Southern Land Campers’ PT 16 is the natural progression from the manufacturer’s smaller PT 12 model. But, for Keith Leggate, who established Southern Land Campers in 2008, it was more a case of capitalising on the experience gained from the PT 12 and also from client feedback, than acquiring new skills.
Last year, CW tested the PT 12 (CW544), with its defining characteristics including a ‘go-the-distance’ capability, and a durability and toughness. It reflected Keith’s expertise in NASCAR engineering and construction, and his experience in building specialised race cars.
The PT 16 under review commands a price tag of $85,000 (including the optional air-conditioner, ducted heater and reversing camera), so it’s $17,000 more than the PT 12, but, to my mind, it’s worth the additional outlay.
LAYOUT AND DESIGN
I place credence on a caravan’s visual appeal and the PT 16 gets the nod from me in the looks department, with its array of showy silver checkerplate and a lightweight marine-grade aluminium composite panel outer body.
The PT 16 scores further Brownie points, courtesy of its automatic, airbag-assisted roof lifters. On reaching your destination, all that’s required is to release the four pop-top catches, turn on the compressor and, hey presto, up goes the roof. The PT 12 didn’t have them fitted; instead relying on a lifter bar, which was a one-person operation all the same. The remainder of the set up process is also very simple – four drop-down legs and a simple Dometic roll-out awning.
Hitching up the van is easy thanks to the 3500kg-rated DO35 Hitchmaster hitch, allowing great manoeuvrability. A heavy-duty jockey wheel makes for effortless unhitching. Riding on 265/75 R16 BFGoodrich all-terrain tyres and Sunraysia rims, the PT 16 didn’t bat an eyelid while being towed by a 2010 Mitsubishi Triton along some winding stretches at the foothills of Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges. It has excellent accessibility on narrow bush tracks given its width, which matches the average 4WD, and 2.35m (7ft 9in) travel height.
Three double-glazed windows with built-in screens and blinds provide a decent amount of light inside, aided by zippered and screened openings in the pop-top roof. Entry is via a triple-locking, half-checkerplate entry door with an aluminium dust cover at the bottom to minimise dust ingress.
To the right as you enter the van, there are two drawers, a radio/CD player with two speakers, two USB ports, a fire extinguisher, and a small hatch – ideal for holding a first aid kit, dustpan, or even acting as a container for keys, etc.
BEDROOM AND STORAGE
Storage space is abundant in the exterior lockers. There’s a dirty gear locker for the jockey wheel, etc., a ventilated tunnel boot that extends two-thirds the width of the van, and a front boot with a protective rubber membrane.
A full-size innerspring mattress provides a touch of opulence in the bedroom and would make extended periods away quite comfortable. There’s also a skylight with built-in blind and flyscreen above the 1.9m (6ft 3in) bed, which can be extended to 2m (6ft 7in) with a bolster, two reading lamps and abundant under-bed storage. And you can easily house all your camping equipment here as there’s access from outside. However, I did notice there weren’t any 12V powerpoints in the bedroom.
While reviewing the PT 12, I was rapt with the external, floored ensuite, which drops down from the back of the van and allows more interior space. But while the PT 16 is without an external ensuite (although it has an outlet), I was much more enthralled with its internal shower/toilet combo and vanity basin in a fibreglass cubicle. The convenience of having an internal bathroom is not to be underestimated! Water runs hot courtesy of a Truma gas/electric hot water system, and there’s a Thetford toilet with a removable cassette mounted in the shower cubicle.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Quite simply, the PT 16 epitomises attention to detail in finish and quality, and I can visualise undertaking some of the best offroad terrain in Oz in this cosy hybrid. It’s a true offroader – built strong and fully equipped.
In fact, Keith and his wife Sharon recently took the PT 16 on an expedition to South Australia, tackling some harsh territory around the Eyre Peninsula.
- Larger battery, fridge, water and solar capacities than the PT 12
- Internal and external cooking options
- Fully-welded aluminium frame
- Internal toilet and shower
- No 12V powerpoints in bedroom
- Could do with a winch for spare tyre
- Air-conditioner and heater are not standard fittings