Following the Wedgetail Hawk into the judging grounds for CTOTY 2021, it would have been easy to think we were tailing a tradie ute. With its sub-two metre height and unassuming black exterior, only the twin awning fixtures hinted at the real potential of this unique camper.
In reality, the Wedgetail Hawk is an ingenious canopy camper targeting singles or couples who want to free up their hitch, with the versatility of a canopy ute during workdays and a weekend warrior for outdoor adventures.
The magic begins when you unlatch the door of the Kevlar infused Speedliner coated alloy rear 1.1 x 1.8m box. Faced with a folded bed mattress, it’s obvious the Hawk is hiding something. To find out more, simply unlatch a lockable toggle at the back of the rig and the rear wall drops down, releasing with it a canvas canopy that creates a queen size bed space. This design feature, so simple when you see it executed, is an innovation that really turns the concept of a canopy camper on its head.
Impressive enough, this isn’t the only trick that the Wedgetail Hawk has under its wings. In essence, the Hawk comprises two super-strong mutually-reinforcing alloy boxes. One is the rear bunk box, and the other is whatever you want it to be. The model we reviewed was fully optioned, meaning that the forward utility box was bristling with Redarc RedVision TVMS combined with dual 100Ah Redarc lithium batteries, 200W solar, hot water system, external shower, fridge, microwave and even a pie warmer! If you’re looking for something more basic to suit you and your favourite dish-licker, the Wedgetail Hawk’s specs can be adapted to accommodate a more modest budget too.
With four ‘off the shelf’ box lengths available to suit single, extra and dual cab utes, you can mix and match sizes and internal configuration to suit your vehicle and individual needs. Add a RTT and the kids are covered as well. It’s up to you.
It’s this versatility, generated by Wedgetail’s unique ‘Jack-in-a box’ design, that will keep tongues wagging and jaws dropping wherever you fly your Wedgetail Hawk.
As Darren Houston, owner of Wedgetail Campers explained, the Hawk is the perfect option for caravanners who want to explore further off the beaten track without taking the caravan. It is also perfect for the fly by night camper or hunter because you can venture further than most other slide on campers on the market.
Self-sufficiency is the Hawk’s strong point as is its versatility with the modular design. You would need to look at upgrading your vehicle GVM though, as Darren has done to his Ford Ranger, raising it to the maximum 3.5T.
Keep to the KISS principle and this camper will go anywhere your host goes. During the test, we didn’t even notice the camper was there and the suspension setup handled the weight nicely and this is the key to the Hawk’s offroad ability. It is up to you how you set up your 4WD, but you would need to install the Hawk first, or at least know its dry weight — 540kg in the unit we judged — to know what modifications you need and how much more weight you can add on with a bull bar, winch etc.
It’s mind-blowing how much comfort is packed into such a small unit. The 100mm queen-sized tri-fold high-density mattress is something you usually find in a camper trailer, yet Darren has managed to make one fit perfectly into the sleeping pod. The lithium power is managed by the Redarc RedVision TVMS and includes a 2000W inverter. Hot water is supplied by the Duetto Mk2 meaning hot showers are readily available and then there’s the ‘kitchen’ — the Travel buddy 12V oven, 20L microwave and twin element induction cooker with food and beverages chilling in the 80L Dometic stand up fridge. Shade is an all-around affair thanks to the two Supapeg awnings and when settled in bed the midgee screens keep you bug-free while the 12V evaporative cooler keeps you cool as you sleep. One small issue was the midgee screens on the lift up doors didn’t look effective as they are held on by magnets. The sleeping pod is simple to set up, by undoing a couple of latches, lowering the rear door, adjusting a couple of short poles and then the pod is accessible from either side via a portable ladder.
TIM VAN DUYL
Aside from the finish and super clever rear fold-out for the queen bed, another X-Factor is not obvious in the camper we saw, but in the adaptability of the design. Darren from Wedgetail tells us that each ‘box’, the section which holds the fridge and power systems or the bed module, can be built and installed separately as well as lengthened and shortened to suit most lengths of trays. The Ranger we saw had two 1100mm ‘boxes’ but there are also 1650mm boxes drawn. Buyers can pick and choose which length will best fit their needs and bolt them together.
The quality shines and the attention to detail and consideration in things like the Kevlar coating is fantastic but coming in at $39,500 for the camper we saw at CTOTY feels like a bit of coin. Looking at the fitout with high-cost options like the Redarc TVMS and 80L upright fridge and it starts to make great sense. Then look a bit deeper and value becomes more evident in the hidden things as much as the adaptability, and the top-notch construction that doesn't sacrifice weight. This is achieved mainly through the use of marine alloys which will last the test of time but weigh a fraction of steel.
The Hawk is an interesting twist from the prolific slide-on maker. Where other models are big, fully contained units this one feels like it’ll appeal to people as a trip extender. By that I mean the Hawk will appeal most to people that already have a caravan or a camper and want to do a few nights away from their base camp at a time. For that it's perfectly set up with enough fridge space, good power and storage plus of course, it fits inside the pocket of the Ranger so getting through tight tracks will be no problem at all.
Despite its diminutive size the Wedgetail Hawk is, or can be (depending on fitout), surprisingly self-contained and capable of supporting a single person or couple for an extended stay off the grid. The 90L water tank (plus the 10L in the hot water service on display at CTOTY) would, with care, sustain a couple for a reasonable time, and with a siphon-capable water pump and filter this could be extended for some time.
The 200Ah of lithium battery capacity (two 100Ah) we saw was, in reality, something of an extreme, but is not out of the question, and for someone wanting that extra capacity is perfectly reasonable, and with the Redarc Redvision management system is tech ready and functional. The 200W of solar panel on the roof would keep the whole system humming.
The built-in cooking facilities, including a microwave, and the queen-sized sleeping arrangements at the back provide all that’s needed (and a bit more) for a surprising degree of comfort.
The concept of a simple bolt-on ute-back camper is not new, but Wedgetail has come up with a very adaptable two-part solution to providing for an individual’s needs and a wide range of vehicles. And the very fact that we were talking about what we saw at CTOY versus what might alternatively be provided underlines the flexibility of this whole arrangement that really makes it work.
The whole package is manufactured from 5005 grade aluminium, which has medium strength, good weldability and good corrosion resistance in marine atmosphere, so is ideally suited to the purpose. The exterior was finished in Speedliner with a Kevlar additive coating for strength and durability. As seen, this coating was applied both externally and internally, but it was explained that the interior finish would change to reduce weight. As it stood, with the full-on fit out it weighed 540kg dry (including awning walls but no legs, which weigh 12kg each) and 720kg with full drawers and a half full water tank, which on the vehicle we saw ended with a total mass of 3.2T with driver and a full fuel load (3.5T GVM).
Weight from 540kg dry
Payload vehicle dependent
Frame Marine grade aluminium
Body/cladding Marine grade aluminium
Coating Custom Kevlar Speeliner
Travel size 2.2m (L) x 1.8m (W) x 1.2m (H) (ex awnings)
Interior 1m (H), 2m (L bed)
Awnings 270deg and 180deg SupaPeg
2 x 100A Redarc lithium batteries, 200W solar, 200W pure sine inverter, central locking, twin induction plate, Redarc TVMS with RedVision, 80L Dometic upright fridge, pie warmer, microwave, stereo, TV,
PRICE AS SEEN