Heimplanet shrinks its inflatable tent design
By C.C. Weiss
February 15, 2013
Heimplanet received much buzz for its funky, geodesic inflatable tent, the Cave. Realizing that not everyone wants to lug a big, round, air-filled cave around into the woods, the company has designed a lighter, more streamlined tent-for-two. The Wedge maintains Heimplanet's striking styling but packs it in a smaller, sleeker package.
Air is light, but the idea of the Wedge, and inflatable tents in general, is not to save weight. By the time you get done with those thick, heavy air struts and pump hardware, inflatable tents end up weighing considerably more than lightweight, aluminum-poled backpacking tents – 7.1 pounds (3.2 kg) in the case of the Wedge.
The idea of inflatable tents is to make camping a little easier. Instead of wrestling around with poles, the full tent is erected with a simple pumping action. Heimplanet describes Wedge set-up as "roll out, inflate, finished" – no ripcord, no bending semi-rigid poles, no little hooks or gussets, just inflation (and staking). The external air shafts inflate into shape, in turn pulling the tent and fly erect and taut.
Inside, the Wedge provides 48 square feet (4.4 sq m) of space for two. The design includes a breathable nylon ripstop inner tent with no-see-um mesh venting and an integrated nylon ripstop rain fly for weather protection. There's also a vestibule for dirty shoes and gear. The multi-chamber structural design includes three chambers, so if one deflates, two others will keep the tent standing.
While Heimplanet is a heavily European brand – two Stefans from Hamburg conceived the idea while surfing in Portugal – it hopes to put itself further into the American market. Co-founder Stefan Clauss told us that he believes that, unlike in Europe where the outdoor market is fairly polarized between hardcore outdoor hounds and casual family campers, the American market has more middle ground. It's made up of essentially passionate outdoors folks that spend time adventuring and camping but don't necessarily need the lightest, techiest gear for bagging peaks and logging hundreds of miles. That's where he sees Heimplanet tents resonating most.
I don't know too much about the European market, but I do think that Clauss' portrayal of the American middle ground is accurate – plenty of folks that spend a lot of time in the mountains and woods but aren't necessarily looking to fast-and-light their way to world records.
Standing between Heimplanet and that crowd, much of which certainly overlaps with the stereotypical ski/climb/roadtrip/surf bum genre, is its rather high prices. The Wedge is set to hit the market in March for US$599, which is more than many a high-tech ultralight tent or big, sturdy base camping tent. It feels like that price needs to come down for Heimplanet to truly compete.
Whether or not Heimplanet finds many buyers in the U.S. or elsewhere, its tents definitely look more interesting than average and should start plenty of conversations around camp.