Hippie Campers is aimed squarely at the budget and youth market so they allow drivers aged between 18-21 to rent the vehicles. They have limited models - a mere 2 options - so at least choice will not be hard. They only supply 2 berth and 2/3berth campervans.
Hippie are part of the Apollo family of campervans so you will be picking the camper up from a depot branded with Star RV, Apollo and Cheapa Campa. Apollo are one of the largest campervan and motorhome rental companies in the world with vehicles in Australia, New Zealand and USA and are listed on the Australian stock exchange.
In general, the maintenance and general appointments of a Hippie Camper interior is good for the price range. The other distinct advantage is that even the budget version comes with a fridge and an electric water pump. Most the others in this price range are going to come with an esky (cooler box, chilli bin), which is a pain as you are constantly having to find ice supplies and the ice melt will inevitably ruin some food. Generally the fridge is the way to go, however, you might have to put up with some humming during the night when it turns on. If you're a really light sleeper, this may be problematic, but worst case is to turn it off at night and turn it on in the morning. Fridges will always run off a 2nd "house" battery so there is no need to worry that you will flatten the car battery when you use it whilst parked.
What Hippie Camper Tell Us
Hippie exude a vibrant and youthful feel. They want your road trip to be fun and exciting and they suggest many ideas on what you can do. They have even teamed up with an Australian adventure company to get discounts on activities around the country, called the Hippie Club. Sometimes these discounts are actually worth it and really save you money, other times not so much, but at least the ideas are there to see. They want you to know they are 'cruzy' and cheap whilst at the same time giving quality for your money, and in general you won't be disappointed when approaching a Hippie rental with this in mind.
A Small Fleet
Hippie is keeping it pretty simple for a company with such financial might behind it by going with only 2 models of campervan - the Hippie Drift (budget model) and the Hitop (deluxe model). What's the main difference other than price? Budget equals low roof is the biggest difference. The hi-top is the camper costs more but accommodate more than two people, but even though Hippie is suggesting a it should be a child due to the weight rating of the overhead bed. Don't worry about that, I slept 2 adults upstairs on one of those beds for a whole year in a 4wd camper with a similar roof style and weighting. If there is 3 adults in your party the hi-top will be just fine
Introducing the Hippie Hi-Top
Hippie Campers has introduced a Hi-Top and being their "deluxe" model say they are 0-3 years old. This is stepping up the range to compete for the dollars of those travelling on less modest budgets who want a bit more comfort and style. Hi-Tops allow for full, upright standing inside the campervan. You can't do this in the Budget models. Nimble young-ens on a tight budget generally couldn't care less about this element, but those choosing a bit more comfort or who are a bit older will love it. Being able to stand up makes a camper a lot more "homey" and less like tent-living. The interior design is fairly standard. There are only about 4 designs that pretty much everyone uses in 2 berth campervans and this is one of them. Fully internal kitchen means easy cooking no matter what the weather and a bigger water container mean less running out at the wrong moment. Nearly all Hi-Tops in Australia are based on the Toyota Hiace and this is no exception. They are nicer to drive than the budget model Hippie Drift Mitsubishi Express, being a comfier driver's seat and bit quieter if nothing else. A bigger fuel tank and better fuel economy will also mean fewer petrol costs. Not only does it have better mileage, but you won't be forced to stop at that super-overpriced petrol station as you should have enough to continue on to the next town. If you are doing a long journey (eg. Sydney to Cairns) then better mileage is something to consider even if the campervan costs a little more to hire. Saving around 30% on fuel bills really add up in Australia. Check the current price of fuel per litre in Australia here. The hi-top can seat three, but they will all be in the front. There are no seat belts in the back and children under 8 cannot travel in this camper.
The Hippie Drift
The Hippie Drift is the budget model of the 2 available from Hippie being 3-5 years old. Built on the ubiquitous Mitsubishi Express it is actually decked out pretty well for a budget van. The seating and table arrangement is good, there's a safe and a nice addition of some roof racks which most companies don't have also an awning is thrown in as an inclusion which is rare for a budget 2 berth campervan. If you're on a surfing safari the roof racks and the awning are going to be a bonus. The kitchen is at the back of the campervan, as is the case with pretty much all budget vans, so you have to open the back flip-up door in order to cook, wash etc, but snacks can be obtained from inside by leaning over the back. Hippie seems to still be transitioning out of some older style vans (the ones that have flowers painted on them) to a newer paint job and model style however the flower ones are still definitely floating around in the fleet. If you arrive to pick up your Hippie Drift and it has flowers on it, you know you are getting an older model camper. As with all companies with large fleets, there are going to be slight differences between campers over the years as they are produced so keep an open mind that some things might be different with the camper you get and in a budget camper this old DO NOT expect everything to be perfect and shiny. There will be wear and tear - that;s why they're cheap!
Whilst the Hippie Drift is cheaper to rent up front, if you are in it for a long distance, keep in mind that its fuel efficiency is not as good as the Hi-Top so over a long journey it might end up costing a little more to run. This seems counter intuitive due to a lower roof, less wind resistance right? Wrong! An old Mitsubishi engine is not as efficient as a Toyota new one. One of the best things about this budget model though is that it has a fridge in it. I get a little excited about this as I think the other option of an esky (cooler, chilli bin) with ice in it is not as good. Apart from the $7 per day you spend on ice, the melted ice inevitably ruins some food that doesn't take well to water so a fridge is a great bonus. It runs off the house battery that also powers lights so don't worry about it flattening your campervans engine battery.
The Hippie Drift is for 2 people only as there are only 2 seat belts, both in the front. There are no seat belts in the back and children under 8 cannot travel in this camper.
Hippie are trying very hard to value-add to their brand. The vehicles they supply realistically can be found at many campervan hire companies so how are they going to be better?
- The Hippie Club that gets you discounts on Australian adventures
- 10-15% Discounts at caravan parks
- Web check in before you get there - but you still have to sign stuff when you get there.
- Lists of things to do in the major tourist towns with some offering discounts
- Instagram feed on the home page - your chance to get seen
Locations an Oddity
The locations for Hippie Camper is worth noting. Whilst they are owed and operated by Apollo Campervans it seems Hippe are not welcome at a number of the branches. Hippie is mainly restricted to the east coast, which is definitely the most popular route in Australia. However there is one branch waaaaay over the other side of the country in Perth - 4000km and 40 drive hours away - but you have to bypass Adelaide even though there is an Apollo branch there. Apollo also have branches up the middle in Alice Springs and the top-end in Darwin, but Hippie Camper doesn't participate in these either. Go figure.
Hippie Campers are a good hire in their price range but are still only providing the essential services in a campervan. With recent improvements in the fleet, design and depot location, it is now one of the leading budget campervans hire companies in Australia (and New Zealand if you are going there too.) If you are restricted in the budget, then this is definitely one to get a quote from. If they come out a few dollars more expensive than their competitors, then it is probably worth it for the comforts provided.