The Pennine Pathfinder is the flagship model in the Pennine range, and has been since its introduction in late 1998. It came in various guises, including a number of other names, like the Trailfinder and the Pentium.
The Pathfinder, itself, mainly came in two versions, the TC and the DL. The TC was the more basic version, standing, simply, for Toilet Compartment, whilst the DL, or Deluxe, included a number of extras, the most noticeable of which was a full oven.
The Pathfinder is a six berth model, with a comprehensive range of equipment, unmatched on the UK market. In terms of layout and equipment levels, the modern Pathfinder is, largely unchanged from the very first model to roll off the production line.
The largest of the six berth berth offerings, the Pathfinder features two fixed double beds, plus a third which can be made up from the dinette seating. Entering from the near side door to the Pathfinder, immediately on the left is a three way fridge, with wardrobe over.
Behind that is the first of the fixed double beds, running across the front of the camper, over the A frame.
Opposite the wardrobe is the washroom / toilet compartment, featuring an electric flush Thetford cassette toilet and drop down sink with hot and cold water.
Beyond the washroom, heading towards the rear of the camper is the kitchen.
This features a three burner hob, grill, and, in most cases, a full oven. Behind this is a small shelf unit, and, to the side, a sink, with drainer, and large storage cupboard under.
There is, also, a further cupboard / drawer unit opposite, adjacent to the door. Moving towards the rear of the camper, we, next, come to the seating / dinette area, and, finally, the fixed rear double bed.
Set up, on site, the Pathfinder is a full six metres long by over 2 metres wide, and the optional awning more than doubles this living area. In spite of this huge size, the main camper can be set up in around 15 minutes, with a further 30 – 40 minutes for the awning.
Not only is the Pathfinder the largest domestic model available, it’s, also, the heaviest. Standard models have a gross weight of 1,000kg, with some specials rising to 1,049kg. With a net weight of 820kg, this gives the average Pathfinder a payload of a reasonably generous 180kg. As mentioned above; the on site dimensions of the Pathfinder are 6 metres long, by 2.12 metres wide. The awning is 6.2 metres by 2.5 metres. This gives a total usable space, in the region of twenty seven square metres.
Full specifications for the Pathfinder, as well as copies of all relevant paperwork (manuals, sales brochures etc) can be found on the Pathfinder Page of our main web site.
Review / Appraisal
The Pathfinder is a generous six berth folding camper, however, at the risk of being repetitive, just like the rest of the range, their maximum berth capacity is better appreciated when used in conjunction with the optional awning.
Whilst offering a more than competent 6 berth layout, without the awning, it is going to feel a little cramped inside with 6 people, especially as the dinette is better suited for 4 to dine and relax in comfort.
The other minor annoyance is that the third double bed, which is made up from the two settees, is directly alongside one of the fold out double beds.
This is only really an issue at night, when the occupants of one bed will need to climb over those in the other bed, in order to access the facilities.
These issues, although minor, mean that the Pathfinder really comes into its own as a spacious four berth unit.
In this capacity, there is very little compromise in terms of the facilities offered, once the unit has been set up, with comfortable seating and dining for four, two fixed, permanently made up double beds, more than adequate storage and a well equiped kitchen and washroom. The level of space and equipment just can’t be matched by standard tents or caravans with a similar footprint. The only thing lacking in a Pathfinder, when compared with an average caravan is a shower, as water and camper canvases have never been the most comfortable of bed fellows. On later versions of the marque, however, there is an external shower point, for those wishing to take advantage of it.
Whilst most models come with both heating and hot water, only certain older models were dual fuel. The current Pathfinder models feature 240V mains versions, only, which is, perhaps, a bit of a retrograde step. Personally, I have a 1999 Pathfinder, and I love the fact that the hot water etc works off the gas, for when electric hook up isn’t an option.
One thing that has improved, significantly, is the introduction, in 2012, of the Isabella acrylic trailer and awning canvases. These are more water repellent, and, hence, dry more quickly than traditional cotton canvases. They are, also, better insulated against external thermal fluctuations.
Beds in the earlier Pathfinder models were more than adequate, comfort wise, however, later models are even better, with ‘proper’ domestic style sprung mattresses.
Pennine are, however, a little economical with the truth (and they aren’t alone in that) when it comes to the size of the beds.
These are referred to as a ‘double’ at the rear, and ‘king size’ at the front.
In reality, however, the rear bed is 4′ wide, making it, officially, a ‘small double’, whilst the front bed is 4’6″, making it a ‘standard double’.
A genuine king size bed is 6″ wider, at 5′.
The Pathfinder has a very generous allotment of 12V lighting, especially compared to other models in the range.
Fellow 6 berth models, like the Pullman and Sterling, normally, feature one 12V light, above the mirror, on the side of the wardrobe. In contrast, the Pathfinder has four of them.
As with the other models, there is one on the wardrobe, above the mirror. There is, also, one on the side of the kitchen shelf unit, another in the wash room, and a fourth on the opposite side of the wardrobe, which serves as a dedicated light for the main bed compartment. Later versions of the model also feature a couple of spot lights on the underside of the shelf unit, over the kitchen.
The main dining table can be left permanently set up, or stowed on one of the beds to give you extra space. It can, also, be set up, permanently, in the awning. Storage is pretty extensive in this model. There are two large lockers under the bench seating, a large cupboard, or two smaller ones, in the kitchen, with further cupboard / drawer opposite and wardrobe over the fridge. Some models, also, have a small cupboard under the oven, whilst others have a plinth heater mounted there. On models with no oven, the oven is replaced by a further storage cupboard. There is, also, a full width gas / storage locker at the front of the camper.
Seating configurations in the Pathfinder vary, depending on year. There are three main options; (1) a four seater dinette arrangement, with large cupboard between the dinette and the door, (2) a five seater dinette, with two seater settee next to the kitchen unit and a three seater one opposite. Consequently, the cupboard unit by the door is correspondingly smaller. (3) The final option, which includes the current model, is a U shaped seating arrangement, along with the smaller cupboard.
The Conway Crusader is, also, worth a mention, in this context. It is no longer an official current Pennine model, and is classed as a ‘show only’ model. It is, however, effectively, a customisable version of the Pathfinder. The trailer and canvas are identical, but the Crusader allows buyers to pick and chose from a menu of options and equipment, internally. The main distinction between the standard Crusader and the Pathfinder is that the Crusader has the traditional style dinette seating.
The Pathfinder is the flag ship model of the Pennine range, and rightly so. Equipment levels are unparalleled within the folding camper fraternity, and, yet, older models can be picked up for a very reasonable figure.
Our own Pathfinder cost just £1,000, and sub £1,500 examples are becoming increasingly common. At the other end of the scale, a brand new Pathfinder, with full awning, at the time of writing, can be bought for £13,595, all in, including full awning and VAT.
Whatever your budget, folding campers don’t get much better than this, so definitely worth a look.