But the owners of this van, Lucas and Paula, left it up to Everest Caravans to do all that for them. Instead, they simply specified a mid-size family van capable of outback travel with plenty of off-grid capability.
The owners of Everest didn't take a safe path in their colour choices, and when I heard the chosen tones on the phone, I must admit it sounded an unlikely combination. But as soon as I saw the van, the stunningly impressive result showed impeccable taste in the edgy and unusual palette choice of matte rust and X-plate black. The first time the new owners saw the van was when they came to collect it, with the reveal streamed on a live video link to Facebook the day after our review. Happily, they were delighted and logged Facebook posts long after the handover praising Everest owners for going beyond expectations.
Everest is a family-owned boutique builder with Louie at the helm and wife Aneta handling administration and marketing. A small crew operates from the factory in Campbellfield, Victoria, and output is set at an average of one van per week. The ethos is quality over quantity, as seen in the meticulous attention to detail and design innovations throughout the model range. Louie worked for 15 years in the industry before establishing Everest Caravans as a high-end custom builder. From day one, the emphasis has been on excellence and close communication with customer expectations. The company took out the title of Best Custom Caravan Builder at the 2022 Australian Enterprise Awards.
Body construction is a traditional timber frame, and while some may find this unusual in a high-end van, the team goes to extremes to ensure the van is watertight for a worry-free life. I'm told more than 120 tubes of high-quality sealant went into the review van so that every join is appropriately protected from the elements.
The cladding also adds to the weather protection. Instead of composite, the high rust coloured covering is solid 2mm aluminium. Louie told me that while it’s slightly heavier than a composite alternative, he prefers this as it's more robust and completely fireproof. In addition, the 900mm high X-plate on the lower sections of the sides and rear protects the body effectively and looks sleeker and more exclusive than the usual checkerplate.
The frame is bolted rigidly to the Roadrunner chassis, which is formed from 150 x 50mm Supagal with a 50 x 50mm riser. The van rides high on Roadrunner’s own Oz Trekker tandem independent trailing arm suspension, rated at 3.5 tonnes and fitted with dual shock absorbers at each wheel. Everything under the van is neatly installed, and any vulnerable pipes are covered with plastic protection.
One of Lucas’s criteria for the van was that he wanted to be able to get it into confined spaces — meaning he needed it to be relatively compact. The outcome is a new Falcon model with an 18ft 7in body on a tandem suspension, and it looks super capable. The appearance is well balanced with neat carbon graphics and a style bound to impress. Blue LED strip lighting runs along the lower edge of the aluminium X-plate, which adds to the wow factor even in daylight.
At the A-frame, we see a D0-35 hitch and AL-KO sway control. A Manutec jockey wheel has a robust mount and is centrally located for ease of use and stability. A heavy-duty custom stone guard includes mud flaps with Everest logos and sits ahead of twin 9kg gas bottles and a sizable black storage box with a generator slide. A custom black four-place bike rack is located above the storage box, and there's an 18L diesel tank for the Wabasso heater.
A hatch for a slide-out Swift alfresco mini grill barbecue and stainless-steel sink is along the passenger side. A second hatch is just to the rear, as with many of the extra touches we see in the Everest, it's neatly lined in carpet.
At the midsection is an entertainment hatch with a difference. A fold-down picnic table has a space for the recessed TV box, and power leads right where it makes sense. Again, it’s a feature that takes time to execute and shows the level of attention Louie lavishes on his vans.
A single spare surrounded by jerry can holders on a sturdy bar is down the back. Meanwhile, three narrow windows for the bunks subtly announce ‘kids on board’.
Access to the front through-boot is found on the driver side, and there's also an external shower with overhead insect-proof light for freshening up before heading inside. A chassis-mounted box ahead of the wheels adds to storage for jacks and tools.
Two 170W roof-mounted solar panels charge twin 2 x 100Ah Lithium batteries through a BMPRO 35HA management system, and a 2000W inverter will run most of Lucas and Paula’s appliances. The air-conditioner is an Ibis 4 Slim, the TV gets an Antenna Tek aerial, and a roof-mounted scupper vent helps eliminate dust.
The van is high off the ground, so a twin fold-down step is needed to climb aboard, but there's a handy grab rail with light and an extra LED strip light down low for night.
By any standard, 18ft 7in is smaller than your average size for a three-bunk van. However, Everest kept to the client's size limitation and still managed to include the bunks, a useable dinette, a split ensuite, and a queen bed. The layout is innovative and expedient while offering privacy for both the kids and parents.
Stepping inside, I was struck by the elegance of the colour choices and the astonishing level of craftsmanship lavished on the build. Bespoke joinery, hidden blue lights, subtle wall panelling, beautifully crafted two-tone upholstery in volcano and cigar colourways, and tasteful Everest logos combine to create a product formed by a team who loves their work.
Black satin features, black joinery, and the black Italian Hexa splashback blend together beautifully with modern Estonian ash-toned timber at the bench and table. And across the aisle is a two-tone leather-look L-shaped lounge around a drop-down table. Occasional guests can be accommodated by dropping the table and fitting the supplied bed infill.
The layout has the main bedroom at the front, a split ensuite separating the central living space, and the bunks at the back. Locating the bunks along the rear wall and rearward of the entry creates a feeling of space in the living area, and I had to keep reminding myself of the compact size of the Falcon.
Bunks have their own fan, a light with USB charger, storage nook, privacy curtain, and bedsides and ladders that seem strong enough for hard use by teenage children. A wardrobe near the door gives some storage for clothes, and it should be noted that an optional twin bunk setup includes ample storage space below the beds.
As in most compact vans, there are compromises in kitchen space, but the timber cover over the black Swift mini-grill helps when the cooktop isn't needed. Black tapware and a black granite sink look very swish, though, and there's good storage in overhead and under bench cupboards and in a supply of self-close drawers.
The fridge is a good 191L family-size compressor unit, and the lithium power pack should keep it running on time. A Sphere microwave sits above the fridge. High microwaves aren't a great idea, especially in a family van, so care will be needed with hot items.
One of the overhead cupboards houses the main switch panel, the BMPRO 35 Plus battery management system, a Projector monitor, and an Odyssey smart link with water levels. The lithium batteries and inverter are accessible in the tunnel hatch under the bed.
I really like how the centrally located split bathroom maximises the privacy for the parents. Walking forward, to the left is a roomy moulded fibreglass shower with a full-length mirror on the door, while opposite is the toilet with a ceramic bowl, a black vanity in the timber benchtop and a 4kg washing machine. Packing all this into the limited space is very clever, and there is no effect on useability. Overhead hatches and a small window in the toilet area offer light and ventilation to these rooms.
A curtain separates the front bedroom, where an east-west bed has an innerspring pillowtop mattress. It's comfortable, snug, and windows on each side eliminate any confinement issues. Overhead cupboards and a space under the bed add to storage options, and there's a Sirocco fan and a second TV mount for some parental ‘me’ time.
The tare weight of the Falcon comes in at fairly hefty 2816kg, and a 684kg payload takes the van to an ATM of 3500kg. So, as long as you adhere to Gross Combined Mass and don't overload the tow vehicle, it’s in the scope of twin cab utes and the usual range of larger four-wheel drives.
We headed up the Hume and into farmland dirt roads for our review. Behind my 100 Series LandCruiser, the Falcon rode perfectly with full water tanks both at highway speeds and over some tricky rough terrain. There was no sway, pitching, or wandering on the dirt tracks.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Including features like the lithium battery and inverter pack, the diesel heater, and upgraded suspension, the Falcon 18ft 7in is $105K plus on-road costs. You would have to expect this figure for a high-quality custom build.
The unrehearsed reveal to the new owner speaks loudly about the quality of the van. Putting the event live on Facebook was a considerable risk, but it showed confidence in the quality of the van and the appeal of Louie and Aneta’s design intuition. The Falcon is a remarkable model from a team that takes deserved pride in what they do, and I look forward to seeing what they can come up with to reach the peaks that his latest Everest has achieved.
The Everest Falcon is a nuggety family offroader with a heart of gold. The level of fit and finish is very high, and it's well equipped for off-grid family living.
PROS Superb build quality
Capable and sensibly sized for offroad travel
Stunning unique looks
CONS High microwave
Some won't like an east/west bed
VALUE FOR MONEY 8/10 $105,000 is what you would expect for the quality
TOWABILITY 8/10 Tows well, but you need to watch combined mass for smaller tow vehicles
SUITABILITY FOR INTENDED TOURING 9/10 Able to go where you want and camp in style
BUILD QUALITY 9/10 They don’t get much better than this
LIVEABILITY 7.5/10 It's compact, but there's a sensible use of space
SELF SUFFICIENCY 7.5/10 200Ah of lithium and 349W of solar is sufficient. May need a generator in cloudy weather
CUSTOMER CARE 8/10 Three-year warranty and a passion for looking after their clients
INNOVATION 8.5/10 It's the little things that add up, but the primary winner is the layout
X-FACTOR 9/10 Wow! This van will be the centre of attention everywhere it goes.
EVEREST FALCON 18ft 7in
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Body length 5.7m (18ft 7in)
Overall length 8.2m (27ft )
Width 2.5m (8ft 2in)
Height 3.1 m (10ft 2in)
ATM kg 3500
Payload 3500kg (calculated)
Ball weight ( at TARE) 233kg
Ball: TARE ratio 8%
Cladding Solid aluminium and X-plate
Chassis Roadrunner 150x 50mm Supagal
Suspension 3.5 T Roadrunner independent with twin shock absorbers
Brakes 12” drums
Wheels 16” alloy AT tyres
Water 2 x 95L fresh water, 1x 95L grey
Battery 2 x 100Ah lithium
Solar 2 x 170W
Air-conditioner Ibis 4
Gas 2 x 8.5kg
Sway control AL-KO
Cooking Swift mini grill
Microwave Sphere 25L
Fridge 191L compressor
Bathroom Yes, separate toilet and shower
Hot water 28L gas electric
PRICE FROM $105,000
OPTIONS FITTED Battery and solar upgrade, 3500kg suspension, diesel heater, extended length design modifications, custom cabinets, plus more
PRICE AS SHOWN $105,000 plus on-road costs
To enquire about this caravan
51 Glenbarry Road, Campbellfield VIC 3061
T: (03) 9357 9440
M: 0410 262 606