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Wade Carmichael

Wade’s World: Passion for Surfing

4x4 truck driving on dirt road

Despite a distinguished pro surfing career, Wade Carmichael is happiest far from the surfing mainstream, pitched up at a remote coastal campground with only his travelling companions, surf gear, and a bit of marine life for company.

With his trusty four-wheel drive, his boat or jetski, a swag, camp chair, some shade and something to keep his food and beer cold, Wade has all he needs for the extended remote surfing missions that have become his passion.

“My goal with camping is always to find waves some place you can post up and not leave for a month,” he says. “Rock up, find a piece of dirt, roll the swag out, light a fire, pull out a cold beer … You’ve got a beach house wherever you go.”

man standing in the water and fishing

An early love for camping

Wade grew up in Avoca, on the NSW Central Coast, and exploration and camping trips were in the Carmichael DNA - he received his competitive grounding on camping trips with his dad while competing in junior events.

“We used to do Crescent Head in the winter for the first five or six years of my camping life. Me and dad used to go camping for comps, grom search, pro juniors, then he got a van and we lived in the van for a while.”

Wade made the world junior titles at Keramas, in Bali and finished third, a result that launched his career on the Qualifying Series. After a five-year slog, he achieved his goal of making the elite Championship Tour competing against the best in the world.

man opening a cooler

Transitioning to free surfing

There was much rejoicing among Australian surf fans when Wade finally qualified in 2017. The Brazilian Storm was in full force, air reverses were the new black, and the no-nonsense, Australian power surfer had old school traditionalists cheering his power hacks.

There were plenty of highlights in five years competing at the highest level, runnerup finishes in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa, and Brazil, his power surfing a refreshing counterpoint to the aerial antics of the times. But ultimately, he found the constrictions of tour life too much and his natural taste for adventure and quality waves far off the beaten track led him in a new direction.

“I just like hanging out and chasing waves,” he says now. “I was always on a schedule. You’d be somewhere for two weeks, then get back on a plane. It was all short trips. When I fell off tour, all those places are amazing, but I wanted to find the full beauty of the places I went, to do trips where you can hang out and get the full vibe of places, live how the locals live.”

So began a free surfing career, filming for clips, movies, and his own YouTube channel, Wade’s World, exploring the vast Australian coastline. “I own a 4WD and I own a boat, and I love using all my toys that I’ve worked hard for,” he says.

close-up of man surfing

Wade's perfect camp setup

A new collaboration with Dometic gave Wade all the tools he needs to extend his free ranging surf travels across the continent and back, foregoing flights and hire cars for the lure  of the open road.  “I did it for about two months the first year. Last year we did a massive trip, one month over, and two or three months back, travelled inland and discovered new places. That lit a fire to commit to the drive and camping.”

And with each trip, he’d refine his set up, dispensing with the non-essentials and hand-picking the best equipment to create the ultimate base camp. “The more you do it the more you realise what you need. Dometic are really good at that. Everything’s compact. They’re quality products but you don’t need that much - a chair, shade, somewhere to sleep, eat, drink.”

Does he have a favourite bit of gear? “The Dometic Pico Inflatable Swag is a game changer. It's so compact and easy to set up. And the Dometic Hub Inflatable Shelter.  As long as you’ve got shade and food and water, you’re sweet.”

man cooking outside next to a powered cooler

The best camping gear for surfers

Wade’s one indulgence is the Dometic Serene Firenze Relaxer camp chair. “I call it the maxo relaxo chair, the one that fully leans back. That feels like I’m in my lounge room,” he grins.

Now, while many of his contemporaries are still off slogging it out on the world tour, you’ll find Wade settled in at some remote coastal paradise, doing what he loves.

“I like going off road to really low-key places. One week in northern WA, I had the jetski anchored out front of our campsite. I’d go for a surf in the morning, then go fishing, fillet the catch on the back of the ski, come back to camp and cook it up. That’s living. The longer you can do it, the better.”