Maybe it’s the architect in me, but I have a fascination with different and unique tent designs, and how many of them are available. Here are 8 unique tents that I think cover everything from a twist on the fairly traditional to a possible tent of the future. Some are products you can order online today and others are simply interesting experiments or follies with promise. I hope you enjoy the 8 I’m sharing and If you have any additional ones, please do include them in the comment section below.
The Cave- Inflatable Diamond Grid (IDG) Tent
An inflatable tent? Hmmm… A lot of technology, research and design thought went into this one. I think it looks cool, and I really like the ideas behind it. It’s definitely not a lightweight backpacking setup though. The pump alone looks as if it would take up half of a large sized backpack. Their website says, “Nature invented one of the most efficient and stable structures: the molecular structure of a diamond.” Don’t believe it? Watch the video of the Hemiplanet Cave withstanding +50 mph winds. If your the type of car camper that wants a cool, and functional shelter that is also a conversation piece, this one’s for you. No North American distributor as of yet, but if you must have one, you can order on their website and they will ship direct to you.
Rooftop Touring Tent- ARB 4×4 Accessories
Now this is my idea of car camping. I have a friend that owns one of these and talk about ease and comfort. Unzip and unfold this tent and you literally have your sleeping quarters set up in minutes. This rooftop tent has a self contained 2-1/2″ high density foam mattress, and the heavy duty canvas and nylon tent withstand the elements. It includes the ladder and this thing scores extra cool factor points with kids because they are so high up on the roof of the vehicle. It’s not the most convenient if your one that requires midnight bathroom breaks, but it certainly more than makes up for it in comfort. By just seeing one of these, one cannot help but think of African Safari’s or the places far off the beaten path you might want to go. Capable off road vehicle not included!
Clark Jungle Hammock Tent
When I was in 7th grade I went through a phase where I got rid of my bed and I slept in a hammock in my room. I absolutely loved it. That’s why I was so shocked I had never thought of it for camping. I only recently learned that there is a whole movement of hikers and campers that only use hammocks. After researching them for a bit, I found there are several great companies that make them and they all have a few different features, but I have decided that when I purchase a hammock for camping it will be the North American from Clark. After reading the testimonials and of course experiencing first hand a poor nights sleep on a backpacking trip (or two), I am super excited to give it a shot. What? Never have to worry about a level or dry campsite again? I think the Hammock Hangers Association may have their newest member.
Solar Concept Tent – Collaboration of Orange + Kaleidoscope
When I go camping, I really like to try to minimize the use of electronics and just “get away from it all”… But now a days with digital cameras and GPS, it is becoming increasingly more and more difficult, and there is a need for being able to recharge these devices. That’s one reason this solar concept tent is so appealing to me. With the research of weaving specially coated solar threads into conventional fabrics quickly becoming a reality, The Orange and kaleidoscope groups were able to imagine what a tent using these fibers may look and how they could be used. As cool as the design looks, it really doesn’t seem as if any of the designers were hardcore outdoor enthusiasts let alone campers. Solar power for Wireless internet connection while camping? I guess plenty of campgrounds offer it now, but the one that cracked me up was the “Glo-cation technology”. They describe it’s glowing or lighting function as a way for campers or “festival goers” to avoid losing their tent. HA! I laughed but we’ve probably all had 1 drink too many and gotten turned around on the way back from a campground restroom at one time or another. As silly as some of these things sound to me, They might have sold one when they mentioned the Groundsheet heat underfloor heating element… AAAgh no more cold floors.
Boomtent- by Alrik Koudenburg
Alrik Koudenburg describes his Boomtent this way…
“It’s ideal for collecting your thoughts away from the hurly-burly of daily life. Toss a weighted tow-line over a branch, raise the simple triangular tent construction of reinforced aluminum and waxed nylon, climb the rope-ladder, tie the support lines to the trunk and branch and there you have your instant tree fort.”
It’s ingenuity, experimentation and out of the box thinking like this and that really create new and interesting products or experiences. Is this practical? No, but who cares. It’s an awesome idea and design. How romantic does this look? If there were several of these around, set up in locations with amazing views, and they were rented out by the night, there might just be a lot more “little campers” in this world. DREAMY!
Studio Dre Wapenaar- Tree Tent
“Studio Dré Wapenaar works at the interface of architecture, design and sculpture. Sculpture is the base.”- Studio Dre Wapenaar website. This seems to be more of installation art pieces or a follies but they are very intriguing never the less. According to the designer he, “designed a tent in the form of a water drop, to be suspended high above the ground between two giant trees”. Although they appear as though they are more for looks, They are actually functional. The teardrop shaped tents are rented out and are very popular at the campgrounds in the east Netherlands where they reside. They will accommodate up to 2 adults and 2 children on the 9′ diameter interior floor. Here is another great example of what a little creativity and a lot of hard work can produce! I highly recommend browsing through his website and seeing many of the other tent-like structures he has created.
Bikamper- Personal, 3 Season Biking Shelter
Here is another great design. It is intended to be used during a very specific activity. As a matter of fact, I don’t believe that this shelter would even stand if you didn’t have a bike. The Bikamper solo bicycling tent uses the bicycle and the front wheel of the bicycle in place of tent poles. That minimizes weight and makes for an extremely compact package. It definitely does not look spacious, but on a long cross country bike trek, sometimes just a place out of the wind or rain to catch a little sleep is well enough! Very nicely designed and you can tell a lot of thought went into this product.
Bivy Sack- Bivy Tent- Outdoor Research
Is it a Bivy Sack or is it a 1 person all season tent? It’s both. At slightly over 2#, you can have a versatile, waterproof shelter that requires almost no setup time. If your looking for the next step up from tarping it, this good looking bivy sack/tent would probably be it. I have had my eye on this baby for a little over a year now. I can’t imagine a better lightweight shelter that will keep you dry and mosquito free when backpacking. It could be used in several configurations. If you just want something to keep your sleeping bag from getting wet or dirty, just slide your bag in. Looking to keep the mosquito’s off of you while you sleep and still feel like your right under the stars? Here you go. Need a quick shelter to help keep you dry if a freak rain or snow shower rolls in? This is it. With it’s lightweight, compact size and versatility, I can’t think of a better product that would function as your everyday “go to” or as an emergency backup shelter. I will certainly have to do a review of this product after a few uses and let you know if it’s truly as great as I anticipate.
Well, There I have given you 8 different tent or tent-like options of whats available. So next time your in the market for a tent, take a little extra time to think about exactly what activities your going to use it for and how you intend to transport it, and you might just find yourself looking into shelter options that are a little different from your everyday run of the mill tent. No offense to the Boy-scouts.