Caravans have been a way of life for hundreds of years. Originally horse drawn and used by travelers or merchants, the first caravan built for leisure was built in the 1880’s for Dr Gordon Stables who ordered a ‘Gentleman’s Caravan’ from the Bristol Carriage Company.
He used this to travel Britain in 1885 and his journey became the subject of his book – The Cruise of the Land Yacht ‘Wanderer’. He wanted to travel in comfort and style, and the Wanderer was crafted from mahogany and maple wood, there was a washroom, a pantry and a saloon with musical instruments to entertain guests.
These days we still want somewhere to cook, a place to wash up and room for entertainment, but the way we do these things is different, especially with advances in technology… where are caravans going from here?
Smaller and Lighter
Caravan size is changing, people are becoming concerned with using fossil fuels, so smaller vans are gaining popularity as they are lighter to tow and require smaller towing vehicles.
The Compact Caravan was designed with a family of three in mind. To create extra space in these compact vans they have movable areas for more space like decks, and fold out tables.
If you are camping solo, another option is the QTVan, which can be towed behind a bike… yes really. At just 2m in length, it has a full sized bed, an entertainment nook with a tv and also has a kettle. This is a concept that went into production in 2011 to help people camping out for the best viewing location at the Royal Wedding.
All in One
The Ecco seed pod concept car and camper combined, compares itself to a VW campervan. The size is wider, but shorter and not as long, and the style is far removed from the old combi.
The design expands vertically to create the sleeping space and living mode, when on the road it is a sleek 4 person car.
Making use of modern technology it’s an all-electric vehicle charged through either 240V or the solar panels. I’m not sure it’s a campervan solution that would appeal to the masses, but it definitely grabs the eye.
While caravans often cover all the basics required, they often don’t have many luxury additions. Knaus decided to take this challenge on and produced the Caravisio with help from luxury yacht designers and 2 years of work from over 20 different companies and industry experts.
This is a study in what caravans of the future may entail. With plenty of natural lighting through strategically placed sunroofs and a panoramic window in the sleeping space, you don’t feel cramped or shut in.
Innovations in the design include furniture that can be easily rearranged to create work stations, a fold out deck and the ability to control technology within the van through a tablet device for lighting, the projector screen onto the glass sliding doors and the rear covered terrace.
See it in action here: http://youtu.be/FM4PgzPcs90
Room to Move
Lastly, we visit a concept that is going into production in late 2014. The Romotow is designed to open by twisting the main body of the van sideways allowing the outer shell of the van to be its own annex.
It has been designed to fit on standard camping sites, but can also be used when closed if the space isn’t available. Their range goes from a smaller compact towable to a 5th wheeler, and allow for a lot of extra room quickly and easily.
While some of these are more unusual than others, and some may never get to full production, it’s interesting to note that we still want the same things today in our leisure options as they did almost 130 years ago.
Which caravan do you prefer?