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Nestled between a camper trailer and a caravan in terms of size and functionality, a hybrid camper is a great option for anyone looking to elevate their camping experience.
If you're looking to buy a hybrid camper trailer ahead of your next camping trip, this buyer's guide is here to help you. We'll outline what you need to know before buying a hybrid camper, including information on pricing, warranty, and included features to look for.
We'll take a closer look at the Lifestyle Campers available in the Camping Adventures range, but we'll also provide general advice to help you navigate the variety of hybrid campers available on the market.
Whether you've been considering a hybrid camper, a hybrid caravan, a camper trailer, or a full caravan, this article will provide guidance and clarity for you.
Let's get started.
Let's start with the obvious question for the uninitiated. Just what is a hybrid camper?
As the name suggests, a hybrid camper is a hybrid of two other products – the caravan and the camper trailer.
With a little bit of effort, a standard camper expands out into a tent with a bed, an outdoor kitchen, an awning, and a few extra luxuries. The tent section has soft canvas walls with either a hard floor or a combination of hard floor and soft floor spaces.
A caravan is a larger tow vehicle that has hard sides, a hard floor, and a hard roof. There's little to no set-up at the campsite, and the inside of a caravan may contain a TV, cooking facilities, sleeping spaces, and more.
A hybrid is much more compact and lightweight than a caravan but larger than a camper trailer. A hybrid will look like a mini caravan when you're towing it down the road.
When you arrive at the campsite, there is some setting up to do for your hybrid but it is largely automated. Mesh sections may extend from the rear, side, front, and top of the camper to create extra tent-like spaces. The inside of a hybrid is closer to being self-contained, with couches, beds, coffee-making facilities, toilets, showers, storage space, fridges, and more available in some models.
Some hybrids will even have indoor kitchens, although most retain the outdoor kitchen. Hybrid campers also have the signature camper trailer awning, as they are designed to promote outdoor living, just with many of the luxuries of a caravan.
Providing a single cost for a hybrid camper can be tricky. There are so many different products available offering a variety of features.
Imported hybrids tend to be cheaper than locally-made models, but they also offer inferior construction and materials.
When looking at our range of Australian-made Lifestyle campers for sale, we can see that the Iconn E2 starts from $39,950 while the Reconn R4T LRX starts from $145,950. Other models fall somewhere within that price range while extras and add-ons can increase the price of your hybrid camper.
As we just alluded to, almost every camper comes with various features and layouts as standard while some features will come at an added price.
When you're shopping for hybrid campers for sale, make sure you understand exactly what you're getting as standard and what you need to pay for. Extra water tanks, solar panels, fans, and heaters are just some of the features that are often considered add-ons.
The warranty that comes with your hybrid may depend on where you buy it from and the brand you choose.
Local hybrid campers are more likely to have warranties with local support, repairs, and replacements.
Think about how you want to use your hybrid and what coverage you might need from your warranty. For example, if you're looking to go off-road, make sure you buy an off-road capable camper that has a suitable warranty for these activities.
We've already mentioned the Lifestyle Campers available in our range, but there are literally dozens and dozens of hybrid camper trailer manufacturers out there.
Some of the names you might recognise include Mars Campers, Kelly Campers, Jayco, Austrack Campers, Kokoda, and Australian Offroad (AOR).
It's fair to say that you're taking a gamble when you buy an overseas or imported camper trailer. There are many Chinese-made camper trailers on the market, and hybrids are also imported from other countries.
In the past, you were guaranteed an average product (at best) when buying an overseas hybrid trailer. The quality of the product has certainly improved on the whole, but the materials used and craftsmanship involved are still likely to be inferior.
Imported hybrids are likely to be cheaper, but you have to ask yourself if it is going to be worth the cost. If you are planning on taking your hybrid camper off sealed roads, we would recommend thinking twice before choosing an imported product.
You will also need to consider what sort of local support is available when buying an overseas model.
At the end of the day, you can buy a lemon whether you go locally made or imported. The most important thing to do is consider independent reviews and talk to the experts when shopping for a hybrid camper trailer.
Lifestyle Campers are the hybrid campers for sale from Camping Adventures.
Let's take a quick look at a few of the hybrids available from Lifestyle.
If you're buying a hybrid, you probably don't have the budget for a new car too. Hybrid campers aren't as big as caravans but they are still a hefty load. Make sure you can tow your new camper legally, that the tow ball weight isn't too much, and that your motor isn't going to be overworked by your tow
The first thing you need to do is research the towing capacity of your 4WD or vehicle to make sure that a fully loaded hybrid camper won't be too heavy. You'll also need to look into upgrading your brakes and think about where you are planning to tow.
Some surfaces (e.g. sandy beaches or rough dirt tracks) require more power from your vehicle, so your car might be suitable to tow a hybrid across some terrains but not others.
For every hybrid camper you consider, you need to figure out the payload.
Payload refers to the amount of weight you can add to the camper. It's calculated by taking the Aggregate Tare Mass (ATM) and subtracting the Tare Weight (the mass of the camper in manufacturer condition).
If the payload is 300kg and you're already packing 150L of water and some gas bottles, that doesn't leave much space for anything else. You should look for a model with a payload of at least 400kg, but even that could be cutting it fine.
Keep in mind that Tare Weight won't always refer to a completely empty camper. There might be some standard features that you could remove before your trip to make the camper lighter. Conversely, if you swap out some features for bulkier items or you always keep certain extras on board, this will increase the Tare Weight and reduce the payload.
As well as payload, here are a few other ways that weight and size affect the hybrid experience:
Before you buy a hybrid, you need to think about if you want to go off-road but also how far you want to go off-road.
Many hybrid camper trailers will be marketed as off-road compatible but will struggle with anything beyond your standard dirt road. If you want to drive across undulating surfaces, cross through creeks, zoom across beaches, and climb steep inclines, then make sure that your hybrid camper is designed for this.
Does your preferred hybrid have a dust suppression system and a strong frame and chassis? Is it designed with generous clearance and quality departure and entry angles?
If the answer is no, then your hybrid probably isn't ready for true off-roading. But then again, if you just plan on driving up to the caravan park, this doesn't really matter!
Some hybrid campers will have quite a bit of canvas as part of their design, especially for pop-out sleeping spaces. Others, like the Lifestyle range, will mainly just have canvas or PVC for the extendable roof, the awning, maybe an outdoor shower, and that's about it. The rest will be solid walls and floors.
These areas of your hybrid won't be as well insulated, will stay wet after rain, and may need drying out at home when you get back from your trip.
If this doesn't sound like something you want to deal with, upgrade to a camper with as little material and as many solid surfaces as possible.
Hybrid campers are not caravans and most are not designed for fully contained indoor living. At the higher end of the market, you might find most or all the features are located indoors, but for the most part, some or all of the features will be located outdoors.
Outdoor kitchens are a very common part of the hybrid camper experience. The Lifestyle RECONN R4T LRX has a small indoor kitchen, but all other Lifestyle Campers feature exterior kitchens.
Outdoor cooking is a big part of the camping experience, and the outdoor kitchens on a hybrid make the process easy. Many of these kitchens feature plenty of bench space, gas cooktops with multiple burners, stainless steel sinks, and more! If you want an indoor kitchen, you’re limiting yourself to very few hybrid campers or looking at a caravan.
You can buy campers with indoor bathroom facilities. Indoor toilets and showers will typically be combined, meaning they're very close to each other.
The other option is portable toilets - often located in a storage hatch - and shower tents for washing outdoors. These showers are typically canvas on the sides and feature a hard top, allowing you to shower outside in privacy.
Your beds aren't going to be located outside, but the majority of your seating may be. However, some interior couches and seats are common in hybrids. You might have separate couches and beds, but you might also have sofas that double as beds. This means they will need to be constantly converted between bed and couch when you want to use them for different purposes. This is something worth double-checking when buying your camper.
A quality hybrid camper will be quick and easy to set up. Most models have features like advanced hydraulics and automatic DC actuators that make set-up as easy as pushing a button.
Some smaller or lower-end models may have some manual set-up required, but this should still be a breeze compared to hard and soft floor camper trailers or tents!
Just make sure you know exactly how much time and effort is involved in set-up before you buy, and wherever possible, ask if you can perform the set-up yourself at a demonstration so you know how easy or hard it really is!
A good place to start for hybrid camper trailer information is the website of authorised retailers.
For example, you can find all the Lifestyle Campers specs, materials, layout options, payload info, extra features, and more right here on the Camping Adventures website or on the Lifestyle Campers website.
Once you find a product you like, you can join Facebook groups or look at Google reviews to get the point of view of a fellow customer. If you know someone who has used the camper you're looking at, that's even better!
Individual experiences are sure to vary, but if you read or hear enough independent reviews, you will find out if a camper is of good quality overall and you will find out about the common complaints that crop up for each model. You can then decide how relevant this feedback is to you and your intended camping style.
Hiring a camper trailer might cost you a few hundred dollars or up to a thousand depending on how long you want to hire it for. You may also have to pay a hefty bond to ensure the safe return of the trailer.
As a long-term strategy, it's not a good idea to hire a hybrid camper. However, if you are interested in buying, you could see if you can find a similar hybrid for hire and give that a try first! It could be just the experience you need to seal the deal.
To hire a hybrid camper trailer, a quick Google search or websites like Camplify are a great place to start.
It's difficult to say if buying a hybrid camper second-hand is the way to go. Just like with any vehicle, the previous owner could have really run it into the ground and performed some amateur repairs. Or maybe they only used it once or twice and got buyer's regret, in which case a second-hand hybrid could be the perfect camper trailer for you.
Generally speaking, we would say that any hybrid worth buying second-hand probably won't be sold for much cheaper than new. And any second-hand hybrid that's heavily discounted probably isn't worth buying.
You can explore all these points and more in our article: What Is a Hybrid Camper Trailer?
Camping Adventures are Authorised Dealers for Lifestyle hybrid camper trailers in Hobart and Melbourne. We can answer your questions about tow vehicles and internal storage, talk you through your options for external kitchens and internal kitchens, or even recommend another type of camper trailer, such as a hard floor off-road camper trailer from the Patriot Campers range.
We also have a huge range of camping gear for sale! Contact us today or come and visit our team to talk hybrid camper trailers and more.