We humans have become rather clever at squeezing lots of good stuff into small packages. Whether it’s mobile phones and laptops, or vehicles and apartments, we’ve become expert at offering all of the same features and services within ever-more compact proportions.
Caravans are no exceptions. Today’s tiny tourers offer showers, kitchen, lounges and, well, luxury – so whether it’s towing weight or caravan storage that limits your choice, the need for easier manoeuvring or just a simple desire for lots of lovely hygge*, right now there’s a whole host of brilliantly cool and compact caravans for you to choose from.
In search of the very best in smaller tourers, John Sootheran (all XL, six-foot-two-inches of him) headed off to check out what’s on offer for the 2022 seasons
*Hygge (pronounced hoo-gay) is the Danish concept of finding comfort, pleasure and cosiness in simple and soothing things
SWIFT BASECAMP 2
- Price from £21,995
- Berths 2
- Exterior length 5.10m
- Interior length 3.42m
- Internal headroom 1.95m
- Width 2.28m
- MiRO 932kg
- MTPLM 1043kg
When a major UK manufacturer enters the small caravan market, people immediately sit up and take notice.
Swift’s Basecamp brought stylish and comfortable caravanning to the masses back in 2016. It combines compact proportions for easy towing with a handsome profile and some groovy graphics, to make touring more appealing to those who find the traditional ‘white box’ a bit too bland.
Basecamp is ideal for anyone who loves the great outdoors, but demands a certain level of luxury and comfort – that is, not a tent.
It comes fitted with a shower room and toilet, a kitchen with a three-burner gas hob, a Duplex Thetford oven and a fridge, along with a comfortable lounge area that turns into a large double bed.
I’ve toured extensively in the Basecamp, and can confirm it’s very easy to tow and manoeuvre, and attracts admiring glances wherever it goes. Impressively, it features full-scale headroom (1.95m) and a large rear door, making it easy to transport a bike or paddle board inside (and it has fold-up sofas and tie-down loops in the floor).
Basecamp comes in four- and six-berth versions, a miracle of modern packing and that’s before you attach the Vango awning that more than doubles your living space.
ERIBA TRITON 420
- Price from £21,240
- Berths 2
- Exterior length 5.28m
- Interior length 4.16m
- Internal headroom 1.95m (with roof extended)
- Width 2.00m
- MiRO 855kg
- MTPLM 1000-1300kg (depending on spec)
The Eriba has earned design-classic status and as such, these tourers hold their price very well. Inside, they have a traditional caravan layout, but with all of the facilities squeezed into the model’s compact and easily towable dimensions.
Like Basecamp, the Triton 420 will attract admiring (probably even envious) looks from passers-by, and it delivers plenty of home comforts. These include a surprisingly huge bed (bigger than a UK king-size), 3500W gas heating, a compact shower room and toilet combo, a well-planned kitchen with storage, a fridge and a two-burner hob, and even fresh-water tanks.
To achieve the full internal height of 1.95m, the pop-up roof has to be popped and I must admit, at 6′ 2″, I do find the interior a little claustrophobic. However, for anyone up to 6ft tall, this caravan’s a little gem.
The cosy lounge/bedroom benefits from three large windows, and is the ideal space for two to chill out on the long sofas or the oversized make-up bed.
The 420 is available in silver or white, and is one of those designs that weill never date – in fact, it probably gets cooler with age.
[email protected] L400 TD
- Price from £21,350 base model (£22,650 for Mexican Sunset)
- Berths 2-4
- Exterior length 5.97m
- Internal headroom 1.98m max
- Width 2.25m
- MiRO 982kg
- MTPLM 1200kg
This classic German teardrop tourer combines superb build quality with a clever interior.
The aerodynamic shape should help to minimise fuel consumption, while the interior delivers everything the caravanner needs: a compact kitchenette on the sidewall, with a shower room/toilet opposite, next to the wardrobe There’s a dining area at one end and a sizeable double bed at the other. The sloping roof dictates that the shorter inhabitant sleeps on the wall side of the fixed bed. The dining area makes up into a second bed for one adult or two smaller children.
I like the idea of turning the front dinette into a huge, flat chill-out area with throws and cushions.
[email protected] are well built and have a 10-year body water-ingress warranty. This makes them another of the desirable Continentals that will hold their price – but perhaps steer clear of the louder graphics, which might not age as well. The L400 TD is available in a basic form, or you could go for this eye-catching Mexican Sunset version. Personally, I prefer the graphite and silver Metropolis.
The kitchen offers good worktop, a stylish three-burner hob and a circular sink. There are lots of storage options, too.
The dining area is illuminated by a large front window and two porthole side windows.
TRIGANO SILVER TREND 442
- Price from £21,352
- Berths 3
- Exterior length 5.91m
- Interior length 4.88m
- Internal headroom 1.95m
- Width 1.98m
- MiRO 943kg
- MTPLM 1200kg (depending on spec)
The Silver range isn’t that well known in the UK, but it comes from French manufacturer Trigano, one of the world’s leading experts in leisure vehicle production.
The pop-top tourers are designed to be less than 2m high (with the electronic roof folded down), as this keeps them in a cheaper price bracket for péage toll-road use in their own country. The bonuses are that they’ll also fit inside many domestic garages, and with less wind resistance, they’re very likely to be a fair bit cheaper to tow.
The Trend 442 boasts all of the facilities of a full-sized tourer, and is made using the latest insulating materials and tech. Polyester and Styrofoam construction makes the Trend a true four-season tourer, especially as it has the option of Truma blown-air heating.
For sleeping, this van has large twin beds in the rear, which can be converted into a gigantic 190 x 200cm double. Meanwhile, at the front, there’s another make-up single bed, which could be used by one older child or an occasional guest.
The neat, combined shower room/toilet space is well proportioned, and the kitchen has a three-burner hob, sink and fridge.
This cleverly designed little caravan has it all for the couple or young family, especially if they like to tour in France.
- Price from £18,995
- Berths 4
- Exterior length (closed/open) 4.30m/5.80m
- Interior length (closed/open) 2.83m/5.70m approx
- Internal headroom 2.44 max
- Width (exterior/interior) 2.01m/1.88m
- Exterior height (towing/open) 1.20m/3.00m approx
- MiRO 800kg
- MTPLM 900-1500kg
- Roof payload 75kg
Strictly speaking the Opus is not a caravan, but it’s so good, I had to include it here. In trailer form, Opus is cool especially if you push the boat out and buy the Off-Road version. It’s also a doddle to tow, with excellent rear vision, particularly if you use a taller SUV. You can even transport your bikes or canoes clamped to the top of the trailer.
Once on pitch, it takes a few minutes to erect the tent-style accommodation: fold out the trailer ‘lids’ and pin the struts in place if you have the Air version, press the pump button (just inside the door), and you have a spacious tent in about 90 seconds. The pole version is semi-erected when the roof sections are folded out, then it takes a moment to extend the poles and tension the fabric.
The lounge is surprisingly spacious, light and comfortable, and the compact kitchen area has a sink, hob, fridge and storage.
To each side of the lounge is a double bed, with fixed mattress, about 1.88m in length.
Opus has all sorts of optional extras, which you can select online. Our favourite is the video projector and screen option (£1199) for watching movies with the family.
Opus really is a brilliant choice for an outdoorsy couple or young family. It’s very easy to set up, tow and store – but you will need to use the campsite’s facilities.
- Price £16,495
- Berths 2
- Exterior length 4.20m
- Bed length 1.95m (6′ 2″)
- Internal headroom 1.84m
- Width 2.0m
- MiRO 540kg
- MTPLM 750kg
Although at first sight, Go-Pods look rather like a simple teardrop trailer caravan, there’s much more to them than you might expect.
For starters, there’s a king-sized bed, which is made up from the relatively roomy lounge area that seats four. You also get built-in dual-fuel heating and a camping toilet.
Go-Pods don’t have full wash/shower rooms, but they have a functional kitchen with a two-burner gas hob, sink and Dometic CRE50 fridge. Every Go-Pod also comes with an awning to boost your living space quickly and easily. With the roof popped up, there’s enough headroom for most people to stand without stooping while washing up, cooking or getting dressed.
All this sits on a galvanised Al-Ko chassis, guaranteeing excellent towing characteristics, although the Go-Pod is so small and light, you’ll barely know the it’s there.
KNAUS SPORT & FUN
- Price £24.050
- Berths Up to 4
- Exterior length 6.25m
- Interior length 4.80m
- Internal headroom 2.57m
- Width 2.32m
- MiRO 1156kg
- MTPLM 1400kg
It doesn’t get much smarter than Germany’s coolest tiny tourer, the Knaus Sport & Fun. This unusual caravan has three large doors: the rear and side doors provide entry to the interior, while the sizeable third door gives access to the huge ‘garage’ positioned under the raised double bed. The strong glass fibre body has a 10-year water-ingress warranty and houses a kitchen with a three-burner gas hob and a 142-litre fridge, while in the washroom, there’s a shower, handbasin and Dometic swivel cassette toilet.
Heating comes courtesy of the excellent Truma S 3004 heating system, while the Sport & Fun is also fitted with a generous 45-litre fresh-water tank.
This cleverly designed tourer has a separate lounge and bed, with daytime relaxation courtesy of an L-shaped sofa.
Some might find the Continental style interior a little unusual – like many such models, it’s really intended for Europe’s warmer climes, where you’re outside almost all the time. However, I’ve stayed in a Knaus in Yorkshire in March, and I can guarantee it’s a very usable layout for a couple.
- Price from £17,499
- Berths 2
- Exterior length 4.80m
- Interior length 3.60m
- Internal headroom 2.45m
- Width 2.04m
- MiRO 690kg
- MTPLM 750kg
These Portuguese-built vans feel extremely well made and solid. Despite their diminutive proportions, they have many of the facilities that much bigger tourers offer.
They come with a shower room/toilet, a great kitchen and even underfloor heating.
The end kitchen has a Dometic two-burner gas hob that’s integral to the sink, so cleaning is simple. There’s also a sizeable fridge and lots of storage in cupboards and lockers.
The high-quality body construction includes thick insulating foam, making the Campmaster King a real all-year tourer.
The devils’ in the detail, too: the King offers a trio of three-pin plug points and two USB sockets, double-glazed windows and a swivel toilet. Elsewhere, the bed can be used as a large double or two singles. Altogether, this is a highly impressive compact package, and at a very competitive price, too.
- Price £32,500
- Berths 2
- Exterior length 5.08m
- Interior length 3.56m
- Internal headroom
- Width 1.92m
- MiRO 960kg
- MTPLM 1200kg
All small caravans are, of course, adorable, but Barefoot has to be the queen of cute.
The aerodynamic, egg-shaped body is formed in one piece from GRP, so there are no panel joints to leak. This body sits on a strong galvanised steel chassis and although it looks compact, there’s a hell of a lot of retro cool design squeezed inside.
As well as a lounge area that makes up into a sizeable double bed, there’s a compact kitchen, storage cupboards and lockers, and a separate shower/toilet combo neatly tucked behind a tambour sliding door. All of this practicality is also delivered in what might be described as a ‘retro-aspirational’ way.
Barefoot is light to tow and has good road manners, and because it comes in various delightful pastel shades, we reckon they’ll have more demand than supply, so should almost certainly hold their value well.
WINGAMM ROOKIE 3.5
- Price £22,700
Wingamm’s Rookie has a glass fibre monocoque body housing a rather luxurious interior, with everything that the most exacting caravanner could possibly need.
If you liked this… READ THESE:
If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, why not get the latest news, reviews and features delivered direct to your door or inbox every month. Take advantage of our brilliant Practical Caravan magazine SUBSCRIBERS’ OFFER and SIGN UP TO OUR NEWSLETTER for regular weekly updates on all things caravan related.