The Vipamat Hippocampe is manufactured in France. And if you’re asking yourself, “What’s with the strange name?” Then you probably don’t speak French. Translate Hippocampe to English and you’ll learn that it means “Seahorse” and that name actually makes a lot of sense for this all-terrain wheelchair. One of its best features is its ability to allow wheelchair users to roll themselves into the water.
Unlike the Emma X3 from Extreme Motus the Hippocampe can be propelled by the user. By placing your hands on the tires and pushing you can explore on your own.
It’s really cool to see the man in this video push himself into the water, go for a swim while his chair floats nearby, then swim back to the chair and wheel himself out of the water. It’s a form of independence not many wheelchairs can offer to people.
The front wheel of this wheelchair is fixed. In order to turn in this chair, you will need to have the strength and coordination to pull a wheelie to change directions. And pushing on the tires means that whatever terrain you are rolling through is going to end up on your hands so be sure to bring gloves.
As of this writing, the Hippocampe has a base price of $3,379.00. There are many options for this wheelchair, and I found the ordering process to be somewhat confusing.
For example, the difference between a “fixed reclining back” and an “adjustable reclining back” is $132. But if they both recline doesn’t that mean they’re both adjustable? And despite visiting several different websites selling this chair I was never able to discover what the difference was between the 2 options. This makes it difficult to determine what you want or need to select when ordering.
The Vipamat Hippocampe comes standard with double wheels to allow you to roll over packed sand. For an extra $572 you can get the large inflatable balloon wheels that will do even better in the sand and absorb more of the bumps.
Another cool option for this wheelchair is the set of skis that replace the rear wheels and attach to the front wheel. The skis are an additional $813 but for people who love the snow, it could be a great way to explore the outdoors in the winter.
Ski Kit – If you live somewhere cold be sure to check out the available ski kit.
Self-propelled – Many people want the option to be able to push themselves in off-road situations, or to at least be able to help the person pushing them. With the Vipamat Hippocampe, users can push themselves.
Float – This chair floats in water. It’s really cool to watch videos of wheelchair users pushing themselves into the water and go for a swim while the chair floats nearby, swim back to the chair and wheel themselves back to dry land.
Self-propelled – Yes this is both a pro and a con. Unlike a standard wheelchair, there isn’t a push ring on the side of the wheel. Your hands will be directly on the tire. This means the mud, sand, snow, etc. you are rolling through is going to be on your hands too.
Order Process – While researching the Hippocampe I found the buying process to be confusing. There are 40 different options a buyer needs to decide on ranging in price from $63 all the way up to $1315.
Brakes – The brakes on this wheelchair are more of a parking brake system that locks into place. They aren’t meant to help control the chair while out on an adventure.
Who it’s for
The Vipamat Hippocampe all-terrain wheelchair is best for people who have the strength and desire to push themselves on dirt roads or on the beach.
Emma X3 – Also a 3-wheeled all-terrain wheelchair the X3 from Extreme Motus is foldable, durable, floats in water, and is easy for a caretaker to push over obstacles.
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"Extreme Motus manufactures all terrain wheelchairs. The Emma X3 is capable of traveling through grass, gravel, rocks, mud, snow, and even floats in the water. Nature is wheelchair accessible. We believe the benefits of spending time outdoors are important for everyone. Our all terrain wheelchair can take you places you never thought possible."