Hybrid Campers Explained: What Is a Hybrid Camper?

Lifestyle Campers Reconn R4T LRX Hypercamper

What do you get when you combine the conveniences and luxuries of a caravan with the compact design and off-road abilities of a camper trailer?

The answer is a hybrid camper!

But what exactly is a hybrid camper, what are the pros and cons of these camping contraptions, and what should you consider before you shop for hybrids?

We'll explain all of that and more in our guide to hybrid campers.

What Is a Hybrid Camper?

Lifestyle Campers Reconn R4T LRX Hypercamper

Hybrid campers combine the features of a classic camper trailer with the benefits of a hard-sided trailer and a full-blown caravan.

Hybrid camper trailers are typically compact, about as wide as a four-wheel drive or Ute, and relatively lightweight for their size. You can tow a hybrid down off-road tracks and enjoy fuel-efficient freeway and highway driving.

When you're on the road, your camper will resemble a standard trailer or a mini caravan depending on the design. 

But when you reach your camping space, it will transform into a luxurious living space that's built for the great outdoors!

Hybrid campers typically feature mesh/fabric pop-outs that extend from the front, rear, or side of the camper, as well as pop-top roofs to create extra space inside.

Your hybrid or camper will also include features like an outside kitchen/living space and an extendable awning for sun and weather protection.

When you step inside your camper, you might see sleeping areas complete with beds and couches, tea and coffee-making facilities, showers and toilets, plenty of storage, and much more.

Some hybrids even integrate the kitchen inside the camper - complete with a sink, fridge, freezer, cooking facilities, and other amenities.

Exactly what's included in a hybrid camper and what even classifies as a hybrid will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. We'll discuss many things you may wish to consider when purchasing a hybrid camper later in the article. But to get an idea of what hybrid campers can offer you, check out the Lifestyle Camper Trailers range.

Why Camping and Outdoor Buffs Choose Hybrid Campers

It's easy to understand the appeal of hybrid campers. 

Your traditional camper trailer offers more comfort and convenience than a tent, but it can't compare to a fully featured caravan, which is more akin to a mini home on wheels.

Unfortunately, you're much more limited in where you can take a caravan. Off-road trails and adventures off the beaten track are generally out of the question for these larger, more cumbersome vehicles.

Hybrid campers offer easy towing and greater access to Australia's most beautiful and remote campsites. Once you get there, your hybrid camper offers the little luxuries that make camping more enjoyable, such as a proper shower and toilet, heated and cooled living spaces, and more, all while letting you marvel at the beauty of the great outdoors.

Hybrid caravans and campers are great for young families, couples, seasoned campers, and everyone in between! Whether you're looking for an off-road caravan or a camper trailer with a bit of extra luxury, a hybrid is ideal.

Pros and Cons of Hybrid Camper Trailers

Some of the advantages of hybrid campers include:

  • Extra security thanks to a lockable design
  • Access to showers and toilets, either inside or outside
  • The convenience and comfort of couches, queen-size beds, tables, and more, all built-in
  • Extendable, open designs that often leave plenty of living space inside while still featuring multiple large beds
  • A lightweight alternative to caravans and many other travel trailers, allowing for easy towing and offroad adventures
  • Stay close to nature with mesh/fabric pop-out sleeping spaces while enjoying the creature comforts of hot water, electricity, fridges and freezers, and much more
  • Perfect for all weather, with protection from sun, wind, and rain thanks to awnings, solid walls and roofs, air conditioning and heating, and other features.
  • Many hybrid campers are built to tackle off-road adventures, with features like heavy-duty brakes, independent suspension, shock absorbers, galvanised chassis, and much more.

Some possible drawbacks of hybrid campers include:

  • Heavier than traditional camper trailers.
  • Temperatures can fluctuate in the pop-out sections of your hybrid camper - but portable fans can be a great way to distribute hot or cold air from the central area!
  • Condensation build-up is also more common - but a great way to overcome this is to have a diesel heater installed!
  • Smaller inside than a standard caravan, so some people may feel cramped if they're not used to it.
  • Due to pop-top designs and pop-out sections, hybrid campers don't offer the best insulation.

Things to Consider When Shopping for a Hybrid Camper

Are you interested in shopping for hybrid campers for saleHere are some things to think about before you make a purchase.

What do you want your hybrid camper for?

Just like with any product, the best camper will be the one that suits all your needs. Depending on what you're looking for, a fully featured hybrid camper might not be the best option for you. Maybe you would prefer a simpler, more stripped-back camper trailer that just offers some of the creature comforts of home.

Here are just a few "lifestyle" questions worth thinking about:

  • Do you plan on staying at the campsite most of the day or do you like to venture out on hikes, bike rides, and more? If you're not staying onsite, do you really want a fully featured hybrid camper?

  • Are you looking for all the features of a full-blown caravan with a more compact design and smaller footprint? In that case, you might want a hybrid camper with heating and cooling, an indoor kitchen, a toilet and shower, and much more!

  • Is off-roading important to you? Some hybrid campers will be better equipped than others to head off the beaten track, so keep this in mind when doing your research. Looking for a strong chassis, checking out the specs of the suspension, and enquiring about a dust compression system are all good places to start when searching for a true off-road camper trailer. 

Do you want an outdoor or indoor kitchen?

Some people love the idea of the outside kitchen that comes with many hybrid campers. After all, cooking outdoors is part of the camping experience!

Other people are worried about bugs buzzing around or getting stuck cooking their snags in the rain! If this sounds like a make-or-break issue to you, it's important to understand that you may be looking at a caravan with an internal kitchen instead.

The location of your cooker in relation to your fridge or freezer is also important to consider, especially if you don't want to constantly be running inside and outside.

What's the story with power and water?

One of the big benefits of a hybrid camper is the ability to go on a camping trip while staying connected to electricity.

Features like lithium batteries, solar panels, solar charging, and DCDC battery charging are all worth looking for. Do some research to ensure that your hybrid camper has been built with quality wiring and take note of available outlets throughout each model, including USB chargers and cigarette lighter chargers.

Once again, it's worth thinking about what you want from your camping experience. If you just want to charge your phone and turn on some lights, you will have vastly different electrical requirements than someone who wants to run heating and cooling, cooktops and coffee machines, freezers and fridges, and everything in between!

Some people might not be able to "live without" a charged phone, but you literally won't be able to live without water! If you're really going off the grid, make sure your hybrid camper is equipped with large enough water tanks to keep you going!

A 150 L water tank (probably made up of two smaller storage tanks) is a good place to start. Depending on the length of your trip, how far out you're looking to go, and how many showers you want to take, you might even want more water than this.

Many hybrid campers also come with grey water collection tanks so you can store water from washing, showering, and other activities and empty it at a suitable dump point at a later date.

How well sealed is your hybrid camper?

When you're adventuring outdoors, the issues of moisture and dust are always worth thinking about.

You don't want a camper that's going to start leaking water on the inside! Likewise, you don't want the interior to start filling with dust while you are driving, which can definitely be an issue when you're travelling off sealed roads.

Pay close attention to the construction quality when selecting a hybrid camper and ask other people about their experience with the model you're considering. It's also worth keeping an eye on hybrid campers with dust compression systems, which generate positive pressure into the camper to prevent dust from penetrating any tiny gaps that may be present.

One area where your camper absolutely must be well sealed and protected is underneath the camper! Exposed wires or piping are a red flag, as these can quickly be damaged with stones and twigs flying up at the underside of your camper.

An off-road hybrid camper should have a fully sealed, coated, and protected underbody, and where possible, any wiring, plumbing, or gas should be kept as far away from the chassis as possible!

What's the storage situation?

The storage space on hybrid campers usually comes as-is. Or in other words, the amount of storage that comes with your camper - including any extras you added - is all the storage the camper can have.

Luckily, well-designed hybrid campers will come with plenty of storage, including but not limited to:

  • Generous gas bottle storage
  • Built-in pantry storage
  • Internal storage spaces, including cupboards, drawers, and under-bed storage
  • Tub storage
  • Additional storage compartments

How much coverage does the awning offer?

A hybrid camper wouldn't be complete without its very own awning. Some campers come with awnings that only cover one side of the trailer and don't even offer full protection for the slide-out kitchen. Other awnings are more comprehensive, offering coverage for most sides of the trailer and a design that extends outwards for excellent protection in all weather conditions.

You want to make sure your awning is made from a strong yet lightweight material that offers a UPF 50+ rating for sun protection and excellent resistance in windy and wet weather.

What heating and cooling do you want from your hybrid?

Heating and cooling in a camper trailer can be as simple as opening a window or as sophisticated as reverse cycle air conditioning systems. Parts of this great country can get pretty hot and pretty cold for campers at different times of the year, so it's worth thinking about just how comfortable you want to be!

Common options for heating and cooling in hybrid campers include diesel heaters and diesel-powered hot water, portable fans, and air conditioning systems that require a generator or a solar and battery set-up to run.

Is a Hybrid Camper Worth It for You? To Find Out, You MUST See It in Person!

Just from reading this article, you probably have a good idea of whether a hybrid camper is or is not for you. If you're considering buying a hybrid camper trailer, it is absolutely essential to see it in person. Before you buy, you need to get to know its features, check out the construction, see how it sets up, and get a proper demonstration. You can also get information about the most suitable tow vehicle for every kind of camper.

After all, a camper is a significant investment. You will be spending tens of thousands of dollars on your new hybrid. Fortunately, there are options and upgrades for a range of budgets, and the best way to see the difference between models at various price points is to see them in person.

At Camping Adventures, we are Authorised Dealers for Lifestyle Campers and Patriot Campers in Victoria and Tasmania.

If you're interested in camper trailers in Melbourne, Hobart, and beyond, contact our team or come and visit our showroom for an in-person demonstration!
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