Wicked Campers Review – Are They Really Wicked
Ah, Wicked Campers Australia. The most polarizing campervan hire company in the country. You’ll either love them or hate them. With each van individually painted you will stand out from the crowd anywhere. Other Wicked renters will flock to you so you can compare notes, any and all backpackers in the area will know there is more backpackers inside that van. It is your ticket to having people come to your van to talk.
Wicked Campers – A Wicked Reputation
Wicked Campers has a reputation for encouraging their renters to flaunt rules, cut corners, and generally do anything to save money. This encouragement has been excitedly gobbled up by many a renter in the past and, having maybe gone just a little bit too far, has given Wicked renters a somewhat dubious reputation. Their customers have a reputation for not maintaining standards. Unfortunately, Wicked themselves have also been accused many a time of not maintaining standards by their own renters. Stories of breakdowns and being left in the middle of nowhere with no help from Wicked abound. But keep reading there is a silver lining.
Wicked Campers were the first successful kid on the block with the “budget” vehicle where comfort and quality took a back seat to just getting from place to place in the cheapest possible manner. Their reputation grew, and now they are a worldwide company. However, they had a reputation of skimping on little things like servicing the vehicles and keeping them viable operational and then not giving a hoot when a renter called from the middle of nowhere with a breakdown. This reputation must have finally started to hurt the bottom line as more competitors entered the market as they now seem to have expanded their fleet to include “premium” vehicles and the reputation for breakdowns has diminished. There are still plenty of haters out there, a quick trip to facebook will come up with some Wicked Campers hate groups with a few hundred members, however, you will also notice that they have over 4000 people who like them, they must be doing something right.
The long and the short of renting with Wicked is this: you get what you pay for. They are aiming at the discount market and are simply the most successful company to do it. You can’t get to number one by being the worst, so suck it up and if you rent from Wicked, go in with your eyes open. Cheap but very cheerful.
Wicked Campers Vehicles
Wicked vans are simple and work to the same basic layout. They have an esky (cooler box) instead of a fridge, they have a 40-litre water container (removable) for the sink. They have the kitchenette section at the back that must be used with the rear door open. They come with advice on how to best save money whilst traveling. There are no bells and whistles, but they are simply the most loved brand of cheap van because they don’t try to be something they are not. You will have the best or the worst time in a Wicked. Like I said at the start – polarizing.
In the last few years, they have expanded their fleet a little to include 4wd, mini campers, and Premium models. Here is a short rundown of them:
Small hatchbacks kitted out with some basic sleeping gear. Only to use short people who only have a small backpack each as luggage. Will be cramped and will suck if you just need to hang out in it while it rains. Basically, this is just sleeping in a car.
Well, as they clearly mention, their vehicles are All Wheel Drive. The difference between 4wd and AWD is that a true 4wd will have a Hi range and Low range gear selection. This is all about the gearing ratios in the mechanics that I won’t go into here. AWD basically is just a normal car that has 4 wheels engaged at all times. AWD vehicles are OK on dirt roads but once you get in to really rutted terrain are going to struggle more. Also, the brands of the cheaper versions, Honda and Suzuki do not have a great reputation for staying together and if you break anything whilst in a more remote location, you are going to struggle to find parts in smaller towns. The more expensive Toyota 5 seater (sleeps 3 or 5) can be expected to be more reliable, more comfortable to ride in and a lot easier to get parts if you have to have repairs on run. Pretty much all their 4wd vehicles sleep in roof tents so you need to be comfortable with heights and the idea of sleeping in a tent.
On the Wicked website, they suggest some popular trails. These vehicles will cope on the Oodnadatta track, the Kings Kanyon track and most the others, however, I DO NOT RECOMMEND you do the Gibb River Rd in these vehicles – particularly after and bad weather. That river crossing can be a b!tch and that river is full of crocs.
One the up side, you can rent them if you are under 21y.o.
Vehicles are all relevant to the starting point of Wicked Campers. Their premium is still pretty crappy compared to some companies, but seeing as this is a budget company, you are looking at the premium in that space. They might have premium paint jobs, but really they are just managing to crawl in the bottom level of most of the other major campervan companies. If the facilities of the wicked Premiums interest you, you should look seriously at other companies too in this rental space like Hippie Campers and Cheapa Campa or maybe even Camperman
Wicked Campers come with hi adventure with maximum unknowns. Not recommended if you want to get to your destination on time, or at all, but the unknown and unplanned element of a journey are normally what make for the best memories. However, go in with your eyes open, this is a budget company and things are going to be tacky, sticky, dirty and broken, but they are going to be dirt cheap.
By Tim Ahern