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If you’re graduating from tenting, this is an ideal choice, an all-weather, all-year base for holiday adventures packed with style, the like of which you don’t find in what might be termed conventional caravans. The Basecamp 4 is conventional in that it provides a shower, loo, kitchen, beds and heating – but its sleek lines and bright colour elevate it to super modern status that puts it in a class of its own.
Price: £21,320 Berths: 4 Length – Body: 3.91m; Overall: 5.59m Width: 2.28m Headroom: 1.95m Heating system: Whale Weight – MIRO: 1,050kg; MTPLM: 1,186kg
Words: Val Chapman Photography: Richard Chapman
When Swift invented the stunning little Basecamp back in 2016, the giant caravan manufacturer set out to find a new market – one that’s not catered for by what might be termed ‘conventional’ caravans. Basecamp was conceived for adventure, as a base for cycling, in particular. It’s light. It’s small.
And made for two.
Five years on, with the Basecamp-for-couples market well established, Swift has grown the concept – literally. Now, the original Basecamp is called Basecamp 2 and there’s also a Basecamp for families. It’s longer, still light in weight, and with all of the facilities that a family needs as a base for ‘great outdoors’ adventure holidays.
Basecamp 4 has bunk beds and a double bed to make from lounge seating. Like Basecamp 2, the 4 has a rear door and built-in securing points for cycles.
There’s only one comparable- layout caravan on the British market; the Knaus Sport&Fun shares the rear door concept but its MTPLM is 1,400kg, whereas the Basecamp 4’s MTPLM is a mere 1,186kg. So, the Basecamp 4 is out there all on its own to enjoy ultra-lightweight status as well as the head-turner appeal that comes with bright orange colours, striking decals and sporty shape.
We’ve been strong fans of the stunning little Basecamp 2 since its inception, so we were keen to see if the 4 measured up to the 2’s practicality and charisma. A day at Cheshire dealer, Leisure Sales, would sort that out... And this retailer currently has the Basecamp 4 at a special office price, of £20,995 instead of £21,865. (Both of those figures include the delivery price of £545.)
Leisure Sales, close to Sandbach, is in a parkland setting; in this lovely environment, with the caravan on a lawned section alongside the display area, it was easy to imagine the Basecamp 4 in use. The first thing to notice is the unique layout. As you step in through the door, the combined shower-toilet compartment is on your right. The kitchen is amidships on the offside. At the front, seating that transforms into a double bed and, on the nearside, the fridge, plus the two- person dining/bunk area. It’s compact – and its practicality is instantly obvious; all you need is here, albeit in compact form compared with what might be termed mainstream caravans.
Then you notice that the giant front window fully opens horizontally. What a joy to stand here with your morning mug of coffee, the window sheltering you from the rain – as we discovered during our review day of awfully British weather.
There’s nothing conventional about the Basecamp 4. Instead of top lockers, there are four zipped fabric pockets on frames. These can be removed, to take into your house to pack. The tops are open and the sides zip all around, like an opening locker door; ingenious!
The seating, both at the front and in the side dining area, folds upwards, against the wall, to create space for cycles; you simply wheel them in through the rear door. Anchor points are mounted in the floor. The rear door is wider than an average caravan door, at 52cm, so it’s easy to wheel cycles inside. There’s no carpet – but then you wouldn’t want one in a caravan of outdoor adventure calibre. And the spaces under the rear dining area seats provide the perfect place to put footwear as you step inside.
The Basecamp 4 contains some surprises; the USB socket count is a handsome four, and, at the front, under that fabulous large window, is a very sturdy hinge-up coffee table held in place by two substantial fold-out steel supports. And you might not expect a caravan of this size to have a full oven and grill.
So, cooking practicalities… It’s quick-snack lunchtime and we are preparing a simple salad with tomatoes, cheese, apples and grapes. We quickly find that there is more than sufficient surface space around the sink, especially with the extension hinged into position, and opposite, on the top of the cabinet that contains the fridge. The kitchen is just over a metre long and the extension adds another 37cm. The fridge cabinet gives you a surface space that’s 68cm wide and 55cm deep. It’s easy to envisage cooking up even adventurous evening meal treats on the three-burner hob and in the oven. And when it’s time to eat, you have a choice of two tables, one for two people, plus the four- person table that’s stored in the wardrobe on the aft end of the kitchen. (The bunk ladder is hidden away in the wardrobe, too, but there is still a decent hanging width of 42cm.)
We love the smart black glass hob base and splashback. We also love the amount of kitchen storage space; a surprise in such a small caravan. The double-doored cabinet contains two shelves (one with a cutlery tray), plus four vertical compartments that would ensure stuff stored here stayed put on tow far better than wide-open shelves. There are two cabinets above, one with fitments for mugs and plates.
Given that the vast majority of caravan owners get an awning or porch, you might be wondering how you’d go about finding one that would fit a caravan that doesn’t have a door on the side – or a rail on the side. Vango designed an awning specifically for the Basecamp. It’s an air awning model, as you’d expect, and it gives you a lot of extra space. The cost is £725. And, while we’re talking about optional extras, you can order your Basecamp with the ATC stability control system for an extra £349. You can also get an Al-Ko Secure wheel lock for £265 (well worth it for peace of mind and also because security devices such as this one often attract a reduction in insurance premiums). And, if you want to splash the cash, you can go for one of the range of different graphics schemes available, for an additional £895. These options are illustrated on Swift’s website.
Among them are intertwined hexagonal shapes, a giant target, a huge Union flag pattern, and a bright puce-shade circle, framed in yellow and turquoise on the front. All great fun. Whatever you choose, your Basecamp is guaranteed to turn heads.
And inside? The standout appearance continues, with bright orange and grey; smart, utterly modern and with the vibe of adventure clearly evident.
And comforts? You may imagine that seating that folds away to make way for cycles isn’t built with comfort as a priority. The Basecamp proves otherwise, with a surprising amount of comfort; the lounge seating is 1.3m long – not enough for kick-back relaxing but plenty for four to sit. And, when you make the lounge into a double bed, it’s 1.98m long and 1.30m wide.
The combined shower toilet room is 68cm by 1.1m. There’s plenty of a space in which to shower and a curtain to keep water off the bench-style toilet.