The 2012 Elddis Crusader Shamal boasts a rear washroom and fixed single beds – read Practical Caravan's expert review for the full verdict, spec and prices

Overview

More and more caravan manufacturers are adding models with fixed single beds and a rear washroom to their catalogues, and the Shamal is Elddis’ four-berth version for its Crusader range. As the only single-axle Crusader available, the Shamal is the lightest and cheapest way into the top-end range, which was overhauled for the 2012 season. A sharp new bodyshell, more equipment and transformed interiors make this year’s models the best Crusaders for years. 

The Crusader competes with the Bailey Unicorn Cadiz, Swift Conqueror 565 and Lunar Clubman SB among others.

Pitching and setting up

The Crusader range is well equipped. BPW's IDC stability system is standard, along with a Winterhoff stabiliser and a button-free handbrake. A front locker light is a thoughtful touch, too.

There is no wheel lock, although an alarm system is standard. The drain ports at the side are tucked behind the skirt, and the rear steadies aren't easy to see when you need to wind them.

Inside, most controls are easy to find, although the battery meter and switch gear feel as though they are from a budget model.
The mains consumer unit is under the nearside seat and you'll need to kneel to reach it.

Lounge

The Shamal is fairly big for a single-axle caravan, but the lounge is tiny. It's comfortable enough for two, but four people will need to be on very good terms to spend an evening there. Still, the lounge is well lit, with LED lighting throughout and an LED strip light under the front lockers.

The centre chest's pull-out table gives space enough for two to eat. The dining table is stored in the kitchen and is easy to access. There are two TV aerial points: one at the foot of the bed, and the other on the wall inside the door.

Kitchen

At a glance, the Shamal's kitchen is looks pretty plush. The 40mm-thick worktops add a quality feel and the specification is good.

Working space looks limited, but an occasional worktop extension on the right-hand side gives a bit of breathing room. On the other side of the van, under the wardrobe, there's a huge cutlery drawer. A roof-mounted extractor fan keeps the kitchen smelling fresh, and four LED spotlamps keep the working area bright.

The big limitation is storage. The curved door to the drinks cabinet is showy, but it cedes a lot of space to a few wine bottles and glasses. Finding somewhere convenient to store plates and cups is not so easy, with only one small roof locker over the kitchen.

Washroom

Rear washrooms in fixed-bed models can be a disappointment, but the Shamal does well. The black granite-effect sink is smart and, with a large mirror above it and a huge cupboard beneath, it's an impressive set-up.

The swivel Thetford toilet is ceramic rather than plastic. We're not sure what the advantage is, but it feels pleasingly substantial. There is a towel rail above the Alde heating vents in the floor, which makes sense. For extra storage, you also get a shallow wall locker.

All told, the washroom feels more spacious than it is. Our only gripes are the narrow (40cm) access to the shower cubicle and the fact that the washroom light switch is at the foot of the nearside bed. Why so far away?

Beds

The mattresses on the twin single fixed beds are terrific. Their memory foam top layers put them a cut above rivals for comfort. They are 1.92m and 1.94m in length, and each has an upholstered headboard, a small shelf and an LED reading lamp.

The front bed will only be used occasionally, so its narrow width is not a big issue. LED spotlamps in each corner and slats that cannot fall out are welcome, and make the bed easy to make up.

Storage

Twin single-bed vans reward buyers with lots of space to store stuff. In every area except the kitchen, the Elddis scores well. The half-height wardrobe is adequate for most people and the drawers beneath it will doubtless be shared between kitchen and clothing. The centre chest has four drawers – more useful than the normal two – with a locker underneath them.

The front seat boxes offer plenty of storage, although the offside one houses the Alde heating boiler and its associated plumbing. The twin bed boxes are huge and you can access both from outside the caravan. The gas locker is wide, but the lid doesn't lift particularly high.

Technical specs

Berth4
MiRO1482kg
Payload168kg
MTPLM1650kg
Interior length5.8m
Shipping length7.4m
Width2.3m
Height2.58m
Awning size991cm

Verdict

The Shamal is Elddis’ luxury take on the twin single-bed layout with full-width rear washroom. Long beds with supportive memory-foam mattresses, plus plenty of glitzy mod cons, all come packaged in a single axle-tourer.

Conclusion

Pros

  • The Shamal is competitive on price, weight and kit
  • The rear washroom is excellent
  • Storage under the rear beds is plentiful
  • The fixed-bed mattresses are superb

Cons

  • The lounge is disappointingly small
  • Tall people can't stretch out on the sofas
  • The kitchen is a bit short on storage and worktops
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