When Track Trailer launched its Tvan in Australia in 2000, it caused a stir in the world’s toughest overlander market. Nearly a decade later, the Tvan is still the one to beat—and not just because of its huge ground clearance.
There are several good US competitors, but none are quite as tough as this space-age machine. Whether you actually need that toughness is another question; Outback tracks such as the 1,200-mile Canning Stock Route are more gruelling than overland routes in the States.
A Tvan will set you back at least $28,000—AU$36,000—which is Lamborghini territory in this market. In comparison, US-built trailers such as the King Kamper retail for around US$20,000. (The well-regarded Adventure Trailer is a different beast, being smaller and more basic.) But it’s easy to spend $50,000 on hardening up a stock Jeep Rubicon, so we’re inclined to say the Tvan is worth the price for those who need the performance.
The suspension is built to military spec, as you’d expect from a supplier to the Australian army. Track calls it ‘MC2’: it’s an asymmetric link, trailing-arm setup with long-travel coil springs and custom Koni shock absorbers. This gives up to 250mm (10 inches) of travel and extremely stable handling with very little bump-steer. The Tvan tracks tight in the roughest terrain, and belies its 750kg (1650 lbs) weight.
The innovation continues up top. Most camper trailers, even the ‘off-road’ ones, have a pop-top design. The Tvan is different, and although it can’t take a roof rack, it’s better thought out. If you’re caught in a storm, you drop the tailgate, open the hatch, get inside and pull the hatch down. It takes just seconds and there’s no canvas flapping around. If it’s warm, you just leave the hatch raised and slip over the flyscreen.
For longer stops, there’s a Tent Mode. You extend the floor panels, drop the tent canvas out of the hatch, and attach it to the floor. It’s not quite as quick as a pop-top, but the design has one huge advantage over most camper trailers: the tent has its own compartment when folded away, so it won’t soak your bed if it’s been raining.
Thoughtful touches abound. The storage, lighting and slide-out kitchen facilities are all top-notch, and the overall feel is one of complete indestructibility. This is a camping travel trailer you can hitch up to the back of the Patrol and forget about, instead of stopping every ten minutes to check that the axle’s still there. The departure angle, after all, is a remarkable 30 degrees. And the recommended service interval for major components is five years or 60,000 miles.
If you’ve got the cash, a Tvan likely to outlast your three-score-years-and-ten. The biggest problem is how to get hold of one if you live outside Australia. At least one Tvan has been exported to Canada, and there are several in Europe courtesy of a dealer in France. But if you want to land a Tvan in the States, you’ll need an importer who can handle NHTSA regulations. That might be the toughest obstacle of all.