Gear Paddling

A Boat, Bike & Tiny Car Boot Adventure: Travall Boot Guard on Test

Bike vs boat on the Lancaster Canal
Written by Kirstie Pelling

An All the Gear Adventure Idea: Out on the Canal with Travall

How does an outdoor family pack a car boot full of kit, squeeze in kids and muddy boots and get from A to B without it all spilling over the parcel shelf and causing mayhem in the back? The neat answer to this recurring car safety issue is a divider between the car boot and the passenger seats, enabling outdoor gear to fill the boot without fear of it causing a fuss on the back seat. The folks at Travall make car accessories that work for active families with kids, dogs and kit. Their boot dividers, car guards and protective mats are available to fit in even the teeniest of cars, as we found out on a gear laden outing to the local canal to create this review and advertising feature for Travall…..  

Biking and boating on the Lancaster Canal

A biking and boating adventure needs a lot of kit.. how does it safely fit in a small motor? With car guards and boot dividers!

Lost in autumn gold

It’s like New England on the Borwick section of the Lancaster canal as autumn goes out in a blaze of gold and amber. Stuart’s paddle is throwing out sunbeams like frisbees as he disappears into a tree. It has been a while since he has been in charge of a kayak and I’m wondering if his skills are rusty. His coach shouts instructions from a bicycle on the tow path. But she cannot help him now. He is on his own, coating himself in leaves and twigs as he thrashes and crashes under overhanging branches.

Kayaking into Autumn on the Lancaster Canal with help from a Travall car guard/boot divider

Kayaking into Autumn on the Lancaster Canal

It’s raining leaves

He paddles on, through a Turner-esque landscape, till he gets to a bridge. But he is too slow again. His coach is there first. And she is gathering handfuls of leaves, clutching them close to the warm puffa jacket bought for the school bus in winter. As he glides under the bridge, the leaves come down. Leaves that have sat in a pile since the last autumn wind, mowed down by tractors hurriedly preparing for winter, and trampled on by walkers in wellies and dogs doing their business. They fall on his head like raindrops from a storm cloud.

“Are you dirty enough yet?”

“Not yet. Let’s go see if we can find any muddy banks!”

Bridge top coaching on the Lancaster Canal

Bridge top coaching on the Lancaster Canal

Testing out an adventure friendly car accessory kit

He paddles on further, and takes a corner as she powers ahead on her fold up bike, helped by a clear path through the grass. Stuart needs some more practice at autumn paddling to win this father-daughter race. But his performance is irrelevant. We are on the canal to test out the performance of a kit of car accessories that is well suited to outdoor loving families. The Travall car package is a neat combination of a Travall car divider – a grate that separates the boot from the rest of the car – and Travall mats for protecting your car carpets and footwells.

A bike vs kayak race along the Lancaster Canal

With bike unfolded and kayak launched, the race is on

How to best test a car divider?

We carefully considered how best to put the equipment to the test for this review of Travall car dividers. To properly assess the effectiveness of both car guard and mats we wanted an activity involving a lot of loose gear and a good dose of dirt. We considered hiking at Coniston. We thought about taking our folding bikes along the west shore of Windermere where we know leaves, tree roots and mud can be a challenge. And then we thought back to a time when our car was dirtiest and most in need of a valet, when Stuart was on his outdoor education course, and canoeing regularly in the waterways of the lakes. There is nothing quite like wet, muddy kayak booties to destroy your upholstery, and a dripping paddle to remind you to go to the car wash.

A guard means you can fit more in without risk of it spilling into passenger space

A kayak and biking adventure means a boot load of gear to test the guard

Upping the challenge with a tiny car

But putting a canoe on the roof rack and some kit in the boot seems too easy somehow. Not enough of a challenge. So we decide to try it out in the smallest car we can find. The kids call Granny’s car the smallest car in the world, but her hatchback can hold four and a picnic, if you all squash up a bit in the back and eat the picnic before you get in. So, after dropping Granny off after a morning out, we pop a paddle in the front seat where she usually sits, take ten minutes to fit the Travall car guard and protective mats and load her tiny car to the max.  Travall car boot guards come in different sizes to fit different vehicles and the one for the Volkswagen UP! fits neatly behind the rear seats, separating the boot from rear seats.  Surprisingly the canoe slots nicely onto the little roof too and we find we can even squeeze in a folding bike. In the boot the gear is piled high, but it’s all kept in check by the guard.

Kayak, folding bike and more. Amazing how much gear you can fit safely in a tiny car.

Kayak, folding bike and more. Amazing how much gear you can fit safely in a tiny car with the help of Travall

A snug but easy fit with the Travall car divider

To our surprise we get everything in quite easily and it is quickly unloaded down at the canal. But then we discover a flat tyre on the bike. We have no repair kit, so the fold up bike goes back in again, while I whizz it home and select another. A new bike is substituted with no problems and the race is on.

A bike vs kayak race along the Lancaster Canal

A bike vs kayak race along the canal provides enough gear and dirt to test the guard and mats

Getting home in one piece

Of course, Hannah wins. Hannah is a jedi master at outdoor fun. But of course the challenge isn’t getting the equipment to the canal, or paddling it towards the next village. The real challenge is getting everything home again, leaves and all, without doing any damage to the car. The divider really comes into its own now, as wet kit is piled high including kayaking skirt, booties, boots, bike and all. Into the front in the footwells go more muddy boots, ropes and dirty feet. The rubber Travall mats do their job, moulded to fit the vehicle they keep the mud and leaves off Granny’s car carpets and the retaining lips hold back the drips and spills from wet gear. Granny will be impressed by how clean her car is!

Now we just have to get all this back home

Now we just have to get all this back home

Our verdict: The Travall Guard boot divider and protective mats

The Travall guard is easy to install and comes with a fitting kit and simple to follow installation guide. The guards come in vehicle specific sizes and can be purchased in variations to either provide a half-height guard (above the seats) or a full length guard (for use when rear seats are folded fully down). We tested the half height guard for the VW Up! It was robust, fitted well, held all our gear in place and looked strong and well made enough to comfortably last us until our kids have left home. I felt confident that in the case of accident, it would help stop helmets, boots and other adventure gear in the boot or on the rear parcel shelf from flying through the vehicle into the back seats. If you had a dog in the boot, a Travall dog guard would help keep dog and passengers apart, if that’s what you prefer. You can also purchase guard dividers to split your boot in two so you could create compartments to separate a dog and your gear, which could be useful. Travall guards vary in price according to the vehicle size and start at around £100.

Our verdict: The Travall Mats

The Travall rubber car mats are vehicle specific and fitted the VW Up! footwells nicely. Aside from obvious size differences, mats were also marked so you knew which one went in which footwell – front, rear, left and right. The mats were made of thick rubber and were heavy enough not to slip around in the foot wells. They looked hard wearing and were easy to clean after a muddy afternoon out. Being rubber, a quick wipe down was all that was needed to have them looking good as new again, which is more than we can normally say for our family car. In the event of a complete muddy disaster I reckon you could take these out and even hose and scrub them down and they’d quickly dry and be ready for your next adventure. A simple and effective way to protect your car carpets from the dirt, wear and tear of adventuring outdoors. Travall mats vary in price according to the vehicle size. The mats for the VW Up! cost £35. You can save money by buying a protection pack which includes both the Guard and Mats at a discounted price. See the Travall website for details.

Disclosure Note: This is a sponsored post brought to you in a paid collaboration with Travall. Travell provided us with samples of their products for testing and compensated us for our time spent reviewing products, preparing and publishing this review. The idea to test them in this way, the views, opinions, pictures and copy published are all entirely our own as was the paddling, pedalling and cleaning up afterwards.

About the author

Kirstie Pelling

Kirstie is the Editor of The Family Adventure Project. A professional writer and poet, she's the creative and journalistic force behind many of the stories and features published here. She's a co-founder and co-director of The Family Adventure Project and also works as the #poetinmotion producing and performing poetry for print, video and live performance.

3 Comments

  • I am impressed by how much you squeezed in – that guard certainly came into it’s own, you definitely don’t want a muddy bike clunking onto your head if you’re sitting in the back. And given the mess my daughter can make without being remotely wet or muddy, I should check out the rubber floor mats as well!

  • I love the way you really put the divider to the test – and the fact Stuart really got himself dirty for the job! It’s such a great idea – even in small cars, because I bet until you use one, you probably just made do with muddy cars and boot spaces, and now it’s an invaluable piece of kit.

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