Every day we see new evidence that the world is becoming more connected thanks to technology. Activities that were once enjoyed solo or in a small group are now shared with virtually everyone you've ever known via social networks. Even camping, an activity that once meant quiet, secluded escapes into virtually human-less wild spaces, isn't immune to the trend. POD Tents, designed by the UK's M2C Innovation, make camping more social by transforming the typical small tent into an indoor community.
To be fair, camping often serves as a social activity in and of itself, allowing families and groups of friends to bond together beyond the reach of everyday distractions. Group campsites offer space for dozens, even hundreds, of campers to gather together 'round the campfire and enjoy each other's company.
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Where M2C Innovation makes camping even more social is inside the tent. The social nature of camping typically comes to an end when it's time to retire to the tent, whether you're going to sleep or taking shelter from bad weather. The collective breaks down into smaller couples and groups that escape into their small, private domes, not to see each other again until morning light.
Quite similar to the Logos Decagon, POD Tents encourage the entire group to keep things social even after the no-see-um has been zipped shut. The modular camping system consists of individual tents that can be zipped together with connector tunnels. This allows you to create a large interior space where you can hang out with your entire group.
The POD Tent launched in late 2013, and M2C is working to expand its line and establish US distribution. The tents come in eight-person, eight-sided Maxi and four-person, six-sided Mini sizes. The Maxi sleeps all occupants in a circle with their heads in the center, while the Mini sleeps them next to each other in the center of the tent. The Mini comes with an internal sleeping cell that splits the sleeping area into dual two-person chambers, and such a cell can be added to the Maxi to divide it into two-person sleeping areas and a separate lounge area.
With a few tunnels, the PODs secure together into all kinds of different configurations. Campers are free to move between tents without having to go outside, providing new opportunities for inside activities. The tents and tunnels are designed to be fully weatherproof, and M2C believes that the PODs will appeal to everyone from festival goers to young families looking for a camping shelter that can grow with them.
We can see the appeal of a modular tent system but think pricing might prove an issue. At £499 for the Maxi and £399 for the Mini (approx. US$780 and $625), the tents are already rather expensive for what they are: heavy car camping tents made from basic materials like polyester ripstop and fiberglass. If you want to connect them, which is really the whole selling point, you'll have to pay an extra £89 (US$140) for each tunnel.
So to build a big, POD-based community shelter, you're either going to be spending four figures on all the tents and tunnels or spending time convincing everyone you camp with to invest in POD hardware. The POD Tents website is currently offering the standard Maxi and Mini at 10 percent off suggested retail, but that's a small discount on a pricey system.
Interestingly, while M2C is working on launching a higher-end "Elite" line for launch around 2016/2017, it has no immediate plans for cheaper models.
"With a lower price comes a compromise on quality, and we aren’t prepared to do that as we want it to be a premium quality product," M2C director Jason Thorpe tells us. "There are no current plans to launch a 'budget' version at this time."
M2C hosted an unsuccessful Kickstarter campaign for the Maxi and Mini Elite models last November. The tents had improved components and specs, such as aluminum poles, when compared to the standard models. The Maxi Elite's listed weight of 19.5 kg (43 lb) was a solid drop from the 23.5-kg (52-lb) weight of the standard Maxi. M2C listed estimated retail pricing at £525 to 599 for the Maxi Elite and £425 to 499 for the Mini.
POD Tents and accompanying equipment are available for order now and can be shipped globally.
Source: POD TentsView gallery - 20 images