Industrial Design student Kama Jania from the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow, Poland has created a working prototype of a lightning-proof tent. The Bolt tent is part of a series of three different tents that are each designed to protect users from direct lightning strikes and step voltage (when lightning current or discharge flows between the ground and the feet of a person).
For many people, camping/emergency lanterns are one of those things that may sit for months without being used, only to have dead batteries when they're finally needed again. While solar-powered lanterns are one alternative, they do still need to sit in the sunlight for a few hours in order to charge. That's where Hydra-Light's PL-500 comes in. It's a fuel cell-powered lantern that's ready to shine as soon as it receives some salt water.
We've seen many a camper van designed to pull double duty, commuting around town during the week and venturing out to the forest or coast on weekends. Multipurpose campers like Hymer's own V-Class concept are typically built inside stock vans, but Hymer has taken a different route with its new "Van" series, planting its own foam-insulated aluminum cabin atop a bare chassis. The new Van S is aimed at versatility with its combination of comfy living space with bathroom and compact Mercedes Sprinter-based footprint.
The brainchild of former NASA engineer Garrett Finney, Texas-based Taxa isn't the camper company to call if you're looking for a run-of-the-mill teardrop or fifth wheel. It's a place where trailer building mixes with science and art, resulting in otherworldly campers like the Cricket and the FireFly. Its latest effort, the TigerMoth, is a small, 910-lb towable that uses some innovative solutions to camp two in blissful, breezy comfort.
The "world's smartest headlamp" is getting smarter. Petzl introduced its reactive Nao headlamp back in 2012 and has now returned with an upgrade, the Nao+. The new model packs more than double the lumens of the original Nao and features smartphone integration to give you greater control over lighting when you're on-the-go.
Hammock camping is far from a new phenomenon, but it's one that's gained some attention from the industry in recent years. Established brands and startups have been flooding the market with a variety of new designs, including flatter, more adjustable hanging beds like the Amok, more structured hammock-tent hybrids like those from Tentsile, bivy-hammock combos like the Alpine Hammock, and add-on shelter systems like the Nube. Hammock outfit Eagles Nest Outfitters (ENO) adds a bit of comfort and convenience to its 2016 line of hammocks with new products like an LED hammock and purpose-built inflatable mattress.
Outdoorsmen (and women) looking to drop their backpacks have a number of new alternatives for hauling gear into the wild. New personal trailers and roller bags, like the Armadillo and Trailpod, have been popping up in recent years, pulling gear weight off the back and putting it in tow. Zuca adds the new All Terrain, a burly, aluminum-framed roller with large, knobby tires and a hunger for rough, open spaces.
"Modular" has been the buzzword in camper design of late. Modular designs certainly aren't an all-new phenomenon, but they did seem particularly popular throughout 2015. Several of our favorite motorhomes and caravans of the year featured removable/rearrangeable modules, as did one of our favorite car-camping innovations. German camper manufacturer Hymer has its own ideas about modularity, and they look pretty convincing in a camper van design study developed with Mercedes-Benz.
Camping provides a wonderful way of escaping everyday life and its ringing, buzzing and blinking gadgets. That doesn't mean campers need to go completely old school, though. Much of the camping gear and gadgetry we saw throughout 2015 uses smart design and tech for the betterment of campers everywhere. We've already looked at the big stuff – motorhomes and caravans – so here it's all about smaller, simpler car camping gear.
Thanks to platforms like the F-Series and E-Series, the name "Ford" graces the grilles of many a motorhome and camper-hauling truck, including new off-roaders like the Sportsmobile Classic and EarthRoamer XV-HD. Now Ford is moving its badge rearward, to the camper shells themselves. The company will offer a full line of licensed camping trailers, toy haulers and truck campers.