The ultimate guide to buying a Hybrid Camper

The travel and camping industry has exploded in recent years, and today there are more options for accommodation on wheels than you can poke a stick at. One of the more recent developments has been the Hybrid Camper, which is a brilliant compromise between a caravan and a camper trailer.

They tick a number of boxes from both categories, whilst being more compact and much lighter than a full blown caravan.

If you are wondering what a hybrid camper is, what to look for when buying one, who makes them, how much they cost and what your choices are, this is the ultimate guide.

It is long, and I’ve tried to cover absolutely everything that you should know. For ease of reference, some people refer to these as Hybrid Caravans too.

Lifestyle Reconn R2
The part Caravan part Camper Trailer (Hybrid) market fills a very popular niche
Hybrid Camper Trailer
There’s a huge variation in size, weight and quality in Hybrids

What is a hybrid camper?

The term hybrid camper usually refers to a trailer that is part caravan, part camper trailer. In order to qualify they are lighter, smaller and more compact than a caravan, and often have a pop top.

They are often lacking a permanent shower and toilet inside, although this isn’t always the case. Ideally they are less than 2 metres wide, and 2.3 metres tall when travelling, but this isn’t always the case.

A Reconn R4 LRX Hybrid
The new Lifestyle Reconn R4 LRX is a very fancy hybrid with a toilet and shower inside

In essence, a hybrid should be designed to go down a path that you can’t take a caravan due to weight and physical size. Unfortunately, this ‘hybrid’ word has become a bit of marketing term, and some companies are selling small caravans as hybrids.

The exact definition isn’t defined anywhere either, but they are basically a cross breed, or a mongrel and that’s perfect for those who want a bit of both categories.

Hybrid caravan and camper trailer
A Hybrid is part Caravan, part camper trailer

Why are hybrid campers so popular?

Camper trailers are amazing for the niche that they fill, but they can also be hard work, cumbersome and the level of luxury just isn’t there compared to a full blown caravan.

The problem though is that a full blown caravan is costly, big, heavy and not able to be taken where a good quality camper trailer can be, and that isn’t a compromise that a lot of people are willing to live with.

On the flip side, whilst camper trailers are light, compact and easy to drag around they are often not nearly as comfortable to live out of compared to a caravan.

They also have a heap of heavy canvas to deal with (especially when its wet), which is a common gripe amongst camper trailer owners.

Soft floor vs hybrid
Our old soft floor camper trailer, which was light and capable, but much harder to live out of

Some clever cookie realised this, and brought the best of both worlds together, creating the ultimate compromise; a hybrid camper.

These are not exactly new; there have been ‘hybrids’ around for many years, but today there is a range like no other, with enough options out there to leave you well and truly confused.

AOR Hybrid Camper
AOR and a couple of other manufacturers have been making Hybrids for years

Being light weight and compact they are easy to tow, and use much less fuel than you would towing a full size van. Often they are the same size as a 4WD (when travelling), so they don’t create more wind resistance or problems when towing through tight tracks.

When you get to camp, they expand (up or out, or both) and you get more room (but still not a huge amount!).

There’s lots to consider when buying a Hybrid, and for many people it comes down to a Caravan vs Hybrid Camper battle.

Both have their benefits, and downsides, which we’ve covered in this post – Caravans vs Hybrid Campers.

Hybrid Caravan
Some of the caravan luxuries without the size or weight

What do hybrid campers cost new?

Imported hybrid campers start off around the $40,000 new, with fully Australian made hybrid campers starting around the $55,000, and heading upwards to around $180,000 depending on what you want to buy.

They jump significantly in pricing levels, with the imported ones at the cheapest end of the scale, some Aussie and Chinese made in the middle, and then the remaining high end Australian made ones (AOR/Complete Campsite) and then a couple of super high end (Bruder Caravans).

Your budget is where you should start. There’s no point looking at 100k + hybrids if you don’t want to spend that sort of money!

Obviously they are a whole lot nicer, and you’d expect that for the pricing difference.

Hybrid MDC Camper
Hybrid Caravans vary in price considerably

Who makes hybrid campers?

There are a heap of hybrid camper trailer sellers. I say sellers, as not everyone who sells them makes them.

This is important to remember; there are a lot of factories overseas making vans for several companies. Every day more add to the list, and here’s where we are today:

Mars Campers, Austrack Campers, Parks, PMX, Black Series, Blue Tongue, Far Horizon Campers, Modcon, Fantasy RV, Ezytrail, Jawa Campers, Opus, Eagle, Stoney Creek, Star Vision, Emu Campers, Swag, Prime, Southern Cross, Opus. Apache, Lumberjack, Maverick and last but not least MDC. 

Then, you have Jayco, Kelly Campers, Murraybilt, Vista RV, Condamine, Jurgens, Vanglass, Echo Kavango, Windsor, UEV, Noosa RV, Conqueror, Vision RV, Lifestyle Campers, Altitude, Trailblazers, North Coast Campers, Zone RV, Track Trailer, Complete Campsite, Rhinomax Campers, BRS Offroad, Mountain Trail RV, Australian Offroad (AOR), SniperX, Kokoda, Lotus, Kimberley Karavan, Crzr and Bruder.

The list above starts off with the cheaper end of the market, and then moves to the more expensive ones. It also tends to start off with those that are fully, or partially made overseas, and then sold here in Australia, and moves to the fully Australian made brands.

AOR Hybrid Camper
Some brands are old and well respected, and others are month old import companies

Please note the list above is not exact in those two criteria, due to the different models available. I would recommend looking further into the exact model you are looking at.

For example, the Lifestyle Iconn is made overseas, but the rest of the range that they currently sell is Australian made in their entirety.

If I listed each model, this post would be much, much longer (and its long enough!).

Echo Kavango Hybrid
An Echo Hybrid; one of many for sale today

What should you think about when buying a hybrid camper?

There’s lots of things to look for in a good quality hybrid camper trailer. The thing to remember is that you won’t get everything you want.

There will be some form of compromise required, and getting something that is perfect in every way isn’t going to happen. You could say that a hybrid camper is the very definition of a compromise.

What do you want it for?

The first, and by far most important thing to think about is what you want the hybrid for. If you are looking for caravan luxuries in an Australian made trailer that will go anywhere you want it to go without breaking, this narrows your searching down dramatically to a few companies that can offer this.

If you just want some caravan luxuries along with a smaller footprint to explore some more of Australia off the beaten track, then your options expand considerably.

Stop to think about how you are going to use the trailer, where you want to take it, how long you are going to live in it for, how long you plan on keeping it and whether its really going to do what you have in mind.

Nothing is worse than buying a trailer and finding it doesn’t actually do what you need it to, and then having to sell it after just a couple of trips away.

Unfortunately, some of this knowledge only comes from use, and its a big commitment to buy a trailer that you aren’t sure about.

The best hybrid camper is the one that does as much of what you want as possible.

Reconn R2 off road
Do you want a trailer you can hammer off road, or just a small, compact caravan for mainly on road use?

For us, we wanted a trailer that was tough, as light as possible, that was nice to sleep in, cook out of, had plenty of storage and was easy to travel with.

We don’t spend a huge amount of time at camp anyway, and wanted something simple, easy to use and robust. Others might want air conditioning, fancy lights and a toilet inside, and that means you are looking for something totally different to us.

I cannot stress this point enough; you need to match the trailer that you buy to your requirements, or you’ll be going through the same process again in a few months or years time. Not fun.

To make this more relatable, you can read the post we wrote – Why we moved from a soft floor to a hybrid camper.

Camping at Warroora Station
What is it that you want from your Hybrid? We wanted this; off grid ability in a small package!

Indoor/outdoor kitchen and setup

The most common setup on a hybrid is to retain the outdoor kitchen. In many conditions, its nice to sit outside and do your cooking there.

Of course, when its windy, raining, dusty or there’s nasty bugs around this is certainly not the case, and having a small indoor kitchen is greatly appreciated.

In fact, in these conditions, being forced to cook outside isn’t much fun at all, and I speak from experience. There are times where we’d much prefer an indoor kitchen, but its simply not possible in our setup.

The kitchen setup, space and user friendliness is one of the most important parts of a hybrid. Cooking is a big part of camping, and a poorly designed kitchen is asking for a bad experience.

It needs to be easy to use, reliable, have plenty of easy to access storage, and if it offers some level of protection outdoors its even better. 

Some of the best hybrid caravans come with a small internal kitchen, but many don’t, and many cannot due to the limited space (especially if you want an internal ensuite or bunks!).

Reconn R2 kitchen
Do you want to cook indoors, or outdoors?

On the subject of your kitchen, where your fridge is located is important. If its inside, and you are cooking outside, you have to make a trip in each time to get food.

If its outside, and you have an internal kitchen, then the same applies. Small things, but it does make a difference to the overall comfort.

Consider if you need a freezer too, and if you actually have the option to split your fridge into one. Alternatively, does it have room for a secondary one somewhere else, and do you have the electrical system to run it?

Again, the kitchen location ultimately comes down to space. You cannot have bunks, an indoor kitchen, toilet and shower and a queen size bed without getting a much larger trailer (or one that expands), so you have to pick what’s most important.

Limited weight and size

The whole point of a hybrid is that its a compromise, and it should be significantly lighter and smaller than a full size van.

I’ve seen a lot of hybrids that are not much smaller, and certainly not much lighter than a full size van, and then you have to question why you’d get one in the first place.

Of course, if your intention is only to stick to the better roads, and you just want something with a smaller footprint then its a still a good option.

There are trailers today being sold as hybrids, which weigh 2.3 tonnes empty. I wouldn’t specifically call this a hybrid; they are really too heavy to be so.

Complete Campsite Hybrid
How heavy, and big is the hybrid you’re looking at?

Sure, you’ll be able to get it into some tighter spots, but you will have huge difficulties trying to drag it through anywhere serious when its loaded up, without anything but the best towing vehicle.

There are a couple of hybrid campers that weigh around 1200kg empty, with a more common weight for a fairly basic Australian made unit at around 1600kg empty.

From there, it goes up considerably, with the rest weighing in at 1800kg to 2200kg empty, and that’s getting pretty heavy once you load them up.

Interestingly, all of the Chinese units that I’ve seen are heavier than the Australian made competitors.

On the other end of the scale (excuse the pun!), the width, height and length play a very important role too.

After helping my Dad navigate his 18ft full size off road van into a private riverside camp at El Questro, you have a new appreciation for a compact unit.

If you have air conditioners, or vents, or antennas to catch tree branches it makes life much harder off road.

Caravan sliding in the mud
The bigger the unit, the harder it is to tow on tighter tracks (like this full size van!)

The lower it is when travelling the less fuel you’ll use, and the less likely you are to collect a tree branch overhanging. Width is an obvious one, with a wider trailer much more likely to get dented or scratched up off road.

The longer the van, the worse your entry and departure angles will be, and the more likely it will have a different turning circle to your 4WD.

Anything over 16 foot though, is really going to make it harder to take to the less accessible locations. Does this really matter though? Only you can answer that!

Hybrid camper weight
Where do you plan on taking your hybrid caravan?

Is it actually off road compatible?

There’s a lot of marketing spiel that goes on in the camper trailer, hybrid and caravan market. Off road does not necessarily mean its actually designed for off road.

Every warranty will have fine print telling you what its actually covered for, and some ‘off road’ trailers are not meant to be taken beyond a gravel road

Just because it runs mud terrain tyres and has lots of clearance doesn’t mean its actually designed to take a beating off road. There are lots of different variations of off road, and while some may call a rough gravel road off road, others refer to it as climbing rock steps and crossing deep, sloppy creeks.

Hill Climb in the Dmax
There’s lots of different styles of off road work!

The chassis design and material is a good place to build, as is dust suppression, suspension design, framing material and design and the list goes on and on.

The structural side of your hybrid is hugely important, especially if you are going to load it up and work it hard off road.

Reconn R2 chassis
Is the hybrid actually built for off road work, or does it just look good from a distance?

What’s the warranty?

Going further than the above point, make sure you read the warranty in its entirety. If it snaps a chassis on the Gibb River Road, will they cover you?

If the door falls off, or you get water damage through the roof after doing the Victorian High country will it be covered, who can you take it to for repairs, and where are they located?

Is it water proof, for crossing waters? Will you be covered if the suspension fails on a gravel road? Ask as many questions as possible, and if you aren’t happy, turn around and walk away. Of course, the warranty only has to be as good as what you want to do with the van.

If you have no intention of flogging it down a 4WD track, then a more basic warranty is perfectly acceptable.

Snapped U bolts
If your suspension fails, what happens?

Quality components

If you look very deeply into the difference between Hybrids, you’ll often discover some interesting component differences. Sometimes this doesn’t matter too much, and other times it can bite you, badly. 

Let’s start with a few basic examples:


Independent suspension seems the norm for hybrid campers today. Cruise Master appears to set the standard in this field, with a few other well known brands out there.

Almost every hybrid out there will run Cruisemaster, or a direct copy of this. I have seen some nasty failures of the copies, and its an integral part of your van, so pick wisely.

This is not to say that if its not Cruisemaster Suspension its no good, but you want to have evidence either way before committing.

On the subject of suspension, air bags are becoming more and more popular, and they can be extremely useful, but are not necessary. The ability to level your van, and lower it while travelling on road is fantastic, but not a necessity.

Cruise master suspension
Cruise master suspension is one of the most reputable setups on a Hybrid
Cruisemaster Airbag suspension
A lot of higher end hybrids are moving to airbag suspension


Thankfully, a most hybrids sold today are being done so with decent hitches. The DO35 seems to be the most popular, and they are a great hitch.

Do not accept a trailer with a red poly block hitch. They are garbage, and fall apart (these are non genuine Treg units). A true hybrid will not run a normal ball hitch either.

DO35 hitch
The DO35 hitch is fantastic, and highly rated

Tyres and rims

Part of the marketing with hybrids is to fit fancy rims and mud terrain tyres. This is a bit of bling, and makes the trailer look fancy.

In actual fact, there isn’t really much benefit to running a Mud Terrain Tyre over an All terrain tyre on a trailer, but that’s a story for another day.

You should check the brand of the tyres, and see if you recognise it. A huge number of trailers today come with cheap, imported tyres. Given what rides on them (excuse the pun) its worth ensuring the tyres are up to scratch.

Again, some less recognisable brands are OK, but if they haven’t been proven you can risk a lot.

Camper trailer tyres
Are the tyres a well known brand?

Batteries and bearings

The same can be said for batteries, and bearings. There are some top quality imported products, and there are some absolutely rubbish ones.

These are critical parts, and you want them to be high quality, and easily replaceable when the time comes. Aim for well known brand name items like Full River, Renogy, Enerdrive, and Revolution for batteries and Koyo, Timken, NSK for bearings

It pays to keep a spare set of bearings with you too, as some are non standard, and trying to get them when you are in the middle of the bush is quite the challenge.

This is a tell tail of a good manufacturer too; if they can’t get you a set of spare bearings quickly, you have a warning flag.

Cheap wheel bearings
What wheel bearings do they run?

Water pumps

Again, there are lots of copies out there when it comes to water pumps. This might seem frivolous, but if you have full water tanks and can’t get it out easily, you can have a pretty significant problem.


Where is the steel made, that keeps your potential hybrid from falling to bits? If its not regularly tested, and suitable for an off road hybrid you can have nasty chassis or suspension structural failures, and that’s not good at all. 

Where is it manufactured, and what is the backup service like?

Part of your due diligence in researching a Hybrid Camper Trailer should be to find out where it is made, and what options you have for repairs and servicing.

A massive number of hybrids are made entirely overseas (usually in China) and shipped over for some basic checks and licensing before being handed to their owners.

Some are fully Australian built with as much Australian produce as possible, and others are made in China but assembled here (and then sold as ‘Australian made’).

Others just have the plumbing and electrics done here, but they all vary from each other. Now, where it is made doesn’t have to be a deal breaker, but it is a sensitive topic.

There is a lot of overseas gear that comes in that exceeds the quality of Australian gear. However, there’s also a huge amount that doesn’t, and it can be downright dangerous and frankly atrocious when you are talking about 2 tonne plus of trailer hurtling down the road!

Of course, we encourage support of the Australian economy if you can especially due to what has happened over recent months, but at the end of the day its your choice to make.

Trailer manufacturing
Where is the trailer made, and assembled?

Should something go wrong though, do you have to drive 4000km across the country to get it fixed, or is there a dealer nearby that can help? One of the advantages of using components that are local to Australia is that products business usually has local support.

If your Cruisemaster suspension needs attention, there are dealers all the way around Australia.

If you have issues with your Redarc Battery Management system, their customer service is next level, and you are in good hands.

Of course, its all a balance, and you can’t get the top quality brand name gear and support without having to pay for it!

Clearance, entry and departure angle

For us, one of the major attractions of a hybrid was that you got extra comforts and still maintained a reasonable level of off road ability. I’ve seen Caravans scrape on a normal curb, and that renders them almost useless for anything but a bitumen road. Of course, that’s fine for some people, depending on what you want it for.

If you intend on taking it onto the beach, or on 4WD tracks, you need to seriously consider how much clearance it has, what is likely to hit and get damaged, and how its entry and departure angle is.

One of the reasons ‘off road vans’ are so tall is that in order to give them any real entry and departure angle with the lengths they are being made at, you have no option. 

Pushing the Reconn R2
Good entry and exit angles are important if you want to really push your Hybrid off road

Some hybrid vans come with scrub bars, or sliders, so if you do hit something they take the force and not the actual van panels themselves.

This can be a good idea, depending on how strong they are, where they are mounted and how much they reduce your clearance.

It’s obvious which hybrids are truly built for off road work though, with everything up high, allowing you to have quality clearance, entry and departure angles.

Departure angle
Your entry and departure angle are very important if you plan on going off road

Weight distribution

One of the most important factors to consider when buying a hybrid is the way the weight is distributed. This is important off the factory floor with no load, and even more importantly once its loaded up. 

A good van when loaded will have the majority of the weight located down low, and near the axle lines. It will also have somewhere between 6 and 15% tow ball weight, and this is achieved by having the axles in the right location!

For more information about why this is important, have a read of What is tow ball weight, and why does it matter?

If you don’t know what the tow ball weight is unloaded, and loaded (get firm figures on this, from a scale), then don’t buy it.

I’ve seen hybrid vans (that aren’t even that heavy overall) with 330kg tow ball weights, and that is going to break something off-road, and if it doesn’t, it will dramatically increase the stress applied to your 4WD.

Reconn R2 Tow ball weight
Measuring the tow ball weight is a great place to start

Pay careful attention to where the water tanks are located, and the bulk of the storage, and make sure you know what the unloaded ball weight is before you buy.

We looked at a couple that were 180kg unloaded, and they were only going to go up when loaded. I wanted something lighter than this, and that hugely reduced our options for a hybrid van.

Today, even with a 3500kg towing capacity vehicle, its so easy to be over weight because of the amount of gear that is taken, poor weight distribution and heavy tow ball weights, and its even worse on dual cab Utes.

Welds and Galvanising

One of the first things that I look at when checking a camper trailer out is the welds. If they are tidy, have good penetration and you can’t see what looks like bird poop everywhere, you are off to a good start.

Weld quality is one of the most important parts of a hybrid camper trailer, as it literally holds it together.

Next up, take a look at the galvanising, which should have been done for the chassis. There should be holes allowing both the inside and the outside of the chassis to be hot dipped, and there should be no evidence of welding done after this.

If there are fish plates, or chains, or hitch mounts welded on after the galvanising has been done, its substandard work.

Reconn R2 welds
What does the welds, and galvanising look like?

Interchangeable wheels

In an ideal world, you should be able to take your hybrids wheels off, and put them on your 4WD, and vice versa.

This essentially doubles the number of spares you have, and makes life much easier when things do go wrong. If you are buying new, this should be a simple option that often doesn’t cost any extra.

The actual rims and tyres don’t have to be the same, but the offset, stud pattern, brake clearance and overall diameter should be if possible.

Is it suited to your vehicle?

Before you lay money down, your van of choice should suit your tow vehicle. By this, I mean that it is able to legally tow it, and that the tow ball weight isn’t too heavy, and that the motor isn’t going to work too hard.

Buying a Mitsubishi Pajero to tow a hybrid with a heavy tow ball weight would be a mistake for example, as many models are limited to 180kg on the tow ball.

Likewise, if your vehicle weighs 3.2 tonnes with a GVM upgrade, and you buy a van that is 2.3 tonnes empty, you are going to have a very hard time staying under GCM.

Also consider where you plan on taking the trailer, as the bigger and heavier it is, the more powerful of a 4WD you will need to get it to certain places.

Soft beaches for example, are possible with a vehicle that has plenty of power, but if you have limited grunt towing a hybrid on a soft beach is a recipe for disaster.

Swank 6x6 vehicle
Your trailer should suit the tow vehicle

How much Canvas is there?

I detest canvas in a camper trailer, and this comes from owning a soft floor camper trailer for years. That said, it is a part of many hybrids, and you need to think about how that is going to affect you. It is heavy, takes time to dry and can be painful to pack away wet. 

Today, a lot of people are using PVC instead of canvas, which doesn’t absorb water, cleans easier and can be packed away wet with much more ease.

Either way, just think about how much work is involved in setting it up and packing it away, especially when its wet. Will your bedding get wet if you pack away the camper when its raining? Are you happy with setting it up when you get home each time to dry it out?

Hybrid Caravan
The Conqueror Hybrids are very compact, but they have a fair bit of canvas when set up

Can you legally tow it?

Going on from the above point, just because the van weighs less in its loaded state than your towing capacity does not mean you can legally tow it.

There are 7 items that you need to comply with, and the towing capacity is just one of those. Fore more information, check this out – Towing Capacity; a simple guide to keep you legal.

Towing a hybrid
Can your vehicle legally tow the Hybrid you are looking at?

What sort of payload does it have?

Every hybrid van you buy comes with a payload, or a figure for how much weight you can add to your trailer. To start with, locate the nameplate on the drawbar, and get the ATM (Aggregate Tare Mass) and Tare mass, and take the latter away from the first.

For example, if you have a 2600kg ATM, and a 2300 Tare mass, that means you can add 300kg to the trailer, before it becomes illegal.

However, there’s no guarantee that the tare weight is actually what the trailer weighs empty, so this needs checking first. Ultimately though, a bigger payload is better, as its very easy to add more weight than you might think.

Most hybrids come with 150L of water storage, so that’s half of a 300kg payload gone already, without factoring in food, full gas bottles, jerry cans and all the rest of the gear that comes with you.

Reconn R2 storage
Our Reconn R2 has loads of storage, and a 1040kg payload to match, which is massive

Many hybrids have around 400kg of payload, which is just enough if you are very careful (dependent on the number of people you are travelling with), but pushing the friendship for many.

Some go all the way up to 1200kg payloads, and that is significant. A payload of under 300 – 400kg is simply unacceptable.

Before you pick your van up, ensure that the seller gives you a weighbridge certificate and that it matches what is on the compliance plate.

In this way, you can’t get ripped off by a van that weighs more than they told you it would. Alternatively, put it in your contract; the van upon arrival must be within 3% of the Tare, or you don’t take delivery.

Reconn R2 Nameplate
The nameplate on our Reconn R2, showing we have just over 1000kg of payload!

Setup time

One of the primary reasons we sold our soft floor camper trailer and went to a hybrid was the setup time. Don’t commit to buying anything until you have physically set the hybrid up yourself, so you know what needs doing, how hard it is and how quick it is.

I’ll repeat this; you need to set it up. Don’t watch someone else do it; do it yourself and make sure you are happy with what needs doing, and how much effort it requires.

A Hybrid should be quick to set up, but some are not and require beds to be made, pillows to be moved, fly’s to be set up. Generally these are ones with a smaller footprint, which is great for travelling; another compromise that you have to decide on.

Take the time to check out the awning too, as these can be difficult and time consuming to set up.

Parkes 18 Hybrid
A Parkes 18 with a pop out bed section. This increases your setup time, but gives you a lot more room

Storage, and locations

When you are travelling on the road, you need to take a fair bit of gear. Some people take far more than they need, but regardless of your situation you will need storage space, and a fair bit of it.

The amount of storage is important, but of equal importance is how easy it is to access, and where it is located in terms of weight distribution.

If you look at a lot of the hybrids on the market today, they have huge storage compartments at the front of the hybrid. Fantastic for room, and you have good access to it, but its absolutely terrible in terms of balancing your trailer correctly, and maintaining some sort of reasonable tow ball weight.

You don’t want heavy items high, or too far forward, or rearward of the axles, as its a recipe for disaster for towing safely.

Think about both external storage, and internal. Where will you keep your clothes, toys for the kids, electronics, towels, dirty washing and anything else you might have with you. The flip side of having a small trailer is that your storage options can be limited.

Hybrid storage space
The amount, accessibility and location of your storage is hugely important

Seating and bed suitability

There are lots of different setups inside hybrid campers, and that’s awesome. The trick is to make sure that what you are getting suits how you want to use it. For us, I wanted permanent seating that didn’t interfere with the bedding.

I didn’t want to have to make beds each night, and then convert them back into seats during the day. I wanted somewhere that I could sit inside and work, whilst the kids slept.

A lot of hybrids have the seats convert into bunks, which means you can eat/sit up while the kids are awake, but if they need to sleep you lose your seating options.

Relaxing on the bed with the kids
A permanently set up bed is hugely appreciated

In terms of beds, are they actually suitable for your requirements? A lot of hybrid bunks are only 1600 – 1800mm long, and 600mm wide and that’s not long enough for older children (although its common for older children to sleep outside in swags or a tent on their own).

If you are tall (like me) and you get a shortened bed (like most that are in caravans), are you going to be happy with your feet dangling off the end every night? I know I wouldn’t be!

One thing that we’ve discovered is an Adjustable Backrest, which means you can sit on the bed in relative comfort, although it is another item to carry. 

Bunks in our Hybrid
Two bunks, a small seating area and a queen size bed in our Reconn R2 means there’s not much room left over

Showers and toilets

Some hybrids have internal toilets and showers. If they are inside, most are the dual setup with a shower slightly to the side of the toilet, due to space restrictions, but you can get them separate if there is enough spare real-estate.

Obviously its awesome to be able to go to the toilet and have a shower inside your van, but there are lots of disadvantages of this too, and the more common setup is to have them outside.

Our Reconn R2 just has a normal portable toilet (which lives in the storage hatch) and an outdoor shower. The previous owners fitted a shower/toilet tent which makes it easy to get privacy, but its still a camping shower set up, and not as nice as being at home!

Portable toilet
Our Quickpitch toilet and shower tent

Yes, you have to get out of the van at night to go to the toilet, and yes, its harder to have a cleaner shower and get changed, but it gives you more room inside and you don’t stink the van out.

We’d rather it inside, but its not physically possible without getting a larger trailer, and that’s not something we were prepared to budge on.

There is no doubt that an internal shower and toilet is nicer to have, but it all depends on whether you can fit it in. Some people complain about having the two together, and obviously a separate toilet and shower ensuite is the best, but it also takes up even more real estate.

If you do for an internal toilet, you can choose between the normal toilet with a cassette that you empty, or go for a composting unit, which is becoming far more popular. 

Quickpitch shower tent
Our outdoor ensuite tent, where we shower and go to the toilet

Water storage

The one thing that will send you back to town is a lack of water. Gas, and battery power should last for a very long time if its set up correctly, but without a reverse osmosis unit (which you actually can get, and some people even run when camping) its pretty hard to get your own supply of water!

If you want to use the van for off grid camping, you need at least 150L of water, and more depending on the number of people and how often you want to have a shower.

Our Reconn has 270L of water, and combined with the Dmax’s 50L water tank and a couple of jerry cans, we can comfortably camp on the beach for 2 weeks, with showers every day or two for our 4 person family. 

If you plan on heading to remote places like Steep Point and hanging there for more than a couple of days, water storage becomes very important.

Another important consideration is the ability to fill your tanks up from a creek. Many hybrids come with this facility as standard (or you can install it yourself).

Consider the water filtration setup too (even for mains water) as dodgy water can take you into a very, very bad place!

Water on board our Reconn R2
We often travel with 300 + litres of water available

Type of construction

There are some amazing materials available today, and the composite panel industry has exploded in terms of caravans and camper trailers. Its strong, light weight, insulates well, can be purchased in large sizes and doesn’t absorb water.

Timber has always been the common product, but if you can get a van with as little timber as possible, its better. Even if you do have a water leak, it won’t cause you an issue. Consider how your framework is put together too; is it steel, aluminium, or something else?

Grey water tanks

The water that comes from your dishes, showers and brushing your teeth is considered grey water, and a lot of hybrid vans come with a small tank to collect this. The idea is that some places don’t allow you to tip grey water onto the floor, and you must take it with you. 

In WA this isn’t pushed very hard just yet, but it is common over east and these are important for free camping in Australia. Want to know where to empty grey water tanks? We cover that too.

Caravan Grey Water Tank
Grey water tanks are common and popular, but not always necessary

Electrical systems

If there’s one thing that can vary hugely when you purchase a hybrid, its the electrical system. This will change the way you camp, and can cost you a small fortune, so get something that is going to do what you need it to.

On the basic end, these start off with one or two AGM batteries, a solar panel or two, basic regulator and various lights, USB and cigarette charger outlets.

From there, you move up to DCDC battery chargers, 240V chargers, 240V wiring throughout (as in you have power points in the van that you can use when plugged into a caravan park), lithium batteries, substantial solar systems, inverters to run 240V items off your batteries, air conditioners, fans, and everything in between.

You can comfortably spend $20,000 and more on the electrical system in a hybrid if you really desire, and a setup like this would allow you to run a camping air conditioner, microwaves, coffee machines, air fryers and induction cook tops off grid (but still not like you can at home).

12V setup in our Reconn R2
The electrical setup in our Hybrid, with a 40A Enerdrive DC2DC and 240aH of batteries

It is critical that you get an electrical system that is going to suit your requirements. If you want to run a coffee machine, a fridge and freezer, and run a business from your hybrid, you will need something vastly different to someone who just runs some basic lights and a fridge.

In general, the starting point is deep cycle lead acid batteries, and once you move into the higher end you can go for 12V lithium batteries, which have exceptional properties, and weigh very little (but cost a lot more!).

Itech Lithium Battery
A lot of hybrids are making the move to lithium batteries

Match it correctly and you’ll have an enjoyable time camping, and your gear will last for a long time. Get it wrong though, and you’ll kill your batteries quickly and always be stressing about power.

These things can be retro fitted after the purchase, although some of it is significantly easier to do during the build (like 240V wiring!)

Beyond what is installed, there is a lot to be said about a well designed and fitted out electrical system in a hybrid.

What cable is used, how its secured, how the joints and terminations have been done, what safety items are in place should things go wrong and how easy it is to fault find all form part of a quality install. If you aren’t sure, speak to an auto electrician to get more information on the hybrid you are looking at. 

Dodgy 12V wiring
A perfect example of terrible 12V wiring using poor quality tee connectors (not done by Lifestyle)

Have a look at how many lights are spread around, whether they can dim, where you turn them on and off from, how many USB, cigarette and Anderson outlets are available, and whether they are in a location that is functional.

Sealing ability

Dust, and moisture ingress is a huge problem for hybrids and caravans. The best way to ensure what you are getting seals well is to talk to other owners. If you are getting water leaking through anywhere, you are going to hate the product real fast.

Where water leaks in, dust will too, and that can be even worse if you intend on taking the van off road significantly. 

A lot of hybrids come with dust suppression systems, where they pump filtered air from the outside and into the van by way of a fan, whilst you are driving.

The positive pressure means that nothing can make its way into the van while you are driving, regardless of any little gaps or holes.

Essentially, the positive, filtered air stops any dust (and even water to an extent) from weaselling its way into your van. It’s important to know that these can use a fair bit of power!

Some of the better quality hybrids out there do smoke tests, and pressurise the hybrids before they are sold to ensure that there are no holes where dust and muck can work its way inside.

Dusty roads
If you plan on taking your hybrid on dusty gravel roads, you need to have good sealing, and dust suppression is a great idea.

What is standard, and what is an option?

When looking at the hybrids, make sure you pay careful attention to what comes standard with the unit, and what you have to pay extra for.

Front rooms, extra batteries and water tanks, solar panels, heaters and fans often come at additional cost, and it is extremely easy to spend significantly more spec’ing up a hybrid from their factory condition.

You can easily spend 15 – 40k in upgrades, so choose wisely!

A quality awning

You need protection when travelling. Whether this is from the sun, the rain or just to block the wind, having a good awning is a must.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a significant compromise here too. Generally the ones that are fast to set up aren’t very strong, and those that are solid are difficult to set up. 

Double check whether the awning covers the fridge too, as this is a common complaint from hybrid owners.

We are not happy with the rope edge awning on our Reconn R2, and would love to move to something that is permanent, easy to set up and that will handle the wind and rain. I’ve just yet to find something that suits!

Rope edge awning
The rope edge awning is super strong and solid, but time consuming and awkward to set up

What’s going to get damaged underneath?

A proper hybrid will have zero exposed plumbing, wiring or gas underneath. It will also have nothing else that is likely to get damaged. Many manufacturers opt to keep all of this above the chassis, or inside the hybrid (where possible), and then guard the rest of it. 

My folks took their off road van down the Gibb River Road not long after getting it, and we didn’t even make it 50km down the road before a rock flicked up, and smashed a water fitting off causing a heap of water to be lost.

It wasn’t the biggest problem in the world, but little things like this get picked up real quickly when you go off a bitumen road.

Hybrid plumbing underneath
Any plumbing under the van should be reduced, and protected or tucked away

Jerry cans, bikes and firewood storage

If you are travelling long term, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll want a couple of jerry cans (of fuel, or water) along with somewhere to keep your firewood.

Many have dedicated locations on the drawbar, or in a box on the rear, but if you have to put wood or fuel in a location it wasn’t meant for, its easy to do damage, or have a leak.

On the same subject, lots of people like to take bikes with them on a lap of Australia, and you need somewhere suitable to do this (if that’s your thing – we won’t bother).

Jerry Can storage
Wet storage areas at the front of our Hybrid, for jerry cans and waste hoses

Where are you going to keep your Hybrid?

Most people have limitations for storage. If you have a big block, with undercover space available that’s the ultimate solution. For many though, space is a premium, and especially if its undercover.

Make sure you measure and ensure its going to fit where you want to keep it, and that you can back it up and park it up easily and safely. Our Hybrid fits onto our driveway by about 10cm, and we can only just pop the roof up without it hitting the houses gutter.

Heating and cooling

Australia is a pretty diverse place in many ways, and the weather can be included in this. It can be stinking hot, and pretty cold as you travel around, and there’s a good chance you will need some form of heating and cooling.

On a basic level, a cheap diesel heater and fans will get you comfortably doing most of Australia. If you want to move to a higher level though, you can get airconditioners that either mount to the roof, or under a seat. To run these though, you need a significant solar and battery system, or a generator.

We just use fans, open the windows up completely and when its cold, a portable diesel heater, which has been a total game changer. 

Reconn R2 diesel heater
We run a 5kW diesel heater that is portable to warm our Hybrid up

What’s the downsides of a hybrid?

Every choice you make will have downsides. Some people are happy to discuss them, and others just brush it to one side, and say they have the best setup ever. Hybrids are not perfect by any means, and because of this, they only suit a select portion of people.

There are those who will not like a hybrid at all, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Here’s a few things where hybrids can be a pain in the backside. Make sure you are comfortable with these, or you’ll be looking to swap to something else in no time.

Setup time and effort

There are some amazing Hybrids on the market, but some take a significant amount of time and effort to set up.

If you have to pop things out, make beds, set up external ensuites and kitchens, it all takes time. Make sure you are happy with how long it takes to set your hybrid up before you lay any money down!

Caravan setup
Caravans have almost no setup at all compared to a Hybrid

Internal space

A Hybrid is a compromise. By their very nature, they are small, and that means the inside is going to be tiny too. Some are pretty good all things considering, and others are big enough for one person to get changed at a time (like ours!)

Queen bed in our Reconn R2
Our Queen bed is hard up against the side of the camper and takes up at least half of the interior
Olivers Bed
Our camper is quite small inside!

External cooking and ensuites

There’s a lot of hate towards outdoor kitchens, and when the weather is foul its pretty obvious why. If your kitchen is fully exposed (as in no cover, and not inbuilt) you will hate it from time to time, when the weather is bad.

If you have an inbuilt and semi covered kitchen its not so bad, but its still not nearly as nice as being inside. 

The same applies for external ensuites. We have one, and yep, it works, and yep its the best compromise for us, but we still have to pull the toilet out each time (which can be pretty heavy) and set the tent up.

You then have to walk through the dirt back to your camper, which isn’t ideal. If you are on the toilet outside, dodging inch ants makes it a whole new level of entertainment. 

Does this matter to you? Only you can answer that.

Cooking in the rain
Cooking outside is fine most of the time, unless its raining, like here!


Hybrids are not great for insulation. They are not as bad as a camper trailer, but they are let down by the pop top section, which is always at the top where your warm air rises.

In winter, it means the temperature inside is always colder than you’d prefer, and the difference between a full size van and small pop top hybrid inside on the same night is astounding.

In summer, hybrids work reasonably as you can just open windows, but they will still get warmer than a van with full insulation and walls in summer, and colder than a van in winter. They do however, seem to cool down and warm up faster than a van.

Beware of owner reviews and sales people

When you start looking for a hybrid camper trailer, you’ll read all sorts of opinions. They can be very helpful, and they can also be extremely unhelpful, due to owner bias.

In my opinion, one of the best places to get advice is the owners Facebook page (as long as its independent to the manufacturer).

For example, there is a ‘Lifestyle Camper Trailers’ group on Facebook, that is independent of the business itself, and the actual trailer owners are free to put up honest feedback and discuss common modifications and issues.

If you are going to trust someone’s review, you need to know the history. I’ve seen people raving about hybrid vans that they’ve ordered, and haven’t even received yet. Until they’ve done several months of actual use, you have to be very careful with believing what is said.

People will always recommend what they’ve spent their money on, and that sort of advice is completely and utterly useless. You want to talk to someone who’s used their van, is not loyal to the brand and is happy to give you some real life feedback.

A great example of this is our Reconn R2 review, which is completely non biased, and has been done after spending about 500 nights in it, and owning it for nearly 4 years.

Our Reconn R2 and Dmax
Our Reconn R2 isn’t perfect, but we absolutely love it

It’s certainly not perfect, and we are more than happy to admit that. The trouble is not everyone likes to point out faults in things that they’ve bought.

On the other side, sales people are notorious for misleading potential customers either by giving incorrect facts, or by not expressing everything that they should. I dearly apologise to those sales guys who do a good job, but I’ve been around too many sales people who’ve given you a bad name.

Ask specific, relevant questions and check the answers you get. If you find a good sales person, hang onto them!

If you are looking for the best hybrid campers for 2024 in Australia, you’ll probably stumble across the ‘best camper trailer awards’ online. My advice is to take the comments with a grain of salt, and to look at their specific comments about each camper trailer, and nothing more.

There is a lot of money that trades hands in these awards, with different camper brands sponsoring the reviews, and with those who don’t provide a camper for the review automatically excluded.

This means that any of the small, boutique camper trailer manufacturers aren’t going to be in the running, regardless of whether they are the best.

Real life, owner feedback is the best hybrid camper review that you’ll get.

Stoney Creek Hybrid
Look for unbiased reviews before you buy anything

Are Chinese Made Hybrid Campers rubbish?

Australians have been purchasing Chinese made camper trailers for years and years now. Initially, some of the products that came through were average, at best.

As a whole, they have been improving hugely, and today there are some very decent Chinese Hybrids on the market (that easily compete in the Australian market).

There are thousands of hybrids that have been imported and that get used every day in Australia. Whether they suit your requirements or not will depend on what you have planned.

However, there are still some very average ones out there, and with more and more sellers popping up you have to be careful.

Austrack hybrid camper
There’s a huge number of Chinese imported Hybrids out there today

You’ll find direct copies of Australian made campers on the market, where someone has had an Australian product shipped overseas and copied, and that’s poor form to begin with, without even looking at the quality of assembly.

On the flip side, just because you buy Australian Made doesn’t guarantee you are going to get something of amazing quality either, so you need to look carefully regardless of where it comes from!

This is where independent reviews from those who use their trailer in a similar manner to your intentions become invaluable.

I’m not going to tell you to buy one or the other; its a personal decision, and you should buy what you can afford, and what suits your needs (after thoroughly investigating your chosen hybrid before putting any money down!).

Hybrid storage
Wherever it comes from, get genuine feedback on its quality

Hire before you buy

A super important step before you you lay a huge chunk of money down is to hire the setup you are thinking of buying. Use it for a weekend, or longer if possible, and it will put your mind at ease.

If it costs you $400 – $1000 for the privilege, consider it money well spend in that you aren’t throwing 100 times that away on something that doesn’t really suit.

Specs on paper are very different to real life performance, and you wouldn’t be the first person to hire something and walk away at the end feeling very glad you didn’t actually buy it from the get go.

The most common place to hire a hybrid van from is Camplify, but there are others that do it too.

The second hand market

Like cars, you’ll find a huge range of Hybrid Campers for sale. Some have been heavily used, and others have been used once or twice and the owners have realised its not for them.

Our Reconn R2 was second hand, and we like this solution as you can save a bucket load of money. 

Absolutely do your research and find the campers you like, and then set up alerts for second hand ones in your area. They can be hard to find, but if one pops up that suits you, its a brilliant way to keep the bank account looking healthier!

Every hybrid is a compromise

In case I haven’t made it clear enough, every single Hybrid on the market will require you to make some sort of compromise.

Beyond that, the perfect hybrid for me will not be the same as the perfect one for you, or your neighbours.

You will have to pick and choose, and be willing to compromise in one way or another. Below are the most common items:

Size, weight and setup time

Hybrids are supposed to be small, and light weight. The more gear you want on board, and the more space you want, the bigger and heavier its going to be.

You can’t have a roomy interior, with bunks, an internal kitchen and pantry, internal ensuite and somewhere to sit without getting a significantly bigger trailer.  Somewhere along the way you’ll have to trade your comfort, for space and weight, or vice versa.

If you want more internal space, you can get the pop out hybrids, but it comes at the cost of more moving parts, more likelihood of leaks and a greater setup time. No choice will come without its fair share of negatives!

Reconn R2
Every hybrid has its pro’s and con’s

Cost and where its manufactured

Everyone wants Australian made for the price of a Chinese imported hybrid, and again, its just not possible.

Your budget will inherently dictate where your camper comes from, and often the quality of the product. It also influences the amount of luxury that you get, and that’s important when you are buying a hybrid. There’s no way around this.

What else have we missed?

Hopefully this guide has pointed you in the right direction when choosing a hybrid camper, and given you some questions to ask and think about. I would have loved to read something like this when we first started looking.

On the flip side, we’ve been doing this for a long time and know what works, and what doesn’t so it was easier. If you haven’t been exposed to the camping world too much then its a whole new learning curve, especially if a hybrid is your first method of travel!

If I’ve missed anything, let us know below and we’ll add it.

What Hybrid do you use, and how do you rate it?

Warroora Station Sunset
If it gets you out there doing this, you are onto a good thing

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  1. Hey Carla,

    Awesome. I’m pleased it was helpful!

    Take care

  2. this is fabulous thank you

  3. Hey Ryan,

    Yeah, that’s a problem! At least you’re doing research now though, rather than just buying something and finding out later like many do!

    Take care mate

  4. Indeed they are… I started collecting a spreadsheet of details regarding 5 berth Hybrids – then realised my auto Patrol has a tow limit of 2500kgs. So far a grand total of one fits that bill. Idea on the back burner for now 😀

  5. Hey Ryan,

    Thanks for the kind words mate. I know how you feel setting the camper up and back down again.

    Hybrids are a compromise from the get go, and when you’re looking for 5 people it gets even harder. I know people in a Reconn R4 with 3 kids, but they’re super expensive.

    Save those pennies, and I reckon in the next 6 – 12 months there’s going to be some bargains that pop up. You’ll eventually find something that suits, and I bet you’ll look back and laugh at your frustrations setting up the soft floor!

    All the best

  6. Hi Aaron – your site is a treasure chest of info! I feel like our family is heading down the same path as yours. We bought a soft floor camper, but the pack up is killing the mood! On the last leg, we skipped the last stop and drove another 3 hours to get home just to avoid that one night setup!

    I’ve gone down the rabbit hole and now in the world of hybrids. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately?) there isn’t a huge range that can sleep 5. My conclusion so far is I can’t afford it anyway 😀 Good to be armed with info in case an opportunity arises though.

  7. Hey David,

    Thanks for your kind words, and for passing on your experience. I’ve always liked the T-vans, and the Ultimate range. Interesting to hear the Kimberley Karavan didn’t work for you, and I guess that’s the crux; its got to do what you need it to.

    Safe travels in your Ultimate, and we might see you around!

  8. David Price says:

    Excellent article – and well qualified in that everything is a compromise (even in a Bruder I suspect).

    However if you don’t like wet canvas over the bed in a camper you can always buy a T-Van! We travelled extensively with ours (Savannah Way, Gibb River Road, Canning Stock Route, etc.) but after 85km/hr winds West of Albany decided we wanted some inside cooking and some extra facilities.

    After a Kimberley Karavan (which didn’t work for us) I’m sitting in our Ultimate Nautilus next to the Murchison River – sadly no longer made but after 7,500k to get here, mostly on dirt, it’s the unit we are now happiest with.

    (wouldn’t take it up the Canning however).

  9. Hey Grant,

    Everything is a compromise, and there’s certainly benefits of a hard top. The term hybrid has been stretched over the years, and some campers are being called hybrids that are really more like small caravans.

    In terms of the height affecting your ability to travel, how often have you had things come close to the top, or high sides of your 4WD when off road? What height is your current 4WD?

    The biggest issue I see with the height is what happens when the camper leans a little. If its 2 metres tall, and a wheel falls in a 30cm hole or rut, its going to hang out a bit. If its 3 metres tall, its going to hang out a lot more, and that is often more of a problem than dodging branches and other height restrictions. Tracks are often not level, and that means your camper will lean out a lot more the taller it is.

    We’ve been very glad of the fact that our Reconn R2 just follows the Dmax; if the car fits, the Reconn will too, with exception of a slightly different turning circle. Our camper is marginally lower than the 4WD, and that’s fantastic for us.

    The lower height makes us a lot more comfortable poking around camp sites and tracks, but if it was taller we’d be a lot more cautious. I guess for general travel the height isn’t that important, its just when you want to find a camp site, or take a track that you have no idea about that it becomes a potential issue.

    I guess you have to weigh up the comfort and convenience of a solid roof against the likelihood of sometimes being restricted in where you can go, and that comes down to the sort of tracks and places you want to go.

    For us, the benefits of a pop top exceed the downsides, but that might not be the case for you, or for us long term

    All the best mate

  10. Thanks for the great resource.

    With all your offroad towing experience, how critical do you think the low towing height is *when offroad*? I’m not talking about fuel consumption at highway speeds, I’m talking about access to tracks and trails.

    I see your photos in the article include an MDC XT12HR non-poptop, which is 3030 mm high. Does that mean you think it could be a reasonable choice on offroad trails?

    I ask because I am interested in getting an XT12HR or, more exciting, the aussie-made Crusader Chameleon Liberty which is only 12 ft and fabulously light at 1400 kg tare….but is non-poptop and 2900 mm high. A non-poptop has a genuine appeal, as long as the weight and clearance etc are good for offroad…unless the height is a deal-killer.

    I need some advice, because there are other options that meet our specs, like the Stoney Creek Scout 11 ft pop-top, but it is still 2650 mm travel height. Or do you think these options are all too high for the tracks and trails?

  11. Hey Trevor,

    Looks like they are a relatively new, import camper trailer operation, like the dozens that already exist. Looking online the business name was registered in September 2021.

    They might be good; they might not be; I have never heard of them. I’d go to Facebook to see if you can talk to any owners about them

    All the best

  12. Hey, thanks so much for making this post. Very helpful information! One thing I wondered. I came across Boss Adventure recently somehow and noticed they didn’t make this list. They have some very interesting looking options. Should I be worried, or is there another reason for this? Thanks!

  13. Hey Bill,

    Thanks mate, and well done on taking your time to find the ultimate solution. There’s certainly lots to consider, and in the end you will get something that meets most of what you want, but there are always compromises to be made.

    Sounds like your camp-o-matic has been well used, and good luck on your search for the perfect hybrid!

    All the best

  14. Bill nixon says:

    Been looking at hybrid info for months, still at least another 6 months homework before we part with our hard earned. This is the best article I’ve seen. Plenty more to dwell on, stuff I had considered but not got deep into. We have over 30 years in swags and 5 years in our much loved camp-o-matic camper and going hybrid next. Thank you for sharing.

  15. Hey Neil,

    You are very welcome mate. I often chuckle at how many people have similar experiences to us with different setups!

    I reckon if I was going to get an imported hybrid, MDC would be at the top of the list to investigate. They aren’t that light though, and will make it harder to get to more difficult places, but the extra comfort is probably worth it.

    I’d have a look at the second hand market as well, particularly the older Aussie made ones that are well proven, and can be picked up for a steal at times.

    At the end of the day it just comes down to lots of looking around, until you find something that ticks as many boxes as you can

    All the best with the hunt!

  16. Thank you for the time and the effort in writing this. I had a soft floor I enjoyed was tough as nails, weighed a ton and was a sod to set up! Switched to a “forward fold” camper trailer for stays of more than a a night (swag. stretcher under awning for single nights) and this was OK .. but the camper trailer was still to heavy to easily put up .. and as a result I did not use it as much as I should. Sold!
    I am currently putting a pretty good RTT on the “truck” (76 Series) which is the planned “overnighter” and looking for a Hybrid or similar. No interest in bunks – I am way past small humans. Wanting an easy set up. Comfort for those miserable days. And as I wind down to retirement something I can use to explore .. starting in the northern end of WA.
    I have looked at (and they have advantages) the “hybrid camper trailer” with the RTT on top of a light frame trailer. I am still leaning towards the smaller hybrids .. just me and my 4-legged friend .. but you never know – there might be a mad woman out there too! lol And currently have to say the MDC range is peaking my interest a little .. on budget and reasonable quality. Any suggestions?

  17. Hey Joan,

    Thanks for your kind words. Sounds like you’ve sorted a lot of the teething issues out on your hybrid!

    I think its a continual journey, and being able to do a few things yourself certainly helps!

    All the best

  18. Joan Chamberlain says:

    Terrific article – a thorough look at the pros/cons and choices to consider with hybrids.
    After a recent 5 month road trip with mine, you’ve covered a lot of the issues that I dealt with before the trip (with upgrades), during the trip with repairs, replacements and add ons and now after, with still some more tweaking.
    Thanks, Joan

  19. Hey Luke,

    Thanks for your comment. The bottom bunk in ours is pretty much the full width of the camper, so around 1800mm. The top one is marginally less. Our 6 year old fits comfortably up the top and will for a few more years, but I’m sure there will come a time where its pushing the friendship. Not sure how the Iconn varies in width, but I reckon you’d struggle to get a medium sized adult to sleep on them – they aren’t that wide either (particularly the top).

    It’s going to require you to make some hard choices, and its not always easy!

    All the best mate

  20. Luke Booth says:

    Hi Aaron, this is a brilliant article thanks very much. I am looking at upgrading from a camper trailer to a hybrid, and in particular interested in the Iccon or R2. I have 3 kids, two teenagers and a 7 year old. Interested in your thoughts on the size of the bunk beds, could a medium sized adult sleep in them? Other option is a tent or swag outside but just weighing up the options and interested in your views. Thanks again, Luke

  21. what a brilliant article, very informative and very helpful

  22. Hi Alissa,

    You can absolutely get front rooms, with lots of different options depending on the awning that you get. Our Reconn R2 has a rope edge awning and we can build a complete room if needed. The time and effort to do it totally takes away from the ease of use of a hybrid, but it is doable.

    You can get walls for all awnings, and set it up that way if you want, with a lot of kids moving into swags/tents once they get sick of their folks company!

    All the best

  23. Hi Aaron, thanks for this great list and guide. Very helpful as we are considering upgrading from tent to something more practical and comfortable. Just wondering, the old camper trailers usually had an enclosed awning screen around the kitchen area. Do any of the hybrids have this? I haven’t seen this in any pics online, but having the option of children sleeping there would be very helpful. Thanks.

  24. Hey Luke,

    You’re very welcome, and cheers. It’s a magic part of the world out there!

    Take care

  25. Awesome write up mate just what i needed to read and nrxt time ur at steep point give me yell as i live in the loop


  26. Hey Bradley,

    I don’t recall ever setting up when it was pouring cats and dogs. I’d imagine you might get a tiny amount through the half of the windows that were open until you got in and zipped them up, but it would be negligeable. We’d probably wait for a break either way.

    Zero chance of sleeping without the roof up – there’s literally 100mm clearance from our bed, and our oldest beds mattress/bedding to the roof when its down.

    All the best

  27. Bradley Eyre says:

    How do you go setting up and pulling down when it is bucketing rain. Do you get any water inside from the soft walls? Can you sleep in the van without putting up the roof i.e. to avoid standing around in the rain when setting up for an overnight stop.

  28. Hey Malcolm,

    Nice to hear from you, and neat that you’re a Reconn pioneer! I assume its an original Reconn, and not the R2?

    We also avoid setting our awning up if possible, and I’ve just fitted a 270 degree one on our Dmax to hopefully avoid it even more!

    I’ve got a further review coming out on the Reconn R2, but we are as happy as you could be with the product, and gave it a flogging in the Pilbara recently.

    We are in Perth for a bit longer, before we go on a lap of Australia!

    Take care

  29. Malcolm Hansen says:

    Nice write up guys.
    We have one of the first Reconns sold in WA and would agree with your assessment. Rope edge awning is a pain, but very good once up so we only use it on multi day stops. Just wish Lifestyle had a fly option for the rear of the trailer (as per the front) so the kitchen had protection when it rains!
    And ours also has a heavier towbar weight due to the axle being further back on the trailer, but also tows great.
    Are you in WA? If so it would be good to chat!


  30. Hey Mingan,

    Congratulations on the new purchase. I’m pleased our review was useful.

    Having just about completed 3 weeks through the Pilbara and given our Reconn R2 a serious work out on some pretty shocking roads and tracks, I’m honestly really pleased with it. It’s not a caravan, and whilst some extra comforts would be nice at times it fills a niche perfectly and we’ll be using ours a lot more in the future!

    I know exactly what you mean about the wet canvas, and setup times. We’ve done about 16 different camp grounds over the last 21 days or so, and setting up/packing away is always a breeze.

    Enjoy your new purchase when it arrives!

  31. Mingan Choct says:

    We did months of homework on caravans and camper trailers and decided to buy a hybrid at the end. Because of your honest, unbiased review, Aaron, we have ordered our Reconn R2 recently. Like you, we have had an offroad camper trailer for years, which served us well but as you said wet canvass and set up hassle were our problems. Again many thanks.

  32. Hey Darren,

    Thanks for the comment, and sorry for the delay. We’ve been off grid for a number of weeks!

    Ultimately you’ll end up compromising in one way or another; its inevitable, but it certainly pays to hunt around for the most suitable that you can find.

    All the best on your hunt!

  33. Darren Dinte says:

    Hi Aaron,
    An absolute must read for anyone looking into a hybrid, brilliantly written, many thanks. We are just starting to look into an upgrade, currently use, i, love, wife not so much, lol, our rear fold ezytrail, the set up is getting a bit much, in our mid 50’s, we do mostly off grid, so we are pretty well set up and know what we want in a hybrid. A very good point you made, is not many have awnings that cover fridge, which i think is most important, i have only found the
    fantasy that does, but that doesn’t have everything else we want, search continues, thanks again. Darren

  34. Hey Mark,

    You obviously grabbed the van for a reason; do you love it except for its size? I couldn’t imagine towing something that big, but have no doubt you do get used to it.

    A 15 ft hybrid is certainly not large, but you can get bike mounts to suit, or I’ve seen people mount them in boxes at the front.

    A hybrid is a big change though, and you might not find you like it; I’d suggest you hire one for a weekend and give it a whirl.

    Unfortunately I’m not much help on the bike racks side of things, although I have heard good things about iSi

    All the best

  35. Hi Aaron, we just purchased a really good 2nd hand van nearly 22ft. I hated the size for towing, parking etc although its extremely well made and has absolutely everything. As I got it for a decent price, I’m happy to re-sell it and I’m considering a hybrid but I’d like to do a lager size (15ft?) that I can mount two e mountain bikes. If not, then I’ll need to sell these as well and look at ones that I can put into the back of the patrol. Any thoughts? Cheers, Mark

  36. Hey Chels,

    Thanks for the comment, and welcome to the world of hybrids! I appreciate the comments on the quality of content, and am glad its been useful.

    The moment you tow anything your off road ability is going to be hindered, but if you aren’t doing soft sand, technical rocky tracks and mud runs you’ll get away with towing something around the 2 tonne mark, and 6 metres long. Our Reconn R2 is basically that. One point to mention is that it will depend on your vehicle. The bigger the vehicle (and motor in terms of output) the easier it is for towing. Again, everything is a compromise.

    I wouldn’t hesitate to take our Reconn R2 on the areas you’ve mentioned and beyond. The whole purpose of our R2 was to get where people with bigger and heavier rigs cannot.

    All the best in your search

  37. Aaron, superb read. Been a random not regular tent camper looking to skip the camper trailer and lay down a considerable amount of cash for a proper Aussie hybrid. Been reading what feels like hundreds of articles for 6 months and you’ve summed up all and more in 1 with links to more interesting articles…i need to change settings to open up new browsers for links, you’re just that good. This is late but if you’ve got time, I have a question…..a little new to towing other than tip runs. Is 2 tonne ATM heavy, for general towing, Gibb, sand (hard highway, medium)….and is 6 metres too long for some decent remote finds……that compromise between comfort, size and weight difficult without experience.

  38. Hey Frank,

    Thanks. The Cavalier’s are a great camper trailer.

    In regards to the poly block, if its the original unit, its probably a genuine Treg hitch, and will be great quality. My comment about the red ones being rubbish refers to the imported units that have been failing very regularly of late. They are copies of the genuine Treg, and are a safety hazard.

    All the best

  39. Frank Bullitt says:

    Excellent review.
    Looks like I’ll be keeping my Cavalier Off Road soft floor camper. Unsure about the red poly block (Treg hitch) being rubbish, mine has done around Australia 3 times, with a ton of off-road.
    All the best

  40. Hey Nigel,

    Good to hear. All the best with your upcoming purchase!


  41. Nigel Ford says:

    Thanks mate, was just about to jump in and grab a secondhand Hybrid TT13 or a Fantasy 13. I was unsure of the weight factor of these campers you have explained it completly and now understand Thanks.

  42. Hey Barry,

    You are very welcome mate. All the best with your decision


  43. Barry Bond says:

    Thank you so much for this article, for all the information you have supplied and taken the time to do so, is very much appreciated, it helps me make a decision as to what type of van I buy.

  44. Keith Blakely says:

    Great information! We are looking to change to a hybrid and you have given some great pointers. I am curious aout your diesel heater flexible tube carrying the warm air into the van, where did you get that?, looks like the solution I have been looking for.

  45. Mick OConnor says:

    Thank you Aaron for a great review. I agree with all the comments – unbiased, factual, and comprehensive. It’s given me a lot of food for thought and investigative direction, I come from the school of it the worst happens how can I get out of the situation? Thanks again for the terrific article.

  46. Cheers Nick,

    That’s the intention mate, and I’m glad its clear

    All the best

  47. Nick Martin says:

    Great article! A thorough, unbiased and factual review with no agenda from real world users. It doesn’t get better than that! Cheers Nick

  48. Hey Jim,

    It’s an exciting time; lots of new products coming out, and I have no doubt there will be some amazing trailers being built over the next few years. Some of the Aussie ones are super expensive, but there are a few that are much less than 100k, and if you are good on the second hand market hunt you might pick up a bargain.

    I suspect in the coming months there is going to be a huge glut of vans, campers, hybrids, motorbikes, boats and heaps more, once international travel resumes again. Might be the perfect time to pick yourself up a bargain!

    All the best, and enjoy your camper trailer for now. As long as you are getting out it really doesn’t matter!


  49. Thanks Aaron for taking the time to write such a comprehensive and helpful guide. My wife and I are looking to upgrade from a camper trailer to something with less set-up time and an internal shower and toilet but the cost of the Aussie-made hybrids has been prohibitive (most are north of $100K) and the Chinese-made ones are too heavy. For now we’ll continue to enjoy shorter adventures in our camper trailer and watch the market and listen to honest reviews from experienced owners like yourself.

  50. Hey Susan,

    Thanks for that. I hope it was helpful.

    All the best

  51. Susan Bell says:

    Excellent balanced review