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Caravan Salon Exhibition Dusseldorf 2017

Achtung Camper reporting on the latest and greatest from the campervan world internationally.  We recently attended our second Caravan Saalon Exhibition in Dusseldorf, Germany and got to see what the biggest and best companies from Europe and the UK are doing campervan and motorhome wise.

The first thing that hits you when you attend a caravan and camping exhibition overseas is the sheer size.  We are used to (what we feel are!) very large exhibitions with lots of sheds and km’s to cover in Australia.  Arrive at an exhibition in Europe and you’ll see just how small the market is here.  The vast array of (often extremely similar) campervans on offer is baffling.  How can any of these companies compete with each other when they all look so similar!  That question is answered by walking through the streets in any German town – where you will spot at least one new T6 campervan or old Westfalia parked on pretty much every street corner.  Campervanning is BIG here!  And with THEIR climate, you’d wonder how so many people find the cash to finance a camping mobile they probably won’t be using for 50% of the year due to the hard winters.

And the differences in travelling style that the climate and landscape bring are reflected in the features included in the campervans built for travel in the UK and Europe.  Densely populated areas and no long dry spells of unrelenting heat mean it is always easy to fill up water and food no matter where you are on your travels.  Unlike Australia where you might drive for days without a clean water source or food store, it is not necessary here to be as self-sufficient as it is during an Australian road trip.  We considered the harshness of the Australian when looking the features in 90% of the campervans on offer in Europe and the UK:

  • One small draw fridge as opposed to our ‘large’ 50, 65 or 80 litre upright fridges.
  • One 10 litre water tank as opposed to our 40-litre tank.
  • Minimal cabinetry/storage as opposed to our full cabinetry. The majority of trips here are taken over the weekend not months at a time.

We were disappointed and proud all at once, on one hand there was little to learn from companies who have LESS features and usability than an Achtung Camper.  Conversely, we were proud when it sunk in that these guys actually have it a lot easier than the folk building campervans for the Australian public.  Sure, it’s easy to build a van with minimal cabinetry, water and food storage.  But Achtung Camper (and the handful of other Australia suppliers) had managed to fit so much more into that small space, and still make it liveable.

Our disappointment continued when we finished our third enormous hall of campervans on show.  Westfalia (the original VW campervan converter and still the most prominent) and 90% of the other companies all had the same modern grey interior.  Yes, it looks slick and inoffensive, but to us? It’s just plain boring!   Where were the crazy fashionable boundary pushing interiors?   (In Geelong, apparently!)

Then we came to a very small setup with only two vans on show and two young men talking to the press.  The German company called Kampagnia was opened only 2 years earlier and offers about 20 different film faced formply colours to choose from for your cabinetry.  Colours we could only dream about were available here.  After chatting to our new friends for a while we found many similarities between their company and ours, two young people with a drive to do something different and let clients personalise the look of their vans, a drive to do something colourful and cutting edge.

Another company worth mentioning – Dogs Campers (crazy considering having a dog as a pet is not nearly as popular in Germany as it is in Australia).  That’s right, campervans designed specifically for the camping dog owner.  We loved some of their features such as the integrated dog cage but didn’t really like the brash dog-related branding on the outside of the vans.

That’s not to say we didn’t get some great new ideas from the exhibition  and European market offerings.  Quite the contrary, Achtung Camper are now working harder than ever to integrate some awesome new features to our range.  Here are some of the ideas we are currently working on for our vans:

  • Diesel heater with hot water.
  • LED exterior light as a feature for the Nature Lover conversion.
  • LED light strips for the interior.
  • Power control system/phone app to view water tank level, leisure battery power level, temperature inside and outside.
  • Better quality plug and play cold shower.

The real highlight of the exhibition (besides the free champagne and finger food at 10am on Trade Day!) – being able to step inside a 1.5-million-euro motorhome.  Yes, something this crazy and ridiculous exists.  Check out the pics below and dream away…!

The Thule camping rubbish bin

That’s right, I’ve written a whole blog post about a rubbish bin.

Am I crazy? You decide…

If you’re a free camping or national park camping enthusiast then you’ll understand the importance of rubbish removal in campervan travel, because you’ll have experienced THIS along the way…

Waking up in the morning to find your rubbish and food scraps from the night before strewn all over your campsite as surprise, surprise, there WAS an animal that could somehow get on top of your campervan while you were asleep and managed to not only open the expertly tied together rubbish bag that was placed up there but also make a rubbish tip of the entire campground.

This, along with putting leaking week old rubbish bags inside our van when we finally moved on to the next camping spot was enough for us to spend some time thoroughly researching rubbish removal options for campervan travel.

Although technically a 4wheel drive product, the Thule bin is the best we’ve found so far.

  • It packs up extremely flat so takes minimal storage space when not in use.
  • It includes a connection point so that you can hook it onto the outside of your van.
  • It has a handy ‘animal proof’ opening/lid, which makes it easy for you to throw rubbish away, but impossible for birds and other marsupials to get to.
  • It’s made of sturdy, waterproof material, which makes it easy to hose down.
  • At a price of $80 it may seem like a big commitment but in the name of easy campervanning waste management we think it’s worth it!

For more information on this product visit:

http://www.thule.com/en/gb/products/rv-accessories/storage-solutions/organizers/thule-trash-bin-_-307622

Campervans for sale in Tasmania

Looking for a campervan for sale in Tasmania? We don’t currently know of any companies that have campervans for sale in Tasmania so if you don’t plan on travelling out of the state your best bet is to visit caravancampingsales.com.au and browse through any local options for new or used campervans for sale. Although it’s ok to purchase from a private seller, it is always safer to purchase from a dealership if you can.

If you are up for the trip, Achtung Camper is a short flight away (Hobart to Avalon airport) and only a 20 minute drive from Avalon airport (we would organise airport pickup/drop off).

We have many clients from Tasmania and ordering is done easily over email and the phone as we are able to post out any samples of material colours you are thinking about in the mail so you can see them in the flesh before deciding on your campervan colour scheme.

We also have many Achtung Campers driving around Tasmania and will try to organise for you to catch up with one of our happy customers to see a van in the flesh and hear about the experience first hand.

To view Achtung Camper’s campervans for sale visit http://achtungcamper.com.au/for-sale/

CAMPERVAN SOLAR – WHEN DO YOU NEED IT AND HOW DO YOU USE IT?

Firstly, if you are only planning on camping in caravan parks and paying for a powered site you will not need campervan solar power for your trip. (if you have access to 240 volt to plug into you do not need solar power).

Without access to 240 volt power to plug into, so if you love National Park and free camping (like us) you can stand with your van parked for between 1 and 3 days without using solar power or starting your van. The factors that will decide how long you can stand are as follows:

  • The outside temperature: the hotter is the, the harder the fridge has to work and the shorter you will be able to run your van without a connection to power or solar.
  • How full your fridge is, how it is stacked and how often you open it: if your fridge is full it will stay cooler longer.
  • How often you charge your appliances ie laptop and phone: charging these items sucks a lot of juice and will quickly run down your leisure battery.
  • Utilising the lights in the van will not affect the leisure battery life as they are all LED and very energy efficient.

When using solar it must obviously be placed in the sun. How quickly it will recharge your leisure battery will depend on the weather (how sunny it is) and how flat your battery is.

And what do we do? As we love National Park camping we do like to take solar with us however I would like to point out that we have travelled for years in campervans without solar or 240 volt power and never had a problem as even if we were camping in the same spot for weeks on end we were always happy to go for a little drive every couple of days to recharge the leisure battery and at the same time buy the paper, some bread, ice creams etc etc.

For more information on the leisure battery and 240 volt in your van see the following blog:

http://achtungcamper.com.au/blog/leisure-battery-campervan-electrics/

 

 

 

CAMPERVANS FOR SALE IN ADELAIDE

Looking for a campervan for sale in Adelaide? We don’t currently know of any companies that have campervans for sale in Adelaide so if you don’t plan on travelling out of the state your best bet is to visit caravancampingsales.com.au and browse through any local options for new or used campervans for sale. Although it’s ok to purchase from a private seller, it is always safer to purchase from a dealership if you can.

If you are up for the trip, Achtung Camper is a short flight away (Adelaide to Avalon airport) and only a 20 minute drive from Avalon airport (we would organise airport pickup/drop off).

If you do not want to make the trip down its easy to have your van sent on a truck or to have a driver pick it up. The cost is about $700.

We have many clients from Adelaide and ordering is done easily over email and the phone as we are able to post out any samples of material colours you are thinking about in the mail so you can see them in the flesh before deciding on your campervan colour scheme.

We also have many Achtung Campers driving around Adelaide and will try to organise for you to catch up with one of our happy customers to see a van in the flesh and hear about the experience first hand.

To view Achtung Camper’s campervans for sale visit http://achtungcamper.com.au/for-sale/

 

 

Methylated Spirits camping cooker – product review

It seems that all the campervans for sale these days come with the same camping cooker – the Origo 3000 2 burner alcohol stove (available in Australia from Dometic). For those who have only ever cooked with gas we’ve got the lowdown on cooking with metho and why it seems to be the way of the future.

At about 10 times the price of a gas stove and the same size, you would be excused for doubting it’s value, however this cooker’s major benefit is a big one – No gas. No gas means no fumes, completely safe for inside cooking and no carrying around heavy and potentially dangerous gas bottles.

Fill up your alcohol cooker with 2 litres of metho before you leave for your trip and you’ll have enough fuel for a week of cooking. Don’t be deceived when you open the top of the cooker to fill it up with metho, it fits A LOT of liquid in there!

 

Pull out cooker in campervan conversion

The only downside that we’ve encountered is that they’re very slow cooking in windy conditions. If you are cooking outside, there’s a breeze and your water is taking AGES to boil then you’d be best to move the cooker inside out of the wind. We also supply a wind/weather protector with the cooker so you can use it outside in all conditions!

To pop top or not to pop top? That is the question…

So you’ve decided on a campervan conversion and now need to make the decision of whether you want the added pop top roof. The answer depends on many different factors, all important when you are considering whether to fork out $8000 for an extending roof…

Your camping style – Do you plan on travelling or spending any time staying in cooler weather? If you actively avoid the cold weather and have an aversion to cooking inside your van then you need to have a think about how much time you will spend standing up inside your campervan. If your cooker is portable and you can sit down to prepare/cook food inside the van or don’t plan on cooking or washing dishes inside the van then you may have no need for the additional height a pop top will give you.

Your age – Without being ageist, I am going to make the assumption that the older you are, the more issues you may have with your back and the more likely you are to require the ability to stand up completely straight while moving around inside your campervan. Similarly, someone young might not mind walking the few feet from the bed to the door with their stooped slightly.

Your health – As per the above, if you have issues with your back you will most likely need a pop top roof.

Your height – Although this doesn’t have to be a deciding factor, if you’re over 6 foot you might decide the additional height is a must.

Your budget/alternate options.- If the additional $8000 for a pop top roof is going to break the budget but you’d like a bit of additional height consider the alternatives.

Re-sale – How long are you planning on keeping your van? Vans without a pop top roof are harder to re-sell as the majority of people assume they require one (even though they may not!).

The VW Transporter is also available in a mid roof. Although you’ll need to check on the internal height of your garage if you plan on keeping it inside, this is often a good option if you don’t want to pay for a pop top. Keep in mind that you can’t stand up completely upright in one of these unless you are quite short. They will however, give you that extra bit of height which will make the van feel more roomy inside and also give you additional storage space inside the roof above the front seats.

VW mid roof and low roof

VW mid roof and low roof

VW Campervan with pop top roof.

VW Campervan with pop top roof.

A motorhome/larger size van such as a Mercedes Sprinter or Fiat Ducato (think ambulance sized!) are larger sized vans both in height, length and width. This means you can stand up inside and also have more room for campervan features. On the downside they may be that tiny bit too big for those living in cities and built up areas or who aren’t the best parallel parkers…