Hybrid campers: The pros and cons
The hybrid camper trailer market has taken off over the last few years, and why wouldn’t it?
Hybrid campers deliver the luxuries of a caravan to almost anywhere in Australia! To kick off our testing session, we kept a close eye on how quickly and easily each camper trailer was to set up, and the hybrid passed with flying colours. For most campers of this style, a quick overnight stay is as simple as opening the door and jumping into bed! You’re also up and off the ground, minimising campsite preparation, (although a level campsite is preferable). And, with little or no canvas to consider, calculating the required space at camp is easy.
Having a full-sized body stacks on the kilos, so hybrid campers can get a bit on the heavy side when getting off the beaten track. The extra weight impacts recovery, manoeuvrability by hand and on soft sand. They’re also top heavy, making even experienced of 4WDers pensive on off-camber angles. These campers are built pretty damn tough these days, and will pretty much go anywhere you pull them, but your 4WD will need extra attention to cope with the long-term strain.
Once built, usable storage is pretty much set in stone, which will dictate what you can and can’t bring on the trip. Built-in cupboards, lounges and beds can also encroach on the available living space with some layouts suiting your needs better than others. Some models incorporate slide-out rooms to overcome this, but this obviously affects budget and weight.
Having solid walls on a camper trailer really gives you more options. It’s a place to permanently mount accessories and there’s generally more room height-wise to support things. What do we mean by that? Well, a flatscreen TV comes in handy to watch the footy if you’ve got a decent aerial or satellite dish, which also needs somewhere to be mounted that’s out of the way. The ability to fit an air-conditioner or heater goes a long way in terms of comfort and is much more efficient with full insulated walls around you. Heck, even something as simple as bolting an electric awning to the sidewall can slash a good 10-15 minutes off your setup time, too.
- Completely lockable, so you and your gear are much more secure
- Built-in features such as lounge chairs, beds and dining tables make camping more comfortable
- Solid sidewalls can allow you to fit extra accessories such as electric awnings and LED camp lights
- Available with toilet and shower options, either built in or added on
- Generally heavier than most other camper trailer styles
- Top-heaviness can affect offroad ability
- More susceptible to damage on tight tracks
- Storage space is pre-set
AVERAGE SETUP TIMES
(WITH AWNING AND ANNEXE):
PRODUCT TESTER: Joe Borg
Long-term traveller: "A hybrid offers security".
What made you pick a hybrid camper trailer?
I wanted hard walls for the security side of things, it’s all lockable and sealed properly, and I sleep easier knowing there’s more protection around me, too. At least there’s a bit of strength there if a tree branch or something was to fall on top.
What don’t you like about hybrid campers?
Probably just the extra weight when you’re towing. The camper itself will go everywhere I personally need it to go, but I use more fuel than many other camper trailer owners would on the longer trips. Plus, it’s a real pain for beach driving, too.
Any advice for people looking to purchase this kind of camper trailer?
Spend time finding the right layout for your needs. Layouts are hard to modify so you’re better off getting it right the first time if you can. Also, find one that’s well balanced, after all, if you need to tow extra weight offroad you want it in the right places.
Have you ever been super glad to have your style of camper trailer?
I was caught in a massive storm up in north Queensland a few years back. The wind blew like crazy, and the rain was the heaviest I’d ever seen, yet barely a drop of water got inside and there were no tent poles or pegs to worry about. The poor guys in the camp next door didn’t do as well.
Check out the full feature in issue #92 September 2015 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.