Caravans that have external lengths of 6.1–6.7m (20ft–22ft) are all too common these days. While it does allow a generous interior space that many appreciate, it has the disadvantage of being an increasingly heavy caravan. Also, a more expensive one.
Quite a few manufacturers, though, do produce smaller caravans, many with a single axle, which is a weight reduction factor in itself. Millard is one such manufacturer with its 17ft 6in MFlow caravan.
Currently there’s a boom going on in the caravan industry, with a shortage of stock in many saleyards. But, after an internet search, I discovered said van at RV Connection, located at St Marys west of Sydney. A few days later — before the van was sold — I was hitched up and ready to roll.
By way of explanation, in case you are looking at the weights and measures, the 17ft 6in nomenclature is an internal measurement, the van actually has an external length of 5.56m (18ft 3in).
So, does a slightly shorter caravan have some weight benefits? Of course. This MFlow has a tare of 2161kg and an ATM of 2500kg (giving a payload of 339kg), so it is not an overly heavy van. This makes it towable by many a vehicle and, in the case of the Mazda BT50 I was using, quite an easy towing proposition. Indeed, on my test tow on the highways and byways, the MFlow was a well-behaved van.
WORK YOUR BODY
All Millard caravans have an aluminium frame with all-round insulation. Composite wall and roof cladding, the latter being a one-piece item to minimise water leaks, does give the van a slightly squarish look, particularly from the rear. That’s nicely offset though by the black and silver decals plus a lower waist of black alloy checkerplate. Across the front of the van, the tunnel storage offers plenty of capacity for all those essential camping items, but there’s no temptation for too much overloading!
A noticeable feature on the Mflow are the large front windows. All of the windows are double glazed acrylics, but the forward pair stand out because of their size. It’s very easy for someone standing outside to have a chat with any occupant in the bed.
There is a clash of interests between the Camec security door and the window behind it, as you cannot really have both fully open at the same time. However, a reshaped bit of coathanger wire could be used to restrict the door opening arc and allow the window to be open at the same time.
Under the forward window, the picnic table has been kitted out with a 240V powerpoint and a 12V/TV antenna connection for those who like to sit outside and watch their TV. In addition to the door grab handle light, there is one LED strip light mounted mid-wall, but that should illuminate the under-awning area very nicely at evening time.
UNDER-BODY STEEL WORK
Under the van, Millard has built the hot dipped galvanised chassis in the usual box section style but has resisted the current trend of using 150mm x 50mm RHS steel, instead doing a bit of weight saving by constructing the chassis with 100mm x 50mm RHS for the main rails and drawbar and 50mm x 50mm RHS for the cross-section components. AL-KO ‘quick drop’ corner stabilizers are fitted to all four corners and the water tanks are fitted fore and aft of the axle.
Staying traditional, AL-KO leaf spring suspension is fitted to the 15in alloy wheels which have 12in electric brakes — no problems with stopping power in this van.
Up front, the drawbar looks surprisingly non-busy. Apart from the required ball coupling, handbrake and centre mounted jockey wheel, there are just two 9kg gas cylinders and (shielded) mains pressure water taps.
There was a time when a house battery in a caravan was a very luxury option. Now at least one battery, in this case a 100Ah deep cycle, and a solar panel (150W) is almost obligatory. It does bump the cost of the van up a bit, not to mention the weight, but along with adequate freshwater capacity and a grey water tank (optional here) it offers a much greater flexibility when travelling.
ROOM TO MOVE
Not surprisingly given the layout, the MFlow van has a forward entry door. Stepping through that reveals a layout that is bright and breezy, and that’s not only because of large windows. The glossy finish on the ceiling and walls, which acts like a white mirror, is contrasted by the greys of the CNC machine cut cabinetry, but the space perception is good. The illumination, all cold white LED, is a mixture of reading lights and mostly concealed strip lighting with just a couple of ceiling lights.
In centre stage, the L-shaped lounge works well in this layout. It doesn’t quite have the bulk of a cafe-style dinette but it still offers enough room for two to slide in and out without too much difficulty.
One lucky person gets the footrest at the rear end of the lounge. It slides out like a drawer but there is also a matching seat cushion inside that provides a comfortable resting spot for weary feet.
The table fits the ‘just about the right size’ category and the Nuova Mapa table leg is fully adjustable whilst still feeling nice and solid. Above the wall seat are three overhead lockers, all handle-less, ie, easy to open and close, and tucked in the corner above the seat back are both 240V and USB hub outlets.
Given the space available in caravans, kitchen layouts tend to look a bit familiar, and differences are often subtle — like the bed end shelving. This one scores quite well in the cupboard and drawer department and has a reasonable amount of benchtop space.
Built into the kitchen benchtop is a four-burner Dometic cooktop and grill, alongside a round stainless steel sink sans a drainer. Fitted into the corner between the benchtop and bathroom is a Thetford 152L 12V compressor fridge. It’s slightly slimmer than the usual fridge sizes and has an NCE microwave oven fitted above, providing the usual height accessibility problem for height challenged cooks.
Up front, the 1.85m (6ft 1in) x 1.53m (5ft) bed takes up most of the area. Walk-around access on both sides is quite good, with the kitchen bench being angled to give some space.
Wardrobe and drawer capacity is reasonable and there’s even pillow cubbies on either side, along with a ‘hidden’ storage compartment in the base of the wardrobe. Also, both 240V and USB chargers’ sockets are included.
As noted previously, the larger windows on either side plus the roof hatch offer very good cross-flow ventilation inside.
'Compact' might be a good word to describe the bathroom. However, it does have all the expected essentials for any full width layout, like the shower cubicle on the nearside, Dometic cassette toilet on the offside and vanity cabinet across the rear wall. The latter item is designed to include a front-loading washing machine but does have a decent amount of cupboard and drawer space, as well as the pedestal wash basin. Finch fan hatches are fitted above the shower and toilet.
THE BOTTOM LINE
There’s much to be said for this Millard caravan. It ticks a number of boxes, including price, weight and towability. All without too much compromise in the layout and feature departments. Whilst not kitted out for endless remote travel capability, it’s certainly a van that has the flexibility to be used for both on and off-the-grid travel.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Body length 5.56m (18ft 3in)
Overall length 7.59m (24ft 11in)
Internal length 5.3m (17ft 6in)
Width 2.5m (8ft 2in)
Height (incl AC) 2.98m (9ft 9in)
Internal height 1.99m (6ft 6in)
Ball weight 138kg
Cladding Aluminium composite
Chassis 100mm/4in hot dipped galvanised
Suspension Leaf spring single axle
Brakes 12in electric
Water 2 x 95L
Battery 1 x 100Ah
Air-conditioner Dometic Ibis 4
Gas 2 x 9kg
Sway control No
Cooking Dometic four-burner and grill
Fridge Thetford T1152 152L 12V compressor
Bathroom Dometic cassette toilet and separate shower cubicle
Hot water Swift
PRICE AS SHOWN
97C Glossop St
St Marys, NSW 2760
Ph: (02) 9623 0400