The lowly tent has changed little in the past few decades. Sure, clever outdoor brands have almost perfected waterproofing and streamlined the setup process, but there have been very few significant changes in the design and layout of these traditional backcountry shelters. Or, so we thought. Prepare to be wowed, camping friends because these are the world’s most extreme tents.
Tents needn’t be boring, purely functional pieces of camping kit. For outdoor-loving bookworms, there’s the ‘Fully Booked’ 2-person Camping Tent. When fully set up, the tent resembles a large copy of The Natural World, splayed open and begging you to crawl inside. The British-made shelter is more than just a novelty, however. It’s a legitimate tenting option complete with A-frame construction, a waterproof shell, and four-season usability. Plus, it’s lightweight and pitches in less than five minutes.
In true German fashion, there’s nothing cute or novel about Heimplanet’s shelters. The brand manufacturers some of the toughest tents on Earth, designed to withstand the harshest conditions. Their flagship Mavericks is a 55-pound, multi-purpose refuge with a 140-square-foot footprint large enough to be used as a basecamp for expedition teams venturing far, far off-grid. Like all of the company’s shelters, its strength stems from an inflatable geodesic construction capable of withstanding up to 112 mile-per-hour winds. No matter where on the planet you’re headed — Antarctica, the North Pole, or the wilds of New Zealand — this will keep you warm and safe.
If you’re after something with a bit more “survivalist chic,” the Shiftpod2 from Advanced Shelter Systems may do the trick. The exterior features a highly reflective, seven-layer “Dark-Out” shell designed to block out light and keep the interior cool. Loads of ventilation options — two doors with bug screens, six screened windows, and two screened vents — maximize airflow in any conditions. If the 144-square-foot floor plan isn’t spacious enough, the optional Tunnel System makes it possible to daisy-chain an infinite number of Shiftpod2 units to create the ultimate shelter for your next Mars expedition.
Why limit yourself to camping on terra firma? Water covers 70% of our planet, so why shouldn’t you be able to camp there too? Enter Shoal Tent. It’s billed as a world-first inflatable tent raft in which “the world is your waterbed.” We’re not sure if this is solving a problem that nobody’s complained about, but the thought of camping on our favorite ponds and creeks feels like a boyhood fantasy fulfilled. Without traditional tent poles, the entire structure is inflatable. It takes just minutes to set up via the included manual foot pump but is spacious enough inside for a 6’3” camper. The floor features a sturdy, six-inch-thick, high-pressure construction that also doubles as an air mattress. Plus, there’s inherent adventure in the lack of an anchor, so you’re all but guaranteed to wake up miles from civilization, blissfully lost on the water.
Unless you’re a masochist, you’re unlikely to pack the Cocoon Tree tent for a casual backcountry camping trip. But, we never said this list was going to be practical. As the name implies, this “tent” is more like a cocoon-like treehouse. The manufacturer even admits to a three-hour setup time and that’s with three able-bodied people. But, the payoff is an eight-foot-wide waterproof bubble large enough for a double bed and two tons worth of you and your friends.