Wedgetail’s slide-on camper has soared to success based on a reputation for quality construction
Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door so they say.
For David Hazlewood of Wedgetail Campers success has become something of a monster after putting his passion into developing unique slide-on campers for the high end of the market over the past seven years. David was a photographer who loved to work in the bush, but he found he was spending too much time managing the camping which took him away from the actual photography. So he set out to design a slide-on camper that would make life away from home simpler and more comfortable. That camper soon found favour with others and it quickly went from a part time passion to a full time job.
Wedgetail Campers was launched in 2007, with David hoping it would become a nice little business easing him toward retirement. It’s now become a full time obsession consuming most of his day. Wedgetail has evolved at a rate he never thought possible just a few years ago. These days he receives enquiries from all around the world and could be exporting if he had any left over from the local demand. Wedgetail is not a bottom rung camper and is equipped with all the comforts of home. It follows all the basic rules of slide-on design, with all the heavier weight in front of the rear axle line, but does it with a remarkable level of adaptability and standard of fit-out.
The camper is built around a sturdy chassis and has a pleasingly low profile for best in aerodynamic efficiency.
Set-up is surprisingly quick – just eight minutes for one person – and involves removing any necessary items from the rear storage bay, winching down the rear wall to form the floor of the entry and shower/toilet, installing the pull-out steps, dropping in the handrail, unlatching the top and allowing the gas struts to fold it out over the passenger side with the winch or a cordless drill, lowering the support legs under the bed base (which was the roof seconds before) and stepping inside and erecting four spreader bars and four poles to support the roof.
The tropical roof automatically erects as you do this.
Inside there is a complete living arrangement, with a queen-sized inner spring bed on the fold-over extension, and next to it are a stainless steel sink, two-burner cooker, a small eating nook, heaps of bench space and access to the pantry and fridge so that if conditions outside are really unpleasant you can comfortably hunker down out of the elements.
There is also a shower, with a gas and/or 240 volt hot water and space heater system and toilet. All in all, it’s very comfortable. Both the shower and toilet can be accessed via external doors. There is doored access to storage compartments along the side (also accessible from the outside).
You get LED ceiling lighting and bedside reading lamps. The dimmable ceiling light turns on via a remote so that late evening set-ups can be done without having to use torches or head lights.
There’s a separate kitchen outside to fully enjoy the outdoor lifestyle that is so much a part of such travelling. It features an 80L Waeco fridge on a swing-away arm and a choice of either a two-burner cooktop or a Sizzler two-burner barbecue cooker, which comes with a grill plate. It can be used as a simple gas cooker, or with the lid rotated over to create an oven.
There are various plastic drawers to use as a pantry and taps to provide water for a plastic sink. All this kitchen area is sheltered by the bed extension above and lit by an LED light. For quick roadside stops there’s a 2.5m awning which slides into sail tracking to shelter the kitchen. For longer stays, when the camper is fully open, it attaches to sail tracking on the outer edge of the folded-over roof to extend the under-cover shelter to 4.3 x 3m. There are walls for all this area, with screened windows and doors and a skirt to seal underneath the camper.
The whole unit is well sealed against dust. The fridge space is pressure fed through a filter to remove excess heat, and this is then carried on to pressurise the rest of the camper to keep out dust.
The unit is well equipped electrically, with a single 105Ah AGM battery (a second is optional), 25- amp Redarc DC-DC charger, 40A Xantrex mains charger, battery monitor and an optional inverter.
On the roof is a 200 watt solar panel, as well as an Anderson connection to the vehicle’s alternator (the solar taking charge when the engine stops). The panel can be removed before set-up so that it can continue to top up the batteries in camp. There is also a 240V circuit for occasions when mains or generator power is available, with two outlets internally.
Inside the Wedgetail is light and airy, with large screened windows, two with clear vinyl covers for occasions when rain is an issue.
The outer panels of the camper are finished in marine grade aluminium, and the top and walls are heavily insulated. There is a pleated vinyl stone guard for the leading edge when attached to the vehicle.
But like all slide-ons, the Wedgetail can be offloaded onto its legs. These are made from stainless steel with hot dip galvanised feet, can be cross-braced for stability, and each is rated to 1500kg, for a total of six tonnes. The legs are carried internally, beneath the fridge, and while having to fit them to the outside adds an extra level of complexity to the set-up, it does provides greater clearance for those difficult offroad tracks.
The Wedgetail has been designed to suit single and extra cab flat tray vehicles. Dual cab vehicles require a chassis extension or to have the camper unit mounted to the new trailer option.
The latter is a “battle grade” chassis and independent suspension. It comes in two draw bar lengths to adapt to your vehicle and intended uses, has a solid tray as fitted to a vehicle and has fold-down sides so that if you offload the camper unit you have a large box trailer for other uses. When fully set p with the camper unit it has a 1100kg tare and with its additional 120L water tank means the whole package can then have a 210L total storage.
Wedgetail can also supply you with a truly heavy duty purpose-designed tray that is more durable than the so called heavy duty options available from most manufacturers, as well as under-tray lockers to expand the usability of the whole package. The tray also offers storage for four MaxTrax or similar traction ramps and a shovel. A grey water storage tank is also available with the tray.
The whole Wedgetail slide-on camper weighs in at 420kg in basic trim and 650kg with all the options. Wedgetail recommends a GVM upgrade and a minimum of airbag assistance to the suspension to ensure the vehicle remains safe and compliant.
This all-Australian built and designed slide-on starts at $40,789 in basic trim and is priced up to $56,960 with a full fitout of options. It isn’t cheap but it’s as good as they come on the market today.
Totally Australian designed and built
High standard of finish and fitout
Very livable interior with plenty of room
Well equipped external kitchen
Constant upgrading and development
I don’t own one