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Tvan Canning camper 2021 review

Track, the company behind the Tvan, has always been ahead of the trends. Its Tvan, now 21 years old, combined a ‘space-age’ tear-drop concept with a suspension system developed for the military that was worlds ahead of the primitive independent suspension systems of its time. In 2008 it was one of the first companies to branch out into ‘hybrid’ campers – heavily off-road-biased caravans with most of the features outside. Then in 2012, its Mate led the way for other, versatile expedition-style trailers, the likes of which Patriot and Drifta have popularised. 

Once, the Track Tvan was the epitome of off-road camper desire. It was the benchmark against which other off-road campers were measured. Since 2000, the fundamental design hasn’t changed – even the kitchen is in the same spot.

Is this still the off-road camper trailer by which all other campers should be compared? 

How big is this camper-trailer? How much does it weigh?

  • The Tvan borrows its shape from teardrop campers, but takes it to an off-road extreme. The Tvan borrows its shape from teardrop campers, but takes it to an off-road extreme.
  • The Tvan borrows its shape from teardrop campers, but takes it to an off-road extreme. The Tvan borrows its shape from teardrop campers, but takes it to an off-road extreme.
  • The Tvan borrows its shape from teardrop campers, but takes it to an off-road extreme. The Tvan borrows its shape from teardrop campers, but takes it to an off-road extreme.
  • The Tvan borrows its shape from teardrop campers, but takes it to an off-road extreme. The Tvan borrows its shape from teardrop campers, but takes it to an off-road extreme.

Perspective is vital when considering the Tvan. For a trailer with full hard-body design and a bed under a hard roof (aka, a caravan), it’s pretty small. For a tear-drop camper, it’s on steroids. 

There are six models of Tvan to choose from, although all share the same body. All models are 4.9m long, 2.15m high 1.92m wide. Once set up, there’s 4.8m of interior length including a 2.1 x 1.7m, off-ground floor area. Although there’s not much headroom above the bed, you can stand up tall in the tent area.

Weights range from 940kg and 1130kg, which isn’t the lightest premium camper on the market, but it’s pretty close to it. Depending on the options chosen, the Track’s ATM is 1500kg, offering about 500kg of storage capacity. A limited-edition Zenith model has a 1800kg ATM, an upgrade that’s available as an option on all the other models. 

Without a load, the Tvan adds between 90kg and 140kg over the ball of your 4WD.  

Length: 4900mm

Width: 1950mm

Height: 2150mm

Weight (Tare/ATM/Tow Ball): From 940kg/1500kg/90kg

 

How easy is it to set up?

If you’re in a real hurry, got to camp late, or just feeling lazy and need a kip, setting up the Tvan is as simple as lowering the rear platform, lifting the back door, climbing inside, shutting yourself in and laying your head on a pillow. It’s very ‘tear-drop’ in that regard. If you want it a bit more open, there’s a canvas hatch cover which fits into place for a ‘30-second’ set-up.

But even the more complete set-up is simple. It had been 10 years since I last set up a Tvan, but I still got it done in 10 minutes and noticed some brilliant improvements to the process. 

  • Innovations to the setup procedure have made it significantly easier to get the camper erected, and then packed up. Innovations to the setup procedure have made it significantly easier to get the camper erected, and then packed up.
  • Innovations to the setup procedure have made it significantly easier to get the camper erected, and then packed up. Innovations to the setup procedure have made it significantly easier to get the camper erected, and then packed up.
  • Innovations to the setup procedure have made it significantly easier to get the camper erected, and then packed up. Innovations to the setup procedure have made it significantly easier to get the camper erected, and then packed up.
  • Innovations to the setup procedure have made it significantly easier to get the camper erected, and then packed up. Innovations to the setup procedure have made it significantly easier to get the camper erected, and then packed up.

Track has added magnetic location to all of the clips and fasteners the tent uses as it attaches around the floor frame. It meant that once I’d pushed the tent out into its approximate position, most of the straps find their way into place and all I needed to do was tension them. The floor’s legs are also cleverly integrated into the assembly and are much simpler to adjust than they’ve been in the past.

Packing up (the real test of a camper, in my opinion) was straightforward, although I did have to dislocate some magnetic straps twice after they found their way back into place. 

The floors legs are easy to adjust, and the black clips are magnetically assisted. The floors legs are easy to adjust, and the black clips are magnetically assisted.

As I was working overhead to fit the tent back into its hammock in the door-hatch, I wished there was a strap to hold the door lower. But, then I found it, already there and with the Track brand on it, as soon as I’d finished. They’ve thought of everything, it seems. 

How practical is the space inside?

  • With a solid floor, large tent area and big bed, the Tvan’s very comfortable. With a solid floor, large tent area and big bed, the Tvan’s very comfortable.
  • With a solid floor, large tent area and big bed, the Tvan’s very comfortable. With a solid floor, large tent area and big bed, the Tvan’s very comfortable.
  • With a solid floor, large tent area and big bed, the Tvan’s very comfortable. With a solid floor, large tent area and big bed, the Tvan’s very comfortable.
  • With a solid floor, large tent area and big bed, the Tvan’s very comfortable. With a solid floor, large tent area and big bed, the Tvan’s very comfortable.

Twenty-one years of slight tinkering has made the most of the interior space in a Tvan. Inside, the bed dominates space inside the camper’s rigid body, but there’s enough headroom to sit tall at its end while getting dressed or putting on shoes. That’s largely thanks to a 100mm higher roof on this latest model. 

No opportunity for storage has been missed. In every model except bottom-of-the-range Yulara, there are hammocks from the roof and storage pockets along the walls. About half-the space under the bed is general storage, and it can be upgraded on any model with sliding drawers. 

Plenty of light can also find its way in, or be kept out. The two side windows are large but tinted to reduce glare and heat. On the Canning I tested, there were also two roof hatches which open to allow airflow. All the windows and hatches have blinds, while the hatches have midge-proof screens to keep all the small, biting bugs out. 

What is the bed like?

  • It’s a north-south bed orientation in this Tvan, avoiding any clumsy ‘climb over’ moves. It’s a north-south bed orientation in this Tvan, avoiding any clumsy ‘climb over’ moves.
  • It’s a north-south bed orientation in this Tvan, avoiding any clumsy ‘climb over’ moves. It’s a north-south bed orientation in this Tvan, avoiding any clumsy ‘climb over’ moves.

The Tvan’s bed runs north-south through the camper, so both occupants can climb in easily without having to climb over the other. In the top three models, Track fabric-lines the bedhead, although considering headroom down that end it limited, most people won’t be able to sit up and read there. The mattress is a comfortable, high-density foam, although an innerspring upgrade is available. For those who can’t live without technology close by, there are 12V and USB outlets spread throughout the cabin. 

 

What’s the kitchen like?

  • The premium kitchen is as slick as they come, and expands nicely. The premium kitchen is as slick as they come, and expands nicely.
  • The premium kitchen is as slick as they come, and expands nicely. The premium kitchen is as slick as they come, and expands nicely.
  • The premium kitchen is as slick as they come, and expands nicely. The premium kitchen is as slick as they come, and expands nicely.

There are two kitchens available for the Tvan, and both are great. In the lower-spec models, that standard kitchen is a telescopic slide-out with a two-burner gas stove, stainless steel sink and a decent amount of bench space. It has a simple wind-guard, basic storage options and running, cold water. 

The premium kitchen, as pictured, is much bigger, and therefore has heaps better storage options within it, and a better layout. The wind-guard is also better integrated and easier to use.  

Four of the six models come standard with a drawbar mounted box that features a fridge slide capable of holding a 65-litre fridge. The space can also be optioned with a pantry slide, although I’d love to see that made standard, as there are not many more convenient places to store bulk food around the kitchen. 

That all sits under Tvan’s 180-degree quick awning, which is best described as half-an-umbrella stuck to the side of the camper. It fans out nice and quickly, although there’s an order to the canvas folding to get it packed up neatly afterwards. 

 

How easy is it to tow?

  • The Tvan’s military-developed suspension is top of the class.
The Tvan’s military-developed suspension is top of the class.
  • The Tvan’s military-developed suspension is top of the class. The Tvan’s military-developed suspension is top of the class.

The Tvan is one of the best off-road campers on the market behind a 4WD. Its MC2 Suspension for which it’s become famous is so well-engineered other systems have spent this long catching up to it. Underneath, there’s 250mm of travel (although longer bump stops can be added to suit 33in tyres) and there are options for 1500 or 1800kg loads. 

On-road it’s a dream, thanks to its somewhat-aerodynamic shape and reasonable weight. Off-road it’s really smooth, too and the suspension soaks up bumps and potholes far better than the stiff springs in a Ford Ranger XLT. 

Hitching is also nice and easy, thanks to the large, swing-away jockey wheel and DO-35 off-road hitch which is my favourite off-road coupling. 

 

What options are available for it?

If you can say anything about Track, it’s that the company knows how to add fries with that. There are almost more options for the Tvan than there are standard features, even if you buy a top-spec Muranji. 

Need Maxtrax mounted on the back? Easy. Bike holders over the drawbar? Of course. Lithium batteries and upgraded battery management? Why not. You’d like extra canvas for extended stays, a kids’ room or more shelter. It’s all available.  

Any potential issues with it?

Track Trailer has an excellent reputation in the market for building a high-quality product. Although some issues are reported, most are minor – LED lights failing prematurely, some fasteners rusting and needing replacement to maintain cosmetics. All the current models have a three-year warranty on the body and five years on chassis and suspension. In a market that’s dominated by 12-month warranties, Track’s obviously pretty confident in its product. 

The Tvan still stands apart in the off-road camper trailer market, even 21 years after its first release.

Yes, other makes and models have bridged the gap, but few have done so with as much ingenuity. If you need a wildly capable, comfortable and easy-to-use off-road for two, this is a great option. 

WarrantyFive years
SleepsTwo
Water capacity 108 litres
CostFrom $67,490

Thanks to Peter from Camperact Narellan for lending me his Canning to review. Find out more about its range of Aussie-built campers at camperact.com.au or call (02) 4624 9911.

Daily driver score

4.5/5

Adventure score

4.5/5

adventureguide rank

  • Light

    Dry weather gravel roads and formed trails with no obstacles, very shallow water crossings.

  • Medium

    Hard-packed sand, slight to medium hills with minor obstacles in all weather.

  • Heavy

    Larger obstacles, steeper climbs and deeper water crossings; plus tracks marked as '4WD only'