REVIEW: 66˚NORTH X HEIMPLANET The CAVE XL

The 3-4 person inflatable geodesic 4-season season tent

Feature type Review

Published Apr 07, 2022

Author Rupert Shanks

Photographer Rupert Shanks

Rupert Shanks Having travelled extensively with a camera in hand, filmmaker and photographer Rupert is inspired by the natural world and moments of wonder.

Our Verdict

With a focus on ease of use, this tent doesn’t compromise on build quality or structural strength. This a premium, high performing product born from a collaboration between a pair of brands who really understand that beautiful design and simple, straight-forward reliability are not poles apart at all.

Overall Height 127 cm
Height of Tent Inner 102cm
Pack Size 40 x 32 x 23cm
Weight 4.8 kg
Price £825

Pros

  • Retro-futuristic, sci-fi, geodesic beauty
  • Quick to erect
  • Simple and effective design
  • Stable, protective, spacious

Cons

  • Assembly can be fiddly in the cold
  • Bulky for one person to carry

First Impressions

For bombproof three-man, four-season tents, most people sensibly prioritise durability and stability. Weight is always a consideration for any mountain equipment but compromises must be made, especially for a tent of this size.

I’ve been long aware of both the 66˚North and HEIMPLANET brands for being all about high quality and clean, elegant design.

I’m also a sucker for the Icelandic approach to outdoor gear and was not disappointed by the striking design of The Cave XL when we got it up in the wilds of the Cairngorms. The geodesic shape is seriously something to behold; you feel a little cooler simply by association as The Cave XL turns the landscape into a set by Ridley Scott.

We reckoned that a four-season tent designed for the wildest Icelandic weather should be a good fit for what Scottish winter can throw at you.

Who is this Tent for?

The style-conscious adventurer who wants a reliably tough shelter and isn’t deterred by a bit of weight.

It’s the ideal tent when you need something substantial and roomy that can be carried by vehicle, on shorter hikes or split between users.

At £825.00, it seems on the pricier side – but this just depends on how you would use a tent like this. For regular mountain camps the extra weight would be hard to justify. But if you are needing something substantial and roomy that can be carried by vehicle or for shorter hikes then The Cave XL could be a great option. That being said, you can separate the inner and outer sections to spread the load amongst your group.

The geodesic shape is seriously something to behold

BASE Bottom Line

I was expecting The Cave XL to be well made and it did not disappoint. The design is simple and effective to allow you to get it up very quickly, once the inner and outer sections are connected.

The clips to join the inner tent to the flysheet and inflatable frame are relatively easy to connect, although definitely a little fiddly with cold fingers. The inflation of the outer frame was super quick and easy thanks to the heavy duty pump which we had brought with us. (Don’t go forgetting that!)

I was slightly surprised at the overall weight which felt heavy when everything was in one piece, but there is the option to disconnect the inner and outer pieces to spread the load.

However it must be said that the connections to put it back together are a little fiddly when you are doing this in the cold and wind.

When you spend some time in it being punched by a few gusts, you realise the design is all about form following function. It feels stable and protective and the airframe exterior does a great job at providing a spacious and cosy interior.

The ability to get this tent up and ready in a minute or two is so appealing. When the weather is closing in or you’ve had a long, bitingly cold day, there is something deliciously satisfying about the way it expands up with a few simple pumps.

The geodesic airframe is a glorious bit of design that is not only great to look at, but feels practical and effective as you move inside into the spacious, dome-like interior.

The clips and pump connections all feel solid, reliable and well-made. The individual valves offer good even distribution of the air and can also be locked off individually to add more air to each of the struts.

When the weather is closing in or you’ve had a long, bitingly cold day, there is something deliciously satisfying about the way it expands up with a few simple pumps.

The test

We decided to take The Cave XL up on to the Cairngorm plateau in mid-March to spend the night, conditions were clear and dry but cold with wind definitely picking up through the night.

We left the cars at about 4pm and spent a couple of hours hiking up on to the plateau. With one recent Covid patient, this was pretty slow going. Dusk brought a beautiful pinky light casting across the snow-capped hills. The views opened up as we made our way up the shoulder towards the Cairngorm plateau. We saw Loch Morlich glittering way down below us as the last of the day withdrew.

Between the three of us, we divided the inner and outer shell which meant weight was distributed without too much grumbling.

Normally these would all be clipped together from the outset, to allow a super-fast erection but we felt it would be good to check how long it would take to put it together from scratch, especially on a cold and windy evening.

Summiting up onto the plateau in an exposed location gave us a good feel for how the tent performed in some of the UK’s harshest wind and cold.

Our specific site was a mix of shallow, icy snow and tough earth.

Where to Buy It

The Cave XL is available direct via the 66º North website.

About 66º North

66°North is an Icelandic outerwear company creating multipurpose pieces made to last. Iceland has a spirit of people living an extraordinary, everyday life connected to nature and meeting impossible challenges with optimism, joy, and humor. 66°North brings the power and beauty of the North to the world through their products. This means clothes that make life and activity possible where there would otherwise be none, and business practices that conserve and protect the North at a time when our glaciers, weather, and natural landscape are under dramatic threat from climate change.

About HEIMPLANET

In 2003, when the idea for a new design for tents was formed during a surfing trip in Portugal, the basis of Heimplanet was created. In 2011 The Cave, the first inflatable tent by Heimplanet, was launched. Since then Heimplanet has designed and manufactured a wide range of new hiking and outdoor products using highly advanced technology. Heimplanet offers bags for every type of trip along with camping gear for various environments. Heimplanet’s goal is to offer the best possible travel equipment for any destination. Using inflatable technology and geodesic design, tents by Heimplanet are set up easily using a pump and have special wind stability, so can be set up in any type of weather. Heimplanet aims for functionality of outdoor products with innovative design for outdoor living.

About The Reviewer

BASE Collective member Rupert Shanks is a photojournalist based Scotland with an affinity for the wild spaces of this planet. He’s a self-confessed ‘ski-nut’ as well as a mountain biker, hiker and runner with a huge amount of experience in the mountains from Switzerland, Macedonia and Croatia to Alaska, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Uganda and Peru. Exploring the Scottish wilderness on his doorstep though, spending countless nights camping in various conditions, Rupert has refined exactly what he’s looking for in the ultimate four-season tent.

 

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