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Off-road caravan essentials: What will get you there (and back)

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When you’re heading out with your off-road caravan, it’s likely that you’re trying to get away from it all. But to do so successfully (and safely), you’re going to need to take enough of your key resources: water, power and fuel.

Water tanks

Water is the most precious resource. Figure out what your daily usage is and how many days you’ll spend off the grid. You also need to factor in the types of water you’ll be carrying. It’s ideal to have a separate tank for bore/river water to avoid contaminating your town water. Common storage solutions include underbody tanks, slimline tanks that can be inserted into unused spaces and mudguard tanks. Additionally, it’s a good idea to keep one or two jerry cans for emergencies. Finally, get professional help when installing.

Solar power

Living on the sunniest continent in the world has its benefits – going off the grid for days or weeks is completely feasible with a solar power system. Essentially, you need to figure out your daily power requirements. The potential load of all your electricals –kitchen appliances, TV, lighting, laptops, fans, pumps, etc. – needs to be added up. Before you consider solar panels, you need to select a power storage system capable of storing enough power to cover a typical maximum load (you’re never going to run everything at the same time), factoring in how many days of backup you want to incorporate. Only once this is established should you select panels. You’ll also need a solar regulator/charge controller to suit. Calculating your needs is an art and should be done in consultation with an expert.

Fuel

The amount of fuel your 4WD carries will probably not be enough for long hauls. There are a few ways to increase capacity before heading out. The most obvious is adding jerry cans that are approved for carrying fuel (AS2906-2001) – red for petrol and yellow for diesel. It’s common to add extra fuel storage to your tow vehicle or upgrade the primary tank. The best systems have separate pumps and lines for each tank in case one fails. Most 4WDs are catered for by third-party installers. Be sure to check your state laws before having this work done.

Communications

It’s important to keep at least one line of communication open in case you get stuck or there’s an emergency. While your mobile provider won’t always have coverage, your phone will automatically piggyback on any available network if making an emergency call. Other options include the trusty HF radio. It’s a great way to contact nearby vehicles and base stations. While the technology is still subject to atmospheric conditions, newer models can send GPS coordinates and even make calls and send texts. Other options include using a personal locator beacon (PLB) or satellite phone. Of course, it’s not all about emergencies – consider portable satellite internet if you need to stay connected to the rest of the world.

With these vital essentials addressed, you can take your off-road show anywhere you want.

If you’re planning to add all this extra weight, check out our guide to understanding caravan towing capacity.

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