Tell me if this sounds familiar: Sometimes I’m a neo-Luddite who hates high tech gear, and sometimes I’m a total sucker for it. Sometimes I just want to live in a teepee, and sometimes I’d slay to live in Bill Gates’ uber-tech 40,000-square-foot totally wired house – assuming I didn’t have to pay the utility bills or suffer the karmic consequences of such a huge environmental footprint.
Well, this Solar Concept Tent from UK telecom company Orange might be the solution, minus about 39,950 square feet, anyway. They developed the “i Tent” (my nickname) for England’s Glastonbury Festival (think Burning Man-cum-Woodstock with a serious Druid jones). It’s a honed-up version of their previous Text Me Home Dome.
The Solar Concept uses photovoltaic fabric to produce electricity, has an inbuilt power meter that displays energy generation and consumption, has a wireless charging pouch to juice up your gadgetry without cordage (booyah!), and even a thermostat-controlled heating element in the floor. A flexible LCD wall screen connects to the internet. The whole tent even glows when you text message your tent address, so you can find it in the dark. No word on whether it’ll generate enough power for air conditioning or a margarita blender, or whether you can cook pancakes on the floor – all of which would seem mandatory for such cutting-edge-arms-race geekery.
Sure, it probably costs more than a full-sized RV, but it’s so…green…kinda…I think.
Yes, it’s a stupid concept that’s totally foreign to the idea of wilderness retreat, but hey, at least it’s gloriously stupid – stupid enough that I think I really want one. After all, it’d be purrr-fekt for liveblogging from the Rainbow Gathering, and this thing might get you totally laid at Appalachian Trail Days.
But on the serious side, flexible photovoltaic fabrics, flexible LCD screens, and wireless charging pouches could someday bleed from skunk works fantasy into real backcountry usefulness. Call it technology with restraint; High tech minimalism; Techno-aboriginalism, as it were. Which is what backpacking is really all about: Wilderness freedom without the highly overrated raw survival discomfort.
So chew on that for a while campers. I’m outta here to ponder my anarcho-primitivist cred, and then call their PR department for a test sample. I’m curious what happens if you pitch it in a puddle. Inquiring minds need to know. –Steve Howe