EXPERT OPINION: ANTON POPLETT (Humanitarian and Adventure Traveller)
About 5-years ago I started venturing into the bush again. However, with a Golf 6 as my so-called “touring” vehicle, we were obviously quite limited in where we could travel… as well as the gear we took with us. What’s more, it was stressing me out every time my daughter put her sand-covered feet on the dash or seats. I needed a better platform.
Aside from hardiness and durability being top priorities, I also wanted a vehicle that was modular in design and one that could be easily modified in terms of bolt-on / bolt-off accessories. Past experience has taught me that solutions are not always obvious the first time round, and the more you travel and camp, the easier it is to “fine tune” your requirements.
But more importantly, I wanted a vehicle that could help me spend more time with my family doing the things I did as a kid. You see, I grew up in the mountains of the Drakensberg and have endless memories of me running into spider webs in forests, being chased by baboons, or standing on windy plateaus.
I wanted my daughter to have just as many outdoor experiences growing up. However, I also wanted to incorporate something meaningful into our journeys, by giving back to communities in some way. And so, I started humanitarian work in the SADC region helping rural school kids with prescription eyeglasses.
This way, I got to spend more time with my family, made a difference to many rural childrens’ lives, and hopefully exposed my daughter to a world of adventure and compassion.
Now, with the help of safari-lodge companies, NGOs, and brands that share our vision, we do humanitarian trips into Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, and Zimbabwe twice a year. What’s more, I also spend a great deal of time creating initiatives that help safari companies and lodges form stronger bonds with their surrounding communities.
Needless to say, this entire journey has sent me down a rabbit hole of equipment-related decisions; everything from camping fridges and roof-top tents, to car-seat covers, dual-battery systems, and of course, the most vital of all… tyres!
Because I had already invested so much time into calculating my needs right down to the power consumption of my Engel fridge, I knew that I had to put in an equal measure of time researching the right tyre for my needs.
Originally, my research brought me to the Cooper STT PRO as my tyre of choice, and while the tyre no doubt offers excellent off-road traction and durability; admittedly, it was total overkill for my needs.
The truth is, a vast percentage of overland travel is covered on the black top, so from that perspective, I wanted a tyre that was better balanced between highway use, and significant gravel travel. When the time came for a new set of tyres, I made the switch to the S/T MAXX and have been very happy with the decision.
That said, the temptation to try out the new Cooper AT3 XLT may sway my vote when the time comes, even if it’s just to have an overall view of how each tread pattern performs within my needs and application. Until then, however, I’ll be sure to get the most out of my S/T MAXXs.
You can follow Anton Poplett here.