Vipamat Hippocampe All Terrain Wheelchair
Adjustability and Customization
Overall Comfort Level
Ease of Use
If you don’t want to spend the money on a motorized beach wheelchair, Vipamat Hippocampe All Terrain Wheelchair is the manual model you want. Superb. Recommended for anyone who wants a specialized chair for a time at the beach, but doesn’t want to spring for a motorized model.
Table of Contents
- 1 An Overview of the Vipamat Hippocampe Beach Wheelchair
- 2 Pros & Cons of Hippocampe Beach All-Terrain Wheelchair
- 3 Vipamat Hippocampe All Terrain Wheelchair Review Conclusion
Do you have a mobility issue that’s keeping you from enjoying life as you once did? Are you tired of the same old, same old designs from the major players in the US market? Are you looking for a top-quality, innovatively designed go-anywhere (including the beach!) manual wheelchair?
If you answered yes to one or more of those questions, then you’re going to like what you will see in this review.
Haven’t heard of the Hippocampe? Unless you live in Europe, we’d be surprised if you had.
It was recently featured in our recent roundup review of the best all-terrain wheelchairs on the market today.
While that review focused primarily on powered wheelchairs, the Vipamat Hippocampe All Terrain Wheelchair was good enough to warrant special mention, but we’re giving it a more complete treatment here.
Manufactured by one of the major European players in the mobility market, the Hippocampe is a regular fixture at beaches all over Europe. Given its stylish design, it’s easy to see why.
The good news is, you don’t have to go to Europe to get one; you can order online and have yours delivered right to your door.
In the sections that follow, we’ll give you a complete overview of this great, rugged little chair so you’ll have all the information you need to decide if it’s what you’ve been looking for. Even if you ultimately determine another model is right for you, we think you’ll agree; this is a fantastic chair. Let’s take a closer look!
An Overview of the Vipamat Hippocampe Beach Wheelchair
The first thing you’ll notice about the Vipamat Hippocampe All Terrain Wheelchair is its stylish three-wheeled design. It looks like a low-slung tricycle, minus the pedals. Instead of pedals, it sports an ergonomic push bar in the back so your trusty assistant can provide the power to get you from Point A to Point B.
Most wheelchair manufacturers tend to list specific specs for their products, but things are a little different with the Hippocampe. The name doesn’t actually describe one “model” per se, with fixed dimensions, but a range of products in a variety of shapes and sizes.
You can specify the exact size you want at the point of sale when you make your color selection and order any extras and enhancements you want (we’ll talk about all of that in a later section).
The main things to note for the moment are: a) the chair is incredibly customizable and b) it’s super attractive and sure to be a conversation starter when you hit the beach in it!
As we mentioned in the overview, the Hippocampe All-Terrain Beach Chair is an amazingly adjustable and customizable chair. Its closest peer in the US is the Rolleez, which features an almost cartoonishly cute design that’s fun to ride around in but lacks any real ability to adjust and customize your ride.
The competing design philosophies present in these two models couldn’t be more evident.
Ultimately, deciding which one is right for you comes down to personal preference. Those who are looking for a fun, playful design will tend to gravitate toward the Rolleez, while people looking for a more elegant, stylish, and adjustable design will tend to prefer the Hippocampe.
Among other things, you can adjust:
That, however, is just the beginning. We’ll go over the rest in the next section. Before we do that though, let’s close out this section by saying a few words about comfort.
Although the Vipamat Hippocampe all terrain beach wheelchair is available in a variety of size configurations, bear in mind that this is a fairly low-slung design. As such, people with severe mobility issues may find it somewhat challenging to get into and out of the chair, retractable armrests or not.
Also, sitting that low to the ground for extended periods might prove to be a strain for some, depending on the nature and type of your mobility issue. It’s not a deal breaker for everyone, but it will be for some, so keep it in mind.
In any case, the chair itself is well-padded with hydrophobic foam, which helps keep your backside dry, even as you enjoy splashing about in the waves. The padding itself is plush and comfortable, and you won’t mind sitting in it for the afternoon, again, provided that the low-slung design doesn’t prove to be problematic for you.
On-Board Storage & Extras
This is a bit of a curiosity. While the Vipamat Hippocampe Beach & All-Terrain Wheelchair offers lots of things they describe as “extras,” we’d tend to call them standard features here. After all, can you imagine ordering a wheelchair without a parking brake?
You can get the Hippocampe without one, but we wouldn’t recommend it. Unfortunately, if you want a parking brake, you’ve got to be sure you check that box. The same thing holds true for:
Note that if you don’t want to use the harness-style safety belt, you can opt for a simple waist belt. Totally up to you.
You can also order the chair in two different colors: Blue or Pink. Both are sporty and stylish, and you’ll look good sitting in the chair, whichever color you opt for.
Now, let’s talk about wheels. You can order two different types of them, in addition to the ski kit we mentioned above. Your choices are standard beach wheels, which give the chair a fun playful look, given how big they are, or, if you prefer, you can opt for rear wheels that look like they belong on a mountain bike.
If you opt for the mountain bike style wheels, you’ll find that on the back, on each side of the seat, you’ve got two wheels instead of four, which gives you more tread surface for better handling.
Also, note that it’s entirely possible to equip the chair with the all-terrain (mountain bike style) wheels and still use it on the beach. The tradeoff is this: The wheels optimized for beach use will offer better handling on the beach but aren’t as useful on other terrains. The mountain-bike style wheels are fair to above average on the beach but can handle other types of terrains with ease.
The good news is, you don’t have to pick just one or the other. Order both types, and you’ll be able to swap them out as needed. In fact, you can even order the ski kit for the chair and enjoy a day on the ski slopes – try doing that in your average wheelchair! (no – on second thought, please don’t try that! We don’t want anybody getting hurt out there!)
No Umbrella Mount
One final thing to mention here and this is something we found to be a bit of a disappointment. There’s no umbrella option, and even if there were, there’s no place to mount it on the chair.
It could be reasonably argued that the design doesn’t lend itself to one, and in light of that, the manufacturer can certainly be forgiven for not including one, but still. It’s a beach chair. It just feels (to us) like you should have the option. Sadly, you just don’t with this model.
We’d recommend getting the full boat of extras, minus the ski kit unless you specifically need it. The others, we regard as being essential.
What About Portability?
We keep comparing this model to the Rolleez, and again, the Hippocampe Beach All-Terrain Wheelchair edges out its peer chair in this category.
The Rolleez just isn’t a very portable chair. This one is. Its hollow steel tube frame is lighter than you might think, weighing in at only 37.5 pounds. And it collapses down to a small enough footprint that you should have no difficulty fitting it in the available trunk space of any full-sized sedan. Of course, if you have an SUV, hatchback, truck or van, it’s even easier to get it from one place to the next.
Note, however, that if you opt not to order the two storage bags as “extras” storing it in its collapsed form isn’t going to be nearly as convenient.
No Learning Curve Here
While you might have to spend a few minutes to practice collapsing the chair and unfolding it for use, there’s no learning curve to speak of. It’ll take you less than two minutes to take it from the trunk to ready to ride in.
Another Outdoor Only Chair
This will be a short section here in our Hippocampe Wheelchair review, but we wanted to include it for the sake of completeness. In theory, you could probably use this all-terrain wheelchair in mall corridors and the like, but clearly, this is an outdoor design. Nuff said.
Pros & Cons of Hippocampe Beach All-Terrain Wheelchair
We like almost everything about this chair. It’s a fantastic design that’s fun to use and easy on the eyes. There are, however, three points that might prompt you to go with another model.
Vipamat Hippocampe All Terrain Wheelchair Review Conclusion
World-class quality paired with European styling. What’s not to like about that? The Vipamat Hippocampe All Terrain Wheelchair is an amazing piece of French engineering that will last you a lifetime.
As with all beach wheelchairs though, whether manual or powered, these are highly specialized designs and not really made for every day, indoor/outdoor use. As such, the market for them is self-selecting. If you don’t have the discretionary income to be able to afford a chair to play at the beach in, then although it might be on your wish list, from a practical perspective, it’s probably going to be difficult to acquire.
That said, if you’ve got some discretionary income or are willing to squirrel your money away for a while to save up for it, the Hippocampe is well worth the investment. It is a chair that’s sure to get you noticed and talked about on the beach! We highly recommend it.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Vipamat Hippocampe All Terrain Wheelchair User Manual.
- Vipamat All Terrain Wheelchair, Official Brand Website
- History of the Wheelchair, ThoughtCo.
- Choosing a Wheelchair, Which?
- What Makes For An Accessible Beach?, Mic.