After spending four days booting over rutted tracks near Gordon Country, about two hours drive west of Brisbane, in both a single and dual axle versions of the Lifestyle Reconn R4, I’m some way closer to understanding what separates a hypercamper from your garden-variety camper camper.
Lifestyle have badged the Reconn R4 as a hypercamper. It’s a camper, but not as you know it. It’s a camper with all the extras, and then some.
Basically, it’s packed to the gunnels with everything, including the kitchen sink. In fact there’s several different types of sink available, and, as well as having one outside, within the Reconn R4’s distinctive recessed kitchen, there's another one inside, as part of the ensuite. Letting your inner interior design creativity rip when it comes to ordering your personal Reconn R4 specification is, it seems, another hypercamper feature.
A Reconn R4 is hyper adaptable, hyper usable and it should prove to be hyper distinctive to however you see your own personal camping adventures unfolding.
“Reflecting the personality of our customers through the camper they ultimately select is a key attribute of all Lifestyle campers,” John Swinglehurst, MD of Lifestyle Campers, tells me around a fire of Guy Fawkes night proportions after a busy first day’s testing. The R4 comes standard with a forward-positioned ensuite.
“For a couple, we felt the appeal of an ensuite was obvious, even being able to choose separate cubicle compartments for the toilet and shower prior to final fit-out, if that’s their desired final fix.
“But of course, the same camper can be tooled-up differently down the line, we can add or subtract bunks and adjust the dinette set up around the ensuite later on, should it be requested".
Lifestyle not only listen carefully to each customer during the order process, they also manage to tease out future offroad, off-grid camping ambitions before, in many cases, the customer has even imagined the intrepid possibilities that lie before them. They actively steer their customers towards ultimately realising their best possible camper, not only for present needs, but for future camping adventures, as well.
And if configuration arrangements change over time — more kids, kids leave home, or whatever it is that may happen to eventuate — then Lifestyle will help organise and begin a whole new process to identify the best possible bottom-up refit for whatever this new, revised set of off-grid camping ambitions entails.
RESPONSIBLE CORPORATE CITIZENS
Throughout our four days of often rigorous testing, it quickly became clear exactly what John was talking about.
Lifestyle are committed to ensuring that each finished camper is ultimately delivered to a standard that hits the original customer brief, precisely. John wanted us to see the interior configurations and offroad handling capability of both the single and dual axle versions of the Reconn R4. He wanted to be as astute with us, in testing mode, as he is with each customer. The dual axle is a version for those who wish to trick their options up to maximum. For instance, requests for extra water tanks, extra batteries, or extended off-grid-living functionality start to bring the dual axle option into play. Lifestyle takes this part of the process with the utmost responsibility. They regard the often misused term ‘to-spec’ as a chief guiding principle. Not only will they properly analyse and develop each particular ‘to-spec’ requirement, they will seek to discover why the requirement has been made in the first place and gently suggest additional requirements based on their expert interpretation of matters raised during customer pre-production meetings.
“We want every person who chooses a Lifestyle camper to leave the showroom with a product exactly right for their needs,” John says.
“That’s why we offer the extra load-bearing capacity that a dual axle affords. We don’t just say ‘yeah, yeah, yeah’ to everything and then send people on their way with something way too heavy for their vehicle and hitch set-up. Corporate responsibility is at the heart of our business.
“We see ourselves as more than being, simply, a company that manufactures and sells campers. We want to be regarded as responsible corporate citizens, invested with an obligation to help people learn more about how to use our products, safely”.
Providing fully compliant campers that customers can take with them to realise the holidays of their dreams is a cornerstone principle of Lifestyle. Without this peace of mind, the full satisfaction of life-defining family adventures will, in Lifestyle’s estimation, never reach full potential.
“Compliance is of the utmost importance to us,” John tells me.
“We want to make sure, first and foremost, that people have exactly what they need, nothing more, nothing less. We want them and their families to feel safe and secure during all their trips away.”
The Reconn R4 is, at heart, an offroad beast. Yes, it’s loaded with a full suite of luxurious appointments inside, but observing the underneath in action is when the possibility of trips away to beautifully remote regions begins to take shape. The Reconn R4’s undercarriage is bristling with state of the art Cruisemaster weaponry. For the single axle version, the Reconn R4 is equipped with Cruisemaster XT coil spring independent trailing arm suspension with two shock absorbers per wheel and 12” electric drum brakes, providing an ATM of 2800kg. For the dual axle configuration, you’ve got the same Cruisemaster XT coil spring suspension system, except doubled. So four Cruisemaster XT independent trailing arms and two shock absorbers per wheel for a grand total of eight coil spring independent shock absorbers. This boosts the ATM rating to a whopping 3500kg. The hitch, a Cruisemaster DO35, is state of the art, and the chassis is 150mm galvanised steel, throughout frame and draw bar. The whole lot is shod with 16” offroad alloy mags and 285/75 R16 MT tyres, with one spare at the back. The interior is fully insulated with a dust suppression system, so you can go hell for leather over the dustiest, gnarliest and dirtiest terrain safe in the knowledge you’ll be able to pull over, set up, and be ready for beddy-bo-boes without having to overhaul the inside with mop and dustpan.
Setting up the Reconn R4, from go to whoa, takes a ridiculously short amount of time. How quickly can you rotate your elbow? Seriously, it’s a matter of dropping four stabiliser legs, one in each corner, locking them in place and then plugging the awning rollout wind-out tool into a slot and then spinning for all your worth until it’s fully extended. If you’re feeling lazy, this could take you, what? ... Maybe about two minutes.
Once the awning is out and propped up, the recessed kitchen is accessible almost immediately simply by opening a full width side panel. Everything is there, plumbed-in ready for use. Maybe fetching some camp chairs from the enormous storage locker, located on the opposite side, opening them and positioning them in an agreeable position, will be the most time consuming set-up process.
The kitchen design is a thing of beauty. It’s wonderfully ergonomic; everything important is within arm’s reach, plus there’s loads of food preparation bench space and plenty of handy lockers and compartments in a sizable and easily reached pantry area. REDARC Manager 30 BMS and Topargee water management flow system control panels are right there at your fingertips.
I’m about 5ft 10”, which I’m reliably informed is bang on average male height. I found the positioning of the recessed kitchen, the level of the food preparation workbench and the accessibility to control panels, faucets and the pantry compartments to be ergonomically delightful. A colleague, 5ft 5” in height, reported similar satisfaction after a session using the kitchen and control panels. This type of functionality really does make the camping experience so much more relaxing. The kitchen and prep areas of the Reconn R4 approach a usability factor on a par with that of a standard home kitchen.
As an added bonus, on the opposite side, alongside the enormous storage, battery and service facility area, is a one-touch fold-out exterior hot and cold shower suite. Bonanza.
The inside configuration of the Reconn R4 is entirely up to you. The available space inside will be affected by your choice of axles, one or two, but aside from that, the world is your oyster. The only constant being the positioning of a queen size innerspring bed up the back, conveniently accessed by a custom-designed fold-out set of stairs. The front half is manufactured around the separate toilet/ shower ensuite cublices, with an endless array of bunk and dinette saloon area options available. We tested an R4 with separate Truma 14 litre gas hot and cold shower and toilet ensuite compartments up the back, with a fold-down bunk sitting over an in-built bench seat. But you could rejig the dinette and bunk configuration to whatever best suits your needs. Alongside the outside to inside steps up into the interior sits a Dometic dual-zone front panel hinged door fridge freezer.
Gordon Country was a tad drier than when I was last there, the surrounding bushland colours less vibrant. The creek levels were much lower and the verdant greens I remembered much less prominent. But, as it was dry as a bone, the opportunity for some serious offroad fun was amped up, the tracks grippier and traction offroad no drama at all. Plus we had three fully-tricked 79 series LandCruisers in our armory and we weren’t afraid to use them. We dragged the R4 to kingdom come, through boulder-strewn creek, up hill and down dale, and all the while the Reconn R4 happily bounced along behind us.
We unhitched and set up on top of a hill with 360 degree views, just because we could. This is what the Reconn R4 promises. A lifetime of family adventure, set in stunning, hard to get to places where the views promise to be as majestic, private and memory-making as you can possibly make them.
Utter bliss surely awaits.
Tare 2160kg (dual axle)
ATM 3500kg (dual axle)
Suspension Cruisemaster XT Coil Spring Independent Trailer Arm Suspension with Twin Shocks
Brakes 12” Electric Drum Brakes
Coupling Cruisemaster DO35
Chassis/drawbar Triple Drawbar - 150mmx50x3mm x 2 + 50mmx50mmx3mm x1
Body Aluminium Composite
Wheels/ Tyres 285/75 R16” Load Rated Tyres & Alloy Mags
Style Off-Road Pop Top
Body size L 5.1m x W 2.15m [including awning] x Tow H 2.25m
Length (hitch to camper tail light) 6.6m
Gas cylinders 2x4kg
Water 270 Litre [3x 90L Poly Tanks] with option to increase to 360L [additional 90L Poly Tank]
Cooktop 2 or 3 burner gas options
Kitchen External Deluxe Recessed Kitchen
Battery 2x 120 amp/hr + 2x 150W Solar Panels
PRICE AS TESTED
$79,950 (dual axle)
$72,950 (single axle)
No fuss, super-fast set up
Class-leading custom options
Beautifully ergonomic recessed kitchen
A tad on the big size on tow, for a camper
Fit for intended purpose — 9
Innovation — 8.5
Self-sufficiency — 8.5
Quality of finish — 9
Build quality — 9
Offroad ability — 8.5
Comforts — 9
Ease of use — 9
Value for money — 8
X-Factor — 8
Lifestyle Camper Trailers
Address 7 Monte Street, Slacks Creek, QLD 4127
Phone 07 3208 8350