Thousands of years ago, Mongolian sheep herders insulated their gers (AKA yurts) with felt made from sheeps wool. Others were insulated with horsehair. People who actually lived in tents knew that if you want any kind of comfort, you want insulation. But tents today are just thin layers of high tech fabric that may keep the rain out and the bugs at a distance, and are freezing in cold weather and boiling in hot.
That’s why this new Thermo Tent that just popped up on Kickstarter is so interesting; it’s a modern insulated tent. Derek O’Sullivan has spent a lot of time camping in his native Ireland, where I suspect an insulated tent would be a very nice thing to have, given the climate. “Indeed, it was his own experience of being too uncomfortable while camping that led to the origin of Thermo Tent.” He writes:
Although I loved to camp, something used to really annoy me about my various tents. Once the temperature dropped outside they immediately became like ice boxes inside. The opposite was also true. Once the sun hit them directly they were like saunas inside. And whenever I camped in a large campsites, I might as well have invited everyone in, as there was no acoustic barrier between us and the outside world.
The insulation sandwiched in the tent walls provides an R value of 4.3, which doesn’t sound like much compared to what we now put in buildings but is probably better than a whole lot of old Irish houses. This is no backpacker’s tent at 108 pounds, but it’s bigger than many tiny homes we have shown, at 23 feet long by 13 feet wide by 7.2 feet high. It’s probably better insulated than some of the tiny homes we have shown too. As in a real building, there are tough issues to be solved, like condensation; people generate a lot of moisture inside a tent, and on a cold night that water vapor is going to hit the dew point, where it condenses into water. So you have to get the vapor permeability just right. You also have to keep the weight down and make it easily packable, all involving difficult trade-offs. The Thermo Tent seems to hit a good balance.
And while they will go gaga in Glastonbury over this, there is also a vast disaster relief market, where an insulated tent would make a huge difference in comfort.
There are actually a couple of different models of tent available, including a smaller 3 person tent shown on the Thermo Tent website and an inner tent that one can set up inside a standard 6 person tunnel tent. They are certainly past the idea and prototype stage; As Christine noted recently in her post on a new water filter, Kickstarter is as much a marketing technique now as it is a fundraiser these days. So check it out at Thermo Tent’s Kickstarter.
And I had no idea that this was a thing. A good idea.