Wedgetail has been a stalwart of the Australian camper industry since 2009. Originally offering two sizes to suit differing flat tray utes, Wedgetail was a category winner for the Camper Trailer of the Year awards in both 2015 and 2020.
Why? Because the integral design is brilliant. While there have been many modifications over the years, all Wedgetail campers still have the same internal frame. This means that, even if you own the first Wedgie that ever exited the workshop, you could still spec it up with any of the latest fittings, widgets and innovations.
Wedgetail changed hands in 2019 to Darren Houston, an electrician by trade, who incidentally had wired a few Wedgies in his time. He is supported by his brother Tony, a professional welder who has welded every single Wedgie that has been made — ever! So whilst it might be new blood at the helm it’s the same high quality build by the same people.
The original Wedgetail was designed around the former owner’s needs to go bush. When Houston took over the business, new blood brought new perspectives. With the skills and energy necessary to reinforce Wedgetail’s foundations of success, Houston has taken the company on a trajectory to meet a broader market base.
Previously, there was only the original Wedgie. Responding to market demand, Houston’s first steps were to create the slightly smaller variant specifically for dual-cabs. But now the nest has three birds to choose from.
Enter the Hawk…
It’s probably no surprise to hear that, in 2019, three of Australia’s five top selling cars were utes. These were the Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger and Mitsubishi Triton. Indeed, these three models accounted for 112,000 new vehicles on Australian roads last year. Take a drive along the highways and byways of this great country, and you’d be rich if you earned a dollar for every ute you saw along your path.
Now think of the young tradie with a ute who’s sick of rolling up a wet swag on a weekend away. And how about the new couple who are trying to merge each other’s wants and needs? These same people might also own a tinnie or a trailer full of motorbikes. If you’re a member of this market segment, there have generally been very few slide-on camper options (if any) at a price-point that would keep the bank manager off your back.
But things have recently changed. The ‘canopy camper’ is a concept born in just the last decade. Ordinarily, the basic design of a canopy camper involves a portable gas burner, a fridge (on a drop-slide if you’re lucky) and some form of additional lighting that turns night into day. In most cases, sleeping arrangements need to be solved by an additional rooftop Tent — at additional cost.
Identifying this deficiency in the existing market, the Wedgetail team put themselves to the task of developing a solution. The outcome is the uniquely designed Wedgetail Hawk, which incorporates both a storage area and sleeping compartment in the same space as a normal canopy. Impressively, the Hawk is available as a baseline model for just under $10,000. Yes, that figure is correct. It’s not a typographical error!
When you first look at the Hawk, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s just a stylish tradie canopy. But look closer and you’ll see the gull-wing door for a fridge compartment on the passenger side. On the opposite side is another gull-wing that hides 640L of storage space. Wedgetail call this a ‘utility box’, and it’s essentially a ‘dirty’ storage area. While similar features can be found in other canopy campers, this is where the comparison with market competitors ends.
Look closer at the rear of the Hawk and you’ll see bunji buttons, similar to those used on tonneau covers. There’s also a lockable toggle latch a little higher up. And this is where the magic happens. With a flick of the wrist, the entire rear wall of the canopy folds down to reveal a canvas dome tent extension.
Peek in through the window, or pop around the side and open the other, noticeably larger, two side gull-wing doors. When you do, you’ll be opening what Wedgetail call the ‘bunk box’. This is the clean storage area that also holds a split 100mm thick mattress that folds out to become a full queen bed. From here, it’ll take less than a minute to unfurl the mattress, fluff the pillows and doona, and settle in for the night.
When you do, you’ll have the opportunity to take advantage of the JVC Hi-Fi and twin speakers, television and a 12V fan. This bunk area is also fitted with internal power outlets to recharge our modern devices; meanwhile the gull-wing doors are fitted with handy magazine racks on the inside, as well as LED lights that operate in daylight white or ‘go-away bug’ orange.
When the weather’s good, you’ll be protected by flyscreens that are simply affixed with push buttons and magnets across the gull-wing openings. And when the weather turns nasty, like it did the night we tested the Hawk, the fly mesh pushes aside when closing the gull-wing doors, so you can nestle down in comfort. In this configuration, the Hawk feels more like a bunker than a bunk, with all the accompanying protection from the elements.
READY TO RUMBLE
Houston’s love of the outdoors and 4WDing is obvious in the tough construction of the Hawk as well as its rugged exterior. For starters, it’s light — in fact it’s a featherweight coming in at 170kg dry weight. Made of 2.5mm aluminium sheet and a fully welded frame and body, you’re looking at something you could hand down to your kids.
The dry weight of the Hawk is a key factor in its offroad ability. This is ultimately determined by your tow-tug. Being so light, it does open up your adventures, be they weekend wanderings or extended stays. It allows you to maximise your towing capacity and gives you flexibility for the future without breaching your rig’s GVM or GCM.
Not content to simply paint the exterior, Wedgetail applies Speedliner with a Kevlar additive that’s UV-stabilised and corrosion-resistant. So the Hawk is amply protected against scratches; regardless of what bush track you drive down, how many sticks you hustle past and how many rocks dislodge from the track or roadworks and ricochet against your rig. While the Hawk comes standard in black, charcoal or desert tan, Speedliner comes in 18 standard colours. So if you want something that’ll really turn heads, consider chatting with Darren about other options. Bright pink or camo green, anyone?
The Houston brothers must be brilliant at Tetris because the Hawk is modular from the get-go. This is a real market advantage for Wedgetail. The rig is 1.8m wide and 1.04m tall but that’s about as far as it goes for ‘standard’. Wedgetail offers four ‘off the shelf’ lengths to suit single, extra and dual cab utes.
The bunk box is 1.1m long (canopy closed) and can be purchased individually. This variant will extend the unit to 1.6m in length. Another option is to buy the bunk box with the utility box which, in combination, add-up to 1.8m.
We tested the Hawk with all three options (bunk box, utility box and slide table) which added-up to 2.2m. You can even have a utility box converted into a dog box so old ‘Bluey’ can come on holidays too!
While we were at Wedgetail’s Workshop, we stumbled upon no fewer than four further modular prototypes. We were sworn to secrecy about what they might have in mind next, so watch this space. It looks like there’s even more to come!
Meanwhile, if Wedgetail’s off-the-shelf options don’t fully meet your needs, remember that each component comes separately, so you could mix and match to create your own Hawk to suit your style. Wedgetail also creates custom ute trays, so ask about having your tray fitted with, for example, a water tank, gas bottle holder, recovery gear storage or gun box.
ROOM TO GROW
While the suite of boxes that comprise the Hawk are self-contained, when they’re welded together their increased strength makes them load bearing. So, when a single hooks-up to form a couple, and a couple becomes a family, the option exists to add a rooftop tent. Now you’ve got sleeping for four — and you’ve spread the cost over several years, rather than in one big outlay. In the meantime, there’s plenty of space up top for solar panels. The Hawk comes solar-ready with an Anderson plug, be that a rooftop install, demountable or BYO.
Even though the Hawk is modular in construction, it still operates as a slide-on camper. Using the same legs (or shall we say talons) as the rest of the Wedgetail family, the Hawk can be simply lifted up so you can drive away. This allows you to use the unit as basecamp and freewheel to the beach or tour the local area without having to pack up camp.
Having a load bearing roof, it’s also simple to fit some wings to your Hawk. With a couple of 270-degree awnings, you’ll have 360-degree coverage which will provide plenty of space to enjoy the outdoors, even in unfavourable conditions when deployed as a base camp.
With so much versatility, you’re in the driving seat with the Wedgetail Hawk. Configure it as you want at point of manufacture, then accessorise to your heart’s content. Use it for weekend getaways, while freeing up your tradie tray for weekday duties. Whatever your lifestyle, the Hawk promises to be a highly adaptable travel buddy.
KIDS COMFORT FACTOR
We’re always interested in the views of our youngest crew member, so we asked our nine-year-old daughter Scout what she reckoned about the Wedgetail Hawk.
She told us, “I really liked that the canopy opened like a seashell to make a big bed. When I was inside it was like being in a big cave. But I would have liked a window near my head to open up the cave a bit so I could see the stars at night. The mattress inside was great — heaps better than mine at home. And I loved having a TV and stereo in bed. They were awesome!”
Empty dry weight 170 kg (1800mm camper fitout)
Rooftop load 100kg
Body 2.5mm welded aluminium
Coating Speedliner with Kevlar additive
Style Slide-on/Canopy camper
Body (width) 1800mm
Length (variable) 1100mm, 1600mm, 1800mm and 2200mm
Canopy/Tent 1800 x 1040mm dome
Fan 12V tilt
TV RV media
Fridge drop-slide MSA
Lighting Dual colour LED HardCore
Invertor Enerdrive 100W
Battery 105A AGM
Fridge Evercool (up to 50L)
Solar 200W mono
Lighting External LED light
Outside table Portable
29 Teralba Rd, Broadmeadow NSW 2292
P: 0458 130 106