The Imagine range is the brainchild of Gideon du Plessis, a pioneer in the design and building of off-road trailers. These trailers are made to go anywhere in Africa that your 4×4 can go. Nick Yell and I took the Comfortvan on a round trip of almost 2 000km through the southern Free State: to the Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal, the Midlands, and back to Bloemfontein.
The Imagine range is built on 5 pillars:
• A strong yet lightweight construction to ensure easy towing and handling;
• A design that enables camp to be set up within 10 minutes by two people;
• A kitchen designed so that all food storage, cooking equipment etc. is close at hand;
• The ample packing space, including extra areas below the seat, and
• A functional bathroom with shower, basin and toilet.
• Basically, what Gideon du Plessis has achieved is to squeeze the home comforts of a caravan into a compact, lightweight, go-anywhere, off-road unit. This rig will take you to the back of beyond.
The fibreglass body is built on an aluminium skeleton, insulated with polystyrene laminated between the fibreglass skin. It is built on an 80x40mm RHS galvanised chassis and C-section drawbar. This strong yet lightweight body is the key selling point of this van. Above the axles are two 85L water tanks. The tow hitch is a locally made AL-KO off-road ball coupling.
A clever addition to the Imagine is the cleverly designed stone guard, which also houses the fold-up table inside the strong canvas foam-lined cover. The canvas-covered table/stone guard fits into a strong slot track across the front of the van.
The Comfortvan 2+2 which we towed has two double beds. Both beds are mounted on fold-out panels. The front bed is supported by a bracket that folds up from the drawbar, and the other bed (on the driver’s side) has free-standing support legs. Both beds have canvas tropical roofs. In the icy weather that we encountered, we soon learnt to put these up, as otherwise the tent above us froze! Each bed has three windows with mosquito netting.
The pop-up roof also has windows with mozzie screens. When all of these are opened, the van becomes quite light and airy.
The kitchen has a lot of space. It lacks a little in food-prep space, but this is where the front fold-up table comes into its own. The two-burner gas stove and sink is neatly situated close to the kitchen area. To the left of the kitchen is a hatch with the sliding fridge/freezer. Our van was fitted with a 90L National Luna.
The van entry is through a door next to the kitchen; the door of the Trailvan is at the back. There is a large, zip-fronted, three-door cupboard on your right as you enter; the bathroom area is straight ahead. The hem of the shower curtain fits into a groove on the floor. There’s a hand basin, toilet, mirror, and toiletry-storage section in the bathroom area.
I slept in the side fold-up bed. Opposite this bed is a large mirror, as well as an access hatch to the pantry area of the kitchen. There’s plenty of storage everywhere.
The setup of the van is easy. I mostly travel alone, and I reckon I could get the whole van ready and set up in less than 15 minutes.
Looking at the Comfortvan from the back, you will see that it’s equipped with a small storage rack, two jerry-can holders and two 4.5kg gas cylinders.
Did the Imagine Comfortvan live up to its five-pillar philosophy? Yes, I think it did. It was comfortable, easy to tow, and simple to set up.
I read somewhere that the Imagine Comfortvan has been described as “the Swiss Army Knife of trailers”, but I would rather call it “the Leatherman of campers”, as more manne carry a Leatherman than the Swiss job.