Lizzie Pope
Digital Editor

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It's time for our annual search for the best new-season caravans for sale – check out 2018's hottest new vans, awnings and innovations, all vying for glory

Welcome to the Tourer of the Year Awards!

This is our annual celebration of the best that the caravanning industry has to offer buyers for the coming season.

Whether you tour solo, as a twosome or with a family, whatever your budget we’re confident that you’ll find your perfect touring partner within our shortlist.

This year we continue with the hotly contested categories we added last year, which better recognise some of the more affordable and unusual caravans for sale today, as well as the most luxurious.

How we pick our winners

With awnings and innovations, there are 10 awards categories in total.

Our judging team has been at every caravan preview and every major show to compile a longlist of runners and riders for each category, before those selections were narrowed down to our favourite trio.

Next, we held a vote to find the class winners, followed by a secret ballot to decide the overall victor.

This year’s judges are Practical Caravan’s Editor Niall Hampton, Reviews Editor Peter Baber, Features Editor and touring expert Claudia Dowell, plus former Practical Caravan Group Editor – now our Group Head of Content – Alastair Clements, ensuring a wealth of experience both in the industry and in the camping field.

So here are this year’s contenders!

Best awning

Having the right awning can make a huge difference on tour – and our three shortlisted options do not disappoint.

First, we have the Crusader Climate Air Zone 350 Deluxe, a £600 inflatable awning weighing 15kg.

Or maybe Kampa’s Rally Air Pro 390 Plus will win this class? It will set you back £1374.99, weighs 33kg and has been improved for 2018.

Last but not least in this category, we’ve one priced between the other two – the Outwell Nordic Collection Pebble 300A. Priced at £799, weight-wise it is also between the others at 23.5kg. Will this new-for-2018 caravan awning be the winner?

Best innovation

Sometimes it is the little things that have the biggest impact on our caravan holidays. This category celebrates the best new ideas in the caravan industry for the 2018 season – and we’ve shortlisted three crackers!

How about the new Bailey Unicorn’s spotlight USB sockets and wall pockets, or maybe the Coachman VIP’s end-washroom double-skinned rear wall?

Finally, if you love taking your furry friends on tour, this might be of interest – Erwin Hymer Group UK’s pet-friendly fabrics? Apparently they are less likely to tear/snag.

Best budget tourer

We move on to our first caravan award – best budget tourer. And all three of the shortlisted vans cost no more than £16,000.

Here at Practical Caravan, we’re big fans of tourers that lower the barriers to entry and make the pastime more accessible.

The three new caravans in the running for this prize are: the Bailey Pursuit 400-2, the Swift Sprite Alpine 4 and the Xplore 422.

Best luxury tourer

Then we are off the the opposite end of the market, as we seek the 2018-season’s best luxury caravan.

The cheapest of our shortlisted models costs £29,285, while the most pricey is £33,494. And all three are four-berth, twin-axle vans with MTPLMs greater than 1780kg.

So, our contenders are: the Alaria TI, the Buccaneer Barracuda and the Swift Conqueror 650.

Best specialist tourer

If variety is the spice of life, you will certainly find it in this category!

Designed both for life-long caravanners and with an eye to tempt first-timers to give caravanning a chance, 2018’s shortlisted trio proves there is no shortage of fresh thinking in the industry.

The vans in contention are: the Adria Action 361 LT, Airstream International’s Missouri and the Swift Basecamp.

Best tourer for couples

This division sees two- and four-berth caravans go head-to-head, with layouts to make life easier and more comfortable for touring twosomes.

“In this year’s awards, we’ve chosen caravans that deliver on all fronts – build, comfort and styling – and should make your touring holiday a real pleasure, whatever the weather,” said judge Claudia.

Unusually, two of the three caravans to make this category’s shortlist are not just from the same manufacturer, but the same range!

Our 2018 contenders are: the Bailey Unicorn Cabrera and also the Bailey Unicorn Seville, plus the updated Swift Conqueror 480.

Best tourer for small families

We are considering six- and four-berth models in this category – and with a very strong longlist, whittling it down to three – and then picking a winner! – was no mean feat.

All three shortlisted models come in under the £20,000 mark and all have MTPLMs of no more than 1470kg.

In the running are the Bailey Pursuit 570-6, the Elddis Avanté 574 and the Swift Sprite Major 6.

Best tourer for large families

We are on to our penultimate category here, and it puts a single-axle model against two twin-axle tourers.

And as all three of our shortlisted models can sleep at least six, bigger families are well catered for.

Our final three are the Adria Altea Severn, the Bailey Unicorn Segovia and the Swift Sprite Quattro DD.

Best tourer for seasonal pitches

The final class in our search for 2018’s best caravans sees us throw the spotlight on top tourers for seasonal pitches.

“When you step inside your seasonal van, to a certain extent you want to feel, ‘Ah, I’m home’,” says our Claudia.

“After all, you’ve pitched in a favourite location and want to feel the welcome of familiar surroundings.”

And from the class of 2018, these are the three we feel best meet this brief: Adria’s Adora Isonzo, Coachman’s VIP 620 and the Elddis Avanté 860.

To find out which caravans for sale today we think are the best of the best – and more! – do not miss the November 2018 edition of Practical Caravan, on sale Thursday 5 October 2017, our Tourer of the Year 2018 special!

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