What’s new from the 2019 Motorhome and Caravan Show?
It’s Autumn, it’s the Motorhome and Caravan Show 2019 — it’s time to buy a new caravan and accessories for it!
The list of models and gear available to see and buy at the show is huge. To make it more digestible, here’s our round up from the show of new and interesting caravans and accessories we saw in Birmingham.
Stay connected on tour
Treating your grey water better (and other news from the loo)
What’s new from Swift?
Bailey unveils the new Discovery range
The expanding caravan
Touring caravan or static?
A little black magic: the new Knaus Sport & Fun
Caravans you can tow with a bicycle?
Having a Whale of a time with heating
Get away, your way
Interesting caravan accessories
Firstly, let’s look at gear. Among the stacks of caravan accessories you see year in, year out, we spotted two interesting gadgets which make life a little easier and more comfortable on your pitch.
It’s a question most caravanners have in the back of their minds. Running out of gas, especially if you go off-grid, is a pain in the neck. No heating or cooking means a miserable partner or grumpy children.
That’s why we all get outside, go to our gas lockers and give the bottle a good shake to guess how much we have left. That method is cheap, simple and immediate.
But, what if it’s tipping it down with rain? If your gas locker is full of other stuff which you need to move before you can get to your gas bottle?
How much easier would it be if you could check how much gas is left in your bottle precisely and from the comfort of your caravan?
That’s where the Mopeka Check Sensor comes in handy. You attach the sensor to the underside of your gas bottle, connect it to the app on your smartphone via Bluetooth and it gives you a visual reading of how much gas is left.
We’ve not yet tried it. But, we have one and will test it out.
W www.aphiam.co.uk or other online retailers
Love it or loathe it, having an internet connection on your holidays is useful for planning where to go, what to see and where to eat.
But, getting the Wi-Fi signal on some sites is a chore. Often the signal is weak, or the bandwidth is limited. Having a Wi-Fi dongle is great as long as the signal is strong.
What can you do to improve your internet connection?
Maxview has a nifty solution. It’s their new ‘ROAM’ system. Maxview ROAM helps you get better internet connection on site in two ways.
Firstly, it can use a 4G signal to get you Wi-Fi where there is nothing on-site. Its built-in antenna makes it easier to get a good mobile Wi-Fi signal than using only a regular 4G dongle.
Also, the antenna means you will get a better signal (and faster) on site if you don’t want to use or don’t have a 4G signal.
Having the ability to use a 4G Wi-Fi signal and/or the on-site Wi-Fi makes the Maxview ROAM an interesting option for caravanners who want to stay connected.
It’s a job none of us likes to do, but do it we must — empty our grey water tanks.
Grey smells, there’s grease, food and all manner of horrible contents of our tanks to handle. And, unless you are on a fully-serviced pitch and your grey water empties directly into the drains, you have to get close up to the filthy stuff.
But, Thetford has come up with a liquid solution to your stinky grey water. It’s a new fluid to complement their range of toilet cassette solutions called ‘Grey Water Fresh.’
You pour 80ml into a 100-litre grey water tank and it will stop deposits forming, keep smells under control and keeps the fluid fresher for longer. When it’s above 30 degrees C, you need to add more of the Grey Water Fresh to control the smells.
It easy to add the new fluid to your tank and the Grey Water Fresh will make emptying the tank a little less odorous.
Another horrible job is emptying the toilet cassette, especially when loo paper gets stuck. Don’t worry. Thetford has improved its special ‘Aqua Soft’ toilet roll too. Their paper breaks down more quickly now, so it won’t clog up the cassette. And, they’ve made it cheaper.
It’s not a nice topic, but using specialist toilet paper like this in your caravan could save you from a dirty job.
Find Thetford Grey Water Fresh and toilet roll at your local dealership or retailer.
The big splash from Swift at the show is their Special Edition Basecamp ‘crossover camping vehicle.’
The 2020 model sports new decal design on the outside and alloy wheels that give the Basecamp an energetic dimension. The new design might appeal to the people Swift wants to attract to the Basecamp, namely outdoor adventurers who want year round comfort.
However, the main change is the new, wide rear door which now has a window. Swift made the change after listening Basecamp fans who visited their factory earlier this year. It’s a big improvement to let more light in, and to make the compact Basecamp feel more spacious.
In the living space, Swift added flexible pockets at the front so you can store items like iPads and magazines which you might want to stow when you’ve stopped using them, or grab at night when you’re in bed.
Continuing the small caravan theme, Bailey unveiled its new Discovery range at the show. Aimed at people new to caravanning, the three layouts in the Bailey Discovery have a distinctive shape.
The Discovery range has unconventional curved rear corners and extended A-frames to make stowing bikes easier, all of which Bailey designed to make them more appealing to new caravanners looking for something different.
Depending on whether you need a 2, 3 or 4-berth caravan, Bailey caters for those with its Discovery D4-2, D4-3 and D4-4 models layouts.
Outside space in the awning is a little different too in the Discovery caravans. Most awnings sit on one side of your van. The optional Prima awnings for the Discovery range wrap around the rear of the van, which gives tons of space for living and storing.
If you want something fun, unconventional, and light to tow, the new Bailey Discovery caravans should be on your shortlist.
Price range £16,199 — £17,499
MTPLM 995kg — 1206kg
In April, we saw the most unconventional caravan of the year, the telescopic BeauER 3X. Made using three sections which slide into each other, the 3X turned heads and had people queueing to get in for a look.
The same happened at the Motorhome and Caravan Show. Visitors queued for a peek into BeauER 3X which RP Motorhomes has customised for the UK market. The UK version has an oven, grill and a combined induction/gas hob, and sleeps up to four people.
In less than 50 seconds you can expand or contract the body. When contracted the 3X has tiny profile making it easy to store and tow. Its kerbweight it 950kg with a maximum laden weight of 1350kg.
Prices from £37,995
Adria brought an interesting caravan to the show, namely the Astella. We had to get in early before the show opened for a chance to photograph it. It was impossible to get near it when the visitors arrived. Why?
The Adria Astella is more of a mobile villa than a caravan. Aimed at the seasonally sited caravan market, the 9-metre long Astella is luxurious and spacious. Common across the range are the ‘French doors’ which make this more lodge than caravan.
The 754 DP model on display has an L-shaped lounge which converts into a double bed for guests or children. The main sofa faces the spacious kitchen, which has plenty of storage space in the cupboards and drawers. The kitchen has a three-burner gas hob, oven, microwave and fridge/freezer. The built-in chopping board swings out to give you more surface space.
At the far end of the kitchen on the right is the Astella’s big washroom, which has black and white decor.
The main bedroom has an island bed with room either side of it. Either side of the bed is a wardrobe and bedside table with sockets for charging devices.
The Astella comes with Alde heating, and has pre-installation for air conditioning.
The Adria Astella is due to ship into the UK in 2020. Adria didn’t give a final price for the Astella, but expect it to be £40,000+. To tow it you will need a beefy vehicle. This model weighs between 2,500 and 3,000kgs.
The Knaus Sport & Fun caravan was always distinctive with its blue, green and white decals. But, Knaus listened to feedback about the colours. The designers decided to make the decals on the Sport & Fun add to the edgy feel of this compact caravan aimed at outdoor activists.
The new Sport & Fun ‘Black Selection’ (it does sound like the chocolates) now has dark detailing, including ‘go faster stripes’, on the white surface. Inside, the Black Selection Sport & Fun has new decor too, namely light and dark grey in stripes on the upholstery.
Prices from £22,599
Lightweight caravans are popular for a reason. Being so light means you can tow them with numerous tow cars. But, what about a bicycle?
Towing a caravan is possible. Mark Beaumont, the extreme athlete who holds the World Record for the fastest circumnavigation by bicycle of the planet (78 days, 14 hours and 40 minutes, if you want to have a crack at it), showed it is possible to tow a caravan with a bike.
With his especially adapted bike, Mark towed a Freedom caravan around the NEC showing it is possible, but not advisable, to tow a lightweight caravan with a bike. Lightweight caravans are easier to tow, and you don’t need a big beast of a car to tow them.
If you are thinking about towing a caravan with a bicycle, have a word with yourself!
You’ve got underfloor heating at home, right? No, nor have we. But, in the future, you might buy a caravan with underfloor heating.
Whale, the leisure vehicle heating solutions company from Northern Ireland, launched its new underfloor heating systems at the show. To be fair, you’ll probably never see what they make. But, you’ll experience the feeling for warmth when you flick the switch in your caravan.
The company has a new gas and electric ‘Heat Air’ underfloor heater which heats your van up faster. The Heat Air also has an automatic mode to keep you consistently comfortable. And, it’s quieter so it won’t keep you awake at night, hopefully.
The Whale Heat Air comes in two versions, namely the 5 GE and 6 GE models. The models have 4.7 kW and 6.2 kW outputs, respectively. At first, the heaters will only be available in new caravans. Whale aims to have a ‘retrofit’ solution out next year.
Whale’s new ‘Expanse’ gas and electric water heater is its fastest yet, according to the spokesperson. Whale says you can heat enough hot water for one shower in about 10 minutes with the 8-litre Expanse heater.
You can choose whether you want to heat your water up with electricity, gas or both. And, the Expanse has a built-in frost protection mode.
New caravans only may have the new Expanse water heater installed. Check with your dealer to see if your new caravan next year has the Expanse on board.
Holidays abroad are great, apart from one thing — they’re abroad.
Getting there and back can spoil your holiday due to the stressful travelling. The hustle and bustle at the airport. The fight to get to your seat. The worry of whether your bag is too big for the overhead locker. The inconvenient flight times. The list goes on.
All that hassle is one of the reasons why more Brits are choosing to and seeing the benefits of holidaying in Britain. And, it’s why Nick Lomas, Director General of the Caravan and Motorhome Club says their sites around the UK have had more bookings than in previous years, again.
Taking your caravan to a Caravan and Motorhome Club site means no airport hassle, no inconvenient schedules, no screaming babies next to you. You choose your schedule, make the journey there part of the holiday and travel at your own pace.
Nick Lomas reminded me that, with so many Club sites now in the UK, members are no more than 20 miles or so from their nearest site. He added:
“Being a Club member means you can take control of your holiday when you come to stay on one of our sites. It’s more relaxing than foreign travel.”
There’s been a change in our holiday habits too. Nick Lomas said:
“British holidaymakers are taking more short breaks than before. That is why we took the decision last year to keep our sites open longer throughout the season. We now open more of our sites earlier in the year, and close them later.”
And, it’s working. More people are booking outside the peak season (early August) in what Nick calls the ‘shoulder seasons’ of the year, namely March to April, and September to October.
Taking your caravan to the Club’s most northerly site (it’s Dunnet Bay near Thurso...), for example, is now possible up to early November. And, because you have your home comforts with you in the caravan, owners are taking advantage of the longer season.
It’s not all about permanent Club sites, however. The Caravan and Motorhome Club now runs temporary ‘pop-up’ sites around big events, like the BBC’s Countryfile Live show, or CarFest. At Countryfile Live, the Club filled and turned over 350 pitches.
Taking your caravan to a Club site at one of these events is popular due to the quality of their pop-up sites. You can go to a festival without ‘roughing it’.
Nick Lomas continued:
“Another reason for the growth in bookings at our sites is the changing face of the leisure vehicles people own.
“We see more variety of outfits on our sites now. There are more small caravans, and more people new to caravanning. Plus, we see many more campervans on-site. Campervan owners love the facilities we offer.”
Cost is another reason why more people choose to stay in the UK and take a caravan holiday. You can buy a good caravan second-hand for a good price, or finance a new model over a few years for an affordable monthly fee. The cost of a pitch on a Club site is around £16 a night for a couple in low season.
Nick Lomas pointed out a big trend in visitors on their sites. More ‘multi generational families’ take holidays together now. It’s prohibitively expensive for extended families to take foreign holidays together. But, that’s not so when extended families stay on a Club site.
It remains to be seen whether these trends continue. Nevertheless, for the time being British holidaymakers are making the most of Britain and being able to experience what the country has on offer. And, all from the comfort of their own caravans.
Get along to the Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show in February 2020!