The options for lightweight and compact caravans have been growing for over a decade now, with a wealth of choice for couples or growing families to get out and explore the great outdoors. If you’re graduating from tent camping and looking to take your first step toward a caravan, some of our picks below may be right up your alley.
Of course, space is at a premium in this smaller class, but oftentimes you’ll find that means the manufacturer has been even more creative in its approach to the overall design. You will still find plenty of comfort on board, with practical, space-saving layouts that offer considerable flexibility and help you ease the burden on your holiday adventure.
These 2, 3, and 4 person models are still fairly expensive, but shouldn’t break the bank. And as an added benefit, you don’t need a massive 4×4 to take on the towing tasks.
Read on for our list of the best lightweight and compact caravans…
Adria Action 361 LT
By: £21,475 Sleeping places: 2
The cute little Action was a trailblazing caravan that single-handedly created the compact caravan class 15 years ago. Its unique styling continues to stand out and its low weight and aerodynamics will become increasingly important as electric tow vehicles become more mainstream.
Inside there is a cozy lounge that converts into a pair of rather narrow single beds or a huge double bed. At the rear there is a kitchen and a laundry room in the corner with toilet and shower. Weighing less than a ton empty, the Action has a payload of up to 300kg and has gas heating and electric lighting for year-round adventures.
The Action broke the mold on its UK debut in 2008 and while the niche has expanded with the arrival of newcomers from Swift and Knaus, the tiniest Adria can still hold its own.
Advantages: Unique design, lightweight simplicity and surprisingly practical for two.
cons: Spartan trim levels, narrow single beds, cramped headroom in the lounge.
Fast Base Camp 4
By: £24,495 Sleeping places: 4
Cleverly packed with a number of useful innovations to maximize usability, the Basecamp 4 is for the next generation of active tourers for whom a caravan is a passport to outdoor adventures rather than a country house on wheels.
Among the funky decals and front moldings, the Basecamp has a fairly standard multi-berth lightweight tourer layout. There is parallel seating in the front lounge, which converts into a large double bed with a couple of bunks for the kids in the rear. The washroom and kitchen are simple and there are few frills.
The main difference to a more conventional caravan is the rear door, which makes it easier to use as a covered trailer for transporting bikes, boards or compact kayaks.
Advantages: Looks good and is light enough to tow with a modest family hatchback.
cons: For that money you could buy a much more comfortable and spacious conventional caravan.
Knaus Sport&Fun Black Edition
By: £26,090 Sleeping places: 4
The Sport&Fun has been around for a few years and while it has always been a practical weekend getaway vehicle for active couples and families, the textured body panels and bright colors were always a bit ‘late 80s’. But with the arrival of the more understated Black Edition and its understated color scheme, this compact tourer just got cool.
A large garage under the front bed and a full-height rear door make the Sport&Fun a practical luggage carrier, yet comfortable compared to its more spartan competitors. With space for a whole fleet of surfboards on the integrated roof rack, two double beds, plenty of storage space and a clever shower system, the Sport&Fun is a better equipped and more spacious alternative to the ubiquitous motorhome.
Advantages: Comfortable and practical in equal measure.
cons: Pricey – but not as pricey as the most basic motorhome with more generous accommodation.
Bailey Discovery D4-2
By: £18,999 Sleeping places: 2
It looks like a conventional caravan, only smaller, but the Bailey Discovery D4-2 meets virtually all the requirements of its ‘cooler’ compact rivals, while offering superior accommodation and lightweight touring at a striking price. Ostensibly it’s a fairly basic double berth, but the addition of a £1,200 inflatable wrap-around awning pretty much doubles the living space on offer.
Discovery’s unique curved body makes this possible, creating space for a family of four in a super-lightweight caravan that weighs little more than a trailer tent. This combination of lightweight, compact caravan/tent hybrid technology is likely to become more common among families who cannot justify the cost of a large SUV to tow a large family bus.
Advantages: Lightweight, smart design integration with canopy, bargain price tag.
cons: Not as ‘cool’ as some of its more flashy rivals.
Eriba Touring 530 Ocean Drive
By: £26,200 Sleeping places: 3
The Eriba Touring is an authentic caravan icon, and the Ocean Drive’s bold retro colors reference the origins of the original Eriba concept in the 1950s. Thanks to its unique spaceframe construction, this compact tourer is built to last and has certainly stood the test of time.
The pop-top makes it more aerodynamic to tow and easier to stow, and it comes with a laundry room and basic kitchen, but the accommodation is decidedly cozy by conventional standards. In Southern Europe, Eriba’s cloth pop-top offers welcome ventilation during the heat of the day, but in a windswept British seaside town at Easter, the open-air atmosphere will be less welcome.
Advantages: Stylish design icon that lasts and holds its value.
cons: Cozy accommodation effectively limited to spring and summer tours.
Weinsberg CaraOne 390
By: £21,690 Sleeping places: 4
How on earth do you squeeze four berths, a laundry room, kitchen and lounge into such a compact caravan? This innovative entrant to the UK market uses fold-down roof bed technology first used in motorhomes to create two double beds in the space that functions as a U-shaped wrap-around lounge during the day when the fold-down bed is retracted into the roof.
It’s a smart solution, meaning there’s an awful lot crammed into this small yet stylish touring caravan. Built to exacting German standards, there is a compact laundry room in the corner and an end kitchen with all the necessary appliances – including a 133 liter tower fridge. The CaraOne weighs 1,184 kg, including a payload of 184 kg.
Advantages: Couples can sleep in the pull-down bed without converting the lounge into a bed for the night.
cons: Payload and storage are low for true multi-berth practicality.
By: £17,544 Sleeping places: 2
The Xplore 422 is a classic lightweight two berth caravan with an exceptionally space-saving layout that offers everything a couple needs for comfortable touring. It’s lightweight and easy to tow with a modest hatchback, and comes with a price tag that looks unbelievably good in the current climate.
The layout of the end kitchen maximizes living space in the front lounge, which converts into a spacious transverse double bed. The £500 SE package improves upon the standard specs to match its direct rivals, while a draft stabilizer and extractor hood over the kitchen – both of which you’d probably want – add a further £500.
The 422 is a light and airy entry-level bus that makes excellent use of space on a narrower body and makes touring accessible to couples at an attractive price and weight.
Advantages: A comfortable van for couples that is excellent value for money, but you’ll want the £500 SE package.
cons: The front seats are too short to be used as two single beds.
[email protected] L400 TD
By: £22,080 Sleeping places: 4
The [email protected] Teardrop caravan was an instant classic when it was launched in 2004 and is currently enjoying a lot of attention for its super-streamlined aerodynamic shape.
This and its modest weight of 1,200kg when loaded make it an ideal partner for EV towing, and the four-seater [email protected] L400 is exceptionally graceful and cleverly packaged. It includes a sloping aft dinette that maximizes space without obstructing the entrance door and there is a fixed transverse double bed in the front. Somehow there is also room for a kitchen and an enclosed laundry room, but very little room for anything else. As a double berth it works a bit, but realistically it’s only the occasional four person berth to share with people you know very well.
Advantages: Super cool, funky and light enough to tow a supermini or EV.
cons: Space is precious, add a few basic options like good gas and electricity and the price breaks down to £25k.