Outdoors

BMW and The North Face team up on cutting edge teardrop tent trailer

BMW Designworks and The North Face have teamed on the Futurelight concept trailer
BMW Designworks and The North Face have teamed on the Futurelight concept trailer
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The Futurelight concept brings some high-tech fabric construction to the teardrop trailer
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The Futurelight concept brings some high-tech fabric construction to the teardrop trailer
To add a bit of digital tech for the CES debut, Designworks and The North Face had a virtual reality tour that let you "get inside" the trailer
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To add a bit of digital tech for the CES debut, Designworks and The North Face had a virtual reality tour that let you "get inside" the trailer
We like the way the staggered bed layout creates an integrated couch
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We like the way the staggered bed layout creates an integrated couch
BMW Designworks and The North Face have teamed on the Futurelight concept trailer
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BMW Designworks and The North Face have teamed on the Futurelight concept trailer
The real purpose of the trailer concept is to help advertise Futurelight fabric, a new highly breathable and waterproof outerwear fabric that The North Face debuted at CES 2019
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The real purpose of the trailer concept is to help advertise Futurelight fabric, a new highly breathable and waterproof outerwear fabric that The North Face debuted at CES 2019
The North Face had a private exhibit at CES to highlight Futurelight
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The North Face had a private exhibit at CES to highlight Futurelight
We were hoping for a prototype or full-size model, but that's still in the works, to be debuted later in 2019
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We were hoping for a prototype or full-size model, but that's still in the works, to be debuted later in 2019

We look at many camping trailers throughout the year at events like Overland Expo and the Düsseldorf Caravan Salon. One place we did not expect to see a single camping trailer on show was CES. But that's not how it played out, as a collaboration between BMW Designworks and The North Face brought the collapsible Futurelight teardrop trailer to Las Vegas. The concept highlights TNF's rugged, new ultra-breathable fabric and features a unique design with a tent-style canopy, non-pneumatic tires and staggered beds.

To create the unique Futurelight trailer, Designworks and TNF looked closely at the 2008 BMW GINA Light Visionary Model, a shapeshifting concept roadster skinned in stretch fabric. Using that versatile skin and a movable substructure, the GINA could change its shape, either in response to driving conditions or at the command of the driver.

The Futurelight concept trailer doesn't feature the shapeshifting capability of the GINA, but it does have a fabric skin with integrated stretch supported by an exoskeleton frame. We'd imagine that skin will be louder and less stable in high wind than the average hard-sided trailer body, but it also promises to cut weight and allow the body to collapse down like a tent for easier towing and storage.

Though The North Face says that response to the trailer has been strong, we can't say we're anticipating a TNF/BMW-badged production trailer. Instead, the concept serves as an attention-grabbing way of relating the story about TNF's Futurelight fabric, which debuted at CES and will launch in waterproof-breathable outerwear later this year. Starting in 2020, the fabric will also find use in TNF tent construction, moving closer to its role on the concept trailer.

The real purpose of the trailer concept is to help advertise Futurelight fabric, a new highly breathable and waterproof outerwear fabric that The North Face debuted at CES 2019
The real purpose of the trailer concept is to help advertise Futurelight fabric, a new highly breathable and waterproof outerwear fabric that The North Face debuted at CES 2019

We'll be diving into Futurelight fabric and its advanced-breathing apparel applications in a future article and also testing it in the field, but in terms of advantages for tent design, the hyper-breathability of the fabric means that The North Face will be able to use a single-wall construction (rather than a separate tent wall/rainfly) to save weight while still ensuring that the tent doesn't get stuffy or collect condensation, problems common with single-wall tents. The North Face also promises that Futurelight delivers full waterproofing and plenty of toughness.

The trailer is still in the very early rendering-only stages, but a prototype will be coming later this year, possibly at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market. We'll see how closely that prototype follows the renderings, but for now, the Futurelight trailer rides on wheels that look similar to the airless tires from Polaris or Michelin. Instead of a single mattress, the two-person interior includes a floor-level single bed up front and a raised rear single bed that doubles as a sofa.

We like the way the staggered bed layout creates an integrated couch
We like the way the staggered bed layout creates an integrated couch

The fabric design eliminates the tailgate galley commonly seen on teardrop trailers, but perhaps the designers could integrate a little kitchen box onto the front or rear of the chassis. Or maybe they'll just keep it light and simple, letting hypothetical Futurelight travelers bring their own portable stoves and coolers.

At CES, the Futurelight trailer was but a handful of digital renderings, a nicely illuminated fabric model and a fun virtual reality tour. We look forward to taking a closer look once it's an actual prototype we can knock knuckles on.

Source: BMW, The North Face

4 comments
jerryd
Not sure what they were thinking as a terrible energy wasting aero, ugly a sin and only for 1 person vs far older ones that are way better and can be built for $400 or so. First make the wheels under the cabin for a larger cabin and far better aero with a smooth clean shape. Pulled behind a small car, CUV the example would cut mileage by 25% vs done right, a good aero one could clean up the car/CUV aero enough to make up for it's drag even.
keith40
In the article it states that it sleeps 1 or 2. And I'm pretty sure it all folds down being the way it constructed.
Grunchy
All style, no substance? Ridicule-worthy, to coin a phrase?
TomLeeM
I think that is really neat. Perhaps - if not them - someone will put it - or something like it - into production.
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