All Geared Up

Lisa Jansen takes a look at the latest trends and innovations in the RV world – from tech to entertainment, accessories and more.

The motorhome and caravan market is growing rapidly, both locally and internationally. As more and more people discover the joys of travelling in a home on wheels, an increasing number of businesses are finding ever smarter and more innovative ways to make life easier for nomads on four (or more) wheels.

Whether you’re installing the latest technology or safety equipment, or you’re after some new accessories and entertainment, everything is getting better – and smarter. Here are some of the top trends in the RV world in 2023.

Further for longer: Off-road and Off-grid

One undeniable RV trend is travellers’ desire to go further, to more remote places, for longer. As a result, off-road RVs are more popular than ever, whether that’s rugged Australian caravans like the Urban Tungsten Tuff 22ft, or 4WD motorhomes like the Wilderness Hymer ML-T 570 CrossOver or the Explorer Navigator.

While off-road RVs have their perks year-round, those who love travelling in winter when grounds are muddy and there is a chance of snow and ice on the road will probably find them particularly appealing. Alongside this trend for off-road RVs, travellers are adding more solar panels and batteries to their motorhomes and caravans to be able to go off-grid for longer and run more luxury appliances – especially in the colder seasons when we get less sunshine.

Wendy Thomson from Motorhome Solar confirms this, saying: “We definitely see a trend towards customers wanting more power in their RVs. Today, many don’t just want to camp, they want to “glamp” and desire the use of hair dryers, coffee machines, microwaves and – the biggest leap forward – e-bike charging. All of this requires large solar and battery setups.”

Mobile internet is becoming much more sophisticated

More connectivity and entertainment

Remember when the rainy day and evening entertainment for a camping trip consisted of books and board games? Well, those days are long gone. Today, many RVs are equipped with better entertainment systems than some houses. Smart TVs and sound systems that you can connect to via your phone to play music or movies and TV shows are a common feature in most new RVs, making it easier than ever to be well-entertained while on the road.

However, a lot of this is dependent on connectivity. And it’s not just entertainment that makes access to reliable internet more important than ever to many travellers. With many people being able to work remotely (at least some of the time), a good internet connection means having to work won’t stop you from travelling.

NetSpeed and Wireless Nation are two of the most well-known providers of mobile internet, and not surprisingly, both have seen their businesses grow significantly over recent years. However, there is also a new kid on the block: Starlink. While more expensive, Starlink’s satellite network offers better coverage in remote locations, so it might be worth the extra cost for some. However, there have been reports that getting Starlink set up in a mobile home can be tricky, so make sure you talk to the experts and know how to make it work before you commit.

A Stellar Performance
The Thule inflatable takes the hard work out of awning setup.

Easy, convenient shelters

Awnings have long been many RVers’ must-have accessory. In summer, roll-out awnings offer a quick way to create shade, and in winter and during rainy days, enclosed awnings provide additional covered living space. The only issue with these enclosed awnings is the time it often takes to set up and pack down. If you’re staying put in one place for a long time, it’s not that much of a bother, but if you move around regularly, the setup and pack-down can easily stop you from even bothering, especially when it’s cold and wet outside.

All of this is probably why inflatable awnings, like the Kampa Dometic Rally Air Pro, are becoming increasingly popular. They are much faster to set up and pack down, even by just one person – all you have to do is pump air into them and watch the shelter erect itself. And the benefits don’t end there. Due to not having steel poles, inflatable awnings are much lighter, and the risk of damaging your RV in a storm is significantly reduced.

However, nowadays, awnings don’t have to be inflatable to be easy to set up. One example is the Thule Quickfit Awning Tent, which is fast and easy to set up as the complete tent is in one piece and doesn’t need profiles. And once you’ve set your awning up, modern LED lights like the Vango Sunbeam LED Lights Kit make the extra space super usable, even at night.

Collapsible everything

While RV designers are getting better and better at building increasing amounts of storage into their motorhomes and caravans, space is often still an issue. Kitchens and associated storage, in particular, can be much smaller than the ones most travellers are used to from their homes.

It’s not surprising, then, that we’re seeing an increasing trend for collapsible items that don’t take up a lot of space. There’s many items available as collapsible these days – it’s no longer just cups and bowls. You can now find a wide range of items, such as the RVSC Collapsible Dish Rack, the Kiwi Camping Collapsible Basin, the Kiwi Camping Collapsible Kettle and the Techlight Mini Collapsible Lantern, as well as collapsible sinks, collapsible water carriers, funnels, measuring cups, salad spinners, and strainers.

Keeping it level with ease

We all know the problem; you’ve found a great spot to park for the night, but it’s not level. So out come the levelling blocks, and you spend the next 20 minutes or so trying to get your RV perfectly levelled.

This generally isn’t fun on any day, but when it’s cold, windy or wet, many will be tempted to give up and sleep on an angle – and probably regret it at some point during the night.

Jayco Swift Tourer Camper Trailer Review
Make storage easier with collapsible kits

There is a better way. Hydraulic levelling

One popular solution is the MA-VE automatic hydraulic levelling system, which is compatible with Fiat, Mercedes, IVECO and Volkswagen RVs. The legs attach to the chassis and then come down with a simple push of the button and automatically level the RV. But innovative levelling systems like the MA-VE not only balance the RV when you park up, they keep it stable as ground movements or weather conditions change.

Helen MacMillan from Apollo Entertainment rates the MA-VE systems highly and reports getting only positive feedback from customers: “We have had such incredible feedback from anyone who has bought one. Some say they’ve slept right through crazy storms and not even known it was happening!” So if level parking and a good night’s sleep are vital to you, it might be time to consider a hydraulic levelling system.

Safer driving and parking

Reversing cameras from trusted providers such as RSE and Apollo make driving and parking an RV much easier and take the stress out of getting into tight spots. Modern wireless systems are much easier to install nowadays, and the resolution of the cameras and monitors is so good it’s easy to see exactly what is going on. Cameras are also no longer just useful for reversing. Depending on the size of your RV, you might want to install cameras at the front and sides as well, giving you a 360º view of your home on wheels without leaving the driver’s seat.

While cameras can make parking easier, there ae other innovative tech that help keep your RV safe once parked up and out of sight. Products like the Nextech 4G GPS Vehicle Tracker with remote immobiliser enables you to track exactly where your vehicle is and immobilise it if it’s not where it should be – all via the internet. With stories about stolen motorhomes regrettably common, these trackers can provide great peace of mind.

Exciting times ahead

Trends and innovations like the ones talked about here show that the world is changing – and the RV world is keeping up. While still in the early stages, EV motorhomes have started to pop up, so there’s a good chance that will soon be a big trend. The evolution of self-driving cars will probably impact the RV world. With AI developing rapidly, our mobile entertainment systems might soon predict what we want to watch or listen to and play it before we even need to ask or press any buttons.

No one knows what the future holds, but it will be exciting to see what trends will emerge in the motorhome and caravan space over the coming months and years.

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