OFFROAD GRIT RV’s more than 20 years’ experience in boat building has provided a wealth of relevant knowledge in the art of creating a great caravan. It could almost sail the seven seas but will stay firmly on the ground.
WHAT HAVE BOATS GOT TO DO WITH IT?
Both boats and caravans need to be space efficient and able to withstand constant movement. Both also need to provide comfort and security to their occupants with a place to sleep, cook and play. Protection from the elements while being light are also common elements. One thing a boat doesn’t require is strong suspension, while this is one of the core components of a good caravan. There are many commonalities between boats and caravans except that if a boat sinks, you’ll be left all at sea. Why all the boat comparisons you ask?
One of the founders of OFFROAD GRIT RV is a boat builder and restorer of over 20 years’ experience. When Mark turned his hand to building a caravan, its quality was always going to reflect his extended professional experience and innovation. And no, he didn’t design the suspension. Mark went to the experts at Cruisemaster who supply the van’s excellent dual axle, independent airbag suspension. Prior to embarking on building vans, his company was also producing high-quality composite components for other premium vans around the country.
WHERE DID WE TEST?
With the Sunshine Coast hinterland all around us, we took the van out past Maleny and Kenilworth into the narrow forestry tracks. This provided a good variety of hilly bitumen roads and bumpy gravel tracks. The van towed comfortably behind the big RAM as we wound our way up and over steep rainforest-covered ranges. For a large van it tracked well, and the air suspension easily ate up potholes, which made me confident the van would handle outback corrugations with ease. You will need a decent tow vehicle as it will be a heavy van when loaded to capacity.
With a custom designed and engineered Australian manufactured chassis using 350 grade Australian steel hot dip galvanised as the base for the build, it certainly starts on a solid ground. The 4.5T Cruisemaster ATX airbag suspension with ventilated disc brakes is then added. The Cruisemaster level 3 airbag controls add the great control so you should be able to level the van to an even keel on any surface you are likely to set up camp upon. The test van had large 315/75/16 tyres on 16” wheels which ride and look the part. The stud pattern and tyres can be matched to most tow vehicles which will allow interchangeable spares between tug and van.
As with many modern vans these days, composite panels are used. There is a one-piece roof and walls made from fibreglass sandwich panel with XPS core. The floor is one piece made from fibreglass infused PVC core. There are several benefits of this type of build including solid protection from any water ingress, great insulation properties and being light weight. Composite panels also give greater protection from hail damage than traditional tin and timber construction. The bonded external corners of the van are protected by raptor coated capping further protecting the body build. All hatches are fully sealed and there is a Dometic Dust Reduction System (DRS) mounted on the roof, which creates positive air pressure in the van to keep the dust out.
All the construction is done in south-east Queensland with parts sourced locally and put together onsite at OFFROAD GRIT’s factory in the Glass House Mountains. Any elements requiring certification are done onsite and the quality of that work can be seen by looking at the electrical system. Any serviceable elements are easily accessible through a well-planned design.
ON THE OUTSIDE
There are plenty of external amenities to enjoy. This includes two drop-down tables, a barbecue slide with speakers and dual colour lights covered by a 19ft Sunburst rollout awning with centre support. There are multiple power options in an entertainment hatch, including one double 240V GPO, a 12V 15A outlet, TV bracket, TV power supply, airbag controls and USB outlets. An air compressor outlet is also included, allowing you to inflate your tyres while on the go. There is also a hatch for all the plumbing valves neatly laid out and well labelled, a nice touch that adds to the overall quality of the van.
External storage is available in two large compartments. One is a tunnel boot that has the barbecue slide on one side, and another is a large compartment utilising much of the space available with this bed layout. The drawbar houses a medium-sized toolbox with access on either side and a wood box on top. One side of the toolbox has a slide-out for a generator should you ever need it. Although with six 180W Enderdrive solar panels on the roof totalling 1080 watts, it would need to be an extended wet spell not to be able to charge using solar alone. On the day we were testing, solar was still inputting up to 20A on a cloudy day with abundant shade.
PLENTY OF ROOM FOR A FAMILY OF FOUR
A family of four will be able to travel in comfort with adults on a full queen-sized bed at the front and two full-length bunks at the rear of the van. If you have had a look at the photos, you’ll notice the main bed is against the right-hand side wall of the van. This won’t suit many people; however, it does come with a lot of advantages. There is much more useable space in front of the wardrobe/main clothes storage. This allows you to get dressed next to the bed rather than moving into the doorway as with an island bed. It also eliminates the need for space at the end of the bed on one side which makes way for a much longer couch in the dining area. But as every van is designed and built for its owner, you have the choice of any bed configuration that suits you.
Storage is abundant in the GRIT RV 22.6 as you might expect. The wardrobe is large, as are the overhead cabinets in the sleeping and living areas. The inclusion of a large storage area under the bed is different to most. It is large enough for a decent-sized safe, which would be a great place to store valuables when you are away from your van. A safe can be bolted through to the chassis, which I would appreciate as a place for camera and computer gear. There are two large drawers under the bottom bunk. Again, there is plenty of storage both above and below the kitchen bench.
A clever design with the slide-out pantry provides the largest and most useful pantry I have seen in a van, and includes a configuration of five slide-out drawers. Three of the drawers are attached to the door and slide out when opened while the other two only slide out as needed. This has a couple of benefits including allowing easier access to take items from the door-based drawers.
The large lounge in the dining section of the van is very comfortable and provides enough room to stretch out. The table for this build is on the small side, but again, this can be configured for the purchaser in the design phase.
THE MODERN KITCHEN
With loads of electrical power on board, there is no need for a gas cooker. A bonus with the price of gas these days. Instead, there is a microwave and a two-plate induction cooker. And for those times you want to cook meat on gas, there is always the outside barbecue. The mixer tap over the round sink also provides filtered water for drinking. I’ve already mentioned the excellent pantry but its worth another mention as it complements the kitchen so well. The large 224L fridge is also suited to family living and is a 12V compressor model. It should never run out of power with the two Enerdrive 300amp lithium batteries.
TALKING OF POWER, THERE IS PLENTY
I’ve already mentioned the 1080 watts of solar panels on the roof and the 600A of lithium battery power. There is also 3000W Enerdrive combi transfer inverter with a 120A AC charger, a DC40 Enerdrive DC2DC charger and a 60A MPPT Morningstar solar controller. While taking the internal van photos, I was able to have the Dometic Ibis 4 air-conditioner on full blast as it was a typical hot and humid Queensland summer day. It made being inside the van a pleasure, just as it would if you were camping in similar conditions. There are USB and 240V outlets throughout the van so you will never go wanting for somewhere to recharge your device from.
To view the electrical components, lift a panel under the lounge and you will see an example of what all electrical layouts should look like. Unfortunately, not many manage to retain order and simplicity with so many components. A well-planned electrical layout makes it much easier for fault finding if there is ever an issue. In day-to-day use, you normally won’t need to check out the electrical system itself as there is a Simarine screen on the wall above the lounge that gives you all that you need to know in terms of electrical input and outputs. There is also a water tank monitor and a level indicator.
Although not technically part of the power system, the Cel-Fi Go cell booster is mounted next to the Simarine and Enerdrive remote control, along with another USB outlet and the Truma hot water switch.
The ensuite design again maximises the use of available space inside the van. The vanity basin has been taken out of the ensuite and placed at the end of the van in the corridor between double bunks and the rest of the ensuite. This works well in a family situation, when someone might want to clean their teeth while someone else is using the toilet or shower. Open the ensuite mirrored door and you will find yourself in a roomy toilet space separated from the large shower by a translucent shower door. There is a comfortable space to get changed or towel-off between the toilet and shower. This is a simple but effective way of making great use of the space.
There are three 100L poly freshwater tanks and one 100L poly grey tanks which should be more than enough for a family of four. A plumbing hatch on the outside of the van provides all the switching of different tanks using John Guest fittings.
With the amount of water available and a large greywater tank for use in national parks, the GRIT RV 22.6 will be very happy off grid. Adding the solar panels and large capacity batteries to the mix, the ability to stay off grid will only be determined by how long you want to be there (and perhaps how much food you have on hand), because the van itself won’t be the limiting factor.
HOW DOES IT TOW?
The GRIT RV 22.6 towed very well behind the large RAM pickup. The ATM can be taken up to 4500kg with the components used but you will need to consider what your tow vehicle and CGM is. Dirt roads and corrugations won’t be a problem for the van; the experience of the tow driver combined with the tow vehicle will be the determinate of where you can tow it.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The OFFROAD GRIT RV 22.6 is a premium caravan that is built using quality components by a company that takes pride in its work. Opening service hatches only reveals more features and a thoughtful design, showing that quality in this van is not skin deep.
HITS AND MISSES
- Bespoke build using quality components
- Locally made
- Not an off-the-shelf product – designed for the new owner
- Price means it’s not for everyone
- The bed in this layout will not suit everyone
OFFROAD GRIT RV 22.6 Enduro Series Bunk Ratings
VALUE FOR MONEY
Even though this is a premium-priced van, it is still good value for money
Needs a suitable tow vehicle but will tow well
SUITABILITY FOR INTENDED TOURING
The OFFROAD GRIT RV 22.6 will go anywhere you can tow a van
Excellent eye to detail and quality components ensure great build quality
Everything for a family of four to enjoy any journey
Excellent off-grid living with large water and battery capacity with plenty of solar
You will be involved in each step of the design and build process
A lot of innovation to suit different needs
OFFROAD GRIT RV 22.6 Enduro Series Bunk Specs
Weights and Measures
|9.2m (30ft 2in)
|External body length
|6.9m (22ft 6in)
|External body width
|2.5m (8ft 2in)
|3.1m (10ft 2in)
|2m (6ft 5in)
|2960kg Weighbridge certificate supplied
|Ball weight at tare
|Ball to tare ratio
Single piece roof and walls made from fibreglass sandwich panel with XPS core. Single piece floor made from fibreglass infused PVC core
|350 grade Australian steel hot dip galvanised
|4.5T Cruisemaster ATX airbag suspension with ventilated disc brakes
|DO-45 offroad coupling
|16” alloy wheels with 315/75/16 Falken AT tyres
|3 X 100L freshwater, 1 X 100L grey water
|2 X 300A Enerdrive Btec battery
|6 X 180W Enerdrive solar panels
|Dometic Ibis 4 air-conditioner
|2 X 4kg gas bottles
|Thetford induction cooktop
|Dometic 12V compressor fridge 224L
|23L NCE Flatbed
|Camec 4kg Washing machine
|Truma 14L gas hot water system
Each caravan custom
OFFROAD GRIT RV 22.6 Bunk price from $139,725 (including on-road costs)
OFFROAD GRIT RV 22.6 Bunk price as shown $174,640 (including on road costs)
Supplied by OFFROAD GRIT RV
THE NEXT STEP
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