There are many caravan accessories you can add to enhance your safety, space and comfort for caravan towing; however, there are 9 in particular that should almost come part and parcel with buying a new or second hand caravan. From weight distribution devices to corner steadies, safety mirrors and more, the following caravan accessories are well on their way to becoming standard features we expect.
1. Weight distribution/load-levelling hitch
An essential item for caravan towing, a weight distribution device or load-levelling hitch, helps reduce the sway of your caravan when moving. It attaches to your caravan’s coupling and uses spring bars and chains, under tension, to transfer weight from your tow-vehicle’s rear axle to its front axle and caravan trailer axles. It also helps ease the weight of your caravan and makes steering and braking easier.
2. Corner steadies
Caravan corner steadies are an important accessory to help keep your caravan stable and prevent it from tipping when you’re inside and walking around. Built into the corners of caravans, they come either as ‘wind downs’ or ‘drop downs’ and work on hard or soft ground surfaces. To attach corner steadies, read Without A Hitche's great article on How to attach corner steadies to your caravan.
3. Off-grid power sources
Off grid power sources give you the flexibility to travel further off the beaten track and to not have to rely on mains power from caravan parks. This means you have more flexibility to visit different camp sites and stay for longer in the wild. There are three main off-grid power sources, these include:
- solar panels: great for the environment, quiet and cheap (after instalment), they make a perfect energy alternative. They can, however, be expensive and require full sunlight to be effective
- rechargeable batteries: a good backup for when you’re not on mains and when other alternatives run out, they do however require recharging every few days
- diesel generators: a good alternative when you’re off-grid and want to run appliances such as dryers, heaters, air-cons and refrigerators. Cheap to run, they can, however, be noisy, heavy to transport, take up a lot of room and can emit fumes.
4. Caravan slide-outs & annexes
Caravan slide-outs can be customised to some caravan models you buy. They are a great add-on, allowing you to expand your indoor space at any time and readjust back to normal when less space is needed.
Caravan annexes are the cheaper way of adding another usable space to your caravan. Usually comprised of canvas and a rigid frame, they extend out from your caravan like a tent-shaped room. Some are even customised to be freestanding and can be set apart from your caravan at any time. Annexes give you the best of both worlds, with the ability to sit outside even when it rains, and yet still only be a few steps away from the comfort of your caravan.
5. Safety mirrors
When towing a caravan you are legally required in most Australian states to fit rear-view safety mirrors to your tow vehicle. Purchased either as portable or permanent attachments, they can be fitted to the side mirrors of your tow vehicle. Using them is key to safely caravan towing. They give you the ability to see the full width, sides and behind your caravan and are a great help when reversing. They also make it easier for you to see when your caravan isn’t properly centred, giving better visibility to re-adjust before it starts snaking.
6. Spare caravan tyres
This may seem like a given, however particularly if you are buying a second hand caravan, check that your caravan comes with a spare caravan tyre...or two! Also ensure that the tread pattern and size of the spares match the tyres on your caravan. If they don't, the last thing you want to have to do is replace all tyres and foot a tyre bill you hadn't planned for.
7. Extra gas bottles and water storage
This is important particularly for off road caravan travel and if you’re travelling through desert or isolated bush areas. Most off-road caravans come with standard twin gas bottles, rear jerry cans for water/petrol storage and heavy duty water tanks with protectors. Also, look for good front boot space for additional storage capacity to keep extra water, petrol and other essential supplies.
8. Satellite dish / wireless hotspot
There’s nothing better, at times, than watching your favourite TV or online show. Here, with a satellite dish and wireless hotspot, you have the ground covered; a better TV connection to watch free to air shows, and wireless internet to keep connected via email, social media and catch up on the latest online shows.
9. A partner in crime
Having a partner in crime to help you out and travel with you is the ultimate safety and enjoyment accessory for your next caravan trip. Having a right hand man or woman help out, whether it's loading your caravan or reversing, is worth its weight in gold. With a buddy you will always have someone to talk to, keep you company and be your extra eyes and ears when towing a caravan on the road.
Buying caravan accessories online
There are many more accessories you can buy to enhance your caravan experience, from off road to luxury caravans. Caravan accessories online, in particular, abound and it can be confusing to sort the essential from the non-essential. If you’re still not sure what you do or don’t need, talk to a licensed dealer for advice on caravan accessories. Licensed dealers are a great source of knowledge and only offer advice that is legally compliant under all Australian road and safety laws. Compliance covers things like engineering & design rules, safety standards, warranties, guarantees, legal terms & conditions, and consumer law protections. Ticking all these boxes means you caravan can be lawfully driven on the road and ensures you won’t run into problems when trying to insure your caravan.
Want to find out more about the essential features every caravan should have? Download our guide to buying the ultimate caravan in 2016.