Yesterday 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 2016 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 super bike champion, and King of the Jungle, Carl ‘Foggy’ Fogarty. 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 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;
- List Of Exhibitors
- Floor Plan (good luck with trying to read it, though)
- Free Towing Experience
- Motorhome Manoeuvering
- On Site Camp Site
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.
Tickets this year were £8.50 in advance, and £12 on the door (OAPs £11 on the door, and children under 16 free). This represents an increase in ‘on the door’ price of £2 on last year, but 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.
Last year’s show was covered in quite a bit of detail, in our article; Motorhome And Caravan Show 2014 Opens At The NEC and all aspects of this show remain pretty much the same.
The Folding Camper / Trailer Tent Bit
Just like last year, 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 models are still represented there, and with a couple of interesting product launches as well.
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.
Below is a very quick summary of some of the items worth taking a look at.
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.
The Basic is a standard four berth, with under bed storage under the one bed. It does not come with a kitchen as standard, and does not include the ‘sun roof’ of the Plus.
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 minor changes to the front panels, but, otherwise, it is pretty much as last year.
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.
More details of the Trigano Odyssee can be found here; Trigano Odyssee Model Details.
The Galleon is another four berth model, with a distinctive curved canopy roof.
The Galleon offers two under bed pods, unlike the Odyssee models described above. It also comes with a large kitchen unit, like the Odyssee Plus.
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.
For more information on the Galleon; Trigano Galleon Model Details
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.
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.
The bedroom is spacious and comfortable, for two, and, new for 2015, 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
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.
The three main double beds are contained within three pods at the rear of the awning. The centre pod, in its standard format, is, simply, a storage area, but there is an optional bed arrangement that goes in here, as shown in the picture below.
The kitchen unit in the Olympe is the same as that in the Odyssee Plus, with two burner hob, grill, sink and storage compartments.
Full details on the Olympe can be found here; Trigano Olympe Model Details.
Camplet Basic / Basic +
Camplet offer three main models, all of which were represented at the show, on the Camperlands stand. The first of these is the Basic / Basic +.
This is an entry level model, but with a fairly impressive specification, and, of course, the trademark rapid set up of the brand.
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.
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
The Classic is almost identical to the Basic / Basic +, and, even, the dimensions are the same.
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
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.
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.
To check out the specifications on this higher end model; Camp-Let Premium Model Details
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tucked away in the corner of Hall 12, next to the Campmaster Air, we find the Trigano Camplair, another 4 berth trailer tent, with a curved roof, along the lines of the Trigano Galleon above.
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.
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.
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.
At this show, however, Opus are demonstrating a new product, the Opus Moto. This is a product targeting a particular niche of the market, those who enjoy moto cross, or other motor cycle related sports.
The company has, for a while now, produced an offshoot product, the Opus Drifter. This is a more rugged, off road version of the camper, which is sold to the Australian market. The Moto is an extension of this concept, using a much more rugged chassis and suspension to allow the camper to carry not only two motor cycles on top, but, also, what can best be described as a mini crane, capable of lifting up to half a ton.
Above is the main Opus stand, to the right, is the Moto, with its large yellow and black ‘crane’. Believe it or not, the whole lot folds down and slides into the open compartment at the side. A minor downfall of this arrangement is the loss of locker space under the main seating. A somewhat larger issue is that of increased weight. The Moto has a maximum gross weight of 1,050kg, however, due to the additional weight of the crane and bikes, framework and suspension have been strengthened and uprated to provide a maximum gross weight of 1,550kg, which will take it well outside the towing capacity of all but the most competent towing vehicles. It may, also, be an additional issue for those who passed their driving test post January 1997. None the less, it is an interesting concept, and still very much a work in progress. The company are, currently, considering the relocation of the winch to the rear of the unit, and this week’s show will also be used as a benchmark to find out just how many times a bike can be raised / lowered on a single leisure battery charge. Opus Model Details
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.
Also on the Pennine stand was the new Air Porch 6 awning we referred to last week. (I will be doing a full review of that shortly, now that I have had chance to check it out ‘in the flesh’).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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;
Pennine / Conway Videos