Real versatility. It’s kind of the Holy Grail for many caravanners. Have you ever wended your way through the hinterland of, say, northern NSW, only to wonder where that unpaved, rugged track leads? Or spotted the most secluded beachside camp but were nervous about your van’s ability to reach it?
That’s where the single-axle A’van Erin HT (Hard Top), fitted with A’van’s Adventure Pack, came in handy during a recent trip. We came across a perfect beachside stopover. The problem? Access was only via a grassy embankment – not too steep, but steep enough.
Putting our faith in the Adventure Pack, which A’van launched as an option in 2009, we slowly, carefully backed the Erin down the embankment. The Adventure Pack more than acquitted itself. Steady and true, the Erin traversed the terrain until we were in position.
The layout of the Erin HT consists of a forward kitchen, mid-nearside dinette with a two-person lounge on the offside, and a rear bedroom. The slide-out, two-shelf kitchen pantry is positioned immediately next to the front entry door – handy for grabbing some snacks when relaxing outside. Kitchen storage is fine for a couple’s van. There’s a deep drawer beneath the four-burner Swift cooktop (three gas, one electric) and grill, with a small, floor-level locker beneath the drawer. There are two cupboard doors under the sink: the one on the left hides two drawers; the one on the right is home to the sink’s grey water hose and water supply lines. Because this cupboard incorporates a shelf, it would make a suitable spot for all the kitchen-related odds and ends that seem to accumulate. The standard electric hot water system is in the offside corner, underneath the kitchen cabinetry.
A lift-up hatch in the offside corner of the kitchen provides access to a wire-basket storage compartment. Just be careful when washing up: the hatch is immediately right of the sink. A couple of lockers above the sink complete the kitchen storage story.
A three-way, 90L Dometic fridge is positioned on the offside between the benchtop and the lounge, in such a way that it makes an L shape of the entire kitchen setup. A bench above the fridge adds to the meal-prep space. An LG microwave is set above this bench.
A quick word on head height: the internal height of the Erin HT is 1.92m (6ft 3in), but it tapers from the end of the offside and nearside overhead lockers to 1.76m (5ft 9in) at the edge of the kitchen bench.
A Dometic hatch with pull-across flyscreen and block-out blind is fitted to the taper.
The two-person lounge (with storage beneath) is good and comfortable, as are the seats that form the main part of the two or three-seater, L-shaped dinette. As is popular, there’s more storage beneath the dinette: a slide-out basket at the base of the L and tunnel-type storage near the door; lift the cushions for overall access.
The dinette and lounge back onto partitions that form the entrance to the bedroom. The bed (mattress measurement: 1.79x1.38m) is neatly surrounded by wardrobes with oval-shaped mirrors on the doors, a couple of overhead lockers and LED reading lights each side of the bed. The wardrobes have reasonable hanging space as well as a false bottom for additional access to the bedside tables below.
The battery charger and 95Ah battery are stored under the bed, which lifts on gas struts. There’s a separate storage compartment with access via a door at the front of the bed.
Overall, there’s a lot to like about the inside of the A’van Erin HT – particularly the 12V downlights which are fitted throughout. Our van had an optional Dometic air-conditioner fitted and it did a good job of cooling the van down on a hot day.
The Adventure Pack includes stone protection halfway up the front and a lower skirt of it along both sides; 15in alloy wheels and heavier-duty tyres; Al-Ko Offroad leaf-spring suspension with shockers; greater chassis clearance (330mm – standard is 250mm); Al-Ko drop-down corner jacks; 8in jockey wheel; upgraded chassis with 6in main members front to rear; Al-Ko Offroad electric brake magnets; mud flaps; and even a slide-out door step.
Construction-wise, the Erin HT comes with fully insulated sandwich panel side walls with a reinforced aluminium skin.
With only a couple of 4.5kg gas cylinders and the jockey wheel, the drawbar is quite ‘clean’. The gal-lined front boot is the main external storage area; with the spare wheel mounted on the rear bumper and the battery and charger inside, it’s yours to fill. Underneath, the 95L water tank is protected by some galvanised sheeting.
When cruising with the Erin variously hitched to a Toyota LandCruiser and LandRover Defender, I developed the impression that this was a good and solid van.
The Adventure Pack costs $3000 on top of the base price, but it would be money well spent if it means you can access spots like our beachside stopover. – Max Taylor.
A’mazing A’van RVs, 53-55 Wells Road, Seaford, Vic 3198, (03) 9786 7711, www.avanrv.com.au For more information, including your nearest dealer, visit www.avan.com.au.