Claudia Dowell
Features Editor

See other caravan reviews written by Claudia Dowell

The T@B L 400TD 2013, the fixed-bed version of the compact, tear-drop shaped, design classic, is put to the test by Practical Caravan’s experts

Overview

The distinctive T@B always gets admiring looks. Launched 10 years ago, the retro, teardrop design has remained largely unchanged, but it’s still the best-looking ‘funky’ style caravan on the market today. 

T@B is a niche product built in Germany, and marketed across the world, including models built and sold under licence in the USA. UK sales are modest compared to more conventional kit, but that is the point. People who enjoy camping simply wouldn’t consider owning a conventional caravan but would love to try a T@B.  

The T@B website lists four UK dealers, the most recent addition being Airstream and Company

When we collected our chosen model, the L 400TD, sales director Michael Hold enthused: “We specialise in cool camping trailers and T@B fits perfectly in our portfolio. It attracts the same type of customer as Airstream.”

The T@B’s standard colouring is white with silver/grey accents, but silver all-over is the most popular version, we’re told. Our test model was silver with ‘lemon’ accents. 

Pitching and setting up

This largest T@B is just 3.94m long inside but measures 5.71m overall. The Al-Ko chassis’s long A-frame is good for smooth towing, as are its wide track and shock-absorbers.

The lift-off gas bottle cover is unusual, but offers good access to the locker space. The electrics are straightforward: operated from a control unit in the wardrobe, there’s mains power for the fridge, the Truma water heater and a 12V transformer to supply the lights and water pump. For ‘off-grid’ camping you’d need a battery and charger, but a 45-litre fresh water tank comes as standard.

Airstream orders all T@Bs with an Al-Ko AKS 1300 stabiliser, a service hatch to the under-bed storage area and aluminium tracks on the rear slope, ready for mounting a cycle rack. There’s also an ‘on-the-road’ pack of items for first-timers.

Lounge

Our T@B had the eye-catching ‘hot’ red interior scheme, the alternative being ‘cool’ blue.

The L 400TD’s curvy dinette, with its porthole-style windows, is a key attraction. One occupant gets a lounging seat, but the other must perch upright. It’s tempting to imagine less space-hungry backrest shapes, but we’re told owners like them as they are.

The table is big enough for snacks but would struggle with two full place settings.

In fact, the layout works best in conjunction with an awning, and is then truly a three-berth. Isabella makes a special T@B awning which looks fantastic but is pricey at £1495, due to its special shape. Nevertheless, it’s popular with owners.

On cold evenings, the Truma gas-fired central heating provides plenty of warmth. There’s a pendant light over the table and, in the left-hand porthole, concealed illumination and a 230V socket.

Kitchen

The kitchen comes equipped with an 86-litre fridge and a three-burner gas hob. There is plenty of storage space (all with secure door catches) and the worktop can be extended over the bed.

Two under-locker spotlights illuminate the area, and there’s a 230V socket at each end. Natural light floods through a big, opening window. Airstream replaces the standard 25cm x 25cm roof vent with a 40cm x 40cm Mini-Heki.

The lack of oven or grill is a weak point, but many T@B owners cook al-fresco or with a portable microwave, we’re told.

Washroom

For a four-metre long caravan, the T@B L 400TD has a serious washroom with plenty of space. It’s got the latest Thetford swivel toilet with a wheeled waste tank, lots of storage cupboards and mirrors.

A really clever touch is the mirror-wall that slides to reveal a window. It doesn’t open but a roof vent provides ventilation and additional light.

Showering is possible but, without a curtain, care would be needed to avoid damaging the woodwork.

Beds

The 1.95m x 1.34m double bed is a star feature of the L 400TD. It’s located at the thin end of the teardrop body, but there’s plenty of headroom and it is long enough for tall people.

An electrically operated roof window spans most of the bed’s width. Close the pleated blind for privacy and darkness, and push it back in the morning to see the sky.

There’s a small storage cubby-hole at one side of the bed, which also contains a 230V socket.

Only one reading light is fitted as standard, but Airstream fits a second. A TV can sit on the kitchen worktop extension at the foot of the bed.

To sleep three, the dinette converts to a single bed, but the backrests have to go below the main bed or in the awning.

Storage

Bulky items, such as an awning or folding chairs, can be stored under the double bed. The wardrobe has sufficient hanging and shelf space for small items. Away from the kitchen there are no cupboards but Airstream specifies a luggage net set, which converts the overhead shelves into stowage space

Technical specs

Berth3
MiRO1000kg
Payload200kg
MTPLM1200kg
Interior length3.94m
Shipping length5.71m
Width2.24m
Height1.75m
Awning size767cm

Verdict

The T@B L 400TD is fabulous but flawed. It looks dear compared to normal caravans, but its unique appeal may make the price irrelevant for some customers. 

Conclusion

Pros

  • Sporty styling and low weight, with a good bed and washroom
  • Has a good bed and washroom

Cons

  • Limited kit at this price, no oven or grill
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