Hard-edged Tvan MK5 off-road caravan conquers the Outback
Off-road camping trailers are some of the toughest wheeled vehicles out there, designed to roll and rattle over Earth's most rugged, semi-navigable terrain. Some look the part better than others, and the Track Trailer Tvan sits at the top of the pack in that regard. Like a teardrop after a full steroid regimen, the Tvan looks like it's capable of not only dominating the rocks below its tires, but possibly breaking straight through any boulders or mountainsides that happen to stand in its path. Track recently debuted the latest version of this force of the Outback, and it looks tougher and more comfortable than ever.
Australia's Track Trailer launched its Tvan trailer back in 2000, and it's been putting it through the rubble-filled wringer ever since. If there's one thing that years of off-roading and expedition camping is good for, it's finding every problem and potential problem your equipment has, right down to the tiniest quirk. So Track has made the Tvan a living vehicle, improving and evolving it over the years based on its own experience and feedback from customers. The Tvan MK5 is the latest evolution.
Truth be told, we've been looking for a reason to feature the Tvan trailer for some time now, and though the model itself is nearly two decades old, the MK5 brings some impressive new and redesigned comforts and innovations, including more headroom, quicker interior access, and a more versatile audio system.
Between the Tvan's unconventional shape and its fold-out tent hardware, we weren't sure if it was a sleep-in trailer or strictly a tent trailer when we first laid eyes on it. But its queen-size mattress is located inside the trailer walls, and Track Trailer is eager to point out the benefits of those solid, non-flapping walls. The deployable tent sets up around the rear hatch, adding extra interior living space.
The MK5 features a new roof design that adds about 4 in (100 mm) of headroom inside. Track says that the redesigned hard roof adds space and comfort without the structural and weight compromises that would come with a pop-up roof.
In place of the side doors often found on trailers like this, the Tvan has a full rear hatch that swings up and provides access to the interior. For quick, simple overnighting or "escape the elements" emergencies, users can skip the tent and rely on just the trailer interior, which boasts 30-second set-up. They can either close the hatch and be surrounded by four hard walls or install one of two available fabric hatch covers for a breezier night of sleep.
For more interior space, Track Trailer has integrated a tent inside of the hatch door. By storing it in the door, it keeps the bed clear and allows for the simple, straight-to-bed set-up described above. For those that don't mind spending a little more time setting up camp – about five minutes, as estimated by Track – the tent can be deployed to double interior living space.
The tent doesn't rely on the naked ground nor a fabric ground sheet to serve as its floor. Instead, a fold-down aluminum deck attached to the back of the hatch door slides under the tent to provide a flat, solid floor above the cold, hard ground below. Adjustable legs help to stabilize it. We reckon the deck would also make a nice, little open porch for coffee or cocktails when the tent is left packed up in the hatch door too.
Previous Tvan models required one to fold the deck out before opening the hatch up. To guarantee the quickest access to the trailer interior, Track Trailer reworked this design, giving campers the ability to lift the gas strut-assisted hatch door and deck together. It calls this feature the "Skyward Lift-Up Deck." Not that the deck is particularly hard or time-consuming to operate, as it simply unlocks and drops down into place, but when you're aiming for 30-second set-up we guess you have to shave the seconds wherever you can.
For those trips that demand a tent, the fabric drops down out of the hatch door, relying on that door as a partial roof and the deck as a floor. The tent attaches to the deck and trailer body via a series of elastic ties and eyelets. Roof and side poles add structure, and the interior includes a countertop at the far end, serving as a breakfast bar – and maybe just regular bar, depending upon what time it is.
Each Tvan comes with one of two slide-out kitchen options. The classic kitchen includes a dual-burner stove, BBQ plate, stainless steel worktop, 65-L pantry, and front slide-out sink and cutlery drawers. Track updated the design of this kitchen last year, integrating more aluminum for weight savings, adding a mixer tap for hot water at the sink, and redesigning some of the components for better performance.
The available premium kitchen features double the worktop space and a different layout, with a Thetford three-burner, glass-top cooktop and more storage. An available quick awning deploys in two minutes to provide coverage over the kitchen side of the trailer.
The Tvan doesn't come with a fridge, but the available front storage box is split into two lockers, one with a fridge slide-out. The second locker can also be equipped for a fridge, adding some extra cooling space.
Many individual Tvan MK5 specs vary according to trim level, but all four trims have a 108-L fresh water tank and available 70-L auxiliary tank. A water-drawing system for pulling water directly from an external source comes standard or optional, depending upon trim.
The entry level "Yulara" MK5 trim has a 60-W rooftop solar panel, while all three higher-level models come standard with a 120-W panel. A 105-Ah deep-cycle comes standard across the lineup, and buyers can also opt for a second 105-Ah battery or denser lithium-ion battery storage. A command center provides monitoring and control of water, electrical, and other systems and functions. Track offers diesel heat and hot water standard on the top-tier Murranji trim and optional on lower-trim models.
Another new addition in the MK5 is the available portable Fusion Stereoactive audio system that serves as a more versatile alternative to hard-wired audio. The speaker mounts just inside the hatch and can be removed, letting travelers take their tunes around camp and beyond. This way you don't have to be tied to the bumper to enjoy some music. The Bluetooth speaker also includes a removable base that serves as a waterproof storage module for a phone, keys or other small items.
While all those features make the new MK5 comfortable at camp, the trailer will have to get to camp before you enjoy them, and it's designed to do just that, come snow, rain, heat, rock, mud, water or whatever. The trailer's foundation is a hot dipped galvanized steel chassis with military-grade MC2 asymmetric link independent suspension keeping the wheels moving with up to 9 in (230 mm) of travel. The cabin is built of a combination of aluminum sandwich panels and steel. The 16-ft (4.9-m) trailer weighs in at around 2,200 lb (1,000 kg).
The Tvan MK5 follows the same tough-as-nails but comfortable ethic we've seen in other Australian off-road camping trailers, like the Bruder EXP-6 and Ultimate Nexus. It also follows the same "as expensive as a motor vehicle" pricing model. Based on the price list for the Victoria, Australia region, the Tvan MK5 starts out at AU$52,990 (approx. US$43,900) for the entry-level Yulara and AU$76,900 (US$60,500) for the top-level Murranji trim. The Tanami (AU$55,800) and Canning (AU$66,100) fall in between. The company also offers many à la carte options, which can lift those prices higher yet.
For a detailed look at the different standard and optional equipment of each trim, alongside full pricing information, we recommend signing up for a brochure at the bottom of the Tvan MK5 product page linked below. We did just that and received an email with brochures and price lists for the Tvan and other models, invaluable in comparing trims, equipment and prices.
The three-minute video below provides a nice walk-around of the Tvan MK5 and a closer look at specific features.
Source: Track Trailer