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When is a Hybrid Camper NOT Hybrid Camper??

Yes - we know that this will open up a can of worms but we also think the record needs to be set straight for when a "Hybrid Camper can no longer be called a Hybrid Camper"!!

Anyone who has been looking at campers or caravans would know that the term hybrid camper has been the "buzz phrase" for the best part of the last decade. The market share shift from traditional caravans to more compact & nimble hybrid campers & hybrid caravans has been huge especially in the form of Imported Products. So in order to understand the basis of this article we need to look at what it is that actually determines - what can be called a Hybrid Camper or Hybrid Caravan.

Now, I don't think anyone would disagree that the primary models of campers & Caravans on the Australian market are made up of the following list:

  • Soft Floor Camper Trailer

  • Forward/Rear/Double fold camper trailer

  • Wind Up Camper

  • Pop-top Caravan

  • Traditional Caravan

  • 5th wheeler

  • Tear Drops

  • Motor Home

and then you add to the mix

  • Hybrid Campers

  • Hybrid Caravans

So what are the key ingredients we need to make a Hybrid Camper or Hybrid Caravan?

We have put together a list of 6 key ingredients we believe are a must in order to call something a Hybrid Camper or Hybrid Caravan.

Off-Road Capability - One of the major features needed in a Hybrid Camper / Hybrid Caravan is that they are Off-road capable. The bulk of them will feature independent suspension systems as oppose to solid axles.

Narrow Body - This is BIG. Hybrid Campers / Hybrid Caravans must be "Narrow Bodied". The purpose of a Hybrid Camper / Hybrid Caravan is to tackle tighter bush tracks & follow in the wheel track of the tow vehicle. If a company is selling you a hybrid camper that has an overall width (awning etc included) of over 2.2-2.3mtrs & towing mirrors are required then it is NOT a Hybrid Camper / Hybrid Caravan - It is a Traditional Caravan.

External Cooking - Although most designs have now come of age with internal & external kitchens, the original design of a Hybrid Camper / Hybrid Caravan was to take into consideration the "outdoor cooking style" of a camper trailer. 99% of customers who purchase a Hybrid Camper / Hybrid Caravan do not want smelly food, grease or odours inside the camper.

Lower Profile Travel Height - A hybrid camper (no caravan) normally features a travel height of 2.3-2.4mtrs when closed. This does not take into consideration air cons/ tv antennas, etc etc. These luxury items have been added post "Hybrid Camper Concept design". If I am honest, you can keep the antenna - just give me the aircon!!!

Off-Grid Capability - The introduction of lithium Batteries and digital Battery Management Systems these past few years have been met much fan fare as it means people can enjoy remote outdoor locations for longer. The introduction of a new electrical standards in late 2023 was meant to see the phasing out of cheap imported lithium batteries & overseas electrical installations however that has not transpired. As such a lot of imported Hybrid Camper Companies will still have the bulk of their 240v & 12v systems installed offshore. The marketing behind "bigger battery systems" has left some buyers with more questions then answers but we will leave that for another blog. In essence a good 200-400ah LiFEp04 battery along with a high quality 2000w Inverter is more then enough for the bulk of Australian Travelers.

On Board Shower & Toilet - Originally set out as a combo toilet/shower most companies now offer a split toilet & shower model which will obviously take up more space & add weight but for longer travel, the separate shower is definitely a nice addition.

So what's a Hybrid Caravan - As the name suggests, a Hybrid Caravan will feature the same "key ingredients" you would find in a Hybrid Camper just in a hard roof or full height variant. Most importantly is that they are still Narrow Bodied meaning more fuel efficient then a traditional caravan. Most manufacturers will now offer a full height model however because they have not changed their manufacturing process, the weights of some of these vans can be eye watering. Companies who have incorporated foam core technology, single piece roof design & honeycomb flooring offer a considerably lighter weight solution as opposed to their aluminum framed cousins.

The Final Word...

Do your homework as these are a big investment. If a sales person is selling you something that has more bells & whistles then a pre-packaged Christmas tree, something has to give. Remember - they are selling based on their own commission motivations.

Here are some tips to help eliminate any confusion -

  1. Weights - As for a written itemised list of what is included in the vans TARE weight

  2. 240v -Ask for a copy of the electrical safety certificate or a copy of the invoice from the licensed electrician who did the install.

  3. 12v - Ask for a copy of the invoice from the licensed auto electrician who did the install.

  4. Gas - Ask for a copy of the invoice from the licensed gas plumber who did the install.

  5. Batteries - Ask for written confirmation that the batteries and charging system have been supplied by a certified supplier here in Australia.

Have fun & Happy Camping!!

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