Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2015 Preview: Tents

Get a sneak peek of some of the top trends and products in tents to debut at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2015.

Leading up to Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2015, SNEWS is previewing some of the top trends and new products you’ll see at the trade show and Open Air Demo in Salt Lake City, Aug. 4-8. You can access all these articles and more in our O.R. Daily Day 0 edition.

Tents are getting a lifestyle makeover.

Following the footsteps of its brethren in outdoor apparel, the camping equipment market is attracting a new category of customers who are seeking tents that not only perform in a variety of situations, but look good and function well in social situations, too — including sleek graphics, added tech and heritage designs. The flexibility and style of these tents are targeted toward the growing ranks of car campers, festivalgoers and tailgaters.

“It’s about being more social and fun versus that fear-based, militant marketing approach of ‘you’ve got to have this tent or you’re going to die,’” said Austin Robbs, a product manager for The North Face.

Electronics, too, are creeping more into tents — from lighting to iPad sleeves and charging stations. Expect to see electronic climate-control tents around the corner said Nemo Founder and CEO Cam Brensinger.

Granted, the above trends are a small slice of the market and core-outdoor tents still deliver the industry’s bread and butter. Technical tent lines are already being sold out this season, brand officials said. And in this realm, tents are skewing lighter, yet larger — a backpacker’s dream after being crammed into so-called ‘two-person’ tents that realistically only fit one. Today’s ultralight tent weights are settling in at about 1 pound per person.

But is the lightweight lunge in tents nearing its end? Numerous designers noted they’ve reached a tipping point in terms of tent weight without sacrificing durability and livability.

>> Tents are becoming more modular to fit a variety of outdoor adventures. Take the new Colfax series (MSRPs $269-$369) from Marmot. The tents alone are light enough for backpacking, or they can be expanded to include extra vestibule and porch space. Connect several together for even more room. Steep walls provide cabin-tent-like feel and all three windows can be shut for privacy or opened for expansive views.


>>The North Face targets picnic, park and festivalgoers in more social, close-to-home situations with its new Homestead series including the Shelter (MSRP $300) that fits around most campground picnic tables and the Roomy 2 (MSRP $230), a two-person tent, claiming 50 percent more room than a typical two-person design.

>> There are two ends of the spectrum when it comes to shelters these days — they can be core-backpackers’ minimal, ultralight shelters, or they can serve as a portable sunshade while watching the kids’ soccer game. Either way, the Kelty Mirada (MSRP $120) offers easy set-up with two poles and plenty of floor space.


>> While lifestyle products are hot, brands aren’t ignoring core outdoor customers. Nemo brings its Apollo shelter (MSRP $250), which is meant to be paired with its Escape Pod Bivy (MSRP $120), the latter employing an air-filled beam to pitch mesh over the sleeping bag for bug protection. It’s a super, ultralight solution tailored for bikepacking, a niche, yet rising trend said Nemo CEO Cam Brensinger. We suspect ultralight backpackers will be interested, too.


>>MSR also targets the core, ultralight customer with a redesign of its Carbon Reflex series, shaving more than a pound off its lightest tent. The two-person model (MSRP $499) weighs in at 1 pound, 13 ounces thanks to a 7-denier, non-zippered fly and single, carbon-fiber pole. Yet, this tent still features two doors and decent space with vertical corners at the floor that steepen the walls.


>> While some might be writing the activity’s obituary, backpacking tent sales are booming, said Mountain Hardwear Global Director of Product Merchandising and Design Robert Fry. “Some models, we can’t keep them in stock.” And the brand sees opportunity for more innovation in the middle market, debuting the technical, yet affordable Hylo tent (MSRP $350). The double- and single-wall design creates a more breathable tent for those humid environments, including low, middle and high vents to move air through like a chimney.


>> Last year’s introduction of Big Agnes’ lighted tents led to plenty of discussion on the hi-tech direction of tents and we expect to see more. This year, Sierra Designs brings its Night Glow accessory (MSRP $15) to light things up. Stick any size of headlamp in it and the lightweight polyester taffeta material diffuses and spreads the light to fill the tent.


--David Clucas

These are just a few of the new products to debut at Summer Market. Be sure to check out much more new and trends in the O.R. Daily, Days 1-4, published live at the show, and available digital format each day of print at www.snewsnet.com/ordaily.