Off the grid travel has created considerable interest over the last half decade or so. By that, I mean the ability to travel to destinations and not be reliant on 240V mains power and to a lesser extent, reliable fresh water supplies.
That does not necessarily mean a full offroad caravan because there is certainly no shortage of places to visit in this vast country where road access isn’t too difficult. What’s been the game changer in recent times has been the increasing readily availability of Lithium LiFePO4 batteries, which in engineering terms have an excellent power-to-weight ratio when compared to AGM batteries, in tandem with the development of more efficient solar panels.
OFF THE GRID
Jayco Caravans has the manufacturing ability at its Dandenong plant to cover the entire spectrum of caravans, pop-tops and hybrids. But like most manufacturers, it also has a range of caravans for those who like to get well and truly off the beaten track – yet with all the essential caravanning comforts. Hence the All Terrain range which consists of three models, a 19ft couple’s van, a 19ft family van and a longer 22ft family van.
The All Terrain van has been around for a few years but what’s new is the Off-Grid X upgrade that considerably boosts the 12V power system and allows for the effective use of an inverter too. Available as either the Off-Grid X Pack One or Pack Two, my review van came with the latter. Both have similarities – 30Ah DC charging, 40Ah solar controller, 7in touchscreen monitor and a Projecta IG2-BT7 power management system. The differences are that while Pack One has a 2000W inverter, 120A charger and 200Ah lithium battery, Pack two ups that to a 3000W inverter, 180A charger and 400Ah lithium battery.
In its original form, the All Terrain comes with a single 100Ah lithium battery, so Pack Two is a considerable power boost indeed. While there is something of an argument for using as many 12V devices as possible, thus reducing energy losses in devices like the inverter, that’s not really practical with devices like microwave ovens and air conditioners and high-capacity lithium batteries are the answer.
For the tech heads, the Off-Grid packs use components from the Projecta Intell-Jay power management systems. It’s a fully modular arrangement, in which everything is connected via CAN bus communication, thus allowing for retro additions if necessary.
Using the Projecta system via the touchpad is fairly simple, the most difficult thing is to find the ‘on’ switch. Once located (in the overhead locker above the dinette), it’s all quite straightforward to use either via the touchpad or remotely using a smartphone. What’s a little less easy is getting to some of the system components. They are mostly fitted under the front bed, keeping them out of the way, but some of the fuse-fitted items are right in the offside corner, making them awkward to get at.
Aside from the electrics, water is more likely to determine the time of remote stays. The freshwater capacity consists of two 80 litre tanks, mounted on either side of the wheels, between the chassis rails. The similarly sized grey water tank is fitted to the rear. It has the usual drain valve but so too do the freshwater tanks. Makes flushing out the tanks for cleaning an easy job. The likely limiter for remote travel, as always, will be the toilet cassette.
Getting to the caravan itself, the All Terrain is built very much in the Jayco style. The chassis on the 19ft model is Jayco’s Endurance design, all hot dipped galvanised, with 150mm x 50mm (6in x 2in) RHS used for the main rails and extended drawbar. Pressed steel C-section is used for the cross members to improve the strength/weight factor. Independent suspension is of course a standard item, using Jayco’s JTECH 2.0 system with Pedders coil springs and shock absorbers. Designed such that toe in and out can be adjusted for wheel alignment. An option is to have Lippert Sway Command. Tyre pressures can be monitored via a smartphone.
For the bodywork, the All Terrain has an aluminium frame. It’s part of Jayco’s vacuum bonded multi-layer wall construction, which consists of external fibreglass/3mm plywood/aluminium framing/insulation and internal 3mm ply. Protective black alloy checkerplate is used all around the lower waistline area.
External storage is certainly a feature. There is a front tunnel storage but most of that is occupied by a slide-out kitchen. The being fitted with a two-burner hob, stainless steel sink and a simple hinged extension piece.
Fitted to the drawbar is a large box complete with top storage and doors on both sides, including one with a generator slide-out. Two 9.0kg gas cylinders and two jerry can holders are fitted to the drawbar. Because of all the potential load on the drawbar, a little bit of caution might be good regarding the tow ball mass. An Off-Grid X addition at the rear is a bin for collecting firewood along the way. It fits neatly between the bumper bar/spare wheel mounting and the rear wall of the van.
A PLACE TO CALL HOME
What catches the eye when stepping into the All Terrain Off-Grid X is the east-west bed across the front of the van. That’s a necessary feature, compared to an island bed in a van of this length, in order to fit in bunks and a bathroom down the rear while still having enough space for an offside dinette and facing kitchen bench. Similar to the body framework, the cabinetry framing is also made from aluminium.
Up front, there’s not a lot of window and hatch area, with just one window on the offside. Instead of a roof hatch where one might normally be, there’s a Dometic Dust Reduction System. Although four people will be taking up space in this layout, there’s still room to not be on top of each other.
To make the most of the available space, the transverse bed measuring 2.03m x 1.5m (6ft 8in x 4ft 11in) just about fills the width of the van. Handy for taller persons. On the offside, there’s a bedhead shelf under the window, as well as two cubbies behind the pillows – which given the space is better than no shelf area at all. Reading lights are fitted to both sides and there’s a power point for the right-hand occupant. Overhead lockers are fitted all around above the bed. Fitted into those are LED mood lighting strips and two Sirocco 12V fans. Lifting the bed gives access to the storage area but that’s partly taken up by the aforementioned electrics.
One thing about the cafe dinette is that it should accommodate a family of four without too much trouble. That’s something not every family van I have seen will do, so it’s something of a plus.
The same could be said for the kitchen bench area. It’s of a reasonable size with an acceptable meal preparation area. That’s even with the stainless-steel sink/drainer and four-burner hob. With the grill/oven under the hob and the microwave oven in fitted into the overhead locker area, there’s still plenty of cupboard and drawer capacity. Fitting in between the dinette and rear bed/bathroom area is the excellent capacity Dometic 216 litre fridge.
BATH AND BUNKS
For the bathroom, the layout is slightly different to usual. The shower cubicle fits right into the rear offside corner, leaving enough space for a Thetford China Bowl Cassette Toilet and against the forward wall, a vanity cabinet that includes a top-loading washing machine. It’s all very compact but mostly practical.
Opposite the bathroom, the bunks measure 1.84m x 0.7m (6ft x 2ft 4in) and don’t have that squashed in feeling. Each bed has a window, reading light, privacy curtain and power sockets, both mains 240V and 12V. Commended for being better than usual, the aluminium ladder is easy to scramble up and down. Under the lower bunk is a storage area which is also accessible from the outside.
Not having a washing machine in the cupboard space between the bunks and the bathroom does allow for a generous amount of shelf and drawer capacity. Handy in a family caravan.
ON THE ROAD
Having a Tare Mass of 2599kg and an ATM of 3199kg gives a good payload capacity but doesn’t result in an overly heavy caravan. Certainly, my Nissan Navara tow vehicle coped well with both the freeway driving and the bush tracks I found to give the van a little test drive. On the freeway, a truck bow wave occasionally shifted the van around a bit but keeping an eye on the rear-view mirrors reduced the surprise factor. Standard on the All Terrain is a rear-view camera, a very useful item when manoeuvring around.
Like all Jayco products, the All Terrain Off-Grid X comes with a two-year manufacturer warranty to cover the internals and five years on the structural components, including chassis, suspension and body. Individual components not manufactured by Jayco are covered the respective OMEs.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Off Grid X Packs are certainly an interesting addition to the All Terrain caravans. Most particularly for those who desire to spend time away from the maddening crowd yet still want to have everything functional in the van. Certainly, the layout is good for a family which doesn’t desire an overly large caravan yet has a practical layout.
HITS AND MISSES
- High power 12V system
- Family caravan
- Can be used with mid-range tow vehicle
- External kitchen
- Some electrical components are hard to get at
- Limited window area in front of the van
- Minimal bathroom space
Jayco All Terrain Off-Grid X Specs
Weights and Measures
|Body length||6.045m (19ft 10in)|
|Overall length||8.425m (27ft 8in)|
|Width||2.47m (8ft 1in)|
|Ball weight (at TARE)||265kg|
|Chassis||Hot dipped galvanised|
|Suspension||JTech 2.0 independent coil|
|Water||2 x 80 litre|
|Grey water||1 x 80 litre|
|Solar||2 x 200W|
|Air-conditioner||Dometic Ibis 4|
|Gas||2 x 9.0kg|
|Cooking||Thetford 4 burner hob|
|Fridge||Dometic RUC8408X 216 litre 3 way fridge|
|Bathroom||Separate shower cubicle and Thetford cassette toilet|
- Dometic RUC8 216L compressor fridge (as shown)
- Truma Vario 2.8kw gas heater
- Xtend Outdoors annexe
- Dual reversing camera
- Slide-out external kitchen
Jayco All Terrain Off-Grid X price from $86,990.00
Jayco All Terrain Off-Grid X price as shown $109,672.00
Supplied by Jayco Sydney
THE NEXT STEP
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