The Hippocampe chair is something on a lot of parent’s Wishlist for their child with physical disabilities. It is very expensive, around $7k depending on accessories and shipping location. Being keen divers and ocean lovers we were very keen to get Mikey a Hippocampe not only for the beach but also for our 4×4 camping trips. Luckily we were able to fund-raise to get Mikey his own in Jan 2019.
The chair comes with both inflatable beach wheels and all terrain wheels and it comes in 4 different sizes – the seat is the same size on each chair, it is the length that varies. Even the smallest seat was still quite large for Mikey at 3 years old so we had a covered foam insert made to pop behind his back. Mikey’s occupational therapist had the original straps changed to a safer 5 point harness which increased the price around $500. Yep $500 for some straps!
ABOUT THE CHAIR | The anodised aluminium tube frame (treated for marine environments) is sheathed in a neoprene foam which prevents the tubefrom heating in the sun. The seat is made of closed-cell waterresistant foam (it does not absorb water when immersed). The front wheel is low-pressure; the dual rear wheels are all-terrain. Wheel axles are made of stainless.
Size S = 118cm (We have the small chair)
Size M = 128cm
Size L = 138cm
Size XL = 153cm
When we discovered the price of the Hippocampe and looked into alternative options but we couldn’t find anything suitable for a small child. Also most other chairs are designed for the beach only and some are even more expensive than the Hippocampe!
WHAT DO WE THINK? | We LOVE the Hippocame chair! It is very well designed, it has loads of growth for Mikey and it makes beach trips much less stressful.
Having very bad arthritis (especially in my feet) makes walking on sand really painful add a 20kg child to my hip and its near impossible, so I just didn’t go to the beach with Mikey on my own. Having a husband who often works away means our beach trips were becoming less and less. Even going to the beach with the help of my husband is a workout – trying to lug towels, a beach bag, swim ring, splashy seat, Mikey and his brother on WA’s burning hot sand is not fun. Now I can pop Mikey in the chair with our beach bag by his feet in the chair and off we go.
IT FLOATS – something a lot of people don’t know about the chair is that it is super lightweight and with those big balloon wheels it floats! Mikey absolutely loves floating in his “blue chair”. It makes beach trips that much more inclusive!
PUSHING ON THE SAND | WA has some pretty lovely beaches, think beautiful blue waters and soft white sand. That sand makes pushing anything with wheels pretty tough. In all honestly the Hippocampe is not always easy to push or pull on our lovely soft sand, however I have pulled one of those super popular all terrain trolleys on the sand with a child in it and that was so much harder!
We have taken our chair to other beaches like Hillary’s Boat Harbour with more compacted sand and it’s a dream to push. We have also used it in rugged areas and lakes and it has been fantastic. The front wheel is fixed so often we find it easier to tip the chair back and push it on it’s back wheels.
TRANSPORTING | This is a big piece of equipment, there’s no denying that. But the wheels and handlebar do come off easily, and the seat folds down making it easier to transport. When we purchased it we had a small SUV (which does have a nice large boot) and we have a large ute. I had to remove the wheels and handlebar to fit it in the suv with the backseat down and it fit in the ute as it was with the handlebar protruding above the tray. It is super lightweight so that makes getting it in and out of vehicles easy.
You need a large boot space or large car to transport the Hippocampe if you don’t want to be pulling it apart every time you use it. But it can be dismantled and fit in the back of a sedan pretty easily. And don’t forget you need the space at home to store it!
DO WE USE IT? | We have purchased a few pieces of disability equipment for Mikey that we have barely used. So now my first question before making any purchases is when/where and how often will Mikey use it? Look this is not an item we use year round but we were expecting that. We used it a lot last summer taking it to the beach, camping, walking trails and on a beach holiday for 10 days where it was a life saver!
We feel that when we do use it, it is completely worth it.
Your location and accessibility of the beaches/areas you want to visit, will definitely determine how often you would use the Hippocampe. We have a very accessible beach within 8 minutes of our house with a ramp to the sand. Definitely consider how often you visit the beach/hike/camp etc each year before you buy it to make sure you can get your moneys worth. Now NDIS is available, having it funded may be an option.
Locally In Perth there are a couple of Hippocampes and other beach chairs available to hire so that is also an option to consider even if you’re considering buying one down the track.
- Floats on the water with beach wheels
- Both beach and all terrain wheels
- Fold down seat back
- Easily removable wheels and handlebar
- Light weight only 14kg
- Available in 2 colours pink and blue
- Available in 4 sizes
- Can be used in the snow
- If using with a small child there’s lots of room at the feet for a bag
- Includes pull rope to pull backwards instead of push – sometimes easier on soft sand
- Possible to add basket on the back for storing smaller items – but you can’t hang anything off the super light handle.