Most modern caravans have an external width between 2.41m (7ft 11in) and 2.46m (8ft). That measurement usually includes the awning, which is commonly a standard feature these days.
The benefit of getting close to the maximum legal width (2.5m/8ft 2.5in) of a van is, of course, more internal living space. However, there are times when having a van with a narrower body is an advantage. One example of this is when you’re negotiating narrow bush tracks – it’s always good to have a bit of clearance and not be worrying about scratching the van sides, or worse!
Hybrid camper trailer manufacturers have certainly recognised this and it’s not surprising that offroad-specialist Bushtracker Caravans has done the same with its 16ft offroad caravan. It has an external body width of just 2.17m (7ft 2in) which, in addition, to the above benefits, also makes it ideal for a tow vehicle like the Ford Ranger. And that applies to its weight as well. Unladen, the 16ft Bushtracker weighs in at 2420kg Tare. It also has an ATM of 3300kg, giving it a very respectable 880kg load capacity but it also allows a careful loader to keep their overall weight down – another benefit when you hit the rough stuff.
Although narrower than its large siblings, the 16ft Bushtracker still has the very familiar Bushtracker profile and is built the same way with a hot-dipped galvanised chassis, fully independent Simplicity load-sharing suspension, aluminium frame and cladding. The hallmark feature is the body overhang at the front, below which are mounted the gas cylinders and spare wheels. In this case, there’s also an alloy checkerplate toolbox on the drawbar which is designed for a 2kVA generator.
It’s inside where the narrower external body width is the most obvious but, on first look, it seems like Bushtracker has done a Tardis-like job on fitting everything in (Dr Who speak – means it’s bigger on the inside than it looks).
It includes a front island bed, nearside kitchen, offside cafe-style dinette and rear offside corner bathroom. The opposite corner houses a 220L fridge and a full-height pantry with slide-out shelves and drawers.
There is no wasted space in this design. Drawers are fitted underneath the dinette seats and the bed. Also under the bed is a 4kg washing machine with tunnel storage across the front. On either side of the bed, the raised floor (to allow for the wheel arch) also has in-floor hatches for hiding smaller items.
In the bathroom, water sealed doors allow for otherwise unusable space to be fully utilised.
I like the stylish Tasmanian oak finish that Bushtracker uses in many of its vans. In this case though, with the more compressed layout, I reckon the ‘Modern Choices Interior’ with its lighter and contrasting finish helps space perceptions.
Often with a split kitchen, the kitchen bench is across the rear and the fridge/microwave oven is on the side, but the positions have been reversed here. This has the positive effect of leaving all the bulky items at the rear while still being easily accessible. In particular, the corner pantry offers a lot of space.
The kitchen bench has a sink and four-burner cooktop/grill/oven, with the microwave set below the bench. Also under the bench is a cupboard, cutlery drawer and two floor lockers, but space is restricted because of the sink and wheel arch.
Opposite the kitchen bench, the dinette will seat two people without difficulty. Mounted on the opposite wall above the kitchen bench, the flatscreen TV can be seen without too much twisting. Like in the kitchen, there are overhead lockers above the dinette.
Combo bathrooms are sometimes a bit of a challenge but the Bushtracker’s is quite effective with its Thetford cassette toilet, flexible hose shower, wash basin and water-sealed storage.
Because of the front tunnel storage, the 1.9x1.37m (6ft 3in x 4ft 6in) bed sits slightly higher than usual but that’s not a real issue. By day, it offers a commanding view out of the large windows. And the bed base lifts easily to offer access to the storage underneath.
Bushtracker tends to take a Volkswagen approach to their customer’s vans. That is, they start with a base van and have a long options list. This is why, in this case, the electricals are so well set up for extended stays. A 300Ah lithium battery is backed up by four 150W solar panels, an Anderson plug and a 60A mains charger. There isn’t a generator in the generator box, but unless the air conditioner or microwave oven are desperately needed then that’s a bit of weight to be saved. In the case of using (or not) the air conditioner, 12V Sirocco fans are fitted on both sides of the bed. Most of the electrical controls and the Fusion radio can be found above the dinette table.
THE BOTTOM LINE
In many ways, I like this 16ft Bushtracker better than the larger and longer models – especially from a towing and manoeuvring point of view, as it offers a great deal of flexibility.
A larger van will obviously offer more interior space but, overall, I reckon this is a very practical and nicely set up offroad van.
HITS AND MISSES
- Designed for offroad
- Generous load capacity
- Effective use of space
- Well set-up combo bathroom
- Large windows
- Small interior
- Low microwave oven
- Limited kitchen bench space
Weights and measures
- Overall length 7.01m (23ft)
- External body length 4.88m (16ft)
- External body width 2.17m (7ft 2in)
- Travel height 2.95m (9ft 8in)
- Internal height 1.97m (6ft 5in)
- Tare 2420kg
- ATM 3300kg
- Payload 880kg
- Ball weight 120kg (empty) to 330kg
Price as shown
The full feature appeared in Caravan World #565. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!