Even if you own the best offroad caravan, you simply cannot expect it to survive a long offroad jaunt without performing some pre-trip preparation. Here are four tips that will improve your caravan’s survivability when travelling long distances on dirt roads…
Reduce tyre pressures. I cannot stress enough just how important this is and, unfortunately, many will end up realising this the hard way. If you run your car and van along dirt roads with on-road tyre pressures, you’ll destroy your tyres and the interior of your van.
Reduced tyre pressures provide an additional cushioning effect on rough roads so the constant vibrations of corrugations are not fully transmitted to the interior of the van.
Our caravan weighs 3.5 tonnes fully loaded and we run our tyre pressures at 20psi offroad and we’ve never experienced a puncture yet. Correct pressures for your rig will depend on a number of variables, however, so experiment to find what works best for you.
PLUMBING AND WIRING
Additional protection to plumbing and wiring. Before you attempt any offroad travel, get underneath your caravan and have a good look at the exposed plumbing and wiring underneath.
OFFROAD CARAVAN: DUST INGRESS
Dust ingress. It doesn’t matter how well sealed an offroad caravan manufacturer says their vans are, there will always be open vents that will allow dust to get inside.
Undoubtedly, a lot of caravanners cover their fridge vents and the gas vent commonly found in the door well (a van with no gas appliances won’t have this vent) to prevent dust ingress; however, doing so is not legal so we can’t recommend this.
Dust will typically enter a van when the pressure inside is lower than the pressure outside. A number of aftermarket items, including bilge blowers, designed to pressurise the van to keep dust out are available – it may be worth researching the options.
Scupper hatches, which allow air to enter the van from the roof to pressure it while it’s under tow, are commonly fitted to offroad vans; however, though some people believe they work well, in my experience these hatches are pretty useless.
We also have a close look underneath the van where wires and plumbing enter through the floor. They should be well sealed with silicon to prevent dust entering through gaps between the pipes.
Pack your offroad caravan sensibly. When packing food and other items, you have to expect that they will be subjected to constant movement when driving along rough dirt roads. This constant movement causes packages to rub against other items, wearing holes in the packaging and spilling the contents throughout the van.
Pack your fridge from the bottom up, filling the shelves as you go. Store liquid-filled containers in trays to help contain any leaks and spills.