Claudia DowellSee 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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Sporty styling and low weight, with a good bed and washroom
- Has a good bed and washroom
- Limited kit at this price, no oven or grill