Running Hortin Common since 2014 I’ve had a wide range of discussions with our guests on various caravan accessories. With my repeat visitors, I also get to notice when they change from one product to another. Something which is very clear is that there are some pretty strong opinions on steps for caravans and motorhomes. I’ve had several guests change the steps they have. Either because they felt they were not fit for purpose or sometimes because they felt their old step was simply dangerous.
Obviously, the mobility of my guests varies, and a sturdy and stable step for their caravan it more important to some people than others. However, the reality is, everyone who owns a caravan or motorhome needs to choose their step carefully. As even a relatively young and mobile individual can easily slip, stumble and fall with a poor quality caravan step. If its a bad fall that could lead to a nasty ankle injury and the end to your holiday.
There are lots of variables to consider when choosing a step for your caravan or motorhome which I’ll discuss below. Different designs and materials have different strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, this is quite a long post, but you can use the Table of Content below to jump to any particular section or product.
What to consider when Choosing a Step for a Caravan or Motorhome
If you have the time I would recommend you watch the video below from Practical Caravan discussing steps. The presenter briefly touches on many of the topics and product types I’ll discuss in this post. The video provides a good visual interpretation of some of the common issues and problems with some caravan steps.
Steps and Ground Conditions
Here at Horton Common, we provide hard standing fully serviced pitches. There is also a hardstanding section were the cars park, however, the door from the caravan or motorhome will usually be out onto the grass. Obviously, grassed areas depending on the time of year and weather conditions can be hard or soft. Therefore you want to choose a caravan step that will be suitable for both conditions.
Now, I do provide a large heavy-duty rubber matt for each pitch which can be placed in front of the door of the caravan or motorhome. This provides a good footprint to support pretty much any step, no matter what the weather conditions. However, when visiting another site you cannot presume they offer such a solution. Therefore, your choice of caravan step needs careful consideration. You want to avoid any step which has small feet which will easily sink into soft ground.
Caravan Step Ground Fixing
As shown in the video, some steps have holes in the feet which means you can secure the caravan step to the ground with pegs to increase stability. This is a nice feature to have. However, with a plastic step, even if the feet don’t already have holes to secure with pegs you can easily make them with a drill. Depending on whether the caravan step is placed on a hard or soft surface you will need the pegs to suit.
Metal or Plastic Caravan Steps?
You can get steps made from aluminium, steel or from plastic, each has its pros and cons. For instance, metal steps can be made with folding mechanisms. Therefore when it comes to minimal storage space, folding metal steps generally win that one. Metal steps can also be a little be lighter than large plastic steps. However, I don’t believe the difference is ever that significant. When it comes to the weight of the step in terms of a pro or a con it depends on the interpretation. A heavier step will be more stable. However, heavier steps will reduce the remaining payload weight in your caravan.
Avoid Painted Metal Steps
I would generally try and avoid painted steps. These tend to go rusty quite easily. One guest changed their metal step to a plastic step for this reason. Their old metal step had water trapped in the tubes. Even though they used a bag to store the step in the caravan, when they got home they had rusty water on their caravan carpet. As you can imagine they were not too happy with this and quickly changed to a plastic caravan step.
Plastic Steps are Generally Bulkier
Plastic caravan steps do not benefit from folding mechanisms, therefore are generally bulkier. When it comes to storage in your caravan or car this bulk is likely to be more of an issue than the weight difference of various metal or plastic steps. With regards to durability, there is usually not much between metal or plastic steps. However, I have seen one guest struggle to fold up a metal step in the past. So having some WD40 to hand to lubricate the mechanism is not a bad idea.
Caravan Step Stability and Slip Resistance
Slip resistance with any caravan step is obviously important. For instance, you want a step with drain holes so surplus rain does not sit on the surface. Some steps do not have drain holes but have a rubber surface. Its worth noting however in freezing conditions every caravan step needs to be approached with care. If you are using the caravan in the winter months having some salt and grit to hand is not a bad idea.
As I briefly discussed above, with some steps you can use pegs to secure the feet of the step and improve stability. With most plastic steps, depending on the design of the feet, you can make the holes yourself if they’re not pre-drilled. When it comes to metal steps, it can be trickier to use pegs to secure the step. However, with suitable loop pegs and some wire, it can be done even if its more of a faff.
Personally, I would Avoid Single Hand Rail Caravan Steps
I understand the appeal of a step with a single handrail. However, from seeing several guests use them and their feedback, I wouldn’t recommend them. The issue is weight balance, as there is only a handrail on one side it often means people put more weight on the side of the step. Furthermore, these steps also typically have small feet which means its easier for them to sink into soft ground. I’ve never witnessed anyone topple over one of these steps, but I can easily imagine it happening. Furthermore, the example below is painted metal, so the future potential rust issue is also not ideal.
You can get caravan steps with two handles. I personally feel these are much more stable. Double handrail steps have the issue of being very bulky. However, most do come in separate parts for you to assemble when setting up your caravan. These steps are still going to take up quite a bit of storage space.
The Alternative to Handrail Caravan Steps
If mobility is a concern for you, instead of getting a caravan step with a handrail I believe a better solution is to have the handrail fixed to your caravan or motorhome. This is not only a safer and more stable solution it also means you can choose a less bulky and lighter caravan step. Furthermore, most caravan handles also double up as an additional security prevention device over the door.
Please note how I referenced the safety handle can act as an ‘additional’ security device when locked across the door. Your main security measures will be a hitch lock, wheel clamp and potentially some leg locks. Furthermore, you need to check the safety handle will fit your caravan. If you’re not confident enough in your DIY skills to fit the handle your self, your service centre should be able to complete the job for you.
Step Options for Caravans and Motorhomes
So below are a few caravan step options I believe you should consider. I’m not going to reference any steps with small feet as I think they’re only suitable for hard ground conditions.
Milenco Giant Double Step
This is the step we use for our caravan and many of our guests also use this step. Now, elephant in the room, its called the Giant Double Step and there is no question about it, it lives up the name. However, if you do have the space to store this caravan step I think its one of if not these most stable steps you can currently buy.
If the Giant Double Step is just too big for you to store, Milenco does also offer the smaller version of the double step. Having two steps makes it much easier to get out of a caravan or motorhome. With a single height step, you are lowering yourself while still in a narrow caravan doorway. If you have never used a single-stage step its a difficult issue to describe, but personally I hate single-stage steps.
Milenco Giant Double Step Features
- 450mm x 250mm Tread Size
- 185mm first step height and 370mm overall height
- Overall Dimensions: 72 x 62 x 38 cm
- Weight: 3.66kg
Milenco Aluminum Double Step
If you would prefer a metal step over the plastic double step above, Milenco also produces an aluminium double step. Now, it may seem like I’m writing a bit of a Milenco only promotion. I would happily reference other metal double steps if they were better designed. Other products currently available are generally not aluminium, hence the potential rust issue we discussed earlier. Or, they have tiny little feet which will sink into all but the firmest grass surface. This step is aluminium with a large footprint to properly distribute weight. Hence, if I was in the market for a metal step, this is one I would buy.
This metal step is smaller and a little bit lighter than the plastic double step above. As discussed above, size and weight differences have pros and cons depending on the context. In reality either of these steps I believe is a suitable solution for most caravans and motorhomes.
Milenco Aluminum Double Step Features
- Dimensions: 59 x 49 x 34.5 cm
- Weight: 3.3kg
Integrated Manual or Motorised Steps
Now, some motorhomes come with an integrated step that pulls out from under the chassis. Some top-end caravans also come with integrated steps. Thule is the leading manufacturer of integrated steps, and you can actually get them as a retrofit.
Quite a few of my guests with motorhomes have integrated and motorised steps, running from the leisure battery. Some people like them as it means you don’t have to take up space within the van bringing a step with you. However, other guests have not expressed such positive feedback. The main complaint appears to be the shallow depth of the step.
Conclusions on Steps for Caravan and Motorhomes
Over the years of running Horton Common, I’ve seen a wide range of different makes and models of caravan steps. My opinions have been formed from my own observations but also from the feedback I’ve received from our guests. while larger double steps do take up more space, I think they are the best solutions available. Either plastic or metal steps are a valid choice. However, I personally would only consider aluminium metal steps.
Whichever caravan step you choose to go with where possible you want to secure it to the ground with pegs. A securely fixed-step can make a big difference when it comes to avoiding trips and potential injury. I hope you found this post useful in helping you to choose your next caravan step. I also hope you consider coming to visit us here at Horton Common at some point in the future. 🙂