Star Wars is back in the Kingdom. As one of Hollywood’s most successful film franchises heads for the Dingle Peninsula, it means that fans from home and abroad will be making the pilgrimage also, to see where Luke Skywalker, the film’s hero, has been living in exile. I’ll confess to being a lifetime fan of the epic space saga. With this in mind, I decided to combine some history with some Hollywood gawping and shortly afterwards found myself on Valentia Island, looking for somewhere to pitch my hi-tech tent.
This German manufactured tent is designed for those of us who love the idea of restful nights in the great outdoors but could be put off by the recollections of camping in our youth. Stumbling over guy ropes, tent poles that bent, damp and even entire festival campsites that fluttered off in the night are how I remember the glory days of camping. With the Cave, Heimplanet aims to fix that by the application of technology, inside and out.
The Cave arrived, looking deceptively small when packed. Its maker says it’s designed for two or three people and at first glance it looked as if those three would need to be on good terms. As I unpacked it, it was hard not to be struck by how light it is for a sophisticated piece of outdoor tech, at just over five kilos. Maybe that’s a bit much for a weekend back-pack, but perfect for the boot or even the back of a bike.
The appeal of the Cave is in it’s assembly. You pitch the tent simply by inflating it. A hand pump is not included as standard and if you don’t have your own, the Heimplanet version is worth the €50. Their pump is light, has an aluminium piston and looks as sleek as the tent itself. I connected the hand pump to the Cave’s inlet and in about sixty seconds my home for the weekend rose from the ground like magic. The optional guy ropes are easily attached if you want hem, which, you’re likely to if pitching in dubious weather or exposed ground.
When erected, this tent looks like it means business. Heimplanet have rethought the idea of tent-poles and replaced them with an air-frame, that sits on the the outside of the tent in striking diamond shapes. These air filled poles are independent chambers, so if there’s a puncture in one, the integrity of the tent, and your weekend away, aren’t ruined. The design that Heimplanet call a geodisc is not only striking to look at but the airframe gives the tent structure such a rigidity that you feel feel safe from the moment you go inside.
The Cave is roomy inside. The total floor area is fifty-four square feet and the inside ceiling is comfortable at forty inches. Inside, its polyurethane interior is bright with enough light passing through to read by. When you look up, you’ll notice the clever roof design where the star shaped canopy provides five run offs for rain that drains away from the supporting central point.
As I looked around the the tent’s interior I discovered various bags, sewn in to the wall of the tent. These can be used to store large or small items you have with you. Maps, books, or even larger items, almost magically suspended as you look up, but easily accessible day or night. There’s also a detachable gear loft under the roof which can be used as additional storage but Heimplanet suggest putting your lamp there, and they’re right, as a lamp suspended here creates a beautiful diffused way of lighting the tent in the evenings. There’s a vestibule at the entrance where you can keep boots and cooking gear and there is ample ventilation with five closable ventilation areas ensuring a good flow of air. The polyester exterior and thermoplastic should combine to keep you cool on hot days. I can’t confirm that but I did manage to test the waterproofing of the Cave as after a couple of short but heavy showers not a single drop made it’s way in to my hi-tech cocoon.