guide to demountables ... what are their advantages?

Independent use of vehicle and camping unit - the most obvious and most cited advantage though it is by no means unique to demountables; towed caravans, fifth-wheels and clip-ons can all make the same claim. It is in comparison with other types of motorcaravan that this advantage is most apparent. Being a single vehicle the pickup/camper shares the motorcaravan's compactness and all the benefits that derive from that such as ease of parking, manoeuvrability, etc. However, being separable it also shares the trailer caravan and fifth-wheel's versatility and all the benefits that derive from that, including eliminating the necessity, that many motorcaravan owners feel, of owning a second vehicle.

Ruggedness and manoeuvrability - a claim often made by manufacturers contrasting their demountable product with other, larger, fixed motorcaravans but that is not really a comparison of like with like. However a demountable can demonstrate exceptional ruggedness and manoeuvrability when combined with one of the many available four-wheel-drive base vehicles - the reason the format is favoured by many manufacturers of expedition vehicles - and in that respect distinguishes itself from most motorcaravans of similar size in which four-wheel-drive is not normally even an option. See types of demountable body for more info.

Limited storage space - because demountables, mostly, sit inside the walls of a pickup bed and, more than that, have to 'slide' between the wheel arches of the pickup, the opportunities to design and build in low-level storage are severely limited. The extremely useful externally-accessed storage that is common in coachbuilt motorcaravans is virtually non-existent in demountable design.

Upgrading - motorcaravan conversions and their base vehicles rarely age at the same rate. Engines that are barely run in carry domestic environments that are truly worn out; and occasionally vice versa. By providing the opportunity to independently renew or replace either the base pickup or the camper unit, a demountable combination can overcome the mismatches that are commonly found in the condition of a motorcaravan's mechanical and domestic components.

Economic running - an advantage claimed by many manufacturers but it's sometimes a dubious claim. Obviously there are savings to be made, in comparison with a fixed-body motorcaravan anyway, if fuel costs don't always involve pushing the box-like living accommodation through the air. Arguably, though, the fuel costs of a 'hard-side' demountable (i.e. one with a fixed roof, not a pop-up roof) when on the pickup would not compare favourably with a coachbuilt motorcaravan of similar size, being generally higher and less well streamlined, and certainly wouldn't bear comparison with the fuel costs of a typical European low-profile motorcaravan. I think only manufacturers of pop-up demountable campers can legitimately claim economic running whether the unit is mounted or not.

Towing capability - This is an advantage that all motorcaravans could claim, of course - up to the limit of their Gross Train Weight capacity anyway - but it is an advantage that demountables have over other removable camping units such as fifth-wheel or trailer caravans. Even demountables which extend beyond and below the rear of the pickup bed can be equipped to tow with an extension such as the Torklift SuperHitch.

High centre of gravity - because by definition a demountable sits above the bed of its carrying pickup it sits higher than a comparable motorcaravan built around the base vehicle's chassis. Obviously this results in a comparatively high centre of gravity which will be felt in the way the combination drives, with a tendency to roll on roundabouts and tight corners. This tendency can be minimised by careful matching of the camping unit and base vehicle and can be limited if necessary by the fitting of assisted suspension.

Restricted choice - despite the number of manufacturers listed on this site and elsewhere, the range of available demountables is actually very small when compared with that of available motorcaravans or trailer caravans, even in north America where the demountable concept is most firmly established. In the UK this limited choice is inevitably reflected in the second-hand market where sales are often of discontinued models, frequently from now defunct manufacturers.

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Different people will claim different advantages for a demountable pickup camper, or indeed for any other kind of vehicle/caravan combination. Manufacturers will claim advantages for almost anything; if they make it! Advantage, like beauty, is a subjective affair.

This page describes some of the advantages most often claimed for demountables. In the interests of balance it also includes some of their most evident disadvantages .