Eco-Tourer test

By: Gemma Bridge, Photography by: Steve Vermeulen


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The Eco-Tourer is a modern alternative to a traditional pop-top or caravan, with a mechanical, linked-jacking arrangement that makes it easy to tow

Eco-Tourer test
Eco-Tourer test
  • Separate bathroom for self-contained camping
  • Heaps of storage
  • Panoramic front window and plenty of natural light
  • Folds up or down by hand in just 30 seconds
  • Easy to manoeuvre and tow with just a large car

With fibreglass construction that makes them stronger than a traditional pop-top and a separate stand-up bathroom, Eco-Tourers appeal to a wide range of buyers.

Key features

The separate bathroom at the rear is a key feature of the Eco-Tourer (non-bathroom models are also available), which "no one expects because it goes down so much at the rear," says Mal Brady, On the Way RV’s sales director.

A step-down floor right of the bed leads to the separate shower and toilet which, thanks to the lower floor, has a surprising amount of headroom – 187cm. An extractor fan and hatch provide ventilation and light.

The moulded fibreglass bathroom features a removable shower head. The cassette toilet can be emptied from the outside, and there are two 80L tanks – one for fresh water and one for grey – that make the Eco-Tourer self-contained.

Stepping out of the bathroom you’ll find a separate vanity basin with a hot/cold tap and wardrobe for toiletries. Note: the separate bathroom is not available on the standard Eco-Tourer model. The model we tested was the Shower & Toilet Eco-Tourer.

Another of the Eco-Tourer’s pleasing characteristics is the amount of storage space tucked into its interior. There are overhead cupboards along both walls (above the bed); drawers and lockers in the seats in the dinette; and plenty of cupboards and drawers in the kitchen as well as wire baskets in the pantry. All feature positive push-button catches to keep them shut when not in use.

The double bed at the rear of the Eco-Tourer has a hinged base. Lifting it (while fully-made up) gives access to the large storage space within. It moves smoothly and easily. In addition, the headboard flips down, providing a handy space for keeping books close at hand. The dinette’s seat squabs fold down to create a 1.78m single bed.

The Eco-Tourer fits into a standard garage thanks to a folding drawbar on the chassis that reduces its length by 0.9m.

Interior

Inside, the Eco-Tourer resembles a luxury caravan – and the layout is designed for optimum weight distribution and maximum comfort.

The kitchen is compact but practical, with a gas stove, three-burner grill, sink and 90L Dometic three-way fridge, microwave and a pot drawer. You can close the glass covers over the flush-mounted stove and sink to increase bench surface area.

A honey-coloured Formica laminate finish is used on the cupboards and doors throughout and it’s complementing by the black, tan and buff upholstery of the dinette and the bed linen. There is a range of colours available.

A large front window and several side windows provide plenty of natural light. These can be opened with a winding mechanism, and all have flyscreens. Two pop-up hatches in the ceiling are also equipped with flyscreens and blinds.

Strategically placed 12V halogen lights (LEDs are available as an option) offer plenty of light at night. The arrangement of switches allows different combinations of lights to be used so you don’t have to have all seven blazing at once. There are also two 12V halogen reading lamps over the bed.

The result is a warm, welcoming interior enjoying natural light and neutral colours.

Attached to a bracket in the centre of the caravan is the TV/DVD, which can be folded down and swivelled to face either the bed or the dinette.

The Pioneer radio/CD player is mounted on the wall above the kitchen bench and there are plenty of power points dotted about the interior to cater for extra accessories.

On The Way RV can fit solar panels to supplement the Eco-Tourer’s battery power.

Exterior

The Eco-Tourer’s walls are constructed from fibreglass composite and polyurethane infill, which gives it strength, a light weight and stability in varying temperatures. It is fully-insulated and soundproof and offers more protection from the elements than a traditional pop-top.

The aerodynamically curved roof is made from a single piece of lightweight fibreglass, which the manufacturer says improves its towing ability. It also means water will run off the back rather than inside if deploying the Eco-Tourer during wet weather.

We found the Eco-Tourer extremely easy to manoeuvre. Electric brakes (250mm diameter) help stopping performance. Mal’s Ford Ranger ute pulls the Eco Tourer easily, and he says many buyers of these caravans use smaller SUVs or large cars.

The heavy duty chassis is strong but light; the tow ball weight is approximately 157kg and the tare weight is around 1600kg.

The Fiamma awning comes standard with the Eco-Tourer, but Mal says surrounds are an option, as is the stone guard.

Folding

The Eco-Tourer converts to a solid wall caravan in seconds.

To close it you just need to make sure all windows, hatches and the bathroom door are closed, slip the catch on the cupboard by the bathroom vanity and fold the top half down. Then you unlock the front window of the Eco-Tourer and unlatch it from the roof.

It takes 30 seconds to open or close the roof by hand with the supplied jack – 20 if you use a cordless drill to wind the scissor mechanism. The jack sits in the large front storage locker and fits into an opening on the side.

There is little resistance from the walls as they slide down or up thanks to the friction-reducing re-circulating ball screws, and closing the roof also loads dual gas shocks, which make it easy to raise it again.

Once the roof is down you flick the catches on either side of the Eco-Tourer to secure it and you’re ready to go. Folded it is nearly half of its size.

In case you’re wondering, you should always tow it with the roof closed down, says Mal.

The verdict

With a practical layout, plenty of storage and a separate bathroom, this certainly is a luxury caravan. The Eco-Tourer’s light weight and low, aerodynamic profile make it easy to tow. It takes seconds to convert it into a comfortable caravan with excellent attention to detail and mod cons.

Specifications

Tow ball weight 157kg approximately
Tare weight 1600kg approximately
Gas 2 x 4kg
Height (closed; at back) 2.05m
Length (Drawbar up) 5.6m
Width 2.2m

 

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