When does a camper trailer become a caravan? Over the years quite a few manufacturers have moved into the ‘crossover’ style of camper, with a hard walled pop top body forming a central core, around which the more familiar camper-style features are centred. Internal features were at first essentially limited to a fixed bed and a nest of storage cupboards, but recently more and more ‘caravan’ features began to appear in this central core.
These crossover rigs retained the essential advantages of camper trailers, in that they are all designed for off-road use, with beefed up suspension, good ground clearance and a low height profile.
Now crossover vans have been set a new benchmark with the latest rig from North Coast Campers. Their new 17-foot Off Road XLS model is a seriously big camper/caravan. It combines the internal comforts of a 17-foot caravan with the external features and capabilities of a genuine off-road camper.
The XLS is built on a hi-tensile, hot dipped galvanised chassis, with North Coast Campers’ own-design suspension system. This robust suspension features tandem trailing arms with coil springs and shock absorbers, and with pivoting cross arms from chassis to axles. The underside is well protected and pretty much snag free. Water storage comprises 300 litres underneath in heavy duty poly tanks.
On the A frame is a McHitch fully articulating hitch, forward of a mesh stoneshield. Behind this is a mounting for a pair of 4kg gas bottles, with a pair of jerry can holders opposite. In between is an open mesh box that would be handy for transporting firewood. I’d imagine a lockable storage box would be an option in place of this.
At the rear is a solid bar with a pair of spare wheels mounted above, and with a jerry can holder on either side. The rear bar is enclosed in chequerplate.
Wall panelling on the XLS is of composite fibreglass and aluminium panels, with protective chequerplate along the lower sides, front and rear, and a smooth fibreglass finish above.
As with any camper trailer, many of the on-board accessories are external, and that’s the case with the XLS. A through boot runs across the forward end, with a slide out kitchen just forward of the axles. This extensive kitchen features a two burner gas cooktop, with a sink and storage drawers. There’s also a slide out pantry with a 150 litre capacity, and a detachable auxiliary table that fits above the axles. The slide out kitchen also features 12 volt lights on flexible stalks.
Above the external kitchen area is a Thule awning that runs the full length of the pop top to provide a wide area of shade and shelter. At the rear on the driver’s side is an additional storage locker, and an external shower is fitted.
The pop top features an automatic lift, with a heavy duty vinyl skirt with screened windows. There are 6 lockdown points on the pop top and it features a dust proof seal. The roof can take up to three 150-watt solar panels.
The main difference between the North Coast Campers XLS and most other crossover-style campers is than internally, this rig is pretty much a self contained pop top caravan.
Access to the XLS is via a rear door behind the axles, with bathroom and sink at the back, internal kitchen and fridge on the driver’s side opposite the dinette, and the bedroom up forward.
The shower/toilet console occupies the rear two-thirds of the XLS, with shower curtain above. The shower head is on a flexible lead, and a flush Dometic toilet is positioned in the rear left corner.
A kitchen bench runs from the rear right hand corner forward to the fridge console, with a stainless steel sink in the corner and a long benchtop leading to a SMEV two-burner gas cooktop. Surprisingly, there is more food preparation space on this bench than you’ll find in some more conventional caravans.
There is a load of storage space beneath this benchtop, with drawers and lockers running the full length. Adequate lighting is fitted in the pop top above the kitchen, though a window behind would be handy.
The fridge console is forward of the benchtop, with a two-door 130 litre fridge fitted above a low storage locker.
Opposite the kitchen forward of the entry is the lounge/dinette, with a swivel table fitted between two bench-style lounges. The lounges are leather clad and comfortable, with flip-up extensions if you feel the need to kick back. There is plenty of room here for a couple to dine. Additional storage space is found under the seats, and the dinette is backed by a broad window. Lighting is in the pop top above. Immediately forward of the dinette is a wardrobe, with a pair of speakers fitted beneath.
The bedroom features a queen sized bed fitted against the kerb side, leaving a wide access way along the driver’s side. At the forward end of this is a storage cabinet or shallow wardrobe, above a wide bedside table with a top that hinges up to provide access to another storage locker. There is more storage space beneath the bed, and reading lights on flexible stalks are fitted above the bedhead. Side windows brighten up the bedroom area.
With on board solar panels and battery storage, plenty of water and gas supply, the North Coast Campers 17ft Off Road XLS has loads of independent camping capability. Add to this its obvious off-road ability and you have a very interesting rig. It certainly is a comfortable and capable option for a touring couple who want to get into the back blocks. The question is, is it a camper trailer or a caravan? In truth, it’s both.
Manufacturer: North Coast Campers and Caravans
Model: 17ft Off Road XLS
Length overall: (7.0m)
Weight (incl batteries and water): up to 2100kg
Price: from $87500
Find Out More
North Coast Campers and Caravans
8 Bronwyn Street
Caloundra Qld 4551
Tel (07) 5941 2970