We’ve upgraded our Camper, and in a seriously big way. For those who’ve been following us for some time, you’ll know we’ve had a soft floor camper trailer now for a couple of years, and clocked up nearly 150 nights in it.
It’s been fantastic, but we’ve been looking for a long time now for an upgrade. We have spent more time researching, doing figures and trying to find the perfect solution for us than I care to think about, but I reckon its paid off.
There’s a lot of people travelling Australia in all sorts of setups, and a lot of them don’t suit the way we like to travel.
Finding something that was light and small enough to drag around anywhere we wanted (including the more challenging, tight and less travelled 4WD tracks) whilst having a few more luxuries, easy setup and plenty of storage was a mission and a half. So, what have we ended up with?
Introducing our new Hybrid Camper – a 2018 Lifestyle Reconn R2, towed behind our Isuzu Dmax:
EDIT – We’ve had this for nearly a 3 years now, and have done a Lifestyle Reconn R2 review, which is honest, and covers everything you’d want to know about before buying one.
EDIT take 2 – we’ve done our final Extra Long Reconn R2 Review too!
If you are considering buying a Hybrid Camper, we’ve written the ultimate guide, covering everything you need to know when looking for the perfect match; Hybrid Campers; the ultimate buying guide.
If you are comparing a Caravan vs Hybrid then we have a post on that too.
What is this thing?
I’m sure a few people are looking at this now, and trying to work out what we’ve bought, especially if you’ve not seen them before.
Keep reading and check out the photos; you’ll soon see! This unit is certainly unique in many ways, and we love it. For us, its pretty much perfect in every way (or so we think – I’ll update in a few months!).
It’s light, has a massive payload, fantastic amenities, is built to take serious punishment, carries a lot of water, batteries and solar and has a huge range of modifications that can be done to it. It’s the ultimate compromise of comforts and off road ability. It doesn’t suit everyone, and that’s fine; its as close to perfect as what we could find on the market for us.
We did install a Baby Bunk Cot into the camper to allow our one year old to sleep safely, but other than that it remains unchanged so far.
About Lifestyle Campers
Lifestyle have been making camper trailers since 1999 in Queensland, and that’s pretty impressive in itself. There aren’t too many businesses that have been in the camper trailer industry for that long, so its a testimony to their work and adaptation to a fast changing industry (with lots of cheap imports flooding in!).
Starting off with the basic soft floor camper trailers (which are a dying breed today) they soon progressed into a range of hybrid caravan/camper trailers, and currently sell 5 variations – the Iconn, Reconn R2, and Reconn R4. They had previously built AT12’s, Stylecrafts and Breakaways, but no longer do them (and several brands have copied the last unit completely).
The first two are primarily built in China under strict quality control, and the Reconns are Aussie built in their entirety.
The Reconn R2
The Reconn R2 is called a Hyper camper, because its fast to set up, and not quite a Caravan, or a Camper Trailer. The term Reconn comes from Reconnaissance, which means small, strong force that would be prepared for anything.
They way they are built would reflect this. Now, into the nitty gritty of the unit we purchased (bearing in mind that they are somewhat customisable and not all have these specs):.
5800mm long from the hitch through to the spare rear wheel
1600kg tare weight (or empty weight) with a 1000kg payload (2600kg ATM)
270L of fresh water tanks split into 3 x 90L tanks, with two water pumps and Topargee water tank gauges
240W of solar on the roof feeding a 40 amp Enerdrive battery management system and Victron 12V battery monitoring system
Projecta 240V mains charger
240aH of deep cycle batteries
1 spare tyre and a wood/generator storage box on the rear
265/75/16″ mud terrain tyres
Cruisemaster 2600kg independent suspension
150mm hot dipped galv chassis
Queen size bed and two bunks, with seating and a small table inside
2150mm tall while travelling, and it pops up to 3025mm tall.
Rope awning and full canvas sides
Quickpitch shower tent and shower on the side
85L fibreglass Evakool Fridge and or Freezer
LED touch lights throughout
MSA storage pockets throughout
Two 4.5kg gas bottles
Amazing external kitchen
The Reconn R2 is 1700mm longer, 500mm taller and 30mm wider than our existing soft floor camper. It’s got more than double the water capacity, nearly double the payload and easily as much storage. It also has a light tow ball weight, which we are very pleased about. On the flip side our soft floor had 30 amp hours more of batteries and 160W of extra solar, but that can always be improved on!
I have done a YouTube video walk around, which might be of more use if you are trying to work out how big it is inside:
What else did we look at?
I honestly don’t think there was a camper trailer or hybrid caravan we didn’t look into. Seriously. We started off looking at Aussie made hard floors, and then the forward folds, and then the hybrid caravans.
Anything over 2.3 metres tall, 2 metres wide, 6 metres long or 1800kg empty was ruled out straight away purely on the basis that it wouldn’t go where we wanted to tow it, or we’d be pushing the towing weights, or we couldn’t store it at home (as it is, it only just fits on our driveway and gets secured by a DO35 lock and Nemesis Wheel Clamp).
If you don’t know much about the weights you need to comply with, there are 7, which are explained very clearly here – Simple towing guide.
From there, it had to have a decent payload (400kg of payload on a Camper trailer or Caravan is just ridiculous), sleep 4 and have a reasonable amount of water/electrical capacity.
We looked at all of the Chinese hybrids (Fantasy, MDC, Ezytrail, ModCon, Black Series, Warrior), and some are quite attractive but extremely heavy (and I’m still not 100% convinced of their quality).
I checked out second hand Australian Offroad, Complete Campsite, Zone RV, Track Trailer, Rhinomax, Noosa RV, Condamine, Kimberley Karavan) along with some of the imports (Jurgens, Echo Kavango, UEV).
Some of these are truly next level, but either hugely expensive (like a 10 year old unit selling for the same as a new Lifestyle Reconn R2!) or time consuming to set up.
We even looked at a range of different pop ups – Windsor, Jayco, etc) but I wasn’t convinced that after tens of thousands of corrugations they’d still be in one piece. Their construction is OK, but not designed for full on 4WD tracks and endless corrugations.
Absolutely nothing fitted the bill. It was all a compromise in one way or another, and often something Sarah found I’d rule out straight away, or the other way around. The Reconn R2 fits a very interesting niche.
It’s priced somewhere between the extremely expensive Aussie made hybrids and the cheap Chinese imports, and yet competes (and is better) on so many levels. If you are interested in the Reconn R2 price, you can get a brochure from their website, but they start off at about 57k plus freight.
Why the upgrade?
EDIT: We’ve done a full comprehensive post covering Why we moved from a soft floor to a hybrid camper trailer. In short though, the upgrade has been life changing and makes camping so much better and easier, especially with young ones!
To be honest, we never intended on getting something like this so soon. We’d eyed the R2 out some time ago and decided it was too much money to spend.
However, over the last 6 months we looked at every single camper trailer and caravan hybrid on the market, and couldn’t find the perfect setup. We were just waiting for the perfect solution to roll around, even though it seemed unlikely to happen.
Lifestyle have an amazing reputation, and we looked at the Breakaway Ultra, and then more recently the Iconn, but weren’t quite satisfied with what they were offering for us to travel long term. We wanted something you could comfortably live in for months at a time, and after paying the freight to get one over, plus the normal accessories (extra batteries, solar, awning walls etc) they were coming in at close to 40k.
This Reconn R2 popped up second hand, and despite being extremely reluctant to part with a massive chunk of money we decided to have a look.
Not only was it fairly priced, but it was also the exact configuration we wanted, and located in Perth (which pretty much never happens!). It was not a rushed decision, and in many ways it fell into our laps and felt right, so here we are.
Our soft floor camper trailer has been amazing. We’ve had some truly epic trips with it, and I’m sure the new owners will also get lots of enjoyment out of it.
It’s seen more of WA and the Northern Territory than most Australian’s would do in a lifetime, and we never had any real issues with it. It will be tidied up and put on the market shortly; do you know anyone chasing a quality, Aussie made soft floor camper trailer in Perth with a number of aftermarket accessories?!
There were a few things that were frustrating with the soft floor, which contributed to the need to upgrade. Please remember that this is our home for months at a time, and while you can live with them short term they do become frustrating after many, many nights.
Setting up and packing down was time consuming, required a fair bit of effort and resulted in you getting filthy if the camper was dirty (which it often was!).
You literally couldn’t pack the tent away when it was damp (which it often was) without getting the bed wet and then having to set it up at home (which we struggled to do due to a small block).
Then, accessing gear was difficult and living out of tubs and clothes bags got old real fast. It was also a giant setup when folded out due to the rear tailgate kitchen, tent folding the other way and a big boat loader/solar rack. This meant finding a suitable camp site (especially in Caravan Parks) somewhat difficult.
Now, I realise comparing these two units together isn’t very fair given the price difference, but the soft floor was a super solid unit that we will miss in some ways.
The light weight, compact and cheap camper has made us some of the most incredible memories we’ve had, and we will forever be grateful for it. For now though, we’ve upgraded in a major, major way and we look forward to sharing the future journey with you all.
Long term review to come
We’ve only spent 20 nights in this so far, and are still working out how to pack it and how best to use it. In due course I’ll do a full review about what is amazing, what’s terrible and everything in between.
See you out there!
Thanks for the write up I like you are looking for the perfect solution (looking at all the things you mention!!) It is so true about the $$ in finding a solution and where this product fits in! We are also looking at the newer R4 aswell (as there are 3 in the family).
It’s not an easy task to find something perfect. I guess you have to accept some level of compromise no matter which way you go. All the best in your hunt. The R4’s are a nice bit of kit!
What were your thoughts on the Noosa RV ?
I loved the look of them, and they seem to be a great product. Unfortunately on the other side of the country, with limited production rates it makes seeing one nigh on impossible so I didn’t look too far into what they do. There were some other interesting companies too – Rhinomax seem to make a great product too, but the same thing applies for me; just too far away to see!
I’m sure there are a few smaller companies producing great setups, but it would be too much for me to leave my little family to arrange transport, and inspection of something so far away at this time
This R2 purchase wasn’t pre-planned, it just all fell into place and suits what we want
Hi, we are in a similar situation. Our adventure camper has been fantastic but the kids are gone and want easier set up but with a great kitchen. I liked these but how do you find the tiny doorway? That’s what put me off.
Everything is a compromise. I can’t say I like the small door way but there’s also no way around it. I’m also 6″6 so it makes it even harder. Still not the end of the world. Go and climb in and out of one and see what you think.
All the best in your search
Great, honest review. Your thoughts echo a lot of mine. Like yourself and the other commentators we’ve found ourselves searching for the “perfect” camper but often baulk at cost. We are empty nesters so don’t need extra bunks.
The Lifestyle R2, R4, SniperX & Rhinomax Renegade are currently on the investigation list. We have had a soft floor camper before (6 years) but would never get one again. Currently we just use a 3 person dome tent.
What are your thoughts on the internal en-suite option in the R2/R4 ?
If we didn’t have kids, I’d have gotten an ensuite option. I can’t see any reasons not to get one, asides from the extra tow ball weight. I like the R4, but I think they are too long and heavy to really be useful, but it all comes down to where you want to take it, and how long you plan on living in it for
All the best mate
Hi Guys, great article, real world and active users! We have an R2 on order, which is our first van. Therefore I would be interested to know what things you have added to yours, that we should consider as must haves, nice to haves… etc. We have a list but some things will be more important than others. Thanks Colin.
We haven’t added anything extra to ours, above and beyond what’s on the post. We are getting some bits and pieces for storage in the pantry, and a few hooks for bits and pieces but realistically its still the same
All the best with your new adventures!
Just bought a 2018 Reconn R2 with ensuite. We have come from a hard floor camper trailer and, reading your article, I had to smile as our needs brief and seach experience was almost identical to yours, ending atbasically the same place! With no kids to accommodate the ensuite was an obvious inclusion which uncomplicates our camping even more. We love our R2.
Good to hear you are happy with it! They are pretty amazing. All the best
Have you checked the weight of your Reco 2,we bought a Lifestyle AT 10 supposed to weigh 1350 kg ,turned out to be 1770 kg by the time we filled the water tanks & gsa bottles was over 2 ton limit.Trouble was it only had 2 ton suspension & no breakaway brake system.As a result the shock absorbers failed after only about 7000km & tyres were stuffed.Life style replaced springs ,but not shocks,they replaced alloy wheels with white Sunraisier type wheels i had to pay for new tyres.Dust leaks were unbeatable used 6 cartriges of silicone .Suspension was always having to be realined .Would not have contemplated a big lap with this rig,but did do it with Jayco Penguin OB including Gibb & Savannah way ,out of 26k 18k on outback roads.
Interesting feedback mate; I haven’t heard of too many owners who were unhappy with their campers. I haven’t personally weighed our Reconn R2, but the previous owners did and had it in their contract that it had to come in at the weight on the nameplate. I will get it done soon, but we have more than a tonne of payload, and a breakaway system so not overly concerned. It’s cruisemaster suspension too, which should be premium gear; time will tell. What was yours running?
What do you use now?
All the best
Hey Aaron, just wondering if you looked at the Camprite TX6 MKII? We have 3 kids and are struggling to find something that meets our requirements.
I have looked at them, and really like them as a camper trailer in terms of their setup, weight and design. They are completely different to a hybrid in size, weight and setup time, and I was keen to get away from having canvas that gets wet and folds onto your beds. They really are a totally different arrangement, and if it suits you, they are a quality product that lots of people recommend. All the best
But… u missed out on the crucial info:
How much was your Reconn 2…?
That was done intentionally. We paid 51k. New they start at 57 plus 3k freight to WA and then what ever you add on. Ours has 5 – 10k worth of accessories too
All the best mate
Great review, we are in the same situation with two children, however ours are a bit older. How are the bunk beds for size? In particular the bottom bunk which I think is the couch base? And do the beds offer enough comfort.
You can get a range of different configurations that will alter the bed sizes. We looked at one here in Perth that had bunks and an ensuite, which meant the bunks were a bit longer as they run north-south, but you couldn’t sit anywhere except the bottom bunk. The model we got has the beds running east-west, which means they are the full width of the interior of the camper (about 1700 and 1800mm from memory, and maybe 600 – 700mm wide). The top bed on ours is just a custom 50mm thick mattress, and the bottom is the normal couch material. They feel OK to us, and our oldest has never complained.
It’s not too hard to get new mattresses made up if you want though.
This trailer should suit us until our kids don’t fit in the beds, but time will tell.
All the best mate
thanks for the review. Seeing as you have had it for a while now, just wondering if you notice the difference in towing between the soft floor and this one. I was looking at the R2 and thought they looked big heavy and cumbersome. Thanks.
They certainly are bigger and heavier, and you do notice the difference. That said, the height is only marginally taller, and its the length where they are bigger. However, park it next to a full size van and they look like a baby.
Unloaded, this is about as heavy as our soft floor was fully loaded. It’s all a compromise; I’m willing to forgo some capability to get more comfort and ability to stay off grid for longer
All the best mate
Love this post! Did you buy this second hand or brand new ?
Where did you buy it from and how much are we talking?
Second hand, off Gumtree and 51k
Hi Aaron, thank you for your honest posts re the Reconn R2. I am amazed and encouraged by all the comments that you made about your journey in deciding what camper to get and the comments that have been now added by others that are on the same journey. My wife and I have been doing our research for over three years and we thought we were the only ones on this crazy roundabout of decision making. We currently have a Jayco Eagle Outback and we are wanting to now upgrade for the life we now want to explore further off the bitumen. We have researched and contemplated every potential camper trailer, hybrid and off-road caravan that we could find and we have been around the roundabout so many times our heads are spinning. I’ve checked out an R2 that is on display in Sydney and tomorrow I get to take my wife to Sydney to show her and I think it looks really promising this time for all of the same reasons that you highlighted so well. Seeing it in reality is so much better than just viewing it on the web. Please keep writing great posts, we appreciate them and you may have just saved us from the roundabout insanity spin. Kind Regards,
I’m glad the posts have been helpful. Have fun showing your wife the R2. Let me know if you have any further questions.
All the best
Like yourself we have been living out of a Johnnos soft floor for the past 9 years and have loved every minute of it, even the wind and rain didn’t stop our travels. But like yourselves it was time to invest in an upgrade and the Roconn R2 was the one for us. Nothing else came close to it and we wouldn’t by anything that wasn’t Australian manufactured. We pick ours up at the end of the month and are looking forward to our continued journeys though this fantastic country.
See you somewhere around oz
You won’t know yourself with the R2 – they are such an upgrade from a soft floor. All the best with your new adventures, and yep, see you somewhere in the bush!
We have just got a new R2 Elite and I was wondering if I could get a photo and info re: the swing-out shelf you have fitted to your R2.
1. The lower cupboard door hinges in the kitchen lasted one trip. They were secured with tiny screws into plywood end grain. Replaced them with SS Piano hinge.
2. Because ours has a wind out annex they have moved the FLH roof catch from the side to the front and mounted it with the hook hanging down. Not only does this after thought look cheap and very nasty it means the hook can easily get caught when raising the roof; not good with a power lift. They did this because the standard catch plate, if fitted on the side, would have fouled with the annex and not allowed enough clearance for the hook to engage it. This was solved by using a blank catch plate, which is longer, and putting the assembly back to where it should have been. To compound this the side roof lifters have been moved rear of the centre because of the power lift struts and this makes the whole roof system unbalanced and seemingly underrated. If the hook gets caught it bends roof lifters. I’m pretty sure the lifters were bent ex factory as it always lifted the roof in a front down manner. They subsequently go bent more and I replaced them. The roof now lifts up front first. I will probably fit another pair to the side front of the centre to even out the system.
The swing out shelf was a modified Weber drop arm that the previous owners modified. I removed it, as they were never intended to carry weight whilst in transit. I’ll be building an aluminium drop down table off the firewood box on the rear instead.
Not good about the hinges. Ours have been rock solid so far. Not good to hear about the roof lifters either. I hope they are not slipping up on quality with the huge demand at the moment.
All the best; I hope you have lots of fun with it
Are you taking a commission from Lifestyle.
Bring you camper to pig shooting country or mining exploration camps and pick up the pieces.
Pop rivets pulling out , Poly water tanks you can’t fill over 80% as inlet hose too low and flowing back. No protection from stones.
Drop down door brackets had 2 left hand ones fitted and not a left and right.
pulled rivet out when trying to close.
This is an EVO with one trip when I bought 3 weeks ago.
Obviously there is no QA before letting them go from there finishing factory.
Chinese shock absorbers
loose grey carpet under bed , slides everywhere
gas bottle rack screwed to floor and could not hold 2 bottles without risk of breaking away in emergency stop.
Not sure if you have read our actual review of our Reconn R2, after using it for more than 150 nights, but it would probably change your perspective on where we sit. You can read it here – https://www.4wdingaustralia.com/camping/lifestyle-reconn-r2-long-term-review/
Now, to address your individual comments:
No, we are not taking commission from Lifestyle, and that is pretty evident when you read the review above, and look at how else we operate. We are 100% independent.
It sounds like you’ve had a rough run with your Evo, and I have heard some similar comments from other people with the Chinese imported breakaways. You are aware that the camper you have is Chinese manufactured, and the Reconn R2 that we are commenting on here is fully Australian built?
I wouldn’t expect this to cover for the fact that your trailer has fallen apart, but Lifestyle should remedy that at their cost.
Our tanks are mounted inside the camper trailer, and we have almost nothing underneath that can be hit by rocks. I would suggest you consider filling your water tanks from the drain; its much easier and solved our issue with the Reconn (you can read about it here – https://www.4wdingaustralia.com/camping/how-to-fill-water-tanks/)
With the shipping situation, and how busy tourism in Australia is a lot of camper and caravan manufacturers are under the pump, and no doubt shortcuts are being made. This also, is not an excuse and you should stand your ground with Lifestyle, and hopefully their good reputation for customer service will flow through.
All the best mate, and I’m keen to hear how it goes long term