Recreational vehicle camping is a timeless family vacation tradition that provides a fun, memorable and affordable form of travel. While families with children make up a key demographic of the RV industry, that industry focuses its design and features overwhelmingly on adults. Features like illuminated wine cabinets and slide-out espresso machines do little to make the trip better for junior (though we guess they do keep mom and dad jovial). Sure the adults are the ones buying the RV, but as any parent knows, keeping the little ones happy during the trip is priority number one. The CaraKids motorhome and caravan design studies from Weinsberg were constructed from start to finish with children in mind, and they feature a number of smart details that promise to make RV camping more fun and convenient for the smallest campers - and, thereby, the adults, too.
Weinsberg is the entry level camper brand of the Knaus Tabbert family tree, and as we've seen with the Caravisio and Travelino, Knaus likes to explore the future of the industry and liven up trade shows with concept campers. The two CaraKids designs are among the group's latest concepts, this time exploring how the industry's future could be more kid-friendly.
Weinsberg worked with Germany's Caravaning and Promobil trade publications, enlisting the help of readers to identify the types of features they'd want in a more family-friendly camping vehicle. It reworked the interiors of both its CaraHome 700 DG motorhome and CaraOne 550 QDK camping trailer, showing how its child-focused design could easily fit the two vehicle types.
Unlike the outlandish style and features we often see in the concept cars of auto shows, the CaraKids' designs follow a much simpler, more pragmatic approach. Weinsberg and its partners redesigned very specific parts of the camper interiors to create a more child-friendly whole. The CaraKids designs may or may not prove marketable, but they're definitely thoughtful exercises with some interesting ideas, nothing flashy or outlandish getting in the way.
CaraKids CaraHome 700 DG motorhome
Weinsberg's CaraHome 700 DG is a 24.4-ft-long (7.43-m) motorhome built on a Fiat Ducato and powered by a 113-hp 2.0-liter Multijet engine, with more powerful engines available as options. It sleeps up to six on a combination of above-cab alcove double bed, rear double bed and convertible dining-area bed. It has a kitchen, bathroom and storage, along with the amenities expected of a full-fledged motorhome: electrical system, heater, water system, etc.
The biggest, most noticeable update in the CaraKids version of the CaraHome is the extensive use of fall-out protection. Weinsberg adds stretch side netting to the convertible dining area/bed and a fold-away wall on the alcove bed, helping to keep children safe and in place. The raised rear bed also features fall-out protection in the form of the robust, slide-up ladder that makes it easy (and fun) for children to climb into bed. The ladder even includes indoor climbing wall-style grips, which kids should enjoy using to manipulate a few extra minutes out of the day by taking a slower, more challenging route up to bed. Once up on the rear bed, children can keep books and other belongings close at hand with the integrated elastic straps on the fabric wall.
Because children don't stretch out as far as adults, Weinsberg uses the foot of the rear bed as a storage alcove that houses plastic bins. The bins make loading/unloading between house and camper a bit easier than drawers or cabinets. These type of plastic bins are also featured on the tall shelving unit just behind the driver's cab, secured with a hinged quarter-door.
The dining area keeps children safe, neat and occupied. Children can keep their ever-so-important electronic devices topped off using the two USB ports. The cupholder mounted to the side wall helps to stop spills, but since it's unlikely to catch every tipped cup, the table has a slightly raised, spill-proof edge. Post-trip clean-up becomes easier with the help of the washable, zip-away fabric panels on the seats and seat backs. The bench seating includes Isofix hardware for affixing car seats.
The bathroom gets its own happy kid-camper updates, most notably the drop-down stepping stool built into the wall. The stool helps boost small children up to toilet level. Fabric storage bags keep up to six occupants' personal hygiene items organized.
Child-security electrical outlets provide added safety throughout.
CaraKids CaraOne 550 QDK caravan
As its "550" trim level makes clear, the CaraOne 550 QDK trailer is shorter and smaller than the CaraKids motorhome. It features a double front bed, rear-corner bunks and a convertible dining area bed. Weinsberg says it can sleep up to seven with an added bunk bed and dining-area bed extension. It includes a kitchen, bathroom, storage, heat, water, etc.
Not unexpectedly, the CaraKids concept caravan shares many features with the larger CaraKids motorhome. We won't bother rehashing things like fall-out protectors, zip-away upholstery or bathroom stepping stools, but you can see more of how these fit into the CaraOne in the photo gallery.
Where the caravan version separates itself from the CaraKids motorhome is in its bunk section. The dual bunk area of the rear corner is carved out from the rest of the cabin, creating a sort of dedicated child's play and sleep area. The lower bunk folds up into the wall when not in use, opening up floor space, and the ladder/lower bunk fall-out protector swings out to serve as a divider door. The plastic storage bins on the floor below the bunks have cushioned tops to double as comfy chairs, and children can use the floor space for play. There's also a flip-up bedside table and wall-mounted chalkboard. Each of the two bunks has its own USB port and fabric wall with elastic straps.
The CaraKids caravan study includes a lockable kitchen for keeping dangerous cleaners and chemicals safely out of reach, child-safety electrical sockets and a raised front bed designed for easier diaper changes. The front bed area also includes an under-bed storage cabinet with external access, designed with strollers in mind, and a bedside cabinet designed for baby accessory organization.
To build, or not to build
Given that the CaraKids designs are just concepts, it's not clear if any of their features will see production or how much they'll cost. The upgrades do seem smart and straightforward enough as to at least be offered as options. The kid-friendly elements and bright colors would surely make the idea of a long, hot, bumpy family road trip much more enticing to children of all ages.
Weinsberg used last September's Düsseldorf Caravan Salon and last month's CMT show to highlight its CaraKids models. We're sure it listened intently to public feedback at both shows. According to Promobil, whose word we're inclined to take since it was integral in the creation of the CaraKids concepts, Weinsberg said that the CaraKids feature package would add about €2,500 to the price of the CaraHome 700 DG.