Inflatable Geodesic Tent Makes Tent Poles Obsolete

It’s like the 1970s are going camping…in a good way!

The modern tent is a pretty amazing invention. Constructed of everyday materials like nylon and fiberglass, it can spring from backpacks to offer shelter in some of the worst outdoor conditions. But could we do better? Of course, we can always do better.


The Cave’–designed by Frackenpohl Poulheim to be sold under the Heimplanet brand–is a tent with no poles. Instead, this shelter deploys an inflatable diamond grid–a geodesic dome–to support the structure. It’s kind of like a moon bounce without the bounce, a tent that pops out in a minute with a bicycle pump and deflates without any effort at all.

The inflatable frame has several advantages, aside from a dome’s inherent spaciousness. You’ll never curse over those strange modular poles again. And more importantly, you won’t have to worry about poking one of those poles through your tent in the process. As fragile as the Cave’s pool animal technology may appear, it can actually withstand winds up to 75mph, and the grid exoskeleton is actually split into five double-layered modules, meaning that if one pops, the tent will keep standing.

It’s almost an amazing idea. Practically speaking, however, inflatable structures may work better for larger scale emergency response–like the hospitals used by Doctors WIthout Borders–than backcountry camping. A hiker would find the pump unwieldy in a pack. And while the Cave may just take a minute to deploy, the modern tent doesn’t take much longer. For those camping well away from civilization, saving a few minutes at a campsite might not be worth the risk of sleeping under something that could leak or pop, however unlikely that outcome may be. Inflatable structures save a lot of time at scale. But for smaller, one-room abodes, that time savings is tougher to appreciate.

All of that said, were I filming some sci fi movie taking place a decade in the future, the Cave certainly fits the idealistic bill. Then again, I still have a soft spot for Epcot.

[Hat tip: designboom]


About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started, a simple way to give back every day.