My wife and I love to go camping … our boys, not so much. And when I say camping, I am not referring to an RV with TV and microwave and air conditioning! I mean a tent. One of my memories from tenting with our boys last fall was the ‘tech huddle’ in the public bathroom. There were four outlets, and all of the teens would go hang out to charge up their stuff in the evenings.
So I was intrigued when I saw the Goal Zero Katabatic solar powered tent over at Wired. The tent is being sold through Eddie Bauer, and I was really intrigued …
… until I found out you buy a tent, then you buy solar panels. Goal Zero is selling the $200 Sherpa 50 Battery pack (and the massive $1800 Yeti generator). Reading about the Yeti reminded me of the setup from Apocalypse Z, but that is another story. Basically the Sherpa is a compact panel/battery kit that provides enough power to charge up to 7 smartphones.
Here is a video:
But I admit to being a bit disappointed – because while it is pretty cool, what you really are getting is a cool tent, and a separate (but also cool) solar panel.
What I REALLY wanted to see was an integrated solar powered tent. And a post at The Awesomer highlighted a prototype of a tent with integrated solar powered capabilities and wireless communications. Take a look:
The prototype was shown in late 2009 by Orange (now Everything Everywhere) and apparently never went beyond the prototype stage. As you can see there are three panels which function as a sun-shade for day-time cooling while also soaking up power. The shades rotate to maximize capture.
Then at night you can have the tent provide a soft glow of lighting for your campsite activities, or you can turn it on remotely to help you find your tent!
There is a control center where you can charge devices, and also set up options and control the floor heating elements which will help out on cooler nights.
There is even a full concept video:
So what do you think? Would you want a tent that charges, communicates and provides other minor comforts but still is a functional tent? Or does that defeat the purpose of ‘getting away from it all’?