Habiton micro-camper drives tiny, blows up at camp with inflating roof
Over the years, we've come to know Bürstner best for midsize RV offerings like Class C motorhomes, Class Bs based on full-size vans, and large (but not huge) caravans. With its more recent Copa mini-camper van (and 4x4 version), the company started following the trend toward smaller, more versatile camping MPVs. It presses onward at this year's Düsseldorf Caravan Salon under the banner "Travel Small, Live Large." The Habiton concept absolutely exemplifies the tagline, hitting highways as a small, efficient Renault Kangoo with low-profile roof before auto-inflating into a family base camp at the zap of a remote control.
When we saw the header photo of the Habiton, we assumed the concept used a basic inflatable rooftop tent, perhaps something from Austrian company GentleTent. We were half right. The inflatable was designed in collaboration with GentleTent, but it's not just a basic roof-mounted tent. This one is integrated into a hard roof panel to create an(other) inflatable spin on the pop-up sleeper roof that collapses into a more aerodynamic form nearly as low and smooth as the Kangoo's standard factory roof. This cuts the drag that comes with a boxy rooftop tent mounted on a roof rack while ensuring a sub-2-m (6.6 feet) vehicle height that lets the Habiton roll seamlessly into indoor parking decks.
The vehicle roof integration not only makes for a smoother ride, it also adds a hard wall to the inflatable tent, something that could be used to one's advantage in windy weather. This hard roof/wall includes a large window so as not to disrupt the panoramic tent views and natural light.
While the tent doesn't set up quite as quickly as "remote controlled operation" implies – Bürstner's video shows the driver manually opening the roof and hooking up the air pump before hitting the inflate button – it does provide relatively straightforward, hassle-free pitching, with the complete camper setting up in an estimated 15 minutes. The real advantage, though, is that the inflatable tent extends out over the van's side, offering more space than a traditional pop-up sleeper roof, which stays within the roof's width.
The remainder of the Habiton's camping package comes in the form of camper-in-the-box modules installed in the tailgate area. A little sleeker and more stylish than most, these felt-trimmed modules supply the slide-out tailgate kitchen with a sink, induction cooktop, fridge box and drawers. Atop and behind these modules, a fold-out sleeping platform topped by an inflatable mattress adds two extra sleeping space inside the Kangoo.
If the Habiton were being presented by a different brand, we'd dismiss it as expo eye candy with little chance of production. However, Bürstner has already incorporated innovative inflation into its product line and seems quite committed to pushing the concept of traveling small and living large. Few vehicles could possibly better fit that concept than a small van with inflatable pop-up roof spilling over the side. So maybe the Habiton has a chance at seeing production – the name certainly seems market-ready.
The quick 53-second video shows the Habiton in its element.
The Habiton isn't the only "Travel Small, Live Large" concept Bürstner has on display at this year's Caravan Salon. The tiny camper van shares an expandable nature with the Lyseo TD Lounge, a conceptual prototype that essentially flips the Lyseo Gallery TD on its side, offering a sidewall expansion in place of a rooftop one.
The simple slide-out lounge works in a similar manner to the one we've seen from Canada's Leisure Travel Vehicles, expanding the central living area into a roomier space that converts into a bedroom at night. Also similar to Leisure's Unity floor plan, Bürstner integrates a pop-up TV into a sideboard, providing on-demand entertainment that can quickly retract away to leave behind a cleaner, less cluttered interior.
The TD Lounge also looks like it could find production, and Bürstner's use of the term "prototype" supports the idea we might see a production version in the not-so-distant future.