Since launching its Cave tent a few years ago, Heimplanet has been slowly expanding its line of distinctive geodesic inflatables with offerings like the Wedge. The German outfit has now added three more designs, making its line-up large and tough enough for some of the most distant, challenging expeditions on Earth.
One question mark when it comes to inflatable tent design is how well air-filled poles can compare to traditional aluminum/fiberglass/carbon fiber poles in rough, windy weather . If Heimplanet's numbers are to be believed, the reality is that they can hold up just fine.
Heimplanet designed the 10-person Mavericks expedition tent specifically for the Red Bull Storm Chase, a windsurfing competition that seeks out rough, raging storms around the world. The tent features a reinforced version of the brand's Inflatable Diamond Grid meant to spread stress over a larger surface and maintain a solid structure in rough weather. According to the company, the Mavericks can stand up to 112 mph (180 km/h) winds, though it appears to have experienced just 96 mph (155 km/h) during an Ireland leg of the Storm Chase.
After inflation, the Mavericks air beam structure can be split off into 10 separate air chambers, double the number in the Cave. This "Multi Chamber Safety System" is designed to prevent one leak from deflating the entire tent. Instead, a single leak will deflate one chamber, while the nine others maintain a stable structure. You'll still want to patch the leak as soon as you can, but it's less likely that the tent will flatten on you in the middle of the night. The design also makes it easier to locate the leak. The double-walled air beams are built similarly to tubed bicycle tires, and the inner TPU tube can be patched or replaced in the event of a leak.
The roomy Mavericks is built to serve as a base camp shelter for up to 10 people and their gear. It offers 6 ft 7 in (2 m) of head room and 142 sq ft (13 sq m) of floor space. The tent body automatically forms to shape when you pump up the inflatable exoskeleton, allowing just one person to set the large tent up in under 10 minutes. It includes five fully openable windows and five partially openable windows for ventilation. The design packs into a 31 x 20 x 20-in (80 x 50 x 50-cm) form and weighs 25 kg (55 lb).
Expeditions don't usually come come cheap, and the Mavericks tent doesn't make them any cheaper. It is available for €4,999.00 (US$6,730) before you tack on shipping costs.
The average camper doesn't need a tent to hold up to 112-mph winds – they'll be staying in a hotel if that ever happens. Heimplanet also has a new large and small tent aimed at more commonplace camping expeditions.
At first glance, the new NIAS, named after a surf spot in Indonesia, looks a lot like the Wedge. But it has a different frame structure and is significantly larger, providing enough space for six to eight people. Built to house one or two occupants, the new FISTRAL is much closer to the Wedge in size, but is more of a traditional dome shape.
Heimplanet introduced the NIAS and FISTRAL tents at the Outdoor Friedrichshafen Show earlier this month and will be adding them to its line-up in 2015. The NIAS will retail for €849 and the FISTRAL for €399.