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 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
- Free Towing Experience
- Motorhome Manoeuvering
- On Site Camp Site
- Rest Areas
- Show Guide (A full 150 page show guide. Well worth a look)
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 /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
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. 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.
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.
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 +.
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. At this show, two kitchens have been set up, to show both locations.
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 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.
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,
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.
The full model range can be checked out at the Safari Trailers & Campers Web Site
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. For more information on this model, feel free to check out my Opus Camper Model Review
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.
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 Videos (From October 2015 show, as all models identical)
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;