Austrian inflatable tent specialist GentleTent is slowly adapting its air-filled tent technology from ground camping to vehicular camping. It showed an inflatable roof-top tent at last year's Düsseldorf Caravan Salon and put the focus on the all-new B-Turtle bike camper at this month's Abenteuer & Allrad. This innovative pop-up bike camper hauls gear behind your bicycle, then inflates within minutes to create a cozy two-person shelter.
Aimed at multi-day bike tourers, the B-Turtle is meant to offer a comfortable overnight shelter without weighing the ride down too much. It features an aluminum frame that's topped by the inflatable tent that's wrapped up in a protective cover. Inside the chassis is a 120-L slide-out storage compartment for carrying additional gear, while a PVC cover protects that gear in the event of bad weather.
At camp, the B-Turtle's cover is removed and the tent inflated into shape within 10 to 20 minutes. The trailer top becomes an 83 x 51-in (210 x 130-cm), two-person air-filled sleeping platform that sits 28 in (73 cm) above the cold ground. The trailer chassis and tent are stabilized with support legs, stakes and guy-lines.
The B-Turtle tent includes a 6.6-ft (2-m)-high vestibule with roll-up door and floor, making it easier to get in out of the weather before hopping into bed. The vestibule also provides a weather-protected space for storing other gear and allows access to the B-Turtle's slide-out storage compartment through a zippered panel.
The drop-stitch inflated sleeping platform is built to hold up to 441 lb (200 kg), and the tent height of 51 in (130 cm) over the sleeping platform lets campers sit up comfortably. GentleTent recommends using an air mattress on top of the sleeping platform, as it becomes quite rigid once inflated. The tent includes a transparent rear window and two mesh side windows, all of which can be closed over with fabric.
The tent breaks back down in about 10 minutes. In ride mode, the trailer attaches to the bike via a drawbar with Weber coupling. The tent can also be unstrapped and removed from the trailer, leaving a simple utility trailer.
The B-Turtle weighs in at 66 lb (30 kg), and its trailer body measures 43 x 31 x 23 in (110 x 79 x 58 cm, L x W x H), and is 63 in (160 cm) in length with the drawbar included. It is designed for use on smooth roads and surfaces and not built to hold up to mountain biking. GentleTent has developed it with e-bikes in mind but warns that it's only for use with pedelecs that max out at 15.5 mph (25 km/h) or less.
The B-Turtle launched earlier this year, and deliveries begin this summer (Northern Hemisphere). It's priced at €2,990 (approx. US$3,500), which includes the trailer, tent, guy-lines, stakes, repair kit and hand pump. The tent can be inflated more quickly and easily with an electric pump, sold separately. GentleTent also has a Vienna-based rental operation in the works, through which you'll be able to rent the B-Turtle with or without an e-bike.
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