The all-season tent built for Iceland

PhotographerBenjamin Hardman
TextBenjamin Hardman

"I could have never imagined what I would go on to experience with that tent over the years, from 100km/h winds to freezing blizzards, one thing was always for certain; if I was inside my tent, the weather went on pause."

66°North x HEIMPLANET x Benjamin Hardman

It was very natural to collaborate when 66°North and HEIMPLANETwere brought together by a mutual friend, the photographer Benjamin Hardman. Benjamin has been using the protective and versatile 66°North garments in unpredictable Icelandic weather for years and slept countless nights during Icelandic summer in the inflatable tents from the German camping gear innovator, HEIMPLANET. It was therefore a good reason to make something special that could extend the explore season for Benjamin, a tent designed for all seasons of the year.

Working as a nature photographer in Iceland, I spend a lot of time outdoors based remotely in the Icelandic highlands. Out there, my tent is my home. It is a refuge from the harsh Arctic elements and a place of comfort amidst the rough volcanic terrain. In the summer of 2017, I began to explore the uninhabited highland plateau of Iceland. A place where camping is often the sole option to escape the weather overnight. I’d already been living in Iceland for two years, but this part of the country remained unexplored for me as I didn’t yet have the means to venture so far out into the wilderness. Finally I was ready, and after many sleepless nights of research for the ideal camping set up, I came across HEIMPLANET.

Based in Germany, HEIMPLANET designs and produce some very unique and visually striking tents using an air inflated frames in place of traditional tent poles. With 4x4 expeditions in mind, I chose the HEIMPLANET Cave tent to be my base. It has a super strong design, an incredibly fast 60 second setup time thanks to its innovative inflatable construction and enough space to really feel at home whilst still packing down to the size of a dry bag. I could have never imagined what I would go on to experience with that tent over the years, from 100km/h winds to freezing blizzards, one thing was always for certain; if I was inside my tent, the weather went on pause. Five years and countless memories later, the Cave is still my most treasured camping item.

I had a dream to build an Icelandic weatherproof edition of the Cave. In other countries it can take a whole year to experience all four seasons, but here, you can see them all within one day. With a four-season Cave, fit out with a fully weatherproof construction, larger floor-plan for my camera gear and space for a team of two or three people, there is potential to elevate the highland camping experience even further. From home to portable basecamp.

Brainstorming with the team at 66 North, we spent some time looking into the history of shelters in Iceland. With storms so powerful that a buildings can literally be shifted from their foundations, storm shelters are an absolute must here, especially in remote locations around the country. We realised a common thread amongst the shelters, their eye-catching orange exterior. It stands in strong contrast to the sweeping valley of green summer hues and stark white snow of the winter. No matter the season, you’ll always find it.

The state-of-the-art tent combines 66°North's design with HEIMPLANET’s technology, and takes only a single hand pump to pitch in less than a minute. Featuring (XYZ) specialised features, the Cave XL has been purpose built for Iceland. Having the fly sheet extend all the way down to the ground is an exciting addition for me, giving an extra layer of weather proofing during those classic Icelandic storms where rain and snow somehow manage to go upwards. You heard it right, in Iceland it can rain from the ground up, thank you dear wind.

The Cave XL has a generous 5m2 of ground space allowing plenty of room to sleep a crew of 2-3 people and all of their gear, while packing down to the size of a 30L dry bag. It is the perfect basecamp for car based adventures or expeditions where hauling your gear in a pulk, trailer or sled is an option. It has a bunch of storage options in the walls inside the inner tent to keep your gear organised, as well as a gear loft in the roof which I like to use as a diffused light source for the tent with my head torch after getting settled inside. A spacious vestibule at the entrance offers room for your boots and utilities.

There are two types of pumps available, a double action floor pump and a mini pump. Thanks to a linked inflation valve system, you can attach the pump to one of the intake ports and pump up the whole structure without needing to move around the tent. Whilst the air structure is linked, there are several individual chambers that can be closed off in the rare event of a breakdown in the system. This will provide emergency support and keep the structure standing while repairs are made.

No matter the season, you’ll always find it.

"With Iceland being home to some truly unrelenting weather that can hit you like a tonne of bricks without a moment's notice, having strong and reliable equipment is key"