Caravan Levellers for 4WD and Vans
It has become second nature to survey the designated camping site as we approach and determine how the 4WD will fit, if there is enough room to put up an awning and if the ground is level.
There’s not a lot to be done about the available space at a selected campsite but we can do something about the ground level. After we have scratched around in the dirt shifting a few rocks etc. we often drive the 4x4 onto a plastic style vehicle leveller.
Keeping it Flat
Vehicle level is unimportant for some people, but for others the need to get a car into a reasonably balanced position is pivotal to being able to cook a meal and get a decent night’s sleep. While we are able to sleep inside our vehicle we choose to generally sleep outside. We do however do a fair bit of cooking from the back of our 4WD troop carrier and at these times it’s preferable to keep what’s in the pot – in the pot. If you have ever cooked a reasonably liquid dish on a stove that’s out of level you will be able to empathise with the desire to keep things on plane.
And those that are touring in caravans or Winnebago style campers will understand immediately that the human body responds to a properly balanced environment. There is a sensation that something is inherently wrong when floors and walls are out of level and out of plumb.
There are a few plastic levelling systems around. They are basically just a simple reinforced plastic ramp which the manufacturers claim will accommodate around 5 – 8 tonnes. Normally supplied as a pair they are a companion product for plastic wheel chocks that prevent parked vehicles from rolling away. A pair should be enough to get any 4x4, caravan, camper or camper trailer into a reasonably level position. We have never been in a situation where 3 ramps were required.
They are mostly available in 100mm overall, height (enabling a 100mm lift) and may have 2 or 3 inbuilt ‘steps’ to allow for vehicle height adjustment. Each ‘step’ has a small pad to allow the contact patch of the tyre to rest on a level surface. I am sure the manufacturers of such products insist that vehicle levellers are used in conjunction with their chocks (for safety) however we have never owned chocks and never had a problem with a 4WD rolling away.
Up to the Task
We bought ours at a caravan show and were initially a little suspicious about the strength but they have never once groaned under the considerable weight we place on them. We frequently drive up onto them on granite, which has no give in it. The brand we have is of German manufacture and the majority of the competition is either French or European made. We have even used them as a traction aid to get out of a particularly boggy place and they performed flawlessly and without damage although I suspect the distributor would cringe to hear of such treatment.
The only complaint we could have would be of size. It would be nice if they were 150 – 200mm high rather than 100mm. If you have to jack a car up more than 200mm then it could be argued that the camping location is not all that practical to begin with, while with a 100mm ramp you sometimes find that a little more lift would be perfect. They do settle a little in soft sand, causing a sight loss in maximum height, but not enough to be a problem and a few rocks or sticks placed underneath will normally sort it out.
You must decide if you really want to carry two cumbersome plastic ramps although after having a pair for nearly two years we wouldn’t be without them. Ours mount, up top, to the front of the roof rack and because of the tapered design act as an aerofoil and perhaps aid very slightly in reducing fuel consumption. Caravanners may find it useful to keep a pair at the door for quick stops when it’s undesirable to activate the inbuilt jacks and levellers, while most people who get off-road in their 4WD campers and motor homes may find a pair an essential piece of kit.
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