CAMPING - CAMPER SLIDE-ON
David Hazlewood spent many years perfecting his Wedgetail slide-on camper design and he’s now sold the business on. We visited the compact but efficient factory in Newcastle NSW.
The Wedgetail design is one of the best slide-on campers we’ve seen and it boasts more interior space than any other unit we’ve checked out. Wedgetails are two-plus metres in length and are designed for short-cab or extra-cab utes, not for crew cabs. Obviously, most Wedgetail customers are travelling couples, not families.
The original designer, David Hazlewood, incorporated many features that reflect years of camping experience in less than ideal conditions. An example is the drop-down tailgate ‘boot’ section that becomes the bathroom floor, meaning you don’t have to go outside in the middle of the night or in the pouring rain. Another very useful feature is access to storage spaces and the fridge from inside the camper as well as from the outside.
Progressive upgrades included an electric powered-leg option and a removable 200-watt solar panel option. Powered legs take all the work out of raising and lowering the camper on the vehicle and are also a very easy way of levelling up the combined unit. The powered legs stow in a compartment under the vehicle tray.
The solar panel clips to the camper roof when travelling and, obviously, is under the fold-over roof section when the tent roof is deployed. It can be unclipped and placed in the sun, charging the camper battery, while the camper itself remains in the shade.
Another innovation was the introduction of a lithium battery option, with a Redarc BMS charger.
The Wedgetail kitchen has also received a major upgrade.
A eutectic evaKool ED 85 litre fridge replaced the former 80 litre conventional camper fridge. The advantages were less current draw and improved insulation.
This was a special evaKool model that was engineered to comply with the swing-out Wedgetail fridge design.
The BBQ/oven/stove unit swings out completely and clears the bench top that it used to overlap. The cook also faces the stove directly, not at right angles as before. The new set up is also lighter.
Kitchen storage space has been redesigned, increasing volume from 145 litres to 159 litres and improving access. A bonus is a large mirror on the inside of the fridge compartment door. The storage pod on the back of the Wedgetail has been upgraded, eliminating the need for upper items to be removed so that lower items could be retrieved as well.
The original pod was simply a large bin for lightweight items, such as table and chairs, awning, drink and grey water hoses, 240V lead, poles for the awning and stabiliser bars for free standing the camper.
There is now a double shelf for the hoses and there are racks for the poles and stabiliser bars, allowing easier access to the items stowed underneath the shelves and racks.
Another addition is an optional canvas storage cover, to keep the camper clean when it’s not being used. The sides and back roll up, allowing access to the storage areas.
Wedgetails are beautifully made from aluminium and are designed to be slightly flexible, so as to avoid stresses that can cause cracking in less cleverly
designed units. A complete audit of all components was done in early 2016 and the result is a re-engineered camper with more strength, yet less weight.
High quality materials are used throughout and typical equipment levels are caravan-like: hot water system, LPG-fuelled space heater (diesel heater optional), 85-litre fridge and inside and outside gas stoves.The only downside we can see is the lack of a crew-cab version.
Pricing is top shelf, reflecting the quaility build and inclusions. You’ll pay between 40 and 50 grand, depending on final specification.
The following video was shot by David Hazlewood and illustrates the features of the pre-2016 upgraded Wedgetail.