Not so long ago at the recently held Sydney caravan show, I was wandering through the very large and busy Jayco stand on the lookout for new or upgraded models to explore when I caught the attention of Brad Slater from Jayco Sydney. He directed me to a just-out-of-the-factory Jayco Journey Outback family van, otherwise known as the 22.68-4 OB model in Jayco nomenclature or the 22ft for short.
I’ve mentioned previously that bunk bed layouts are definitely more common these days and to a considerable degree, many of the layouts have a certain similarity. However, a few manufacturers have stepped outside the design box lately and this particular layout is one of them.
For a start there are four bunks, not the usual two or three and in order to avoid an extra-long caravan, Jayco has been a bit creative with the layout. Just to clarify something, although Jayco calls this a 22ft van, it actually has an external length of 22ft 11in (6.985m). To accommodate four bunks and a double bed into this van it has a forward entry door, east-west bed across the front, a nearside dinette and an offside kitchen in the mid to forward area. Towards the rear, there are two bunk beds across the rear wall, two bunk beds along the nearside wall and a bathroom cubicle that fills the remaining offside wall space.
The internal colours are a bit monochromatic but in various shades of brown and beige, rather than black, white and grey, a not unattractive look. I like the names that manufacturers dream up for the colour schemes. For instance, the décor combination on the seat upholstery is known as Tully/Mondo Charcoal and the benchtop laminate is Furlo! Lighter colours tend to be more user-friendly in confined spaces, like a family van.
The lighting system has a touch of elegance about it, with mostly a mixture of downlights and strip lights. Neither the double bed nor the dinette have reading lights but the strip lighting fitted under the overhead lockers does an admirable job. Jayco’s unlabelled touch switching system does require a little bit of experimentation to determine what turns on what but it does work quite effectively.
Getting to the beds, since there’s quite a few of them. Up front, the innerspring mattress is well sized at 6ft 8in x 4ft 8in (2.03m x 1.42m) and it sits on an orthopedic slat bed base. Like most beds, there’s a storage area underneath but this one is split, the external tunnel storage taking up half the space with the rest being for internal use by lifting the bed base. However, in this case, there’s a nearside external door as well, making this a much more flexible arrangement.
In the rear area, all the bunks have foam mattresses, the rear pair measuring 6ft 4in x 2ft 4in (1.93m x 0.71m) and having their own window, reading light, curtain and cubby hole storage. Under the lower bunk is a tunnel storage with access from the offside and by lifting the bed base.
The wall bunks are a little smaller being 6ft x 2ft 2in (1.83m x 0.61m) but still of a decent size. They are a little less well-equipped than the rear bunks and don’t have reading lights, nor individual curtains. The lower bunk is different to the rest because it converts into a small two-person dinette. In my opinion, a very clever idea because the main dinette table is too small for all occupants in many family vans, but with this design it addresses that problem by having a table for junior family members. If the dinette is being used, the top bunk can be folded back out of the way too.
With the bulk of the bathroom in the same space, it is relatively crowded but having a window for every bunk and a decent sized roof hatch makes all the difference.
In a van of this length, to get everything in, there’s going to have to be a little bit of compromise. That happens in the bathroom because it’s a ‘wet’ combo unit with a shower on one side and a multiple purpose moulding on the other that comes fitted with a Thetford cassette toilet, fold down wash basin and a shaving cabinet. I’d suggest that with a family on board, there might be a queue particularly in the morning, so this is a van that might spend a fair bit of time in caravan parks or at least places with a nearby amenities block!
Adjacent to the bathroom is a very large four door cupboard that includes plenty of shelf space and a top loading washing machine which comes in handy for families on the road.
A little surprise in the Journey Outback 22ft is the kitchen — it’s larger than usual with a reasonable amount of bench top space, very handy at family mealtimes. There are the usual fittings — stainless steel sink/drainer, Thetford four burner hob with a grill/oven and a Thetford N4175-A 169 litre three-way fridge and a Sphere microwave oven above surrounded by a good selection of storage space (drawers, cupboards, and overhead lockers).
Across the way from the kitchen, the L-shaped dinette should accommodate three or four people without too much trouble.
Like many Jayco products, the Journey 22ft has an aluminium frame that’s part of Jayco’s vacuum bonded multi-layer wall construction which consists of external fiberglass and 3mm plywood, aluminum framing, insulation and internal 3mm ply. As noted elsewhere, there are back and front tunnel storages and the two 9kg gas cylinders are fitted between the drawbar rails and neatly covered by a purpose designed moulding which is easily removed for access to the cylinders.
Supporting the bodywork is a hot dipped galvanised Endurance chassis with 6in x 4in (150mm x 50mm) rails and drawbar along with Pressed Steel C-Section (PSC) longitudinal members for keeping the strength up and the weight down. Being an Outback variant of the Journey, it has independent suspension; Jayco’s JTECH 2.0 system comes with trailing arms, coil springs and heavy-duty shock absorbers. The stub axles, bearings, and brakes are all suitable for using the Lippert Sway Command system. The 16in alloy wheels are fitted with a tyre pressure monitoring system that can be checked on a phone app.
Designed for short stay remote travel, the Journey Outback 22ft comes with a 100Ah AGM battery and a 200W solar panel as standard. Monitoring the charging system is a Projecta PM235J battery management system that amongst other things has a five stage 30A smart charger and Bluetooth monitoring. Readouts show the water system as well as the electrics. For internet users, the Sphere Wi-Fi and GPS are going to be a welcome feature.
Jayco now offers a five-year structural warranty on all its vans, meaning everything manufactured by Jayco will be covered under that warranty. There is the usual rider on anything not built by Jayco being covered by individual manufacturer’s warranties, for whatever period of time they specify. A perusal of the Jayco warranty documents reveals a few conditions for Outback models and they include where they can be driven, at what speed (suitable for prevailing conditions) and definitely not on four-wheel drive tracks.
On the Road
With a tare mass of 2395kg and an ATM of 2995kg, the Journey Outback 22ft will require a tow vehicle like the dual cab Nissan Navara at least, which is what I used. With a full load and a large family on board, you may like to consider something more heavyweight. With this van being nearly 23ft (7m) in length I was expecting a little bit of tail wag but it tracked along very nicely behind the Navara, including a bit of time on some very slippery (regional Sydney, post flood) tracks to get to my photo location.
The Bottom Line
There’s something to be said for this Journey Outback layout. Designed for a family of six, the van is not overly long nor overly heavy. There are a few compromises of course, like the east-west main bed and a small bathroom. Overall, though, it’s quite a creative layout and one that comes with generous storage capacities inside and out.
Weights and Measures
Body length 6.985m (22ft 11in)
Overall length 8.35m (28ft)
Width (incl awn)2.47m (8ft 1in)
Height 3.05m (10ft)
Ball weight 215kg
Cladding Vacuum bonded fibreglass composite
Chassis Endurance hot dipped galvanised
Suspension JTECH Outback Independent Coil
Brakes 12in electric
Wheels 16in alloy
Water 2 x 80L
Battery 1 x 100Ah
Solar 1 x 200W
Air-conditioner Dometic Ibis 4
Gas 2 x 9kg
Sway control Lippert
Cooking Thetford Triplex, 4 burner with grill
Fridge Thetford N4175-A 169 litre
Bathroom Combo shower and Thetford cassette toilet
Hot water Suburban
Options Fitted None
Price as Shown $84,490.00
63-76 Glossop Street
St Marys, NSW 2760
Ph: (02) 9623 1971