Product Review: Strawfoot Handmade Window Covers for the 5th Gen 4Runner
In every vehicle, windows are the lenses to the surrounding world. They are the thin buffer between inside and outside worlds and are arguably the single most important vehicle component allowing you to experience your trip to the fullest. Due to the nature of their design and function, they unfortunately come with a few downfalls.
The two main challenges with any vehicle’s windows are temperature regulation and visibility looking in or out. While these issues can be solved in a number of ways, Strawfoot Handmade’s window covers are easily the highest quality and most versatile option available for when you’re parked or on the road.
About the Window Covers
Garrett at Strawfoot Handmade started making window covers for Sprinter and Transit vans to fill a void in the market for a high quality, easy-to-install window cover system.
The company has gained a lot of notoriety as one of the best sources of window covers in the van life industry, and they’ve recently designed a set for the 5th Gen 4Runner.
Using a water-resistant ripstop nylon outer fabric over a very efficient Low-E insulation, the covers offer great thermodynamic properties keeping heat out and warmth in.
The covers are custom measured and hand-cut for each window profile and attach to each opening using high-strength neodymium magnets embedded along the edges to ‘adhere’ to the 4Runner’s steel window frame on the doors.
The rear quarter panel windows attach using a supplied small steel strip that attaches with double-sided tape to the plastic panels. This creates a tight seal around the edges with no gaps for temperature or light exchange.
They are available in different colors and can be purchased for every window, except the windshield. Strawfoot does not currently offer a windshield option because there are a lot of good products already available that will complement their window cover set.
I have an Intro-Tech Automotive Ultimate Windshield Shade that works very well and fits great.
Unlike dual pane insulated windows in a house, vehicle windows are almost always a single pane.
This single pane design does not allow for thermoregulation within the window itself. If it’s hot outside, the window lets the heat in. If it’s cold outside, well… you get the idea.
This thermodynamic relationship allows for a wide range of interior temperatures at the mercy of exterior conditions. I have conducted my own experiment on two identical weather days (ambient temperatures within 1-2ºF) and found that the addition of the window covers reduced interior temperatures by about 10ºF with the vehicle in partial sun on a 70ºF day.
I will update this article with a mid-summer torture test on a full sun day to see what the covers can really do in higher temperatures.
Strawfoot’s window covers create an insulating barrier using high-quality Low-E Thermasheet insulation sandwiched between two layers of ripstop nylon.
This highly efficient material combination does what the window itself cannot, helping to regulate temperatures. When sleeping inside your 4Runner, this layer will keep the interior warmer through the night and cooler as the morning sun hits the windows.
They also have a convenient feature where you can pull down the top of the cover to allow ventilation with the window partially rolled down behind it. This lets in the fresh air and reduces condensation levels when sleeping inside.
Sometimes keeping yourself warm or cool isn’t the only important reason to think about interior temperatures. If you have a furry friend, strategically placed covers on sun-soaked windows in combination with vented windows on the shaded side will reduce your interior temperatures dramatically, keeping your dog, cat or pet Sasquatch safe!
Another item in your vehicle that will greatly benefit from temperature regulation is your fridge or cooler.
The lower the temperature in the vehicle, the less your fridge or cooler will have to work to keep your food at a stable temperature.
This reduces the amount of energy your fridge will demand (and time required to charge the battery) or ice your cooler will need, ultimately extending your trip! That’s a big win!
Glass around the perimeter of your vehicle means you have visibility looking both in and out at all times.
When driving, that visibility allows you to see things around you for safe vehicle operation and sightseeing. However, when parked it allows for other things to happen that may not be in your best interest.
When you’re snoozing in the 4Runner, having light-blocking window covers will greatly aid your ability to sleep. From the outside, they’ll keep people from knowing that you’re inside watching your favorite Netflix binge.
Thanks to the well-placed magnets on the perimeter of the covers, they hold a tight edge to the window with no gaps. Light is blocked when you want to head to bed early or if a nearby light remains on all night and you want darkness.
The same works in reverse.
You can have lights on inside while you’re getting ready for bed or just hanging out, and anyone passing by would think it was just a parked vehicle with no occupants. It’s the perfect solution for stealth camping!
Even with no one in the vehicle, the window covers have another crucial benefit for anyone with belongings in their 4Runner. With the covers installed, nothing is visible for someone to see through the window.
While they won’t stop someone from smashing a window,I personally believe that if a thief cannot see something worthwhile inside, they are much less likely to break into a vehicle.
I use them constantly for this reason when my 4Runner is parked in lots or on city streets, because sometimes you need to leave things behind.
Someone scanning windows will only see black and will be more inclined to move on to another target. How much is your gear worth to you?
I picked up these window covers from Garrett back in November of last year. In the last five months I have had the rear quarter panel and rear door covers in constantly, using the hatch and front window covers as needed.
In that time, the rear window covers have never fallen out of place, shifted, or caused any issues. I keep them there most of the time to keep the interior cooler and to keep valuables from being seen.
They don’t affect my driving ability as I am used to operating larger vehicles with no rear visibility, but everyone’s abilities are different so equip yourself appropriately.
My first test for the fresh set of window covers was a long road trip to Las Vegas for the SEMA show and back through Death Valley on a five-day camping trip.
Off-road they worked well, keeping interior temperatures more regulated and the sun out of the 4Runner during the day.
Over a hundred and fifty miles of technical trails, washboards, and desert fun the covers never moved out of place. That’s the sign of a well-made product.
Thanks to the design, setting the front window or hatch covers in place is crazy simple.
I can do it one-handed, allowing the magnets to easily snap into place.
When I don’t require the covers, they fold into a convenient package that can be strapped and stored for quick deployment when needed again.
On first impression the product cost seems high, because frankly it is. I can say definitively these window covers won’t be for every 4Runner owner out there, but for those who have a need for this product, the price is WELL worth it in my opinion.
With their sturdy construction and use of high-quality materials, I have no doubt they will last the life of my vehicle and then some. Spread that cost over the thousands of miles and hundreds of trips you’ll take with them and you’ll realize that they’re an investment well worth making.
I love these window covers. They offer incredible benefit to my 4Runner, all wrapped in an easy to use and well-made product.
They keep my dog (who sleeps in the 4Runner when we camp) warmer at night, my fridge cooler during the day, and my valuables safe from prying eyes.
They do exactly what I need them to do without sacrificing quality or appearance. I have a feeling they’ll outlive my 4Runner and will see a lot of great miles along the way.
Head over to the Strawfoot Handmade website for pricing and availability!