Before we left on our Lap of Australia, I was wondering whether we’d regret travelling in a Hybrid Caravan, and not a full size Caravan with all the mod cons. I wondered if we’d really use it off the beaten track enough to justify the reduced level of comfort, and there have been moments in our travels where I’ve wondered the same thing.
However, after 9 months on the road, living full time out of our Reconn R2 with a 4 and 6 year old boy, and my amazing wife, I can truly say that I’m so glad we took a Hybrid Caravan. Now, you should know that we spent more than a year looking to find the right setup for us, and we never intended on getting a Reconn R2, but in the end it was the only thing that really ticked all the boxes for us, and that is probably a big part of the reason why we love it so much.
Now, there are times where a full size van would be nice, but there are so many occasions where we are glad that we took a hybrid instead:
Our Hybrid Caravan is 1560kg empty, and when we have it fully loaded with everything that we need, its somewhere between 2200kg and 2300kg. That’s about the minimum weight of an empty, off road caravan that would sleep 4, and then you have to fill everything.
2300kg is still too heavy to do anything extreme with, but its light enough that we can tow it onto the beach, and we can take it up rough 4WD tracks without being too worried. In high range any hilly driving makes the automatic transmission temperatures skyrocket, but in low range (as long as its not bitumen), its manageable, and even in the Victorian High Country we’ve not had it go over 110 degrees.
I cannot stress how grateful I am for the Reconn R2’s size. Its very similar dimensions to our tow vehicle, and wherever that will go, the Reconn will too. This has paid for itself so many times over in the Victorian High Country, where we’re poking around narrow tracks, and come to tiny turn around points, or we need to back it into the scrub to get around.
We fit into camp sites that are small, and that has been very helpful too on a number of occasions.
I don’t have to worry about overhanging branches, or wiping a TV antenna off (it doesn’t even have one), when the trees are low, because its only about 2.1 metres tall, and that makes driving for me so much more enjoyable.
I’ve got no shame in saying that towing a big, dual axle caravan around would not be enjoyable for me, as the driver.
It’s built like a brick
We’ve really racked the kilometres up in our Hybrid Caravan, and its done some truly awful roads and 4WD tracks, with virtually nothing going wrong. Caravans have come a long way, but there’s still so many things that can go wrong with cabinets, ensuites, panels moving and more, and as ours is so much more simple, we know its nice and reliable, and that’s an awesome feeling.
We experience nature a lot more
Inevitably, when you get a caravan, you spend less time outdoors. Its comfortable to be inside, and the body wants to be where its comfortable, so you miss out on some of the moments with nature. For us, getting out and about in nature is what its all about, and we are outside almost from the moment we wake up, to when it gets dark and I’m in working.
There’s hardly any cleaning required
No one likes cleaning, and Sarah has a pretty bad back, which means she has to be very careful doing even the most basic tasks, like bending over to pick something up. Our weekly cleaning involves sweeping the carpet, or pulling it out and knocking it off. We wipe the kitchen down, and every few months give the inside sock of the camper a wipe, but that’s it.
We wash the sheets, and the cleaning ends there. Our toilet is outside, as is our shower, and there’s no hallways, or massive areas that need to be continually swept or wiped down.
We have an enormous payload and lots of storage
I’m so grateful for the 270L of water we carry in our Reconn R2, and there’s some in our Dmax too. This takes up a good chunk of the payload, but we have over a tonne if we really want to use it, and that’s epic.
Our storage hatch carries a heap of gear that you’d struggle to carry in some caravans, and we’re still well under weight, and have enough room to carry more gear if we really wanted to.
Some caravans have 400kg of payload, which is ludicrous once you fill water tanks, gas bottles and add food into your pantry, and I’m glad we don’t have to deal with any of that.
Hybrids aren’t for everyone
Now, I want to make it very clear that hybrids are a compromise, and if you buy one expecting miracles, please don’t come back and complain to me. They don’t suit everyone, and if we’re blunt they’ll not be enjoyable for a lot of people too. If you want space, comfort and luxury, then you need a full size caravan!
We really love ours, and can’t think of a better way to travel Australia. I don’t really want a big van, a truck is never going to go where we take a car, there’s no suitable vans for 4 people, and I couldn’t go back to a camper with canvas, or living out of a tent or rooftop.