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Icelandic outerwear brand 66ºNorth has teamed up with innovative German tent maker Heimplanet to release a limited-edition colorway of the brand's instantly recognizable Cave Tent. Designed to withstand Iceland’s relentless weather, the new four-season Cave XL inflatable tent stands out among the terrain (and it's competitors) with an easy-to-pitch design and bright orange color inspired by Icelandic storm shelters.
The Cave XL inflatable tent relies on a geodesic dome design with ten crossing points and an all-weather rip-stop nylon build to withstand rain, wind, and snow. The inflatable tubes replace traditional poles, reducing points of failure and time needed to pitch. Once rolled out, the Cave tent is reportedly capable of being pitched (err, pumped up) in under 30 seconds.
Ever curious of the innovative designs native to Heimplanet, we recently took the 66 North collaboration Cave XL for a test trip in the California desert.
Though not Iceland, and nowhere near as harsh of conditions as you would find in the Highlands, we opted for Alabama Hills in the Eastern Sierra, which was enough to give us an idea of what this tent is capable of.
Right off the bat, the ergonomic design and Heimplanet's methodical attention to detail are apparent. At 54 square feet, the tent's spacious footprint comfortably fits up to three people while still leaving room for gear. Though, the best part has to be its simple setup.
Out of the box, the tent comes disassembled in three separate pieces, the inner tent, the outer tent, and the inflatable airframe. Each piece is connected through a series of D-rings, and putting them all together is about a 10-minute process. A bit of a hassle, admittedly, but after the initial one-time assembly the tent remains one large unit, so you’ll never need to reassemble the pieces again.
As for the actual pitch process, Heimplanet claims a 60-second setup, but as a first-time user, I found the total time it took to roll out, inflate, and sort all my gear inside the Cave XL to land closer to five minutes. Which, considering the size of the tent, isn't half bad. And with repeated use, it only got quicker.
The tent’s simple setup gave me ease of mind and allowed me to focus on what matters: enjoying nature. When it was time to leave, packing the tent up was even easier than setup. Deflate, roll up, and stuff it into its designated dry bag.
But the Cave XL does come with some limitations. Packed in its 30-liter stuff sack, the 12-pound tent is best used for car camping and basecamp expeditions—and certainly not ultralight backpacking. Not to mention you need an air pump (purchased separately).
Heimplanet offers two pump options, a standard 18" double action floor pump, which weighs two pounds and comes equipped with multiple screw-on adapters and a removable hose, and a mini pump, which weighs just under five ounces and is just 13" x 2" in size. I opted for the larger since I was car camping and wanted to truly test the speed of setup.
Due to its size and loose pieces, I found the floor pump a bit impractical. The hand pump may be a better alternative, though I've yet to test so can't confirm whole heartedly. Regardless, it's important to note that in case of emergency, the tent can be inflated through lung power, without a pump.
In the end, if comfort, space, and ease of setup are more important to you than ounce counting and packability, then the innovative, inflatable 66 North x Heimplanet Cave XL tent may be for you.