It’s a fact that 4x4ing and overlanding is a filthy business. You are inevitably climbing in and out of your vehicle, particularly when stuck or inspecting the terrain ahead, and bringing in leaves, sand, sticks, mud and various things that seem to grow overnight. Add a scattering of dog hair, plus those sticky kids’ snack leftovers, and in no time your cab looks like the dance floor at the end of a three-day music festival.
The carpets take a lot of strain, and that’s best addressed with all-over rubber covers, but those fancy patterned cloth seats which seemed such a good idea in the showroom are going to look tatty in no time. Covering them up is an age-old solution; it keeps dirt out of the weave and makes a big difference to your vehicle’s resale value.
Sure, there are lots of cover options out there. You can purchase a cheap set from the local car-parts warehouse, fit fluffy sheep’s wool substitutes (and guarantee your clothes will always be carrying some of the fibres), or go for a pricier canvas set. And then there is Caprivi Luxury Safari Gear.
This new company, with its Hermanus-based production facility, has gone the premium custom route. Key to the look and feel of the product is the special imported synthetic Durasport Canvas used for the outer layers. It is guaranteed for some 85 000 rubs, which means it is helluva durable. This material exudes a sense of quality and style; it wouldn’t be out of place in the portfolio of that revered Swedish brand that makes bags, bicycle carriers and roofrack gear.
The covers are also designed to be zero fade and zero displacement; in other words, they last even in the sun (which cannot be said for normal canvas) and do not move around when fitted. Put this down to a combination of close-fitting design, seam beading in the right places, elastic cinching on the critical corner areas, and the use of military-spec plastic buckles.
I had a set of the charcoal-coloured Limited Heritage Edition covers fitted to my Hilux a few months back, and it has made a massive difference. Not only is this modest vehicle now elevated to a status way above its station, but it is great not to have to see the hardy but rather unattractive light grey fabric that came standard with the vehicle. The colour, feel and texture of the Caprivi covers is a treat to live with on a daily basis, and the material seems to breathe better and create less of a sweaty interface in the heat – whether one is getting into the vehicle that has been left standing in the sun, or on a long journey.
Some of this material performance can be put down to the multiple layers used in the construction of the covers, and some, no doubt, to the stylish diamond stitching which creates cool pockets and really looks the business. Fact is, this Limited Heritage Edition range of covers sets new standards in the game − from the leather insert panels on the headrests, centre console, trim panels and seat sides, to the strategically-placed pockets. The deep pockets behind the front seats have internal sleeves and Velcro fasteners, and those in front are dual-purpose, with a slide-in sleeve and a deeper pocket. Even the rear bench seat has a central pocket.
Quality is everywhere in evidence, from the piping in high-wear zones to the headrest covers with their embossed baobab logo. Caprivi Luxury Safari Gear chief designer Deon Bel-cher designs each cover using hundreds of patterns developed the old-fashioned way: by measuring and drawing, and redrawing, until they are right. It’s time consuming, but the results speak for themselves. This is a real custom work of art. There’s more, of course: Deon added a dash cover to my Hilux, complete with a leather case on the left-hand side that’s perfect for the binoculars and bird books, and a removable centre case, also in leather, made for a notebook or iPad.
A full set will cost in the region of R10 000 for the Hilux, and designs are available for a range of vehicles. Colour options include charcoal, or either Okavango or Karoo khaki, with the leather choices being black, cognac tan or dark brown. Mix and match to your taste for the full custom service. The covers are machine washable, which will make a difference after that muddy safari.
Keep an eye on this company; apart from seat covers, they have some products in development that will interest the discerning camper.