With its spacious modern interior, long list of extras as standard, and a kids’ bunk room with space for friends, the Retreat Aotea 260B caravan from InsideOut RV is an attractive offering for Kiwi families keen on extended holidays. Claire Smith takes a closer look.
Camping and outdoors test
They say necessity is the mother of invention and that is certainly the case with the Mountain Buggy baby stroller designed by leisure jogger and father Allan Croad. It's now 20 years since Allan developed the award-winning three-wheeled pram that revolutionised the market. It became an international best-seller and entered the lexicon as the descriptive term for any all-terrain buggy. He sold the $12 million turnover business some years ago and began to search around for a new project. In keeping with his passion for outdoor living and a healthy lifestyle, Allan began looking at the camping market and noted a gap. Right there, in between tents and the more sophisticated camping trailers was room for a well-designed, versatile camping trailer, with an achievable price point for entry-level adventurers moving on up. Enter the LeisurePod. The LeisurePod is a story of collaboration between two designers in two different parts of the world, bonded by a shared interest in product design and a passion for the outdoors. In 2006, Allan and Netherland's-based industrial designer Harm Coenen decided to combine their talents and interests. Allan and Harm realised that the majority of caravans, trailers and even tents and camping equipment primarily catered for those with lots of space and powerful 4WDs. They reasoned that there were many who had ordinary cars and little storage room and surmised that many wanted more from their outdoor adventure than sleeping on the ground in a two-man tent – there had to be a better way. The pair began their research visiting camping stores, campgrounds and trade fairs in New Zealand, Australia and Europe and they found plenty of existing camping trailers, many of them too lightweight and lacking in comforts for dedicated campers. Their aim was to design the 'ideal' camper trailer. In pursuit of that goal, they combined their knowledge, experience and ideas and built a series of prototypes until they achieved their ambition. Along the way, Allan and Harm have often had to return to their philosophy of 'keeping it simple' while creating a unique light, economic and versatile product. The resulting LeisurePod, which was officially launched at the recent Covi Supershow in Auckland, combines a sleek moulded fibreglass canopy and base (made locally by Jucy by Design), with a pop-up tent which sits on (and removes from) a standard galvanised trailer from Pinto trailers, Penrose, Auckland. The fold-out sofa bed fits comfortably in the trailer, creating an ambient day bed when folded and a comfortable sleeper when prone. While in transit, the bed remains in the day position, leaving adequate room for the transport of goods and supplies. Further storage is available in a specially-designed compartment in the moulded body above the tow bar. It's the perfect spot for fishing rods, barbecues, fold-up fabric awnings and tent pegs. The fabric walls, awnings and vestibule tent are manufactured to the highest standards in China by Pureland Camping Equipment. From a distance, they create a bright splash of colour. Upon closer inspection, the thoughtfulness of the design element is obvious in the clever moulding, concealed zips and Velcro closures. Overall, this is a sassy piece of kit which should find ready appeal in the between market. Allan and Harm have identified their target audience as between 30 and 50. Their initial estimates were a fraction younger and it was a surprise to find a slightly older demographic from their extensive customer surveys. The Covi Supershow was the perfect launch for the LeisurePod. Not only was the trailer universally well received, but Allan's stand won the award for Best Medium Stand. It was a fitting start to what promises to be another winning design from the Croad stable. Feel free to make a comment or ask us a question about this story on the MCD page. For the latest reviews, subscribe to our Motorhomes, Caravans & Destinations magazine here.