Best Aussie Vans Finalist 2015 Trakmaster Pilbara Extreme Test Review
Trakmaster’s Pilbara Extreme is an impressive, self-contained offroader, underpinned by experience.
Trakmaster, under the direction of Russell Seebach, manufactures a range of offroad caravans with a variety of layouts, suitable for differing road conditions. Some buyers don’t always realise that those two things are connected. For example, a van like the Pilbara Extreme, seen here, has been built for cross-country travel and, therefore, has a raked rear end to give a good departure angle. And changing the angle of the floor affects the internal layout – in this case, it means the two single beds, rather than the bathroom, are fitted into the rear of the van.
LAYOUT & DESIGN
Inside, the layout is a little unusual, due to the cutaway rear, but there is nothing impractical about it. The forward entry door has kitchen facilities on both sides of it, and the short kitchen bench across the front leaves room for a corner combo bathroom. There is an L-shaped dinette on the opposite side of the van, as well as space in the rear for two single beds. Although an island bed is optional, I think the single beds offer a more practical arrangement in this situation.
Bright and breezy are good words to describe the internal decor and colour scheme, with the light hues and a large window contributing to the feeling of space, not to mention air flow. The latter can also be aided by the roof-mounted Denso air-conditioner and the 12V Sirocco fans.
Although this van is unconventional in some ways, it does have a conventional front boot for general storage. It’s mostly empty but does have an air-compressor installed – not for the airbag suspension but, rather, for inflating the tow vehicle and caravan tyres, which may have been deflated when crossing soft ground. And, speaking of soft ground, there are two Maxtrax recovery tracks bolted to the rear of the van, in case you need them.
In the catering department, the L-shaped kitchen bench takes up the front nearside corner. It has a stainless steel sink with drainer, and a four-burner cooktop and grill. Instead of a conventional oven, a microwave is fitted under the grill. That leaves room for a cupboard, three drawers and three overhead lockers. I liked the raised shelf that runs along the back of the bench, which also provides a mounting position for a 240V mains powerpoint plus switching for the water pumps (grey and fresh) and the hot water service.
On the other side of the doorway, a waist-high cupboard and the Evakool 146L fridge make up the rest of the kitchen. Above the fridge, the flatscreen TV can be seen from either the dinette or the beds in the rear.
The lounge/dining area will never be particularly large in a van of this size, but it will seat two people without too much trouble and, if you need to stretch out a bit, there is always the beds in the rear. The table is single pole-mounted but has a swivel fitting at the top, ensuring it can be moved around easily.
There’s plenty of storage capacity in the rear of the van, with overhead lockers fitted above the beds and a good-sized wardrobe with hanging space above and drawers below. Windows on either side give good cross-flow ventilation.
Located in the front offside, the bathroom might look small from the outside but it’s not really – there’s enough room for a bench-style cassette toilet and a flexible-hose shower. It’s spacious enough to be practical, without taking up too much space!
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Pilbara Extreme is a very attractive proposition as an offroad caravan. It’s well-built and clearly has a number of items added that could only come from an experienced offroad traveller.
With a body length of just 5.31m (17ft 5in), it is not a particularly large caravan but,in many ways, that is an advantage for narrow or heavily undulated bush tracks.
Although the Pilbara was not the winner in its category, it’s a very well set up caravan and aspirational offroader for adventure lovers.
HITS & MISSES
- Relatively short van for offroad travel
- Good ground clearance
- Well set up electrical system
- Airbag suspension
- Nicely fitted out
- Single bed layout
- Relatively heavy van for its size
The full test appears in Caravan World #546 February 2016. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!