Play Along the Way

By: Lawrence Schäffler, Photography by: Lawrence Schäffler


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Ever wished you could blend your adventure hobbies with the caravan lifestyle? Carry a few of your favourite toys – quad bike, motorbike, golf cart, PWC, kayak – to use in remote parts of the country? Well, with the just-arrived Impact Toy Hauler you can, writes Lawrence Schäffler.

Play Along the Way
Play Along the Way

Impact Toy Haulers are manufactured by a Californian company (MVP RV) and imported into New Zealand by Kiwi RV Imports Ltd, located out on Whangaparaoa Peninsula just north of Auckland. There are six models in the series, ranging from 21'6" to 30'7" (overall length, including the drawbar).

Each combines a comfortable living area – bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and lounge – with an expansive 'storage garage', complete with anchor points on the floor and a large, drop-down rear door (ramp) for easy loading/unloading of toys. It's a clever concept, perfect for adventure-oriented travellers.

Kiwi RV Imports owners, Milton and Karen Kilgour, say the 'travelling-with-toys' concept is very popular in the US, with the haulers accounting for some 40 per cent of annual sales in the recreational vehicle market. They are confident the vehicles will find a receptive audience in New Zealand.

This model, the 22SS (LOA 29', floor length 23'11"), is the first they've landed and also the biggest they propose to import.

"The next size up, the 24SS [LOA 30'7"], is the top-of-the-line and requires a much bigger tow vehicle. Registration also requires an LTNZ Certificate of Fitness rather than the conventional Warrant of Fitness regime for the smaller vehicles," Milton explains.

Unladen, the 22SS weighs in at just under 2.5 tonnes. It has a one-tonne payload, so depending on the toys you carry, your tow vehicle will need to be rated to three tonnes at a minimum. Milton's Ford F150 (5.4-litre V8) tows the vehicle without breaking a sweat – a Toyota Land Cruiser or Nissan Safari/Patrol should do the job as easily.

Toy garage

The Impact's rear door/ramp is spring-loaded and can be lowered/raised with one hand. Inside, you'll find enough space to park three Harleys, with plenty of anchor points on the floor for tying them down securely.

Substitute a PWC, golf cart, quad bike – or even a mobility scooter – for the Harleys. Whatever presses your buttons. Most toys are simply driven into and out of the caravan; a PWC on its trailer would have to be winched in and out (or reversed in/out with the tow vehicle).

Versatility is the key feature of the caravan and it all comes down to very clever design. Once you've arrived at your destination, for example, the toys are removed from the caravan and parked under the caravan's built-in 6m awning (it's electrically-powered, so deploying it is a push-button task).

The caravan's storage interior then coverts to an expansive lounge/additional sleeping area, supplementing the master suite (double bed) in the front of the caravan. There are two settees that quickly flip down from the side walls and they both fold out to form generous bunk beds.

Need more sleeping accommodation? There are two queen-sized bunk beds at the rear of the caravan (east-west configuration). One above the other, they are stowed up against the ceiling out of the way when you're in travel mode, with the toys in the garage.

They're mounted on racks, and deploying/retracting them is once again a push-button electric affair. They lock into position automatically and a lightweight ladder provides easy access to the top bunk.

I really like the versatility of the ramp concept. With a little forethought when parking the caravan, the ramp becomes a very functional patio, offering a great outlook. And with two supports to keep it level, it's also a good spot for al fresco dining.

Self-contained

Taking your toys to majestic playgrounds off the beaten track is only feasible with a self-contained vehicle, and the 22SS fits the bill perfectly. Unlike the popular cassette models used in the recreational vehicle market, the Hauler's toilet has a dedicated 120-litre tank. Standard equipment includes a wash-down flush kit used during emptying at dump sites to eliminate odours.

The bathroom's also fitted with a generously proportioned shower (separated from the toilet by a curtain) – the space results from having the standalone vanity/basin mounted just outside the bathroom. A 250-litre fresh water tank (with a 120-litre grey water tank) should keep your pit-stops to a minimum. And if you do opt to check into a park, the vehicle's fitted with a city water connection, giving you mains pressure in the caravan.

But perhaps the canniest feature on the 22SS (and sadly, it's an optional extra, not standard) is the 'bowser' tank. Given that you're taking your toys to remote parts of the country, fuel stations will be in short supply. The Hauler offers you a built-in bowser (connected to a 120-litre fuel tank), so you don't need to carry jerry cans. The tank's fuel gauge is pre-fitted (along with other monitoring instruments on a panel in the kitchen), but you'll have to specify the tank and hose when you place your order.

Manufactured with the standard 110-volt/60 Hertz American electrical system, the Haulers are completely rewired when they arrive here. As with the water/tank capacities, the power system's designed for freedom camping. It carries twin 70-amp-hour house batteries, serviced by a 120-watt solar panel on the roof.

The batteries are also charged by the tow vehicle's alternator (during driving) and a connection for a small generator is pre-wired. It's all controlled by a 25-amp, six-stage smart charging system. Energy-friendly LED lights fitted throughout minimise the electric load, and a 22-inch flat-screen LCD (with built-in DVD player) and surround-sound stereo (four speakers inside and two waterproof speakers mounted outside) are all standard.

A well-equipped kitchen offers masses of storage in cupboards and drawers, and features a three-burner gas-fired hob (electric ignition) and an oven/grill. It's supplemented by a 186-litre Dometic fridge/freezer (its smart system switches automatically between gas and mains).

The double stainless steel sinks are fitted with a pull-out spray faucet, and a glass top over the cooker provides good space for adventurous chefs. The twin 9kg LPG bottles mounted up front on the drawbar fire the 23-litre hot water cylinder and the central heating system. Walls are equipped with R7 insulation and air-conditioning is an optional extra.

Driving

The 22SS behaves beautifully behind the tow vehicle, thanks to its four-wheel electric braking, the double wishbone suspension system and drawbar stabilisers. As part of the standard package, the buyer's vehicle is fitted with an electronic brake controller and a caravan/vehicle power connector.

Impact Toy Haulers offer a bonus to adventurers seeking a little more adrenalin during their travels: with six sizes (or floor plans) available, your selection depends on your toy(s) and the size of your party. Allow a lead time of approximately 10-12 weeks when ordering.

The verdict

This is a clever concept that's sure to take hold in adventure-mad New Zealand. Being able to carry toys adds a new dimension to the recreational vehicle market. It's a solid, well-constructed caravan offering plenty of versatility, and at a smidgen under $70k, it's pretty good value for money.

For more information contact Kiwi RV Imports Ltd, mobile 021 336 698, email kiwirv@xtra.co.nz or visit www.kiwirv.co.nz.

Plus:
Excellent design, clever use of space
Completely self-contained
Exceptional sleeping facilities

Minus:
Fuel bowser's not standard
You'll need a substantial tow vehicle


Specifications
Impact Toy Hauler 22SS
LOA 29'
Floor length 23'11"
Height 11'4"
GVWR 7670lbs
Dry weight 5270lbs
Fresh water 250L
Grey/black tanks 120L each
Sleeps Up to 10
Price $69,995

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