What Weight Caravan Do I Need?

All this talk of  Mass in Running Order, Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass, Gross Vehicle Weight, Unladen Weight etc etc. may have obscured the obvious questions:

  • What weight does my caravan need to be?
  • How much do I need to be able to tow?

This site is about towing at or near the limit of the 3500kg restriction, but to understand why, we should look at what caravans are available in different sizes and what they weigh. The maximum weight you can realistically tow is 1500kg or just over, so we’ll look at caravans up to that weight. The caravans listed below are the lightest available for their size.

Around 1000kg

At this weight there aren’t many caravans around, but there is one that stands out, the Swift Basecamp.

It has an MTPLM of 994kg (1027kg for the Basecamp Plus) and is able to be towed by most cars.

It’s drawbacks are limited room and only 2 berths. There is an awning available with bedroom but this means someone is sleeping outside.

The Basecamp is intended as a crossover vehicle from camping to caravanning and it fulfills this task admirably, so it could be exactly what you’re looking for.

A more traditional caravan at this weight is the Lunar Ariva at 990kg MTPLM.

Again, it is a 2 berth but can be considered more traditional in format than the Basecamp. It doesn’t have a dedicated awning so you can add whichever one you like of a suitable size.

Floorplan of Lunar Ariva:

Caravans at this weight really need an awning to be able to sleep a family.

Bailey offers the Pursuit range of lightweight caravans, and their 400-2 comes in at 1090kg MTPLM, floorplan below:

Around 1200kg

Stepping up 200kg will gain you some needed space but it is still a low weight in caravan terms and you are still limited to 2 berths.

Lunar offers the 1220kg Quasar 462 with 2 berths and a larger bathroom

Lunar Quasar 462 floorplan

Swift offers the Sprite Alpine 2 with MTPLM 1208kg

floorplan:

As you can see it is very similar in layout to the Lunar above and at a similar weight.

Around 1300kg

Moving up a step we come to the first 4 berth caravan at 1245kg MTPLM with a fixed double bed and large bathroom, in the

Venus 540/4

1400 to 1500kg and 6 berths

At these weights we see more luxurious caravans but mostly a similar size to the Venus (above). They have different layouts and different equipment, but they are a similar overall size.

There are some exceptions, for example if you need a 5 or6 berth caravan.

Bailey Pursuit 560-5 has an MTPLM of 1407kg and 5 berths

Venus have the 590/6 with 6 berths at 1395kg MTPLM

These have seating at both ends as there is no fixed double bed, which gives you separate seating areas for adults and children, but you do compromise on the size of the bathroom.

Swift have a 6 berth in this weight range with the Sprite Major 6 MTPLM 1468kg with a slightly different layout (below)

The next 6 berth in the Swift range is the Challenger 590 but weighs 1600kg so is out of reach.

Elddis have the 6 berth Avante 586 with MTPLM 1460kg which again has a slightly different layout which could be beneficial as it has a larger bathroom (below)

The Venus range by Lunar, the Sprite from Swift and the Pursuit from Bailey are very lightweight for their size, with minimal extra equipment helping to this end. You will find a one piece front window and items like a 3 burner gas-only hob and combined oven/grill, no radio/cd player or Alko ATC, to save on weight.

Caravans of the size of the Venus 540/4 make up the majority of caravans up to 1500kg that we can expect to be able to tow. There are different layouts with the end double bedroom with central bathroom becoming popular this year.

The difference between the Venus at 1245kg and others of a similar size but heavier weight, is quite simply – extra equipment.

Some items you might think unnecessary and others you simply can’t live without. That’s where personal choice and trawling through many many caravan brochures comes into play. Enjoy!

Please see other sections of the site for more luxurious ranges at around 1500kg.

 

 

 

 

2017/18 Lightweight Caravan Ranges

Elddis Affinity (2018)

0ne 2-berth and three 4-berth models all with a MTPLM below 1500kg but a good amount of equipment, including the very useful AL-KO ATC trailer control as standard.

The 554 model has a fixed transverse island bed and an end bathroom MTPLM 1477kg

The 4-berth Affinity 550 has an end bedroom, central bathroom with en-suite option, large fixed bed and front lounge that turns into another double or 2 small singles great for younger children.

MTPLM 1467kg

You can see the full range HERE

Lunar Quasar (2017)

The Quasar range has one 2-berth, five 4-berth and one 6-berth caravans all of which you can tow if you choose your tow car carefully (even the twin axle 674)

The Quasar 574 is a 4-berth transverse island bed model with an end bathroom and a MTPLM of 1390kg.

You can see from the picture below that it doesn’t have a front sunroof, but this is more than made up for by the “Skyview” roof light which measures 1400mm x 440mm.

Although it doesn’t have ATC trailer control as standard this can always be fitted as an extra which won’t increase your MTPLM.

ATC trailer control can be fitted to most caravans with an AL-KO chassis either by taking it to an AL-KO service centre or contacting their mobile service which fits it at your home. More information.

You can see the full range HERE

Lunar Lexon (2017)

A range of four 4-berth caravans with a max MTPLM of 1495kg.

The Lexon is one range up from the Quasar in the Lunar ranges and as such it has more equipment (including ATC trailer control) as standard and so weighs a little more. There isn’t the versatility of a 6-berth and twin axle models as in the Quasar but they are all nicely appointed and relatively lightweight for their size.

The Lexon 590 has a rear island bed with centre bathroom that can be made “en-suite” by closing the central caravan door.

You can see the full range HERE

The next stop up the Lunar range is the luxurious Clubman. The Clubman SR is exactly the same size and layout as the Lexon 590 (above) and for this year it has exactly the same MTPLM of 1495kg even though it has more equipment.

To complete this seemingly miraculous feat and to keep the Clubman SR’s towing weight down, they have reduced the user payload to 155kg (the Lexon 590 has 181kg. It appears that caravan manufacturers have seen the driving licence problem coming and have decided to try and have as many models as possible at or below the 1500kg figure.

 

Family Caravans You Can Tow

Maximum MTPLM You Can Tow

We know from other discussions on this site (here) that the maximum weight of loaded (MTPLM) caravan we can tow, if we have the right car, is 1576kg.

If this changes through new cars or more research I will update this figure.

The car we can use to tow this weight is a Skoda Octavia Estate 2.0 TDI  6-speed manual (GVW:1924kg), although I would recommend the 2007 Subaru Legacy 2.5 Estate 4×4 (GVW:1970kg)

Here I’m going to look at family sized caravans that you can tow legally, and when loaded correctly – safely too.

Everywhere you look for caravans, either new or used, the MTPLM figure will be quoted,making it very easy to choose a caravan weighing the right amount. What’s not so easy is finding a model that has all the space and facilities you need (want!) for your family to be comfortable and catered for, many of the family sized caravans in higher specification models weigh too much to be able to tow.

Twin-Axle Caravans

I expected there to be no twin axle caravans that fit under the weight limit, but after doing some research it seems there are a couple. This is good news as a twin axle is generally more stable, less affected by cross-winds for example, but obviously weighs more due to the second axle and two extra wheels.

Lunar Quasar 674 (2017)

MTPLM 1530kg

This is a large twin axle caravan with 4 berths and a fixed island bed and is perfect to give you lots of room for a family of 4. More details here.

*Note for 2018 the 674 has increased it’s MTPLM to 1560kg. This is due to Alde wet central heating being a standard fit item.

Lunar Quasar 674

 

Venus 620/6 (2017)

MTPLM 1500kg

A large twin axle caravan with 6 berths (two double beds, one fixed and 2 bunks) ideal for the larger family. More details here.

Venus 620/6

*Note for 2018 the 620/6 has decreased it’s MTPLM to 1480kg

Sprite Freedom FB (2017)

MTPLM 1500kg

A large twin axle caravan with 6 berths (two double beds, one fixed and 2 bunks). More details here.

*Note for 2018 the Sprite range has undergone a review and the lightest twin axle is now the Sprite Quattro EW MTPLM 1605kg.

The twin-axle caravans above are the heaviest you can tow, and that’s only possible because they are the absolute lightest twin-axles available.

You are far more likely to tow a single axle caravan weighing 1500kg or less. There are many caravans weighing 1500kg or less but that is really the magic number.

When looking at caravans online their MTPLM is clearly stated, so choosing one under 1500kg is relatively easy.

When looking for a caravan to tow with a standard car licence obtained after 1997 the highest priority is to choose the right tow car – if you have one that weighs 2300kg Gross (laden), like a Mondeo Estate for example,  then you have limited yourself to towing only 1200kg, which, as you can see from reading this site, will not get you anything more than a 2 berth model.

It’s a wiser option to choose your car first, by looking through the information on this site, and then you are free to choose a caravan up to the car’s limit.