We’ve had our 2018 Lifestyle Reconn R2 now for about 3 years, and have done some 200 nights away in it, ranging from weekenders near Perth right through to 6 weeks up north. We travel with our 2 boys (5 and 3) and my wife and I, and love nothing more than packing up and heading away whenever we can.
If you haven’t already seen our original Reconn R2 Review, you can do so by following the link. In this post, I want to do a follow up and leave you with some extra thoughts that might help you making a decision.
Like always, know that we paid for this camper with our own money (it was second hand), and we write this purely for your benefit, not to sell anyone anything. Please take our opinions on board, but don’t base your entire decision making process on them. Buy a Reconn R2 if you feel it will fit, and absolutely don’t if you feel it might not be the right move.
So, onto our comments:
It’s so much nicer than a soft floor or hard floor
One of the things I struggle to do is articulate the pro’s and con’s of this hybrid without sounding biased, or one eyed. You should know that we started with swags and tents, then moved to a soft floor camper for a number of years (and did around 200 days in it too) before getting this.
The Reconn R2 eats hard floor and soft floor campers for breakfast in terms of ease of use, comfort, off grid ability and setup times. Yes, its heavier, larger and more expensive and so you might expect this, but the thought of going back to any of our older setups now sends shivers down my spine.
You can read our post about why we moved from a soft floor to a hybrid too.
It’s the ultimate compromise
Honestly, I’ve yet to find anything else that would compare for us. Its got enough luxuries to live in full time, its got a nice low tow ball weight, its easy to use and setup, its built in Australia, and priced exceptionally well (although they have gone up considerably).
There is nothing that I’ve seen that would make us swap, and we’ve probably looked into every single hybrid camper on the market. Honestly, everything else is either too big, or too heavy, or far more expensive, or has a huge tow ball weight, or doesn’t have internal seating for me to sit and write these posts, or it falls short in another area.
If you are keen on knowing how it all weighs, we had our Dmax and Reconn weighed by a mobile weigher, when we were fully loaded for a 6 week trip up north. Here’s the results – Mobile Weighing.
We’ve considered selling our Reconn R2 and moving to something else, but we’d have to spend a huge amount more, and I’m not sure we’d find anything that would suit us any better. If we didn’t have two young boys then our options grow considerably, but finding a hybrid that’s under 2.2 metres tall, 1.9m wide, 6 metres long (in total) that sleeps 4 and is and under 1600kg empty is impossible. If you know of any, please let us know!
For us, the extra weight and size is totally worth it for the convenience of not having canvas, of having a quick setup and of having everything easy to use.
Please, please know that just because it suits us well does not mean it suits you. It might, but it might not too!
Its built well, but not perfectly
I have to give credit to Lifestyle Campers. They’ve been at it for a long time, and I’m happy about many of their decisions as a business. Their Australian built products fill a niche that is unreal, they are often at the forefront of their campers (and then everyone copies their designs) and they do a pretty good job.
You won’t find too many people who own a Reconn or AT Camper from Lifestyle that aren’t happy. Yes, there are some, and yes, there’s been things slip through the crack, but for the most part they are a solid product. Our original review lists some of the things that really frustrate me, and to Lifestyles credit many of them have been fixed in newer models, which speaks volumes in my mind.
I will say though, that Lifestyle aren’t perfect, and I’m sure they are learning as they go along. The welds on our safety chains are so overboard that they would be dramatically weakened. The door cut out is clearly not square, as you can see a substantial difference in squareness. The breathers on the tank are a nightmare, but it was pleasing to see Lifestyle have improved them on new models.
I guess what I’m trying to say is they are made to the Australian Standard that you’d expect, but they are much cheaper than many other high end brands. If you look at the AOR range, or Complete Campsite, or Kimberley Karavans, or Mountain Trail they are significantly more expensive, and from what I’ve seen the finished quality is at another bar, but I also know they aren’t problem free either.
If you aren’t planning on using it off road, its probably not the camper for you
These campers are designed to go off road. They are built for it, and whilst you might want one for its functionality and size, the primary reason for getting one is for taking it off road. That doesn’t have to be the nastiest 4WD tracks you can find, but they’ll go pretty much anywhere your 4WD can go (unless it’s a crazy capable one).
Of course, if it does what you want it to and you have no intentions of going off road that’s perfectly fine too, but they are aimed at adventure, and getting off the bitumen. We’ve proven they are very capable off the bitumen, and when behind a capable 4WD you’d drag it basically anywhere you wanted to go.
We’ve proven they are solid
On our latest 3 week trip to the Pilbara, we hammered our Reconn R2. We took it on some pretty gnarly 4WD tracks, bounced it over plenty of obstacles and hit some wash outs and dips far faster than I’d have liked to, and honestly, not a thing went wrong with it!
As much as I like to point out the flaws of something, credit is well and truly due to the build quality of these units, and its given me immense confidence to take it anywhere we feel the 4WD will tow it!
I’m confident that the limitation in most circumstances is going to be the tow vehicle, and not the trailer. Of course, the trailer weight and size imposes its own limitations, but if you can drag the trailer through with your tow vehicle it will follow you.
What problems have we had?
So, after many nights in the bush, here’s the issues we’ve had that are not mentioned in the original review
Shocking tyre wear
I don’t know how many kilometres the tyres had done when we got the unit, but they were in reasonable condition. I could not say the same after about 150 nights away though; they were absolutely knackered, and had bad scalloping and inner tyre wear that we’d been battling for months.
I had the tyres flipped on the rims, balanced, and a wheel alignment done and they continued to be pretty average for the rest of their life. To be fair, I’ve since worked out the brake controller was on too high, and potentially this was the reason for the original scalloping which can be impossible to correct once it begins.
We’ve just fitted a new set of Toyo RT’s to the camper, and so far they seem to be wearing well which is very promising.
Alignment/Looseness issues with Cruisemaster Suspension
After finding our tyres severely worn, I rang around to get a wheel alignment done on our Hybrid. The Cruisemaster agents were busy for weeks on end and we had trips booked, so I found a mobile truck aligner who did caravans.
He came out with lasers and aligned it, but did say that it was at maximum adjustment and still needed to go further. In his words though, ‘its cheap Chinese suspension’, which is totally untrue (actually I have no idea where its made, but its considered to be top of the range gear) so I’m not sure if its true or not.
What annoyed me most though was that despite him tightening the bolts up with two 24mm spanners together, I found several nuts loose at Pender Bay, and could see the alignment had changed. I tightened it up where it was, and put double nuts on two of the bolts (and did the other two when I got home), but it shouldn’t have come loose. Possibly a maintenance thing, but more likely they should just be aligned and double nutted to begin with.
The condensation sucks
We love camping in the winter, and on our last trip we didn’t take our portable diesel heater, to see if we could live without it when it got cooler. We coped OK, but one thing that really did my head in was the condensation.
We’d all head inside the camper on a cold night by about 7PM, and by 9PM with 2 adults and 2 kids breathing, and most of the windows closed up any exposed metal would have water droplets on it, and by the morning the sock and roof would be covered in water. It actually gets so bad that your bed gets wet if you shut the camper in the morning before its had time to dry out, and it means it needs to be opened back up and aired out.
Of course, with 4 bodies breathing out a heap of moisture in a tiny space this is almost inevitable, without solid walls and better airflow, but it isn’t much fun.
Fortunately, this is only a problem when its quite cold, and we generally prefer to head away in nice weather (or we have our diesel heater) so its not the end of the world.
The Truma hot water system often blows out
We’ve got a review coming out soon of our Truma hot water system, but in short, it blows out at the slightest breathe of wind and is incredibly frustrating when you want to have a shower in a short period.
This isn’t really Lifestyles fault, but its part of the camper, so it gets a mention. So far we just live with it, and if its windy we put a chair up against the vent to limit the air movement.
We’ve modified it to suit us
I’m a big believer in buying something and using it until you find its flaws, or what doesn’t work for you, and then going from there. Our Reconn R2 was fitted with the third water tank, giving us 270L of water on board which is exceptional.
It lacked hugely in the power department, especially after our second 120W panel came off the roof thanks to a number of reasons (Where’s my solar panel gone?). We’ve done a huge lithium battery and solar upgrade so we can live off grid forever in terms of power, and we can run an induction cooktop and basically any other 240V appliance that we want to off grid.
We’ve installed a permanent cutlery drawer in the corner, and that’s really about it; it does what we want it to without much of a fuss.
We’re taking it on a lap
I guess the finale of this review is that it does what we want it to pretty well, and we cant find anything better. We’ve looked at getting a Caravan, but to get something that isn’t limited to bitumen roads only we would need a new tow vehicle, and whilst we could spend that sort of money, it’s a shocking time to do so and I want to see how much use we can get out of the size and weight of this Hybrid.
We’ve decided to live on the road in our Reconn R2 with our two boys for at least a year, and potentially 2 (who knows). Want to know more about the lap? Check this out – We are going on the big lap; when, why and how. If that doesn’t give you some indication of our relationship with our Reconn R2, I’m not sure what else will!
Yes, we are critical, and will continue to be so in a fair manner, but Lifestyle deserve a huge pat on the back for what they’ve created, and in all honesty, we love our Reconn R2.