The lowly camping tent has changed little in the past few decades. Sure, clever outdoor brands have mostly perfected waterproofing and streamlined the setup process. But there have been few significant changes in the design, features, 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 and extravagant tents.
The North Face’s Summit Series represents the brand’s flagship line of gear, targeting world-class athletes and adventurers. The simply named 2-Meter Dome is designed to survive the harshest conditions on earth, from the Himalayas to Antarctica and everywhere in between. With a classic geodesic shape, it’s durable enough to withstand 70-plus-mph winds. Inside, the 155-inch floorplan will sleep up to eight expeditioners or serve as a lavish basecamp for one or two hunkered-down outdoorsmen.
Lotus Bell’s Outback Tent proves that, sometimes, bigger is better. The 20-foot-diameter model boasts more than 300 square feet of floor space. That’s enough for hosting up to 24 people or three queen-sized beds comfortably. It’s more than just a novelty, however. This is a legit shelter with a fire-, water-, and rot-resistant construction and a Velcro “bathtub-style” groundsheet to completely seal it off from moisture and pests.
One drawback with traditional tents is that their opaque design separates you from the outside world. Uttiny’s Bubble Tent is the perfect alternative for nature lovers, exhibitionists, and anyone who’s ever daydreamed of sleeping in a snow globe. The 100% transparent walls and roof are perfect for stargazing while backyard camping. The included pump ensures the bubble stays inflated for however long you plan to camp.
Tents needn’t be boring, purely functional pieces of camping kit. British-born Field Candy is proof that tents can be the perfect canvas for self-expression. The company’s line of two-person tents is screen printed with various whimsical prints and patterns ranging from classic pop art to a brick-and-mortar pattern to a jumbo-sized David Bowie live in concert. The tents are more than just novelties, however. They’re legitimate shelter options, complete with A-frame construction, a waterproof shell, and four-season usability. Plus, they’re lightweight and pitch 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. Its flagship Mavericks is a 55-pound multipurpose 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.
The Space Station Dome Tent is Mountain Hardwear’s flagship entry into the premium tent market. It relies on the tried and true geodesic shape for the ultimate in durability, versatility, and practicality. The structure is designed to survive the worst alpine conditions, with enough standing room for more than 20. A full-coverage rain fly with a rain-guard pole insert ensures the interior keeps dry in even the wettest weather.
It’s hard to beat the classic tipi for a vintage, romantic glamping experience. The Baby Tipi from Britain’s The Tipi Company is an upsized take on the traditional design. The 21-foot-diameter floor plan is big enough for 15 standing adults or eight people sleeping. The company can even dress it up with twinkle lights, throw pillows, and seating for a turnkey luxe camping spot in your own backyard. Adding a wood-burning fireplace (yes, that’s really an option) makes this a legit year-round shelter.
If you’re after something with a bit more “survivalist chic,” the Shiftpod shelter series 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 Shiftpod units to create the ultimate shelter for your next Mars expedition. The Shiftpod2 has recently sold out, making way for pre-orders of the soon-to-be-released ShiftpodIII.
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 of 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 8-foot-wide waterproof bubble large enough for a double bed and two tons worth of you and your friends.
A legit glamping experience requires the right luxury tent. The Patrol Deluxe from Canvascamp is a full-sized A-frame shelter with a generous 150-square-foot floor plan perfect for large groups and families. The military-inspired design features fixed sidewalls and a durable, sewn-in groundsheet for added water and weather protection. Just add your favorite camp bed, floor pillows, and some authentic Turkish rugs, and you have the perfect nomad-inspired shelter.
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