Some ‘offroad’ caravans are barely worth the material their decals are printed on when it comes to serious travel off the bitumen. Roadstar's Little Rippa, certainly doesn't fall into this category. It's one of the few vans that you can take on just about any long trip away around Australia.
Design and Construction
Breaking it down
Based on the single-axle Little Rippa compact on-road van, the Adventurer’s DNA comes direct from Roadstar’s heavy-duty, tandem-axle Safari Tamer, with which it shares much of its offroad equipment and smarts. This includes its larger 150x50mm SupaGal steel chassis with tapered Z sections, front stone-shields and twin mud-flaps ahead of a large checkerplate toolbox and flanking jerry cans, plus two additional jerry cans on a twin-arm steel rear bumper cradled on either side of twin spare wheels. Throw in 470mm high black checkerplate protecting its lower walls, 4t shackle anchor points, thoughtful front and rear adjustable LED work lamps to illuminate the hitch/toolbox or spare wheels and you start to get the picture.
Slip underneath and you’ll be further impressed by the van’s 2.6t-rated Cruisemaster XT coil spring/twin telescopic shock absorber suspension and 16in Mantis alloy wheels fitted with Grabber AT2 all-terrain Light Truck tyres, while up-front there’s a Hitchmaster DO35 multi-directional offroad hitch and a robust hand-brake.
Perhaps it’s the contrast between all these rugged items and the silky, mill-finish satin silver composite upper-body cladding with its striking decals, the windowless front panel, or the car-like LED rear lights, but the Little Rippa Adventurer clearly has that indefinable quality called ‘presence’, both on or off the beaten track.
When you step through the centre-forward door, you'll find a welcoming, homely and stylish inside layout.
There’s nothing unusual about its conventional, open plan layout, with a front north-south island bed flanked by twin robes with cupboards overhead, a central kitchen with adjacent three-way fridge-freezer, opposite a leather-clad L-shaped dinette, with a separate toilet, vanity, shower ensuite spread across the rear of the van.
Perhaps it’s the computer designed and cut plywood furniture with its high-gloss acrylic finish in silver and grey on our review van. Or maybe it’s the quality hardware, the soft-close drawers, and the very generous headroom. Or perhaps it’s simply the combination of all these things that gave it a luxurious feel. Whatever the case, you could imagine negotiating the Gibb River Road by day in the Little Rippa and leaving the red dust world outside at night.
Kitchen and Storage
The L-shaped dinette is more space-efficient than a café dinette setup in a van of this length and while short on bench space, the kitchen with its Swift four-burner cooktop, plus grill and microwave below, is adequate for those times when you want to cook inside. On the plus side, the 184L Thetford three-way fridge/freezer will hold enough to keep you in food and drink for several days away from a supermarket, while the cupboards that line the upper walls and are located beneath the galley and dinette will swallow as much stuff as much as most people will want to travel with.
Larger items will fit under the lift-up bed, while the galvanised steel-lined full tunnel boot in the front of the Little Ripper Adventurer copes with longer items.
The bottom line
The Roadstar Little Rippa Adventurer is a very well-equipped and very attractively finished offroad caravan, built by caravan specialists.
The only thing potentially holding it back from the long-distance, rough-road travel its underpinnings equip it for is its 380kg load-carrying capacity, which although more than the 300kg standard for a single-axle caravan, is still marginal for self-sufficient outback travel.
As it is, its maximum laden weight of 2600kg is right on the upper limit for a single-axle offroader and puts it outside the legal towing weight of a five-door Toyota Prado.
Nonetheless, the Roadstar Little Ripper Adventurer remains a solid, very well built caravan with a high level of detail and excellent finish.
- Smart, smooth look, inside and out
- Quality offroad equipment
- Excellent stone protection
I would have liked...
- More kitchen bench space
- More carrying capacity
The full test appeared in Caravan World #531, November 2014. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!