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Lifestyle Reconn R2 2018 review

Brendan Batty

29 Nov 2018 • 10 min read

Once upon a time Queensland was the home of Aussie camper-trailer manufacturing and companies, such as Lifestyle Camper Trailers, were pumping out camper after camper to happy customers. But then came the imports and the price that people were willing to pay for the product dropped very quickly. Many local companies succumbed and just went out of business, others started importing their own and some innovated, developing new products; Lifestyle did two of the three. 

Today Lifestyle only builds light-weight, heavily off-road caravans which it calls Hypercampers and others would call a hybrid caravan, because it takes some elements of a camper-trailer and others of a caravan. It has four models, one of which is built in China in a factory the company part-owns. The other three, including the Reconn R2, which I’m testing, is built in Queensland.

How big is this camper-trailer? How much does it weigh?

The Reconn R2 is roughly the size of a 14-foot caravan and while towing, sits below the roofline of most four-wheel drives. The Reconn R2 is roughly the size of a 14-foot caravan and while towing, sits below the roofline of most four-wheel drives.

Length (Body/Towing)4400mm / 5775mm
Width1880mm
Height2100mm
Weight (Tare/ATM/Tow Ball)1600kg / 2600kg / 190kg

The Reconn R2 Hypercamper is essentially a small, 14-foot caravan. Its body is 4.4 metres long, although it’ll take up nearly 5.8 metres in your carport thanks to the draw bar and rear-mounted spare tyre. It’s pop-top roof has a tall extension, so the camper sits at 2.1 metres high, shorter than most of the four-wheel-drives that will likely tow it.

It weighs 1600kg in standard form, although can carry another 1000kg of water, food, gear and accessories, which is a shed-load of stuff, when you think of it. Empty, expect it to put around 190kg of load on your tow ball. It’s large storage areas are forward and rearward of the axle, so that could change, easily enough.

How practical is the space inside?

There’s a cosy little space to weather a storm or escape mossies, but this is a camper designed for outdoors living. There’s a cosy little space to weather a storm or escape mossies, but this is a camper designed for outdoors living.

The Reconn’s interior is interesting, as unlike most modern caravans, there’s not a lot of free space in here, thanks largely, to the height of the bed. It sits right at the top of the camper, like a second-storey mezzanine. To get in, you have to climb onto the dinette lounge, or use the fold-down step built into the base. 

There is also a small dinette and lounge space with a folding table that’s comfortable enough for two to sit at ease and read or eat dinner, but I get the feeling Lifestyle doesn’t expect you to be spending the majority of your time in here – that’s not what this camper is about.

Above the dinette there’s cabinet space, while all the dinette seats lift up to reveal more storage areas. The dinette closest to the door has two drawers in it, to make accessing the storage easy. 

If this floorplan isn’t for you, there are three other options. One features a pair of bunks, another an ensuite with shower and toilet. The third packs both the bunks and the ensuite all in, somehow – it’s not an overly large space.

What are the beds like?

Big bed, big comfort. It’s an innerspring, pillow-top mattress, too. Big bed, big comfort. It’s an innerspring, pillow-top mattress, too.

Even though there’s a bit of a climb up to it, the bed is very comfortable. It dominates the rear of the van, which means there’s space to stretch out. Standard, it’s an innerspring mattress with pillow-top. Along one side of it there are little storage holes and a few 12-volt charging points, although it butts up against the wall on the other side, so only one sleeper has easy access to them.

What’s the kitchen like?

Because the kitchen is set into the wall of the camper, it’s always covered and has heaps of space. Because the kitchen is set into the wall of the camper, it’s always covered and has heaps of space.

Because the kitchen is set into the side of the van, it’s quite distinct in the hybrid camper-trailer world. There’s a huge amount of bench space with a simple two-burner stove and stainless-steel sink at the rear end. 

Four large pantry cupboards are set into the back wall of the kichen, with another three smaller ones overhead. Most of the camper’s gauges are in here too, including one which counts down your water usage. 

The fridge, which is an optional extra, is stored in a compartment forward of the door. It has a steel-tray slide which can fit most conventional chest fridges up to around 80 litres. An EvaKool 82L fridge/freezer is Lifestyle’s preferred option. The compartment opens both sides, although it could probably do with a divider to stop items stored against the back of the fridge falling into its space.

How easy is it to tow?

The RAM certainly had no trouble! This is a lightweight camper with great towing dynamics. The RAM certainly had no trouble! This is a lightweight camper with great towing dynamics.

I towed it behind a RAM 1500 Laramie, which was serious overkill for a trailer of this size and weight, but it did all the right things. Because it has an adjustable air-suspension underneath, its ride is quite compliant and soft and its height can be adjusted to suit the terrain, or even lowered to reduce air resistance. 

Off-road, it posed little trouble, although the tracks we did were mild, at worst. It has no shortage of clearance (and can be dialled up further if you are short of it) and is fitted with a Cruisemaster DO35 off-road hitch.

One of its best off-road features, though, is the completely clean underside. There’s actually no plumbing, tanks, wiring or fittings under the floor or exposed to the elements, river crossings, dust or stones. The camper’s two tanks, batteries, pumps, electricals and plumbing are all contained within a compartment under the driver’s-side storage section. There’s even room in there for expansion – it’ll fit another water tank, another batteries and extra electrical gizmos easily.

How easy is it to set up?

There’s almost nothing to do to set it up. If you’re on level ground, simple unclip the four roof clips and push it up from the inside. Done. If the ground’s not level, you can easily level out the van by adjusting the air springs – simple let a bit of air out of the side that’s higher. To use the kitchen, just open the hatch and everything’s ready to go.

What options are available for it?

You’ll need to bring your own fridge. You’ll need to bring your own fridge.

There are quite a lot of options, and some of them, I feel, would be better as standard features or, at least, no-cost options. The awning is one of them, and so is a fridge. There’s also a full range of canvas options to enclose more areas, and Lifestyle can upgrade the electrical package in a variety of ways.

Any potential issues with it?

This is a simple camper in all the right ways, so should be very reliable. This is a simple camper in all the right ways, so should be very reliable.

There are no glaringly obvious design faults and considering it’s largely taken the 'keep it simple, stupid' mentality to function and purpose, it looks like it’ll be reliable.

 

This is one of the campers that very finely straddles that line between camper-trailer and caravan. It’s light-weight and simple to use, even if (and mostly because) it lacks the wide-open comforts of a traditional caravan. It’s very capable, well-equipped and very well made. 

If you do like to escape the great outdoors occasionally while camping (or someone you dearly love, does), this is well worth a look. It’ll follow you just about anywhere and your camp life will be better for it.

What do you think of the Reconn R2? Tell us in the comments section below.

Warranty24 months suspension and chassis (12 months, everything else)
Sleeps (bed/  bunks)2 / 4
Water capacity (Fresh/Grey)180L / n/a

$54,950

Based on new car retail price

Adventure score

4/5

adventureguide rank

  • Light

    Dry weather gravel roads and formed trails with no obstacles, very shallow water crossings.

  • Medium

    Hard-packed sand, slight to medium hills with minor obstacles in all weather.

  • Heavy

    Larger obstacles, steeper climbs and deeper water crossings; plus tracks marked as '4WD only'

Price Guide

$54,950

Based on new car retail price

This price is subject to change closer to release data