Test Karakampa Series 2

By: MICHAEL BROWNING, Photography by: Jack Murphy, Video by: MICHAEL BROWNING


Despite being compared to lightweight European vans, the locally designed and built Karakampa is unique in its Series II evolution.

An Australian-designed and built lightweight, fully-fibreglass caravan measuring just 4.6m long and weighing around 1300kg empty with an island double bed, a combined rear ensuite, generous storage space and a huge kitchen, the Karakamper is unique.

Top features

  • Lightweight 
  • Spacious design
  • Great storage and seating

Design and Construction 

The Karakampa Series II has further upped the ante on its European opposition with a facelift, new colours, better access to storage spaces and improved seating. Most observers probably won’t spot the differences. About 75 Karakampas have hit Australian roads since designer Ross Elliott built his first in 2009 – 50 of them produced by Centaur Products Australia in the outer-eastern Melbourne suburb of Kilsyth, since the composite materials specialist acquired the business in May 2012. However, owner loyalty is strong and feedback from them has led to many improvements and changes in the Series II model.

Some improvements and changes are unseen, like the box-section galvanised steel chassis, which has been widened by about 10mm, yet simplified for a weight saving of nearly 15kg. The van’s aerodynamic wedge shape remains much the same when viewed from the front, but the cheery, high-gloss white with canary yellow and black stripes of the Series I model has been replaced with attractive, but more muted, grey striping on the lower flanks in the Series II. Centaur will also happily colour-customise your Karakampa if you’d prefer something different, perhaps to match your tow car.

Also new in the Series II are the large front quarter locker doors that give even better access to the huge front tunnel boot. They, like the deep moulded fibreglass external boot up front, are now shielded from stone damage by a wrap-around vinyl ‘bra’ that is stretched taut to the side of the Karakampa by four short elastic cords that are easily and quickly released to allow tunnel access.

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Interior

The first impression inside is one of space – an unbelievable amount of it for a caravan with an internal length of just over 4m. Some of this comes from the simple but very functional layout, with an island double bed up front, an L-shaped dinette on the nearside and a very long kitchen on the offside. But it’s the size of the combined shower and toilet ensuite to the left of the entry door that is truly impressive.

Kitchen

The kitchen bench is also huge, not just for a caravan of the Karakampa’s size, but for most caravans we come across these days. 

The compact 108L (plus 10.2L freezer) Waeco compressor fridge sits under the benchtop and the Daewoo microwave mounted in its own ‘pod’ above, rather than both being located in a space-consuming tower as in most caravans. The three-burner Dometic gas cooktop and separate round sink bowl are both a bit smaller than you’d find in a typical, larger Aussie van.

Storage

The floor area is also generous in the Karakampa. The L-shaped lounge with its single pedestal rectangular table are both space efficient and allow easy access to the front double bed that is neatly recessed into the nose of the van, flanked by cavernous built-in moulded hanging robes and bedside clothes storage cupboards.

A large sky-hatch above the bed is good for ventilation, while sliding flyscreens and block-out blinds on it and the double-glazed side windows flood the interior with natural light, or keep both unwanted insects and light out as required. At night, a profusion of LED lights take over. The bed also lifts up, revealing excellent, unobstructed storage space beneath – ideal for folding outdoor tables, chairs, etc. Alternatively, you can get the Karakampa Series II with twin single beds rather than the double setup and with this configuration there is a large robe located in between.

Measuring up

I liked...

  • Spacious, very useable layout
  • Ease of towing
  • Instant set-up

I would have liked...

  • Easier access to the corner
  • stabiliser legs
  • Not much else!


THE BOTTOM LINE

The first Karakampa was a breath of fresh air for the caravan industry and the Series II improves on its strengths. 

There are cheaper lightweight ensuite caravans around, including the latest entry-level European Adria and Knaus, and British Bailey and Swift models, but few that offer a better blend of space utilisation, practicality and quality of its all-composite construction.
Like its imported rivals, the Karakampa’s headline attraction is its ability to be towed by just about any large family car or compact SUV, whether two or four-wheel drive, making it an easy accessory to any active lifestyle.

The only issue with all its space is if you fill it all, you are almost certainly overloaded!
You will also need to be careful packing such a light caravan as the Karakampa to avoid upsetting its excellent balance and towing stability.

The full test appeared in Caravan World #532, December 2014. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!

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