Best small and micro caravans: lightweight compact models
The options for lightweight and compact caravans have been growing for well over a decade now, with a wealth of choice for couples or growing families to take to the road and explore the great outdoors. If you’re graduating from tented camping accommodation and want to take your first step into caravanning, then some of our choices below could be just right for you.
Of course, space is at a premium in this smaller class, but quite often you’ll find this means the manufacturer has been even more creative with its approach to the overall design. You’ll still find plenty of creature comforts onboard, with practical, space-efficient layouts providing decent flexibility and helping to take any hassle out of your holiday adventure.
These 2, 3 and 4-berth models are still reasonably costly, but shouldn’t break the bank. And, there’s the added advantage that you won’t need a gigantic 4×4 to take on the towing duties.
Read on for our list of the best lightweight and compact caravans…
Adria Action 361 LT
From: £21,475 Berths: 2
The cute little Action was a groundbreaking caravan that single-handedly created the compact caravan class 15 years ago. Its unique styling remains eye-catching and its low weight and aerodynamics will become increasingly important as electric towcars become more mainstream.
Inside, there’s a cosy lounge that converts into a pair of fairly narrow twin singles or a huge double bed. At the rear, there’s a kitchen and a corner washroom with WC and shower. Weighing in at less than a tonne unladen, the Action has a payload of up to 300kg and there’s gas heating and electric lighting for year-round adventures.
The Action broke the mould on its UK debut in 2008 and while the niche has expanded with the arrival of newcomers from Swift and Knaus, the littlest Adria can still hold its own.
Pros: Unique design, lightweight simplicity and surprisingly practical for two.
Cons: Spartan equipment levels, narrow single beds, tight headroom in the lounge.
Swift Basecamp 4
From: £24,495 Berths: 4
Cleverly packaged with some neat innovations to maximise practicality, the Basecamp 4 is for the next generation of active tourers for whom a caravan is a passport to outdoor adventures rather than a country cottage on wheels.
Under the funky decals and front mouldings, the Basecamp has a fairly standard lightweight multi-berth tourer layout. There’s parallel seating in the front lounge, converting to a large double bed with a pair of bunks for the kids at the back. The washroom and kitchen are basic and there are few frills.
The main difference from a more conventional caravan is the back door, making it easier to use as a covered trailer for transporting bikes, boards or compact kayaks.
Pros: Looks the part and is light enough to tow with a modest family hatchback.
Cons: You could buy a much more comfortable and roomier conventional caravan for the money.
Knaus Sport&Fun Black Edition
From: £26,090 Berths: 4
The Sport&Fun has been around for a few years, and while it was always a practical weekend getaway vehicle for active couples and families, the textured body panels and garish colours were always a bit ‘late 80s’. But with the arrival of the more restrained Black Edition and its subdued colour scheme, this compact tourer just got cool.
A large garage under the front bed and a full-height rear door mean the Sport&Fun is a practical load lugger, yet it remains comfortable in comparison with its more spartan competitors. With room for a whole fleet of surfboards on the integrated roof rack, two double beds, loads of storage and a clever shower system, the Sport&Fun is a better equipped and roomier alternative to the ubiquitous campervan.
Pros: Comfortable and practical in equal measure.
Cons: Pricey – but not as pricey as the most basic campervan with more generous accommodation.
Bailey Discovery D4-2
From: £18,999 Berths: 2
It looks like a conventional caravan, only smaller, but the Bailey Discovery D4-2 ticks pretty much all the boxes of its ‘cooler’ compact rivals, while offering superior accommodation and lightweight touring at an eye-catching price. Ostensibly it’s a fairly basic two-berth, but the addition of a £1,200 inflatable wraparound awning pretty much doubles the living space on offer.
The Discovery’s unique curved body makes this possible – creating room for a family of four in a super-lightweight caravan that doesn’t weigh much more than a trailer tent. This combination of lightweight, compact, hybrid caravan/tent technology is likely to become more prevalent for families who can’t justify the expense of running a large SUV to tow a big family van.
Pros: Lightweight, clever design integration with awning, bargain price tag.
Cons: Not as ‘cool’ as some of its showier rivals.
Eriba Touring 530 Ocean Drive
From: £26,200 Berths: 3
The Eriba Touring is an authentic caravanning icon, and the bold retro colours of the Ocean Drive hark back to the genesis of the original Eriba concept back in the 1950s. The unique spaceframe construction means this compact tourer is built to last, and it has certainly stood the test of time.
The pop-top makes it more aerodynamic to tow and easier to store, and it’s equipped with a washroom and basic kitchen, but the accommodation is decidedly cosy by conventional standards. In southern Europe, the Eriba’s fabric pop-top offers welcome ventilation during the heat of the day, but on a breezy British seaside site at Easter, the open-air ambience will be less welcome.
Pros: Stylish design icon that’s built to last and will retain its value.
Cons: Cosy accommodation that’s effectively restricted to spring and summer touring.
Weinsberg CaraOne 390
From: £21,690 Berths: 4
How on earth do you squeeze four berths, a washroom, kitchen and lounge into such a compact caravan? This innovative new arrival on the UK market uses drop-down roof bed technology first deployed in motorhomes to create two double beds in the space that serves as a U-shaped wraparound lounge during the daytime, when the drop-down bed is retracted into the roof.
It’s a clever solution, which means there’s an awful lot crammed into this tiny but stylish touring caravan. Built to exacting German standards, there’s a compact washroom in the corner and an end kitchen with all the kit you need – including a 133-litre tower fridge. The CaraOne tips the scales at 1,184kg – which includes a useful payload of 184kg.
Pros: Couples can sleep in the drop-down bed without having to convert the lounge into a bed for the night.
Cons: Payload and storage are low for genuine multi-berth practicality.
From: £17,544 Berths: 2
The Xplore 422 is a classic lightweight two-berth caravan with a superbly space-efficient layout that delivers everything a couple needs for comfortable touring. It’s lightweight and easy to tow with a modest hatchback, and has a price tag that looks incredibly good value for money in the current climate.
The end kitchen layout maximises the living accommodation in the front lounge, which converts to a roomy transverse double bed. The £500 SE pack enhances the standard spec to match its direct rivals, while a towing stabiliser and extractor fan above the kitchen – both of which you’d probably want – add another £500.
The 422 is a bright and breezy entry-level van that makes excellent use of space on a narrower body and means touring is accessible to couples at an attractive price and weight.
Pros: A comfortable couple’s van that represents excellent value for money – but you’d want the £500 SE pack.
Cons: Front settees are too short to use as twin single beds.
[email protected] L400 TD
From: £22,080 Berths: 4
An instant classic when it was launched in 2004, the [email protected] Teardrop caravan is enjoying a surge in interest at the moment due to its super-streamlined aerodynamic shape.
This and the caravan’s modest 1,200kg weight when laden make it an ideal partner for towing with an EV, and the four-berth [email protected] L400 is extremely bijou and cleverly packaged. It includes an oblique rear dinette that maximises space without obstructing the entrance door and there’s a fixed transverse double bed up front. Somehow there’s also space for a kitchen and enclosed washroom, but precious little space for anything else. As a two-berth, it kind of works, but realistically, it’s only a very occasional four-berth to share with people you know really well.
Cons: Space is at a premium, and add a few basic options like proper gas and electrics, and the price breaks £25k.
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