Although it is not uncommon for caravan owners to look for the biggest tourer they can afford, so that they can benefit from the maximum living and storage space available, there has been a growing trend for small caravans.
There are a variety of reasons why you may opt for a small caravan over a more luxurious and larger model. For instance, it may be that you do not have the available funds to afford a large and spacious model, it may be that you don’t have the space on your property or a caravan storage site close enough or simply want a compact caravan because it will allow you to plan and take the kind of trips you want to go to that includes places where larger models can’t.
Perhaps, from a more practical side of things, it’s based on the fact that you only have a small towing vehicle.
Whatever the reason why you find yourself on the small caravan market, you may be more than a little surprised at just how many different models and options are available. While it can be great to have a wide variety to choose from, it can also make the whole experience more of a headache and stressful.
That is why the team here at Caravan Helper have put this post together, to discuss the best small caravans available. Although we have not singled out just one caravan make or model, our list would be a great starting point for your search, coupled with the useful buying guide we have included that discusses some of the crucial things you need to consider when choosing a small tourer.
A Small Word on What Small Means
It’s vital to note that when it comes to looking at small caravans, the word small can be very subjective. Many companies produce so-called small caravans that have not made it onto this list because they are not really what we would consider, in the modern sense, small. Other descriptive words used by manufacturers to describe their small caravans includes compact, micro, and mini.
Don’t expect, for example, any caravans that have twin-axle builds. However, there is also no need to think of small caravans as just being a small bedroom with nothing more to offer either. We have also chosen to omit teardrop caravans from the list. Although they are obviously one of the smallest types of caravans available, we wanted to showcase small tourers that resembled the more conventional, larger designs.
Best Small Caravans Manufacturers and Models
To help you on your search for the right small caravan for you, we are now going to discuss some of the best small caravan manufacturers and their models. Please note that this list is not in any particular order, and at the time this post was published, the information was correct.
Bailey Discovery Small Caravan Range
Bailey is the oldest caravan manufacturer in Britain, having been established by Martin Bailey when he designed the company’s first tourer in his garage in South Bristol. It makes sense, therefore, that they would have options for people looking to buy smaller caravans – their Discovery range.
You need to be aware when looking at Bailey Discovery’s caravans that compared to other small caravans on the market and featured in this list, they are actually larger. The 2-berth version of the D4-2 is the smallest they currently produce.
Another thing that makes Bailey’s options different from many on the market, is the manufacturer’s decision to stick with a side door, rather than the more commonly used rear door layout. Bailey is clearly targeting the more adventurous caravanners with this range because although there is very little space inside the tourer for bikes, you can choose the extended A-frame that includes a bike rack. Another unique feature is the airframe awing.
If hygiene is very important to you and not something you can really compromise on, the Bailey Discovery D4-2 is perhaps your best option as it has the biggest washroom with a shower and toilet.
Another hugely popular manufacturer, Swift, have their own addition to the small caravan section of the market with the Basecamp. Although it has a very conventional layout, the company have opted for a rear door arrangement. This makes it more practical and better when it comes to storing bikes and equipment like hiking poles, skis and other things adventurous folk may take along on their trip. The name Basecamp itself hints at the target audience of these smart little tourers.
If you do any research on the Basecamp beyond this guide, you will find that it has won numerous awards over the years, largely due to its price and its build quality. As Swift are one of the largest manufacturers of caravans in the UK, it is easy enough to get parts and service them.
Adria Action 316LT
Another small caravan that has the conventional side door arrangement, the Action 316LT is a smart little caravan produced by the Slovenian manufacturer Adria. It also has a more traditional fixed panel construction – something that a lot of small caravans don’t have. A notable feature is a full washroom that includes a shower and toilet and the fact that Adria has a sterling reputation for building high-quality lightweight tourers.
One of the main downsides about this, which may or may not be a problem for you, is the position of the fridge. It is installed up quite high and the latch to open the door is very close to the ceiling. It may seem like a minor thing to have gripes about, but when you consider the price, you want to make sure you are getting the best value possible and if you are constantly bashing your hand while trying to access the fridge, it might not be worth it.
Caravelair Caravans are a successful French company that has an excellent reputation for manufacturing reliable and great quality full-size caravans and have ventured into the small caravans market. One of the big differences between the Antares 335 from Caravelair and other small caravan builds is the fact that it is a more standard bonded/fixed construction and not a GRP.
It does offer a 2-berth layout and has a fully dedicated shower and toilet area. You don’t get some of the guarantees you would get with other brands on our list, but it’s not a bad choice.
In the past, Eriba was well known for its Eriba Puck teardrop-style caravan model. Although this has been discontinued, the respected company still makes smaller sized caravans. German-engineered and designed, configured, and built to a high standard of quality, you will never hear many negative comments about them. Other than about their price tag, that is.
As there is a lot of time, effort and money put into them though, it results in tourers that offer great value for money.
Before you read any further, it’s important to note that after several manufacturers changes, from the original makers of Trigano SA to Silver.camp, there are no new models of Silver Trigano 310 pop-up caravans made nowadays. That being said, because they have a strong reputation, you may still find this classic small caravan on the used caravan market.
Go-Pods, like the final small caravans in our list, is made from single-piece GRP shells. With Go-Pods caravans, the door arrangement is on the rear of the vehicle and you get the benefit of a pop-up roof for welcome additional head height.
While it’s good to note that the premium iteration of Go-Pods come with solar panels and bespoke awnings, no version comes with separate or dedicated shower and toilet areas.
Freedom Small Caravans
Last, but certainly not least, on our list is Freedom Caravans and their small tourer offerings. Although Freedom Caravans is a British-based company, their range of small caravans are designed and built-in Poland and then imported over here. Freedom small touring vehicles are available with several different models and specs as either 2 or 3-berth configurations. Similar to Go-Pods, these have single Glass-Reinforced Fibre or GRP shells and are noted for their leak resistance.
As an added bonus, Freedom Caravans have put their money and reputation where their mouth is when it comes to supporting their small caravans and offer a full 25-year water ingress warranty on the body. They also offer a dedicated bathroom that has a sink, toilet, and shower.
Things to Consider When Looking at Small Caravans
If you are in the market for a small caravan and interested in one or two of the models we’ve outlined above, before you go ahead and buy one, there are some important things you need to consider.
Smaller and Limited Layout
One of the big benefits of small caravans is their size. While this is definitely a great thing in many ways, one of the downsides is the fact that it restricts the amount of internal space you have. With only a few exceptions, most small caravans have the same kind of basic layout. This is more through necessity than anything else. For instance, there is no fixed bed in a smaller caravan. If your small caravan comes with a bed already included it will be a special convertible one that acts as seating when it is not in use.
You are also limited when it comes to storage space as there is limited space in general. Therefore, you will not be able to take an enormous amount of clothing, bedding and all the luxuries from home that you be able to take in a larger caravan.
When it comes to bathrooms, it is only really teardrop caravans that do not have any toilets on board. However, although they have toilets, they may not have enclosed and private bathrooms. It also means that you can’t really have the same kind of shower set up you’d have in a full-size caravan.
Smaller Payload Allowance
Another thing you need to consider when looking at small caravans is that because of their smaller and lighter frame, they have much lower payload allowances than full-size caravans. This obviously affects what you can store and keep in your caravan while it’s on the road and stationery.
Fewer Awning Options
Awnings are incredibly important when it comes to smaller caravans as they help to increase the available living space you have. However, the downside is that most “off-the-shelf” standard-sized awnings are not going to be suitable for a small caravan, because they are smaller in terms of width and height. This means that you will have to invest in a customised solution or one from the manufacturer.
The right small caravan for you, whether it’s one of the many manufacturers and models highlighted in the post above or not, should be the one you and whoever else is travelling with you feel most comfortable in. Comfort and security, as well as practicality, as we have discussed, become even more important when you decide to opt for a small caravan because the available living, sleeping and storage space is so limited.
Hopefully, with the choices listed above and the buying guide, we have provided you with the information and considerations needed to help you make the right decision. While we hope you think carefully before making your choice, we hope you remained excited about owning a small caravan, because it can be a great addition to your lives!