Is a demountable the right choice for me?

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Is a demountable the right choice for me?

Postby RobYorkshire » 21 Nov 2016 23:53

Hi all,

I initially looked at "expedition" type vehicles thinking that I could use it for wild camping up in Scotland / Wales and then maybe in a couple of years time look at doing an overland trip through Europe and onto Africa. However I think one of these trucks would be overkill for the UK and the novelty would soon wear off. Slow, uncomfortable, low MPG, and too big for the small single track roads in Scotland are just a few of the downsides.

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Campervans would be no good as although I wouldn't be doing anything too extreme, some off road ability would be useful. My modest 15-20k budget wouldn't get me very far either, even in the winter months it's uprising to see how much they go for second hand! People asking 10k+ for a clapped out 90's Transit!

So, this brings me to the demountable units which in theory sound perfect. Having a pickup as the base vehicle in comparison to the expedition vehicles offers advantages such as they're more modern and comfortable inside, parts will be easier to get (and probably cheaper), better MPG, plus the ability to leave the camper unit behind whilst exploring in the pickup. I also wouldn't have to do my HGV test although this isn't a huge issue.

I'm just wondering if they'd be big enough for 2 people to go off and live comfortably in for a few weeks at a time? I've not actually been in one, although I've stopped in an old army communications trailer and whilst it was a great experience, I think more than a couple of nights would start to get annoying. Looking at photos, this is probably similar or maybe even bigger compared to a demountable?

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So, onto a few questions:

1. Do you ever find yourselves cramped? I guess an awning (and / or safari room) would help as it allows you to eat outside of the unit. This brings me onto my second question....

2. Awnings / Safari Rooms. Are there any manufacturers that officially support the demountables as from a quick look on here it seems members sort of "bodge" them on?

3. Is there a model that stands out as being bigger than the rest? Or are they all a similar size with slightly different internal layouts?

4. I haven't found a demountable with an oven which I would prefer, gives much more scope for meal options. I could get an electric slow cooker but would prefer an actual oven / grill.

5. Are suspension upgrades (airbags?) a must-have or does it depend on the choice of pickup? If it helps I'll be going for a double cab version - the plan is to replace the current car with a pickup, so I might as well go with 5 seats. I can always remove them for extra storage too on longer trips.

That's it for now, I'm sure I'll be back with more....

Thanks,
Rob.
Last edited by RobYorkshire on 17 Dec 2016 02:40, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is a demountable the right choice for me?

Postby zildjian » 22 Nov 2016 00:03

Welcome Rob can see you have your questions worked out, they'll be along shortly with some answers though I can probably clarify one or Two right off.

these campers are all roughly the same size beyond buying one designed for single cab which offers more floorspace right off,
awning is a good idea, We have two guinea pigs in Sweden right now can answer all our long term habitation questions so be patient with us on that one.

I'm posting this thread over on our facebook page too for maximum coverage as many of our lot don't do anything but social media
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Re: Is a demountable the right choice for me?

Postby sabconsulting » 22 Nov 2016 00:38

Hi Rob,

It sounds like your camper needs match ours. We want 4x4 for dirt tracks / sand / snow, but not extreme offroading (we've been through part of the Sahara in it). We use the camper as a base for kayaking, climbing, mountain biking. But we want something under 3.5 tons and compliant with the current Euro emission standards so it won't cause problems travelling through Europe. There are two of us.

The demountable works very well. We've been running ours for 6 years and use it a lot all over Europe. I suggest getting a supercab pickup truck (rather than doublecab, where the load bed is almost entirely behind the rear axle) and make sure the camper doesn't overhang the rear too much - weight distribution is very important.

Having the double bed over the cab is fantastic - you don't have to keep making it up every night and one of you can retreat up there and read if the other is changing / cooking / whatever.

The sort of ex-military vehicle you showed (like the Russian Gaz and Ural trucks with ISO mount pods on them) are likely to wear your patience thin quickly. OK as a hobby vehicle you occasionally take away, but too much of a compromise if you want to do a lot of travel. Likely to be difficult to get spares for if you break down in France for example, be expensive to run and unlikely to be accepted if you find a nice campsite somewhere, plus the issues with tolls, ferry costs, low emission zones, weight limit zones, driving license, etc.

1) We don't find ourselves cramped - the cabover bed makes the difference as I described above.

2) I actually removed my awning :-)

3) Don't go too big in size or you will compromise your offroad abilities. If you want serious expedition vehicle then you are looking at something very compact with a pop-up roof, like a Gazell. But you will probably find that too cramped for the bulk of your use around Europe.

4) Omnia do a clever device you can cook many oven-cooked items in that sits on the top of the gas stove. So although an oven might be nice, I would not select a demountable based upon whether it has one or not - there are more important things to consider (such as weight, construction and if 2nd hand the possibility of rot in wooden structures). We also carry a separate camping stove in the truck cab for cooking outdoors in good weather (we have a 4-ring stove inside).

5) Airbags are a popular upgrade. We didn't really need them on our Supercab Ranger, but fitted them as belt and braces, Keep the pressures low - it is not a good idea to make up for a poor weight distribution by pumping airbags up to 80 PSI. PS - avoid Nissan D40s, they have a habit of snapping chassis - although any truck can suffer from that if you fit a camper that is far too long for the load bed (weight distribution again). As mentioned above, although the extra storage of a double-cab seems desirable, just look at the effect it has on the load bed length - it may only be a few inches, but it pushes the weight of the camper further back behind the rear axle which bends the chassis in a direction it wasn't designed to be bent, leading to the risk of cracking. A single-cab is best for weight distribution, but has little storage in the cab. A supercab with half-doors at the back is a good compromise. They usually come with small folding seats - if you remove them they are amazingly spacious for storage.

Cheers,

Steve.
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Re: Is a demountable the right choice for me?

Postby Black Countryman » 22 Nov 2016 01:08

When my VW T25 pop top went to the big camp site in the sky, I decided to go for a demountable. We've had ours for 12 months and I wish I had known about them years ago.

The advantages for me are

1. You only need one vehicle as the camper unit can be left at home when not in use
2. You can upgrade the vehicle as the old one gets tired
3. A fixed double bed. No climbing about morning & night and everything else is accessible.
4. Our own toilet. No middle of the night treks in the pouring rain after an evening on the beer.
5. Unlike having a towing van, my tow bar is available for my boat.
6. Get to site, wind the legs down and the vehicle is available. My wife is no longer 'trapped' while I'm off sailing. In the old van it was a load of hassle to put everything away, pull the pop top down, roll up the awning and drive of the leveling ramps only to reverse the process later if we wanted to drive anywhere.
7. The 4 x 4 pick up has been an unexpected bonus as I use it for hauling out boats and rescuing people's cars from the mud at the sailing club.

As for is it big enough for 2 for a couple of weeks?, we took our adult daughter plus two dogs (the biggest border collie ever seen and a collie/whippet cross) with us for two weeks in Normany. The two of us went to Mull with the dogs for a fortnight including stops on the way with no problems. I reckon we've done 40 nights so far this year, 3 or 4 times the usual number with the old VW.

The only thing I might add for next year is an awning as somewhere for damp, muddy dogs to go before being allowed back into the camper. It will also serve as a midge free bar in the evenings when we go to Scotland in the biting season.

This group and it's associated Facebook group are a massive bonus as there is always someone who has been there, done that and who is willing to share their knowledge. Its worth hanging around just to see the demountables for sale, I don't know how Richard keeps finding them.

Disadvantages - none

Have fun

Tony
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Re: Is a demountable the right choice for me?

Postby RobYorkshire » 08 Dec 2016 00:56

Thank you all for the replies and the various points to think about. It's great to hear they're perfectly adequate with regards to space.

I've spent the last couple of weeks looking at topics around the forum and following other demountable owners and their adventures on Instagram.

I think I've narrowed my pickup choice down to a Ford Ranger, probably a 2007/8 model. They seem to get fairly decent reviews, and the interior isn't as agricultural as I was expecting. In fact, bung in a double DIN unit (ideal for nav, bluetooth etc), and it's quite a nice looking place to be, which I figure is pretty important if you're planning on travelling a lot! A "super" or "king" cab should be fine, 99% of the time it'll just be me, or me and 1 passenger, and if they're more stable with the camper mounted too, then it's all good.

Regarding the camper unit itself, I think I'd be looking at a Northstar or Skarosser as these seem to be the better insulated? (There's also Tischer however these are out of my price range!) Are these actual different manufacturers, as I've seen some members on here refer to them as the same thing? I'm sure I read that the Northstar's are imported from America with the Skarosser's coming from Sweden? How does something like the UK made Ranger compare? The Tischers also have the option of external showers and BBQ points, I think something like that would be great - do these extend to other models?

Ideally I'd pick up something with central heating (futureproofing for Scandanavian trips) although I appreciate that buying second hand, I'm limited to what the previous owners have specced. How does the standard "warm blown air" compare and would I be able to run this long term if off grid?

This leads me onto another question. The majority of my stopovers would be off grid so i'd be looking at installing solar panels if they weren't already present (and maybe an additional battery if they were). What sort of minimum requirement would I need to power everything for say a week or so, I can't imagine stopping in one place longer than that. I'm guessing there's lighting, TV, water pump, and a whole load of other stuff I've probably forgotten about! I know there's a huge amount of variables but a rough number would be good to aim towards. eg would I be able to use my 240v slow cooker, or would I be better off replacing everything with 12v versions where possible?

I've looked into awning / safari rooms (how much?!) and from what I can see it's a case of getting the awning mounted if it hasn't already got one, then looking for a compatible safari room. Fiamma and Thule seem to have quite a few.

I'd also need a bike rack, and possibly a roof box (might not be needed depending on space available in back of pickup).

Ermmmm what else.... Ah yes, LPG tanks. Are these recommended over replaceable bottles? What's the availability like once out of the UK? I'll struggle without an oven as it is, I don't want to run out of gas and then not be able to use the hob too haha.

Thanks again guys.
Rob.
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Re: Is a demountable the right choice for me?

Postby Steve&Lyssa » 08 Dec 2016 09:43

Hi Rob , you are almost in the same situation as us . We have been traveling for nearly four years now in our 9 mtr RV , and like you long to get off the beaten track . The RV has been a great' home ' , but we so miss driving down that ickle track towards the sea that the RV plus normal campers cannot go .
I have the Pick Up , a double cab Ford Ranger , all we need to do now is sell the RV and select the new unit .......one day !

LPG is available all over Europe , you will struggle in Africa . We have some very 'Hungry ' electrical items so have installed batteries which hold 180 amps , so have 3x100 amp panels , always best to have too much coming in . We also have a 500 amp Inverter that charges all 240 items plus will run our slow cooker when the sun shines :O)

Happy hunting , I will be watching your posts to see how you get on , we also like the Northstar, the North / South bed set up is something we need to try / ask about as my old man bladder means several visits to the loo could cause a few brobs if I have to keep climbing over Mrs G !!
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Re: Is a demountable the right choice for me?

Postby zildjian » 08 Dec 2016 20:15

Hi Rob I have answers to a few of those points at least;
Ford Ranger certainly, we have a few members with a variety of versions and seem a loyal bunch so I'm taking that as a thumbs up till I hear differently, but did you have a second choice we may be able to offer some insight as most current makes as present here.

Camper SKarosser I can vouch for myself, Ranger's while not currently in production by Simon in Lancashire are always snapped up in used sales and while not bullet-proof, the known issues are in our buyers guides and repairs documented here in detail, Tischer are a German manufactured unit, reassuringly expensive new but readily available used in either 'trail' or 'box' level of equipment and again, plenty of them owned here

extra equipment like outside connection for showers can be retro-fitted to almost any camper as can solar (BBQ points) I have no idea about as I don't know what that is :)

Heating SKarosser mostly feature a mini central heating system like your domestic set up unless you buy the more modest of the range then its blown air, can't comment on Scandinavian use for that level of heating though I can say theses are superbly insulated campers to begin with and heat requirement is fairly minimal on cold night in our climate at least.

Lastly Awnings etc
Personally I've tried a variety of awnings the majority of which locate in the track on the side of camper wall, others have fitted their own track on rear of camper and attached a safari room there, I settled for Fiamma wind-out for ease of use and although I don't have them, its possible to add both side & front 'walls' to enclose them ,
Tischer offer a bike rack that goes on back of camper or you can (again) fit your own Fiamma roof box ditto

LPG refillable I'll have to send someone along better qualified than me to tell you about though
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Re: Is a demountable the right choice for me?

Postby Big Jim » 08 Dec 2016 20:55

Hi Rob

I have the perfect set up ....A Ford Ranger super cab and a Northstar . Although only 2 x 4 . We don't do off road , so not necessary for us , although I am slightly jealous .
Camper is comfortable and spacious , perhaps too big for me .Good layout . I have installed solar and an extra battery .

Truck .Goes well with plenty of power . I would defiantly go for a super cab , I have 100kg of spare load capacity with a dry camper .

You are welcome to view , Wolverhampton .
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Last edited by Big Jim on 08 Dec 2016 21:03, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is a demountable the right choice for me?

Postby Black Countryman » 08 Dec 2016 21:03

Hi Rob,

I've got Northstar 700DL which sits nicely on my double cab UK 2007 Ford Ranger. I've added air bags since the picture was taken and it now sits perfectly on the truck (not that it was that bad before). I tend to keep the speed down to about 60 mph on the motorway to save fuel but I have found myself sneaking up to about 80 mph in France. I'm getting about 30 miles to the gallon without the camper and 25 with it on if I take it steady. I think that theFord cab is more "workman like" than the Japanese offerings and there are lot fewer bells & whistles but that means there is less to go wrong.

I particularly like the North/South bed as it means we can get in or out without disturbing each other (important if I've had a couple of beers and need to get up in the night). The blown air heating is just fine (in fact it makes it too warm for me in about 10 minutes) and the thermostat means it isn't blasting out all the time. It is also fairly quiet.

We tend not to go off grid for more than a couple of nights as we pop into camp sites fairly frequently to empty the waste, top up the water and use the site's shower blocks so we don't use too much electricity. Mainly its just the water pumps, lighting (all bulbs changed to LED) and running a laptop/tablet for watching TV. We've got a 90 ah leisure battery with a 120 watt solar panel and we've had no problems so far.

I hope this helps

Tony

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Re: Is a demountable the right choice for me?

Postby rubberrat » 08 Dec 2016 21:12

Sorry it took me so long to reply - travelling so been on phone only and I hate typing longer comments on it...

We ran a thread ages ago on the pros and cons of demountables, ill try to find it.
These things are not for everyone. I've always considered a demountable as 'posh camping' rather than a home from home.

1. Do you ever find yourselves cramped? I guess an awning (and / or safari room) would help as it allows you to eat outside of the unit. This brings me onto my second question....

If you are using in fine weather then no.. the greatest thing about demountables is that fixed bed. Its an escape zone if the living area gets busy. Demountables best for couples and dogs rather than larger families though. On a long winter trip it might be a pain. but everything is a compromise. Buy a bigger motor home and they are a hassle to park. Buy a smaller campervan and you can't leave it to go travelling independantly if you find a relly cool spot to hole up in for a week. Buy a caravan and you may as well just end it all now or settle down with a nice cup of tea and a copy of The daily Mail.

2. Awnings / Safari Rooms. Are there any manufacturers that officially support the demountables as from a quick look on here it seems members sort of "bodge" them on?

I had a safari room on my last demountable. Its a hassle - dont bother. And weighs a ton. Suggest a stand alone/free standing 'utility' type tent to stash your gear out of the way if its wet - chairs outside cooker etc. Can stash bikes out of sight and even carry a small portaloo if you don't always want to banish your other half outside for post-curry ablutions.

3. Is there a model that stands out as being bigger than the rest? Or are they all a similar size with slightly different internal layouts?

I had one of the bigger demountables on the UK market, a SKarosser EC6 with an extra height option. It was brilliant, but the size caused me some problems in rural Greece so I sold it and bought the smallest hard side unit, a Tischer Trail 200. Horses for courses, the SKarosser had every possible extra including an oven and was brilliant - but all that stuff added to the weight.
The new Tischer has almost no extras and is super-basic. I didnt think we'd get on after all that luxury, but the size and really light weight makes it an absoloute dream to drive and travel with. You takes ya choice... But I really love this unit now.

4. I haven't found a demountable with an oven which I would prefer, gives much more scope for meal options. I could get an electric slow cooker but would prefer an actual oven / grill.

Up to you, My SKarosser had an oven - an oven in my view is reasonably inportant and really expands food choice. I dont have one now...its the one thing I miss, but I enjoy cooking outside so a nice new Cadac Safari Chef has taken its place. Remember you have all of the space in the back of your truck for carrying gear.

5. Are suspension upgrades (airbags?) a must-have or does it depend on the choice of pickup? If it helps I'll be going for a double cab version - the plan is to replace the current car with a pickup, so I might as well go with 5 seats. I can always remove them for extra storage too on longer trips.

Air bags are a must. Easy to fit and cost about £450. The ride is horrible without them.
Not many camping units give you the option of five belted seats with a daily drive option except maybe some of the T5 VWs.
And as I said theres the rear seat space if youre not carrying people on your camping trips. I put a sheet of ply on the seat so things dont damage the upholstery. Heaviest items here too as it puts the weight ahead of the rear axle.

Re gas, yes go for refillable - Gas-It or GasLo . I got quite cute with gas use on a two month trip just using 2 x 6kg Calor. But I use Coleman petrol stoves x 2 for outdoor cooking. Take a mini oil filled radiator for sites with hookup.
Definately go for solar and 2 x 110ah LB's
Whatever you choose as a camping unit, from tiny VW to huge American RV there is no 'Silver Bullet' Whatever seems to a better option causes problems elsewhere. You have to choose what works for you and make compromises.

Current Rig - tischer trail 200


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Previous rig - SKarosser EC6 extra


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I also have this - a pop top SV Sky Hawk


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And the USP of demountables...Demounting to free up the truck


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Safari room



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Chevrolet 3.0 LUV Tischer Trail 200
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