed, however, the views can be quite exceptional, with a window on three sides, and elevated position.

Underneath the bed is a wealth of storage space, which is extremely well organised, and can be accessed from either the kitchen side, or the main living area side.

The bed, itself, even, comes with a fitted sheet and matching pillow cases.

There is, also, a table / work surface on each side, and a number of well organised drawers (six per side). The living area has a built in ground sheet, and is well insulated, for colder nights. The Add-A-Room annex adds additional sleeping space for two adults, or three children, and attaches to the end of the living area. There is, also, an optional add on toilet compartment, which attaches to the side of the living area, if required.

DSCN3264.JPG

Left To Right; Ladder Access To Bed, Table / Work Top, Storage Drawers & Vanity Mirror / Storage

On the other side of the trailer is the kitchen area. This can be covered with the shorter canopy, for cooking only, or the larger, two metre canopy for a little extra sheltered space. The kitchen, itself, is very comprehensively equipped, although cooking and washing facilities are quite basic (as is, often, the case with trailer tents of this nature).

The kitchen unit is, actually, contained within the main trailer unit, and, simply, pulls out from there. It is comprised of comprehensive storage, with accessories, a cooker, and washing up bowl, with drainer. The cooker is, simply, a two burner gas hob, with wind shield, and the ‘sink’ is a plastic bowl which drops into a frame at the side of the kitchen unit, in much the same way as the Camp-let models do, however, in this case, the Echo 4 has the added advantage of a matching slot in drainer, as well, but not a tap running directly into the ‘sink’. Where this model really excels is in the utensils it includes, and the dedicated storage provided for them.

dscn3268

In the picture, above, from left to right, we have the main compartment door, with cutlery rack attached. Next we have the first four storage drawers, with compartments for cups, glasses, plates etc, work surface with cooker over, two further drawers behind and sink / drainer to the far right. There is, also, a power management unit behind the cooker. Whilst the cooking and washing facilities are, somewhat, basic, the list of cooking equipment and utensils is pretty comprehensive, and includes; 6 Plates, 6 Side Plates, 6 Bowls, 6 Mugs, 6 Whisky Glasses, 4 Wine Glasses, 6 Knifes, 6 Forks, 6 Table Spoons, 6 Tea Spoons, 6 Steak Knifes, 1 Bread Knife, 2 Smaller Knifes, 1 Bottle Opener, 1 BBQ Tong, 1 Salt & Pepper Set, 1 Cutlery Bag and 4 750mm Bottle Holders.

crockery-draw

All Crockery & Utensils Are Kept In Dedicated Storage

There is a compartment for a fridge, two jerry cans, as well as a gas compartment and 100 litre water tank, with tap. There is an on board mains and 12V system and gas locker. There are, also, 3 LED lights, and, in the living area, there is what is described as a; ‘vanity compartment’, which includes a number of additional drawers and a series of hanging compartments, with mirror.

Conclusion

One thing this year’s Motorhome & Caravan Show did confirm is that there is a definite trend toward the more rugged ‘adventure’ style of trailer tent, particularly the demountable ‘tent on a trailer’ style, like the new Trigano Qztrail Quest 500, Quest 700 and Zenith models. The Echo 4 takes this to the next level. Although styling and equipment levels are very different, the Echo range appears to be very much targeted towards the Holtkamper type of customer, insofar, as it is at the top end of the price bracket, but with build quality, performance and design to match that price tag. Also, like the Holtkampers, it has one raised, fixed double bed, with further berths being provided by way of ground level annexes. Cooking and washing facilities are basic, but attention to detail is high and this model will be equally at home on the camp sites of the UK, as it will on the plains of South Africa. With a very rapid basic set up time of under 10 minutes, it will, also, appeal to the Combi-camp and Camp-let market, as well, albeit with a somewhat higher price tag.

3d689e_c1d7e11b80544ecd86c276190738d004

The Echo 4×4 Centre Website has more details on the entire Echo range. In the UK, however, there are, currently, four models being imported, by Safari Trailers & Campers, of Huntley, Scotland. You can find out more about these, on their company web site. For a brief walk around video of the Echo 4, taken at this week’s NEC show (they are still there until Sunday) take a look at our Youtube channel, HERE

Don’t forget, for more discussions and advice, we now have our own Facebook Group, so feel free to check that out, as well.

Posted in Models & Reviews | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Motorhome & Caravan Show Returns, Once Again, To The NEC.

989713

This morning saw the opening of another Motorhome & Caravan Show at the NEC, and, as usual, I was there on the opening day, to take a look at what was on offer.

The show is the UK’s largest motorhome and caravanning event. It is also the one opportunity in the year for the public to see all of the new 2017 caravan, motorhome, holiday home, folding camper and trailer tent models from the leading UK and European manufacturers.

The show was first launched as a National Caravan Council (NCC) event, in 2011, and is supported by industry members, as well as the Caravan Club and The Camping & Caravanning Club.

Along with its sister show; The Camping, Caravan and Motorhome Show, it accounts for some 20% of total UK sales of caravans and motorhomes each year. With over 350 exhibitors, across 11 halls, it offers the widest possible choice, all under the one roof.

The show was opened, at 10am, by Olympic cyclist Sir Bradley Wiggins. An ambassador for Swift Group, Bradley will also help them launch their new for 2017 models that will make their world debut at the show. There are a number of other celebrities attending the show, through its duration. Full details of these are available on the Show’s Web Site, and in the Celebrities link below.

The Numbers

The caravan and motorhome industry is responsible for generating £6bn each year, for the national economy. In Britain, there are currently:

  • 550,000 touring caravans
  • 350,000 ‘static’ caravan holiday homes
  • 205,000 motorhomes

Each year there are:

  • 20,000 new touring caravans registered
  • 7,400 new motorhomes registered
  • 15,000 caravan holiday homes registered

Based on average values, that equates to:

  • £325 million, per annum – new tourer market in the UK
  • £464 million per annum – new motorhome market in the UK
  • £600 million per annum – new caravan holiday home market in the UK

The caravan industry employs more than 100,000 people in the UK, including seasonal staff. 95% of caravans and 75% of motorhomes seen on UK roads are actually manufactured in the UK.

Whilst on holiday, caravanners, generally, spend £2 billion in the UK alone, thereby helping to support local businesses and attractions.

As usual, the show has an excellent and detailed web site, with information on all of the key events, activities and features. To help you get the most out of it, though, these are some of the key areas of the site;

The Show

The Show covers 11 halls, and, as mentioned above, is the largest UK motorhome and caravanning event. When I arrived, at 8am, I gained entry to the show via the Press Office, in Hall 18. My initial destination was the Pennine stand, in Hall 12, and it took me a good 15 minutes, at a brisk pace, and with no one around, to walk straight to it, via the various halls, so this is no small show, and every hall is jam packed with caravans, motorhomes, camping clubs and venues and, of course accessories. It would be very easy to lose yourself for a good couple of days, if you wanted to take a look at everything on display, and that is something that is much easier to do, if you choose to make the most of the on site camping facilities. I could have taken advantage of the 90 minute guided tour, provided for members of the Press, but I was keen to get to Hall 12, to check out the part of the show I had, mainly, come to see.

Tickets this year were £8.50 in advance, and £12 on the door (OAPs £11 on the door, and children under 16 free). This is the same as last year, and is still excellent value, bearing in mind it includes entry to the show, full show brochure and parking (Car parks were marked as £12 parking charge, so the total price seems pretty reasonable over all). This price also includes access to a number of free events, and, of course, the free towing experience. As usual, refreshments are not so cheap, but there is a huge choice of food and drink on offer, should you feel the need.

The 2014 show was covered in quite a bit of detail, in our article; Motorhome And Caravan Show 2014 Opens At The NEC and all main aspects of this show remain pretty much the same, as they did, also, last year.

One question that always crops up at this time of year is; “Will I get a load of bargains at the show”? To be fair, the answer is, probably; “No. Not particularly, especially if you are looking at buying a caravan or motor home”. As mentioned above, some 20% of total UK sales are made at these shows, already, and, for some, waiting lists can be quite extensive, so there is no major incentive to provide huge discounts and offers. Be wary, also, that some ‘show specials’ are, actually, not much, if at all, different from what you can get outside of the shows. That said, there are bargains to be had, and, nowhere else, will you find such a massive selection of models, accessories and services. It has to be worth a look, if only to get a feel for what your options are, and, who knows, you might just pick up a bargain or two, as well.

If you are thinking of going, then, if it is an option, Wednesday to Friday are, potentially, your best days to do so. Tuesday tends to be busy, as it is the opening day, with additional activities and events, and Saturday and Sunday can be manic, for obvious reasons.

If you did want to stay, there is an on site camping area (see link above). There are some 400 temporary pitches available on site, mixed between hard standings (@£35 per night) and shingle (£30 per night). A free shuttle bus, to the show, is provided, but entry to the show is not included. Camp site facilities include 6A electric hookup, fresh water, grey and dry waste disposal and toilets (no showers). There is, also, entertainment, every night, with food and bar within the main entertainment tent.

The Folding Camper / Trailer Tent Bit

Just like previous years, the trailer tent and folding camper stands were all located, together, in Hall 12. Again, there weren’t that many of them, relative to the size of the show, but their close proximity to each other made it easy to check them all out together. Although this show is larger than sister show the Caravan, Camping & Motorhome Show, the trailer tent and folding camper section is smaller, with notable omissions from some manufacturers, such as Holt Kamper and Cabanon, but the majority of current models are still represented there.

The main exhibitors at the show were Pennine and Opus on the folding camper side, and Black Country Caravans, Burcroft Camping and Camperlands on the trailer tent side. however, there was a new addition, to the exhibitors list, this year, in the shape of Safari Trailers & Campers, designed for the more adventurous camper, and originating from South Africa.

In fact, there is a marked shift in design, this year, amongst the new models with a definite trend towards the more rugged ‘adventure’ style, represented by the Trigano Oztrail range, the Safari Trailers range and the Venter Trailers Savuti Offroad. Venter Trailers, also, have a small stand in Hall 6, but not large enough to set the tent up, however, they have invited me down to their Bristol premises, for a demonstration of the model, and I will do a full review, once I have had the opportunity of doing so. The Oztrail and Venter models are mounted on a standard trailer unit, which can be used, without the tent for the rest of the year.

Below is a very quick summary of some of the items worth taking a look at.

Trailer Tents

Trigano Odyssee Basic

The Odyssee is now split into two models; the older 2012 model has now been re branded as the Odyssee Basic.

On the other hand, the re vamped 2014 model has now been re branded as the Odyssee Plus, and has a number of additional features and equipment.

dscn3215

The Odyssee Basic Is Based On The 2012 Odyssee

dscn3216

Basic Interior With Under Bed Storage

Trigano Odyssee Plus

The ‘Plus’ on the other hand, is a re branded 2014 model, and comes complete with kitchen and ‘sun roof’.

There is a slightly different colour scheme for 2015 and 2016, and minor changes to the front panels, but, otherwise, it is pretty much as the original 2014 model.

dscn3227

Odyssee Plus Exterior

dscn3228

Plus Interior With Bed Areas And Free Standing Kitchen

dscn3230

Free Standing Kitchen In The Odyssee Plus

The kitchen on the Odyssee Plus is a good sized unit, offering a two burner hob / grill, sink, and ample storage.

Like the ‘Basic’, it offers comfortable four berth accommodation, with under bed storage below one of the beds.

dscn3229

Unlike The Basic, The Plus Features A Couple Of Roof Lights.

More details of the Trigano Odyssee can be found here; Trigano Odyssee Model Details.

Trigano Galleon

The Galleon is another four berth model, with a distinctive curved canopy roof.

dscn3211

Distinctive Curved Profile Of The Galleon

The Galleon is a more traditional trailer tent style, offering two under bed pods (unlike the Odyssee models described above). It also comes with a large kitchen unit, like the Odyssee Plus.

DSCN3212.JPG

Spacious Interior Of The Galleon, With Large Kitchen Unit

DSCN3213.JPG

The kitchen in the Trigano Galleon is different from the Odyssee, however, with a sink and a three burner hob, as opposed to a two burner hob and grill.

DSCN3214.JPG

For more information on the Galleon; Trigano Galleon Model Details

Trigano Alpha

The Trigano Alpha is a Two berth model, in the Combi-Camp Style, with fold over trailer cover that forms the floor of the sleeping area.

dscn3203

dscn3204

The Alpha, although two berth, comes with a pretty impressive specification, with full kitchen, and large awning / living area. The kitchen includes a sink, two burner hob with modern grill and plenty of storage. There is also a central area for a table top fridge.

dscn3205

The bedroom is spacious and comfortable, for two, and, new for 2015 /16, is an annex that attaches directly to the bedroom area, to double the number of berths, in the same way as the Cabanon Malawi and the Combi-Camp models.

If you want to know more about the Alpha, check out the details here; Trigano Alpha Model Details

Trigano Olympe

The Olympe really lives up to its name, and is absolutely huge. With optional awning annexe and under bed pods, this model will actually sleep twelve people.

DSCN3206.JPG

The three main double beds are contained within three pods at the rear of the awning. I was really pleased to see that the centre pod, has reverted back to the pre 2014 specification, and, now, contains a seating area, once again, rather than just an empty storage area. This seating area can be converted to an optional double bed, as well.

DSCN3208.JPG

The kitchen unit in the Olympe is the same as that in the Odyssee Plus, with two burner hob, grill, sink and storage compartments.

DSCN3209.JPG

Full details on the Olympe can be found here; Trigano Olympe Model Details.

Camp-let Basic / Basic +

Camp-let offer three main models, all of which were represented at the show, on the Camperlands stand. The first of these is the Basic / Basic +.

DSCN3249.JPG

This is an entry level model, but with a fairly impressive specification, and, of course, the trademark rapid set up of the brand.

DSCN3250.JPG

The main difference between the two models is that the Basic has no kitchen, whereas the Basic + features the same kitchen unit as the Classic.

DSCN3251.JPG

The kitchen unit is not badly equiped, but does lack a proper sink. A bowl is simply attached to the side of the kitchen, which works well, generally, but, of course, does lack any waste water facility. Full specifications of the model can be found here; Camp-Let Basic Model Details

Camp-let Classic

The Classic is almost identical to the Basic / Basic +, and, even, the dimensions are the same.

dscn3238

Camp-let Classic, Shown Here With Optional Front Awning

dscn3239

dscn3241

The main difference between the two, visually, seems to be that the Basic has a wide front panel, with a narrow door to the side, whereas the Classic has equal sized panels to the front aspect. Camp-Let Classic Model Details

Camplet Premium

The Premium is the top of the range offering, from Camp-Let. Although the same width as the other models, it’s 43cm deeper, and, unlike the flat front of the Basic and Classic models, the Premium has a peaked roof, although it does share the dual aspect of the Classic.

dscn3247

The only other noticeable difference is the the kitchen is a little plusher in the Premium than the other models. Although it still lacks a proper sink, it has more draws / storage compartments than the more basic unit.

dscn3248

To check out the specifications on this higher end model; Camp-Let Premium Model Details

Raclet Solena

The Solena is Raclet’s smallest and quickest erecting trailer tent, and was on display on the Burcroft Camping stand, along with Raclet stable mate; the Quickstop SE.

DSCN3219.JPG

DSCN3220.JPG

dscn3221

Although a lot smaller, and with more traditional awning, the Solena is a similar style to the Trigano Alpha, referred to above. It also incorporates an annex (this time attached to the awning) thereby allowing the sleeping capacity to be double to four berths. Raclet Solena Model Details.

Raclet Quickstop SE

The Quickstop has always been a bit of a hybrid; part trailer tent, and part folding camper, although it’s probably fair to say that the latest Quickstop SE is pretty firmly in the latter camp, as the level of equipment contained within the main trailer is increasing all the time. However, we are looking at it here, with the trailer tents, alongside smaller sibling the Solena, purely for the sake of convenience.

dscn3222

DSCN3223.JPG

The Quickstop SE is, to all intents and purposes a folding camper. The main trailer area contains not only two beds and two comfortable settees, but, also a proper kitchen, with sink, hob and stylish grill. There is no three way fridge in the Quickstop SE, but there is space for the table top fridge, adjacent to the main kitchen unit.

DSCN3225.JPG

One aspect that still pays homage to the Quickstop’s ‘hybrid’ heritage is the removable kitchen, which can be lifted out, and used, free standing, in the main awning area. At this show, two kitchens have been set up, to show both locations.

DSCN3226.JPG

Campmaster Air

The Campmaster Air is something that little bit different. Developed for Camperlands, it is a small, compact trailer tent that can be towed by the smallest of cars, or, even, a motor cycle. The concept is pretty unique, and very ingenious. Contained within the trailer is a modified version of the Vango Eden 400 Air Tent, which inflates in a matter of minutes. You then push the trailer inside, open it out, and you have the base for your double bed.

DSCN3243.JPG

dscn3244

The Air even includes a separate toilet / changing room compartment, next to the bed, and adequate living space in the main tent area. All this in a trailer with a fully laden weight of just 200kg. Campmaster Air Model Details.

Trigano Camplair

Tucked away in the corner of Hall 12, next to the Trigano Oztrailn Quest 500, we find the Trigano Camplair, another 4 berth trailer tent, with a curved roof, along the lines of the Trigano Galleon above.

20151013_100424

The Camplair is a budget trailer tent, coming in at comfortably below £3,000, and, as such, has no kitchen unit, but it is designed to be extremely easy to erect, and can comfortably be set up by one person, using its  single hoop awning system.

Trigano Oztrail Quest 500

Brand new for 2017, the Oztrail range, by Trigano, was on display, courtesy of Camperlands, of Manchester. The range, currently, contains three models; the Quest 500, the Quest 750 and the Zenith. The range takes the term ‘trailer tent’ extremely literally, and each one is mounted on a traditional trailer, the idea being that you can use the main trailer all year round, then add the tent platform, as and when you need it. Not a brand new idea, but not something I’ve seen from a mainstream manufacturer, before,

dscn3196

The Trigano Oztrail Quest 500, On display At The NEC

dscn3198

Interior Of The Quest 500

If you want to check out the Oztrail range in more detail, you can do so on the Camperlands Web Site

Safari Trailers Echo 4

Continuing the adventurous theme of the Oztrail range is the Safari Trailers range of rugged trailer tents, originating from South Africa, and making their debut at the show. There are four models in this range, the Echo 4, Echo 5, Echo 6 and the Kavango. The smallest of these, the Echo 4 was on display. I will be doing a detailed review on this, shortly, however, for now, here are a few pictures showing just how different it is.

DSCN3261.JPG

The Basic Camper Layout With Outdoor Kitchen To The Right, Bed Over And Living Area / Rear Bedroom Annex To The Left

DSCN3267.JPG

Kitchen Area In The Echo 4, With Bed Above

dscn3264

Storage In The Echo 4 Is Huge, And Very Well Organised

The full model range can be checked out at the Safari Trailers & Campers Web Site

Folding Campers

In addition to the Raclet Quickstop SE, mentioned above, there are only two other folding camper manufacturers in the UK / Europe, both of whom are represented, here, at the show.

Opus

Many of us will recognise the Opus from its appearance on BBC’s The Apprentice, back in Series 9, and it was back, again, with all the familiar styling characteristics we have come to expect from the brand, not to mention a couple of extras, such as drop down protector screen. For more information on this model, feel free to check out my Opus Camper Model Review

DSCN3257.JPG

The Opus Stand, With Five Models On Display (Three More Than Previous Shows)

dscn3252

dscn3256

dscn3260

Opus Model Details

Pennine

Pennine continues to be the fore runner in the UK folding camper market, and they had all four Conway / Pennine models on display at the show. Three of those are permanently set up for viewings, whilst the fourth, the Conway Crusader, is used for regular demonstrations on the setting up, taking down procedures.

DSCN3273.JPG

Also on the Pennine stand was the new Air Porch 6 awning.

All of the models come with the new 2016 livery, which includes some excellent new soft furnishings, blackout curtains, and work tops and table, in a black granite effect, with silver fleck.

Conway Countryman

The Countryman is, effectively, the entry level model, and is the only one in the range without its own onboard toilet compartment. That said, many people actually prefer a camper without a toilet so close to the main living area, and the Countryman caters very well for that section of the marketplace.

20151013_085039

The Countryman offers comfortable four berth accommodation, with two fixed double beds, and two fixed dinette style settees. Due to the lack of toilet compartment, the kitchen in the Countryman is well equiped and spacious for a four berth model. Conway Countryman Model Details.

Pennine Fiesta

The Fiesta is built on the same trailer base as the Countryman, but approaches the accommodation in quite a different way. As you enter the camper, the first, and most obvious difference is the introduction of a toilet compartment in the front left hand corner, adjacent to the kitchen. Whilst this toilet compartment is a welcome addition to many, it is at the expense of the kitchen area, which, inevitably loses a storage cupboard and a degree of workspace.

20151013_085051

The other difference is the clever way the Fiesta creates extra space in the main living area. The Countryman has two fixed opposing settees, with two fixed beds behind. This makes dining for four very easy, but eats into floor space. The Fiesta gets around this by using one of the beds to make up the second settee. On the plus side, this creates a lot of extra floor space, but the trade off is that the second bed has to be made up, at night, and the settees are a little farther apart when it comes to dining comfortably. Pennine Fiesta Model Details.

20151013_085057

Pennine Pathfinder

The Pathfinder is the flagship model in the Pennine range, with full wash room, including toilet and wash basin, full oven and a large lounge, with U shaped seating.

20151013_085518

Above, we can see the comfortable and spacious accommodation in the Pathfinder, with all 2016 refinements, plus wardrobe, king size bed, toilet / wash room, comprehensive kitchen and seating.

20151013_085013

The U shaped seating is unique to the Pathfinder model, and offers a comfortable and spacious area to dine and relax. Pennine Pathfinder Model Details.

Conway Crusader

The Crusader is a show special, and doesn’t appear on the company web site. It is based upon the Pennine Pathfinder, and is built on the same trailer. It does, however, incorporate some small but subtle differences. The most significant of these is the seating arrangement. There is no U shaped settee, but, instead, the more traditional opposing settee style dinette seating. In between these is a fold up occasional table. Also, because the seating is slightly shorter, this accommodates a larger cupboard between the door and the settees. Conway Crusader Model Details.

That’s about it for the trailer tent and folding camper aspect of the show. Of course, these are not intended, in any way, to represent detailed reviews, simply to give an idea of what’s available to view at the show. Trailer tents and folding campers may be limited, but there is loads to see and do at the show, loads of accessories, both camping related, and not, and, if you are there to look at the caravans and motor homes, be prepared to be lost for a very long time.

For those of you who can’t attend, I have, where conditions allowed, taken a number of short walk through videos, just to allow you to get a feel for some of the models there. Feel free to take a look;

Trigano Videos

Trigano Odyssee Basic

Trigano Odyssee Plus

Trigano Galleon

Trigano Olympe

Trigano Alpha

Trigano Camplair

Trigano Oztrail Quest 500

Pennine Videos (From October 2015 show, as all models identical)

Conway Countryman

Pennine Fiesta

Pennine Pathfinder

Pennine Air Porch 6 Awning

Raclet Videos

Raclet Solena

Raclet Quickstop

Other Videos

Camp-let Classic

Campmaster Air

Safari Echo 4

There are plenty more walk through videos from previous shows, and from projects we have worked on. You can check those out at our Youtube Channel.

Also, to maximise the interaction with owners and enthusiasts alike, we now have our own facebook group, as well. New members always welcome;

Blue Sky Facebook Group

Posted in News And Information | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment