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. But up until recently, it’s been difficult to buy a dependable hybrid at the right price point. Well, times are a-changing, with new market entrants from reputable Australian manufacturers set to shake up the landscape. 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 award-winning Track Tvan feature an insulated hard shell around the bed plus an expanding hard floor with canvas walls. The hard floor provides an extra area for kids sleeping mats or a table and chairs, increasing the utility of the design. And the large side windows help bring the outside in.
Not only are they smaller than a standard hybrid, they weigh less too, 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 but comfortable camper with good clearance front and rear. Ideally suited for a couple, it’s still popular for young families, bunking the kids down on the hard floor.
With the hard shell around the bed, these campers are a cinch to setup. You can view the ease of setup HERE.
The Tvan offers a few different setup options:
- Open the hatch, jump in and pull down the hatch behind you.
- Open the hatch, fit the insect screen and jump in – great in warm conditions.
- Open the hatch and deploy the tent.
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 2m to 2.5m 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, which offer a reduced wall height and a taller pop-top, to limit the travelling and storage height to 2m. 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 somewhere to sit in addition to the bed. This may include a table.
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. Of those, the R4 is longer and wider to accommodate its standard internal ensuite.
Penny Wells and the crew from the Top of Down Under took a Reconn R2 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 2000mm to 2250mm.
Popular features of the Reconn range include a large recessed 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
Magazine reviews provide an insight into the specifications of hybrid camper trailers. That said, nothing beats a detailed inspection. 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. 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 campers. 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.
Inspect our Range
The Dirt Off Road Campers specialise in premium Australian-made hybrid campers, with something to suit almost every buyer. Prices range from $27,950 to $111,595. Why not make an appointment to inspect today. Tues to Fri 9 – 5pm, Sat 9 – 2pm and outside those hours by arrangement.