If you’re looking for a lightweight yet sturdy off-road caravan for two, the Bateleur is for you.
Because the Bateleur is so basic, it doesn’t require jack corner steadies, but on every corner there is a round corner steady that you lower and then tighten when it reaches the ground, ensuring the trailer will be rock steady. Use the jockey wheel’s handle and adjust the height of the coupler until the trailer is level. By the way, there’s a small spirit level on the coupler where you can see when the trailer is level as you turn the handle. As soon as the trailer is in line, you lower the nose by about 5 cm, loosen the two rear corner steadies, and lower them to the ground. Tighten them and lift the nose about 2–3 cm higher than the spirit level. Now lower the front corner steadies and tighten them, then lastly turn the jockey wheel to the original level. Depending on how firm the ground is beneath the trailer, it should rest firmly on the corner steadies.
George native Hannes Uys is known for the off-road trailers he builds in his home town, but now he has launched his first off-road caravan. The new caravan has the same genes as his trailers, but the chassis and framework are made of steel and cladded with aluminium sheets. The Bateleur off-road caravan can hardly be any simpler. It’s really nothing more than a square box on wheels. But Hannes outdid himself with the design. A double bed folds out of the right-hand side panel, and the outside kitchen covers the entire left-hand side. On the A-frame is a massive nosecone, and as with so many new caravans, the door is at the back. We hitched the Bateleur and travelled for 1 500 km through the Western Cape, camping along the way. >
Bed, bath and beyond
Both side panels – left and right – create a big door that folds flat and forms the kitchen and the sleeping area respectively. Hannes uses refrigerated truck lock mechanisms on the doors. It’s one of the best ways to keep an off-road trailer’s doors dustand waterproof. Before folding out the bed, you have to thread the loose fly sheet in to the aluminium extrusion near the roof and then swing the bed base 90 degrees down to the ground (once the bed is folded out you won’t be able to reach). Besides the fact that the base of the bed hangs on two 5 mm stainless steel cables, there’s a loose adjustable leg for both the two corners to make things a bit sturdier. A springloaded steel rod fits onto each edge and the middle ridge of the bed. This stretches the fly sheet as well as the canvas over the bed. The folded-down kitchen counter is extra large for a caravan of this size (193 x 61 cm). Even though the twoplate stove is mounted onto the right-hand side, there’s still more than enough space to operate. The shiny counter doesn’t have raised edges and is easy to clean. The space for the cutlery, crockery and food is behind the counter in the body of the caravan. The camping fridge is far left and the drawers and shelves take up the rest of the space. The space for the fridge (on a sliding frame) is big enough for a 40–50 ℓ model, and the four drawers in the middle are big enough for larger pots and pans. Far right, behind the stove, is an open shelf or two for fresh fruit, as well as a socket for your kettle or toaster. The drawers and sliding frame open up over the work surface, which means you have to take out what you need before you start cooking or you’ll find yourself rummaging through the drawers with flour-covered hands in search of a rolling pin.
BATELEUR OFF-ROAD CARAVAN