HYBRID CAMPER TRAILER
The last few years have seen a strong market shift to the hybrid camper concept, with buyers attracted to the ease of setup, particularly over their canvas clad cousins. And as such, we’ve seen a flood of new hybrid manufacturers enter the market.
With so much to choose from, we’ve put together a Hybrid Camper Trailer Buyers Guide.
What is a Hybrid Camper Trailer?
A hybrid camper is a cross between a caravan and a camper trailer. From the caravan, it inherits the hard walls and roof, doing away with the canvas, creating a much easier setup. And as such, owners are much better protected from the elements. Add a bunk option and even the kids get to sleep inside.
Like other camper trailers, the hybrid has a narrow body, about the width of a large four wheel drive, making them easy to pilot down narrow bush tracks. They also slipstream well behind the vehicle on the highway, reducing fuel costs.
In order to maintain a compact size, the cooking generally stays on the outside, to make the most of the outdoor lifestyle inherent in camper trailer ownership.
Canvas hybrid campers like the multi award-winning Track Tvan features an insulated hard shell around the bed like a teardrop camper, plus an expanding hard floor with canvas walls. The hard floor provides an extra area for kids sleeping mats, a dog bed, or a table and chairs, increasing the utility of the design. And the large side windows help bring the outside in.
But unlike other canvas campers, there’s no wet canvas on the bed and the clever awning is erected in minutes rather than hours. Even the tent can be deployed in just a few minutes – see HERE.
Not only are they smaller than a standard hybrid, they weigh around 500kg less, making them better suited to high clearance tracks where less weight can work to your advantage.
This style of camper suits the adventurous traveller, looking for a compact, rugged, and comfortable camper with good clearance front and rear. Ideally suited for a couple, it’s still popular for families that can bunk the kids down on the hard floor.
Versatility is one of its many strengths. The Tvan offers three different setup options:
- Open the hatch, jump in and pull down the hatch behind you (teardrop camper).
- Open the hatch, fit the insect screen and jump in – great in warm conditions and with an uninterrupted view of the landscape.
- Open the hatch and deploy the tent, for those looking for an integrated change room or living space.
View more on the Track Tvan range HERE.
Tvan Buyers Guide
A micro-hybrid or small hybrid is generally less than 5.5m overall length, measured from the hitch to the end of the spare wheel if mounted at the rear, and under 2.2m tall. They feature hard walls and a pop top roof with internal seating or bunks.
One company doing things a little differently is Lifestyle Campers. They offer a reduced wall height and a taller pop-top, to limit the travelling and storage height to 2.1m. This makes it much easier to fit under a standard sized carport or garage and reduces drag when under tow.
Full Size Hybrid
Offering a little more elbow room, a full size hybrid camper ranges from 5.6m to 7m long. The standard layout is called a Dinette, which means a lounge and table setup.
Other layouts include an ensuite or bunks. Look for well thought-out layouts such as bunks that fold up into the roof space, so you can use that area for things other than sleeping.
Most will be single axle with the occasional tandem offering. Common examples include the Lifestyle Reconn R2 and R4 Elite. Of those, the R4 is longer and slightly wider 2.1m for additional room to move.
Penny Wells and the crew from the Top of Down Under took a Reconn R2 hybrid camper to the Kimberley for three months in 2019. You can see the R2 in action HERE.
Lifestyle Campers has coined the term hypercamper which is another spin on the hybrid camper classification. All Lifestyle Hypercampers feature solid walls and roof to minimise setup effort. A key point of difference to other hybrid campers is the low storage and travelling height. Models range in height from 2100mm to 2250mm.
Popular features of the Reconn range include a large recessed external kitchen protected from the elements and the Automatic Roof Open and Close.
Another distinguishing feature is the protection to water tanks and plumbing which are housed within the body, eliminating the risk of damage on rocky tracks.
Research & Review
A detailed inspection provides the best opportunity to eye ball a camper and assess its quality of build and suitability to your requirements. Ask the salesperson to provide a walk-though including the setup and pack-up including the awning. Then comb through the spec sheet and write a list of questions. Quiz the dealer on options available and perceived shortcomings relative to your needs, as there may be an option or workaround.
Use Google to research any quality problems. Simply type the manufacturer’s name and the model name followed by words such as problems, warranty and the like. Do the same for the dealer.
After Sales Support
Whatever you buy, make sure there is a servicing dealer nearby with a solid reputation for after sales service. A repair agent is not the same, as they work for the manufacturer and not you. A local dealer will always have your best interests at heart, as you are their customer.
During the sales process you will have many questions and it’s reassuring to have a dependable local resource for support. Then there’s servicing, repairs, parts and sometimes warranty to attend to. Try doing that through an interstate company. Visit the dealer to experience their customer service first hand, even just as a visitor to their shop.
Does the dealer have any interest in touring/camping? It’s always best to deal with like-minded enthusiasts with similar interests rather than people just paid to sell hybrid camper trailers. Camping enthusiasts can share their own experiences and add value in areas far beyond the nuts and bolts of the camper.
Awards, particularly those from peak industry bodies such as the Caravan & Camping Industry Association, give an indication of a dealer at the top of their game. They will have processes in place for all aspects of the business from sales to after care to ensure you’ll always receive a consistent level of service.
Inspect our Range
The Dirt Off Road Campers in Mount Barker, South Australia specialise in premium Australian-made hybrid campers, with something to suit almost every buyer. Prices range from $33,950 to $123,990. Why not make an appointment to inspect today – you can book an appointment online HERE. Available Tues to Fri 9 – 5pm, Sat 9 – 2pm and outside those hours by arrangement.
You can view our range HERE.