Dethleffs Nomad 490 EST Review

The Nomad 490 EST from Dethleffs is available through Central RV in Taupo
The Nomad 490 EST from Dethleffs is available through Central RV in Taupo

The Dethleffs name is synonymous with quality craftmanship, reliability and longevity. In fact, this year Dethleffs is celebrating 90 years of caravanning. It was 1931 when Arist Dethleffs built his first ‘camper car’ as a wedding gift for his bride, Fridel. The couple and their camper were soon attracting so much interest that Arist began making caravans to order. Today, the brand has seven different caravan ranges, one of its most popular and longest-running being the Nomad.

Available in a variety of lengths and layouts, the Nomad range is practical and elegant with plenty to offer Kiwi travellers. In this review, we take a look at the 2021 Nomad 490 EST.


With a body length of 5.90 metres and width of 2.3 metres, the three-berth Nomad 490 EST is compact but comfortable. Ideal for couples venturing into the caravanning lifestyle, the layout features twin single beds – which conveniently convert to a lovely big California king size – at the front, a central dinette with kitchen opposite, and a full-width bathroom at the rear.


The dinette is a simple set up with two-seater face-to-face settees and a removable height-adjustable table in between. The seats offer storage space beneath the squabs and can be converted into an additional bed. Above are four overhead storage lockers with another two over the kitchen bench. Located on the wall between the dinette and bedroom is a TV bracket which comes with a 20-inch TV/ DVD that can be swivelled around to the bedroom for late-night viewing.

A slide-out pantry for storing bottles, spices and other condiments
A slide-out pantry for storing bottles, spices and other condiments

The cooking zone is opposite the dinette and includes a three-burner hob and sink integrated into the bench. The bench space is compact, as you’d expect, but the covers on the hob and sink help create some extra work space when needed. Beneath the bench is the Thetford 420 oven and five drawers, plus a slide-out pantry. There’s also a handy cupboard at the end of the bench next to the door.

The hob and sink have covers to provide extra bench space when needed
The hob and sink have covers to provide extra bench space when needed

A window behind the sink provides good ventilation, and two LED spotlights over the workspace plus an illuminated splashback mean you can see when your steak is cooked to perfection.

For keeping everything cool, an AES (automatic energy select) 142-litre three-way automatic tower fridge-freezer in stylish black is within arms reach at the end of the bench. It’s nice to see space given to a decent-sized fridge – anyone who has travelled for a length of time with a mini-sized ‘under bench’ fridge will appreciate the benefits.

Soft tones of white, grey and woodgrain create a stylish, contemporary atmosphere
Soft tones of white, grey and woodgrain create a stylish, contemporary atmosphere


Twin singles are a popular bed layout choice. They provide maximum bed width per person, double as seating,they’re an efficient use of space, easy to get in and out of, and there’s no partner disturbance. What’s even better is when two become one, and in this case, a California king size. Just pull out the slat that’s hidden away in the drawer unit between the beds, pop on the ‘middle bit’ of the mattress from the storage unit below one of the beds, and voila, a big comfy bed with loads of room. The aforementioned ‘middle bit’ is actually two bits. There’s a smaller piece that sits over the drawer unit and a longer piece that runs the rest of the length. The smaller piece can be used on its own to provide a ‘semi double’ if you just want some extra cushioning around the head end. Like all Dethleffs Nomad models, the Swiss-made mattress is a temperature regulating, 7-zone EvoPoreHRC – good and thick with excellent support.

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The twin singles convert to a California king size bed
The twin singles convert to a California king size bed

Like the nice big fridge, the nice comfy bed is a good example of how Dethleffs understand what their customers really want. It’s a small caravan but it doesn’t compromise on the comforts that bigger caravans offer.

As mentioned earlier, for additional bedding the dinette seats can be converted into a single bed which is well-suited for children.

Storage-wise, the bedroom has eight overhead storage lockers, each of them generously deep. Like all cupboards and drawers throughout the caravan, they’re fitted with Häfele soft-close functionality and solid handles which make opening and closing easy. The unit between the twin beds includes a drawer with space below for books and magazines. Spare blankets and bulky items can be tidily stored away beneath the beds.

Between the bedroom and kitchen zone is a full-length split wardrobe with room to hang clothes up top, and shelves at the bottom.


For a compact caravan, the bathroom is surprisingly large, running the full width. The Thetford C220 toilet is at one end, the full-length enclosed shower at the other. In between, the premium vanity unit includes the sink and tap, and a handy amount of bench space for keeping essentials close by. The vanity top is made from composite stone, which means it looks good and is made to last.

The bathroom runs the full width of the caravan, offering a generous amount of space
The bathroom runs the full width of the caravan, offering a generous amount of space

There is plenty of storage, with cupboards and shelving in the vanity unit, three overhead mirrored cupboards, and an additional large shelved cupboard alongside the toilet. A wall mirror means you can check yourself out from top to toe before you head out for the day.

Lots of storage space inthe bathroom
Lots of storage space in the bathroom

It’s a very decent set-up: a roomy shower with quality fittings and soap caddy and even its own lighting, space to move about and get dressed, a big window for light and ventilation (as well as a skylight), rails and hooks to hang clothes and towels, and more than enough storage. Dethleffs could have opted to sacrifice bathroom space to use elsewhere – I’m glad they didn’t. The extra bathroom space is so worth it.

The full-size shower
The full-size shower


Like all Dethleffs caravans, the Nomad features indirect LED lighting throughout. This technique aims light upward to the ceiling and upper walls to distribute the light evenly to create a warm, ambient atmosphere, and illuminate inside every top cupboard. Relocatable reading lights and a USB charger are located in the living and bedroom areas and LED strip lighting runs under the front edge of the bench to illuminate drawers and the pull-out pantry.

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The USB ports and reading lights are relocatable
The USB ports and reading lights are relocatable

To keep everyone warm, a Truma combi LPG/230V heating and hot water system is installed. For ultimate temperature regulation year-round, the windows are all double-glazed, and the floor, walls and roof are fully insulated.

Each living area includes a ventilation skylight, and with large windows throughout, fresh air can circulate instantly. Add to that the Dethleffs AirPlus ventilation system which circulates air from top to bottom, including through the overhead lockers, helping minimise condensation.

The Nomad 490 EST also comes with 200w of solar plus a lead carbon deepcycle battery as standard.


Dethleffs know how to make a caravan look good. The exterior design is stylish and chic with chrome trim on the side walls, rear light moulding with integrated lights and chrome maneuvering handles.

To meet New Zealand’s unique conditions, Taupo-based dealer Central RV – New Zealand’s exclusive Dethleffs caravans agent – customises all their Dethleffs caravans with a comprehensive selection of upgrades including stabiliser coupling, ATC trailer control, premium AAA self-adjusting brakes, an upgraded AL-KO heavy-duty chassis and suspension, 14-inch alloy wheels with heavy-duty tyres, and a GRP glass fibre composite roof for extra protection against branches and hail.

The Nomad 490 EST
The Nomad 490 EST

Exterior hatches provide access to the under-bed storage, and for additional storage there’s a large locker up front (which also holds up to two 9kg gas bottles). For hooking up the barbecue and enjoying a relaxed evening meal, an exterior gas port is also included.


For a couple or small family venturing into the wonderful world of caravanning, the Nomad 490 EST is a perfect first step. And the option of twin singles or a California king is a big bonus. It ticks all the boxes for practicality and comfort and has everything you need for many years of happy travels ahead.




  • Flexible sleeping arrangements with twins or a Californian king bed
  • A good-sized fridge
  • Spacious bathroom with lots of storage
  • Chassis technology for maximum safety and stress-free towing


  • It’s a compact offering that might not suit bigger families


DETHLEFFS NOMAD 490 EST Specifications





Body length


Overall length




Water tanks

80L fresh / 90L grey


1 x 9kg







Price as reviewed: $79,900


Find out more at 

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