Some so-called activity leisure vans feel a bit half-hearted, but the Kinder Scout really nails the brief. It not only offers four large adult berths and four three-point belted travel seats, but it can also swallow all the outdoor kit of four people. As a first foray into the campervan market, the Kinder Scout is a brilliant bit of design and built like a tank. There’s only one question: where are you going to go for your epic adventures in this van?
Berths: 4 Travel seats: 4 Base vehicle: Fiat Ducato LWB panel van Payload: 620kg
If you’ve not heard of Leo SV, there’s a reason for that: this is their first foray into campervans. However, don’t think that they’re some wet-behind-the-ears converter as they’re actually a manufacturer-approved converter of minibuses, based on Fiat, VW and Renault models.
For over 30 years, they’ve converted hundreds of vehicles. They clearly know how to convert panel vans, and so branching out into the campervan market seemed like the logical next step for the firm to take.
The team spent some three years planning their first conversion. So, have Leo SV scored a hit with their first Kinder Scout model?
Based on the long-wheelbase version of the Ducato and measuring 5.99m long with 1.89m of internal standing room, the Leo SV Kinder Scout is powered by Fiat’s 130bhp 2.3-litre Euro 6-spec turbo-diesel, which gives smooth performance.
If you plan on using the van’s full payload, or plan on doing any towing, you might want to opt for the 150bhp or 177bhp engines for a bit more grunt, though.
The cab itself is a little sparse-looking, thanks to the rubber-lined floor and stock Fiat seats with unpadded arm and headrests, but the test van did have some goodies, including a DAB radio and sat-nav, air-conditioning, cruise control, and electric windows and mirrors.
The lack of carpeting makes it easy to keep clean and a set of waterproof seat covers could be added for even more practicality. The LWB Fiat is an easy vehicle to drive and the Euro 6 engine is smooth and quiet.
The Kinder Scout is all about the rear space, and throwing open the rear doors reveals
a cavern of a loading bay beneath a substantial steel frame. This frame is bolted to the sides of the van and holds the two upper beds. Although these can be used as a double bed, they’re actually two single beds and each can be flipped vertical and secured in place with a pair of latches.
With the beds vertical, there are three metal support bars (numbered 1-3) that easily unclip and are stored in the top of the nearside locker. This has a purpose-designed foam holder to support these metal bars neatly in place without them rattling around in transit. It’s a very simple system and works well. When the beds are vertical, you now have a floor-to-ceiling sized rear garage and you can also slide the travel seat forward to gain even more space.
Two motorbikes could easily be fitted in here, or you could store about four mountain bikes in the dedicated floor rails. Longer items such as surfboards or paddleboards could also be slotted in and there’s enough roof height to store kayaks vertically. Most outdoor toys will fit in this space and the durable flooring looks easy to sweep out and keep clean. This van will swallow your outdoor furniture with ease and laugh at the bulkiest of barbecues, too!
With just a ramp on the rear bumper, the trials bikes could easily fit in the space and the rails in the side lockers would be ideal for attaching securing straps to fix the bikes in place when on the road.
The upper bed itself is 6ft 4in long and offers plenty of headroom. The foam padding is perfectly judged and was supremely comfortable on the test van.
At the head end is a useful storage bag for each bed, with an individually adjustable LED reading light for each berth. Usefully, these lights had an LED socket built into the base that would be perfect for charging a smartphone, for example.
Access to the upper beds is via the lower travel seat/bed and it’s not a massive step up, so no ladder is needed.
The lower bed is a Smart Bed Evolution R model that is mounted on rails so it can slide fore and aft to give the desired amount of luggage room or lounge space. This M1 crash-tested seat system folds down to a bed by releasing a catch on the front edge and forms a flat bed measuring 1.94m (6ft 4.5in) long and 1.10m (3ft 7in) wide.
The best bit about this bed, though, is how it transforms back into a travel seat. With the Smart Bed system, you just pull a red lever at the seat base and the backrest pops up on a gas strut. Simply click it forward and you’re done. It’s a fraction of the effort of a normal travel seat and a brilliant design.
Normally you’d find this side kitchen campervan layout built on a MWB van and, in night-time mode, there’s little floor space to get changed in and often the lower bed conceals the fridge door. A critical point if you like to treat your other half to a cuppa in bed...
Silvered screens seal off the cab at night, with simple curtains closing off the two windows in the sides of the van, and the rooflights have built-in blinds (and flyscreens, too).
The LED lights fitted are super-bright and well placed – they’re fitted to both back doors and to the two rear side lockers, making it easy to see what you’re loading when working in the dark.
It’s worth pointing out that the cabinet trim and colours can all be tweaked to suit your personal taste, too. I liked the business-like grey patterned cabinets and stripey grey flooring, but some may find them a little too functional. Add wood-effect cabinets and a lighter carpet and you’d transform the look of it, though.
The kitchen is a simple pod-style unit with a built-in two-burner hob and sink and a 50-litre compressor fridge.
The sink is fed by a pair of removable water tanks in typical campervan style and these will be easy to clean, and easy to top up at the campsite tap.
A lift-up triple 240V socket tower pulls up out of the worktop and can be powered by either the mains hook-up or the built-in inverter. It also has a couple of USB sockets built into it, too, in addition to the two mounted beneath the hob. There are eight other USB points dotted around the van, so your devices will always be charged up!
A rail built into the side of the kitchen cabinet holds the dining table in place and this lives on the nearside rear door. It’s large and sturdy, and even has two cup holders built into it.
If you’ve been mountain biking, for example, it’s brilliant to be able to slip out of your biking gear inside, out of the cold, and the sheer amount of room in the Kinder Scout made this easy.
Ideally, the Kinder Scout would have a rubber mat with lipped sides to the flooring and waterproof seat covers, but these can always be added later. The point is that this layout works well straight out of the box. Leo SV’s three years of design were clearly well spent.