Caravan review: Salute Caravans Garrison Unlimited

Caravan review: Salute Caravans Garrison Unlimited - Caravan World Australia

Salute Caravans has clearly adopted a military theme for its company and product range branding which seems apt. This manufacturer places less emphasis on innovative flair and more emphasis on a disciplined approach to ensuring high quality builds and the use of premium components. 

I spent a sunny day with Fabio Bazzacco and Joe Capodicasa, co-owners of Salute Caravans, to learn more about their company and products. In a nutshell, Salute is a family-owned boutique builder. It has a small, long-serving team of people that builds around 100 units a year. This enables it to have a hands-on approach and maintain disciplines of high-quality control. It sells directly through its company-owned dealership Melbourne City Caravans to maintain a close relationship with its end customers and offers a competitive price.

Salute focuses on twin-axle, full offroad vans. In old-school measurements, the range offer comprises 18ft 6in, 19ft 6in, 20ft 6in and 22ft models. The first three sizes are dedicated to couples vans and the largest size is available as a couples or family van. All size offerings are available in coil spring suspension (Signature Series) and airbag suspension (Unlimited Series) variants. In addition, the company will be bringing across a former standalone brand Provincial under the Salute umbrella brand during the course of 2024.

The van on review is the 19ft 6in Garrison Unlimited couples van with a high-end suspension system suited to extended rough road travel which is among one of Salute’s most popular sellers.

The build

The Garrison Unlimited follows a well-proven build method established over many decades across the industry. It can’t be described as cutting edge, but it has done the job for hundreds of thousands of Aussie caravan owners. We are talking about the classic box steel chassis with a body constructed of a meranti timber frame and aluminium cladding. Salute does a nice job of putting it all together. Fabio is an advocate for the flex a meranti frame offers in the rigours of offroad applications. Salute opts for a multi-piece, structural grade plywood floor, aluminium checkerplate on the lower wall sections and composite aluminium skin on the upper wall sections and roof.

Longstanding local manufacturer ARV Chassis is Salute’s preferred supplier. The Garrison Unlimited sports an offroad-rated chassis featuring a SupaGal boxed steel 6in A-frame with 4in chassis rails and 2in risers. The chassis is mated to TuffRide’s airbag suspension system. It’s a trailing arm independent suspension where airbags take the place of coil springs. Airbags are charged by compressed air and varying the pressure enables the ride height to be adjusted which has many advantages. The van can be lowered for on-road travel to optimise stability and aerodynamics. It can also be raised to improve body ground clearance in slow-going offroad scenarios. Plus, when you reach campsites, being able to raise and lower each airbag independently enables the van to be levelled on uneven ground eliminating the need for levelling ramps. TuffRide offers varying spec levels, and the Salute Garrison has the premium level four system. It is made up of an on-board heavy-duty compressor/tank, a dual digital pressure gauge, a wireless remote to raise and lower the airbags and an automatic self-levelling feature. Plus, you can use the compressor to pump up other stuff such as your tyres and inflatable stand-up paddleboards.    

Stylish looking 16in dark alloy rims shod with 245/75R16 mud tyres complement the two-tone black/grey walls and they work in tandem with 12in offroad drum brakes. Once exotic, and now practically standard issue across the industry is the Cruisemaster DO35 multi-axis articulating coupling. 

Up front we have a stoneguard to protect the two 9kg gas bottles, two jerry can holders and a simple but effective toolbox. Featuring an access door on either side, the toolbox has dual slide-out trays for easy access to contents. The offside tray is ideal for a compact portable generator.

The rear of the Garrison has clean lines and is not overloaded. It has a single spare wheel in the middle of the three-armed bar and forgoes jerry can holders or wood boxes. If you are a fan of carrying two spare wheels you are in luck as a second spare is underslung to the chassis.

Heading inside

The interior aesthetics are very pleasant, and the layout will be familiar to many caravan enthusiasts. It’s a classic rear door configuration with a rear bathroom, mid-living/kitchen area and forward bed. The bathroom comfortably houses a regular cassette toilet, good storage, a compact hand basin, a nice sized mirror, a Destination RV 3.5kg top load washing machine and an ample shower — what more could you want?

A generous size L-shaped lounge and lengthy table is a standout in the living area. I found the seating stylish with comfortable bolstering. A comprehensive suite of decent appliances can be found on board. A Dometic 188L compressor fridge is within easy reach of the main door. You can opt for a three-way absorption fridge of the same brand and size, but I find they are becoming a bit of a rarity these days. Above the fridge is an Aussie Traveller 900W 25L microwave. The kitchen proper has a Hawk 600 Series cooker with three gas burner, one electric stovetop, a grill and a separate oven. Above that is the Sphere rangehood. Beside the cooker is a large sink with a decent-sized draining board that can double for food preparation space.

Up front there is plenty of storage surrounding the caravan queen-sized bed. A useful touch in the bedside wardrobes is the horizontal panel separating the hanging space from the lower side access storage nook. This simple design feature will make the space for phones etc. feel a lot less cluttered once you fill your wardrobe up.

Heating and cooling are well catered for with a Dometic 3.4kW reverse cycle air-conditioner plus a dedicated heater comes standard with a choice of a diesel Webasto AT2000 or gas Truma VarioHeat Eco. Salute tells me around 90 per cent of its clients opt for diesel heating.

Outside living

The Garrison Unlimited comes with a few nice outdoor living touches. I am a fan of the electric awning — it is just so user-friendly compared to the manual roll-out alternatives. There’s a decent-sized fold-out picnic table and a hatch that houses 240V and 12V USB points. The van did not come standard with any form of external cooking/kitchen. A common solution is to bring along a compact barbecue such as a Weber Q that will fit in the front tunnel boot or toolbox. The twin electric step is a welcome addition for people with limited mobility. You just need to make sure you have the suspension raised if you are travelling over rough ground as it sits a little low.

Roughing it

Off-grid stays are reasonably well catered for with three 200W (600W) solar panels and two externally mounted Baintech 120Ah lithium batteries (240Ah). The 2024 models feature the newly launched, Australian-made REDARC Manager Alpha power management system. It’s an integrated system that can charge from a combination of your vehicle (DC), mains power (AC) and solar power simultaneously. The Garrison Unlimited comes standard with the 50A version of the system but this can be upscaled to meet your needs, as can battery/solar capacity. An inverter can be optioned in too. 

The rest of the off-grid setup aligns with industry norms including 190L of freshwater and 95L of grey water tank capacity and two 9kg gas bottles. The cassette toilet might be the first thing to run out of capacity, sending you back to civilisation.

The tow test

The Garrison Unlimited sports the classic Aussie van ATM rating of 3500kg and a tare of 2602kg yielding a healthy payload of 898kg. As we keep repeating at Caravan World if you are using a tow vehicle such as the Amarok pictured here or any other comparable ute, you will need to be careful about how you manage weights. You won’t be able to fill your caravan or your ute to their individual legal limits as this will exceed the gross combined mass specified by the ute manufacturer. Instead, you will need to partly fill both to stay legal. This is no criticism of the van but rather a commentary on the impracticality of the 3500kg tow ratings specified by ute manufacturers given the gross combined masses they nominate. 

The ball loading at tare of 139kg is much lower than the average van of this size yielding a nose weight percentage of just over 5 per cent. The industry-accepted guide is to aim for around a 10 per cent nose weight when loaded to facilitate optimum stowing stability. Fortunately, the Garrison has plenty of good storage room up front and it will be a good idea to put your heavy stuff there to bring the nose weight up. Of course, you can overdo it and it is always a good idea to weigh your van loaded up to have a good understanding of where you are at.

Our journey to the shoot location took us through plenty of towing scenarios. We had freeway speed cruising, hills and twisty roads. The van was empty which put less demand on the ute but also in theory had the potential for the van to be unstable due to its light front end. In practice, the Garrison Unlimited and Amarok towing duo took it all in its stride and was stable at all times.

The bottom line

There is a lot to like about the Garrison Unlimited. It’s a premium van with a reasonable price tag. It ticks a lot of boxes including a high-performance suspension system, reputable chassis, a proven layout that works and quality appliances throughout. Combined with good off-grid capacity the Garrison Unlimited could comfortably take a couple all over Australia. 



  •  Height-adjustable airbag suspension system is a winner — ideal for camping and a smoother ride on corrugated roads
  •  It’s a comprehensive package of premium components
  •  A new REDARC power management system ups the van tech


  •  Be careful to load with some weight to the front to ensure stable towing


The $116,990 price tag is getting up there but the Garrison Unlimited is packed with premium features as standard

It towed very nicely behind the Amarok in a variety of conditions, but the usual caveats of twin cab tow ratings applies

The Salute has a specification that is right on target for hitting the open road and exploring further afield

Salute focuses on working with a small, disciplined team to ensure quality standards and the results show

The interior is nice and functional, and the exterior has some useful touches that make life easier

The Garrison Unlimited is a competent performer with the new REDARC management system delivering a substantial improvement

I get the sense that Salute is motivated to do the right thing and the owners are upfront about their warranty terms and conditions on their website

It’s not overly innovative but it makes up for it with a suite of well-thought-out premium appointments

A family-owned business which is fair dinkum about building a solid van and looking after its customers



Overall length 8.35m (27ft 5in)
Body length 5.96m (19ft 6in)
Body width 2.35m (7ft 7in)
Height 3.1m (10ft 2in)
Tare 2602kg
ATM 3500kg
Payload 898kg (calculated)
Ball weight 139kg
Ball to tare ratio 5.3% (calculated)


Frame Meranti timber
Cladding Aluminium composite
Chassis SupaGal boxed steel 6in A-frame, 4in chassis with 2in riser
Suspension TuffRide self-levelling airbag (level four)
Coupling Cruisemaster DO35
Brakes 12in offroad drum
Wheels 16in alloy rim with 245/75R16 mud tyres
Water 2 x 95L freshwater (190L total), 1 x 95L grey water
Battery 2 x Baintech 120Ah lithium (240Ah total)
Inverter 3000W Projecta inverter/charger
Solar 3 x 200W (600W total)
Air-conditioner Dometic 3.4kW reverse cycle
Gas 2 x 9kg
Sway control Tuson asymmetric sway control


Cooking Hawk 600 Series stove (3 gas, 1 electric), grill and full oven
Fridge Dometic 188L compressor
Microwave Aussie Traveller 900W 25L
Bathroom Full ensuite with shower and ceramic cassette swivel toilet
Washing machine Destination RV 3.5kg top loader
Hot water Swift 28L gas/electric

Salute Garrison Unlimited price from $116,990


Salute Caravans
3/800 Cooper Street
Somerton Vic 3062
P: 03 9303 7200


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