Outdoors

Retractable Campo tent flips between camp and cabana modes

Retractable Campo tent flips b...
The Campo Escape M4 is both a tent and an open sun shelter
The Campo Escape M4 is both a tent and an open sun shelter
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The view through the rear window of the opened-up Campo Escape M4 is unlike that of any other tent
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The view through the rear window of the opened-up Campo Escape M4 is unlike that of any other tent
On a clear, pest-free evening, pop the top on the Campo Escape M4 and enjoy "cowboy camping" under the glimmering stars
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On a clear, pest-free evening, pop the top on the Campo Escape M4 and enjoy "cowboy camping" under the glimmering stars
Stuffy and hot in the morning? Unzip the Escape and let cool, fresh air pour in
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Stuffy and hot in the morning? Unzip the Escape and let cool, fresh air pour in
Along with ventilation, the Campo Escape opens to big, broad views
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Along with ventilation, the Campo Escape opens to big, broad views
We first came across the retractable design as a rough Mollusc Nano prototype in 2015; now a much more polished and rebranded version is just about ready for market
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We first came across the retractable design as a rough Mollusc Nano prototype in 2015; now a much more polished and rebranded version is just about ready for market
The Campo Escape M4 is both a tent and an open sun shelter
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The Campo Escape M4 is both a tent and an open sun shelter
When fully closed, the Escape takes on the classic dome tent form with the support of a serious exoskeleton
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When fully closed, the Escape takes on the classic dome tent form with the support of a serious exoskeleton
The Escape in near fully open mode — diagrams show that it can retract back one more step against the last remaining side pole
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The Escape in near fully open mode — diagrams show that it can retract back one more step against the last remaining side pole
The Escape M4 is designed for car camping, festival camping, sports events and more
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The Escape M4 is designed for car camping, festival camping, sports events and more
Whether used for some shade during the day or shelter for overnight, the Campo Escape M4 looks great for the beach
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Whether used for some shade during the day or shelter for overnight, the Campo Escape M4 looks great for the beach
No reason to close out ocean views
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No reason to close out ocean views
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The Mollusc Nano was one of our favorite camping innovations of 2015, but for years it plodded along as an interesting design that wasn't quite ready for market success. That's about to change, though, as the redesigned and rebranded Campo Escape M4 hits the scene as the "world's first retractable tent," letting outdoor revelers lift up the tent fabric and greet the world.

Mollusc creator Ru Hartwell knew he was onto something with his retractable Mollusc tent, but last we spoke to him in 2017, he was struggling with working the design and manufacturing kinks out and securing financing. And that's where the new brand name comes in. Co-founded by outdoor industry manufacturing and logistics veteran Jon Neff and marketing expert Belinda Encarnacion, Campo purchased Hartwell's design and gave it the boost necessary to successfully start wooing outdoorsy Kickstarters. Hartwell remains on as part of the Campo team.

What didn't change during the name swap was the concept of a retractable tent that unzips at the front edge, where dome meets floor, and retracts back into various open positions, letting in fresh air and views. Campo has refined the original bulky side hubs into a simpler pole connection system that Neff promises offers a smoother action.

Whether used for some shade during the day or shelter for overnight, the Campo Escape M4 looks great for the beach
Whether used for some shade during the day or shelter for overnight, the Campo Escape M4 looks great for the beach

The Escape M4 can be set in six different positions all together, adjusting from a fully enclosed dome tent to a maximum ventilation setting that sees the tent fabric roll back into more of a rear wind wall. The various sunshade settings should prove quite popular during daylight hours, taking the place of a separate awning in shielding campers from the sun while they eat and relax, no need to sweat it out inside a fully enclosed tent.

The Escape M4 was initially inspired by Hartwell's experience with waking up to greenhouse-grade heat and stuffiness during a June music festival, and that becomes clear by the design's sheer emphasis on ventilation. Beyond the fact that it can open completely to breeze and sky, the tent also has a full screen door and three rooftop vents. An attachable rainfly covers the doors and vents to provide protection in bad weather.

No reason to close out ocean views
No reason to close out ocean views

The Escape M4's tub floor supplies nearly 70 sq ft (6.5 sq m) of sleeping space, which Campo says fits a queen-size inflatable mattress or four adults in sleeping bags. Its PU-coated ripstop terylene body is held up by a hybrid fiberglass/aluminum exoskeleton that takes roughly 10 minutes to set up. The gear loft, storage pockets and gadget clips helps campers keep organized.

At 22 lb (10 kg), the Escape M4 is definitely not a backpacking tent, but Campo makes it a backpackable tent by packaging it with a backpack carry case for easier transport from car to pitch site. That 22-lb weight certainly broadens the appeal of the tent when compared to the original Nano's 55-lb (25-kg) weight.

The view through the rear window of the opened-up Campo Escape M4 is unlike that of any other tent
The view through the rear window of the opened-up Campo Escape M4 is unlike that of any other tent

The Escape M4 seems to have arrived at an ideal time, as camping has become a wildly popular pastime throughout the pandemic. A retractable tent strikes a nice balance between basic tent camping and glamping and should appeal to everyone from lifelong car campers, to festival goers, to social media-addicted camping newcomers and more.

Campo's Kickstarter campaign surpassed its US$20K goal the very first day and is running for another three weeks. Escape M4 tents are still available at early-bird prices starting at $299 plus shipping, less if you buy a multi-pack. That's a 40-percent-plus discount off the estimated $500 retail price. If things continue along as planned, Campo will begin deliveries in March 2022.

See more retractable tenting in the Kickstarter intro video below.

Escape M4 | 2-in-1 Full Tent or Retractable Shade Cove

Source: Campo Designs

View gallery - 11 images
1 comment
1 comment
Bob Flint
Expensive sand pit, need to either get the floor separately to dump out, or keep off the beach.