In 2017, SmithFly established itself as one of the few parties that thought water-top camping might could be a thing. Its bright orange Shoal Tent was probably the most memorable in a very small, select group of portable, inflatable water shelters. We’re not sure that water-top raft-tent camping ever really gained the momentum SmithFly was hoping for, but we are sure it’s not muscling land camping out of the way for the public’s hearts and recreational dollars. So it comes as no surprise that SmithFly has docked the raft for a moment and launched a ground tent based on the Shoal raft-tent design. The new Shore Tent inflates into shape and even comes with its own modular tent pad for a stable, puncture-free pitch.
The Shore Tent uses the Shoal Tent as a blueprint but drops the unnecessary-on-hard-ground large raft base. That doesn’t mean it lacks an inflatable foundation completely, however, as both the floor and body rely on a fully inflatable structure.
The floor is made from the type of high-pressure drop-stitched material you find in a proper raft or paddleboard, with foam laminated to it for added softness and comfort. It serves as an integrated 6-inch-thick (15-cm) air mattress and can be aired down for a softer night of sleep or pumped to full pressure for a firmer feel. The 8 x 8-foot (2.4 x 2.4-m) surface provides enough space for two to three people to lie out, while a rugged 500D polyester rainfly keeps things dry inside.
SmithFly packages its new tent with an optional modular deck made by Udecx. This deck travels to camp as a series of tile-like pieces, securing together via base connection piers and cam-lock bolts. SmithFly says the full deck sets up in 10 to 15 minutes.
The Udecx kit creates a nice, neat tent pad, but its real value seems to be in protecting the PVC tent bottom from puncture by jagged rocks, thorns, broken glass or other debris on the open ground below. It won’t level out uneven ground so will still require a flat camp spot for setup, and given the Shore Tent’s design, it doesn’t look to add any comfort over sleeping on the inflated floor. So it mostly just looks like a photogenic piece of glamping paraphernalia, an expensive, heavy-duty tent footprint.
SmithFly introduced the Shore Tent last month and offers it alone for US$899 or packaged with the Udecx kit for $2,698. The only reason that first figure doesn’t look exorbitant is because it’s printed next to the second (and looks like a steal compared to the $1,999 it’d cost for a Shoal raft-tent likely to lose its novelty after a few water-camping trips). We’d look pretty hard at the Aesent (now $350) as a cheaper tent with built-in air mattress alternative. Or do the old fashioned thing and buy the tent and air mattress separately.
published 2022-04-01 17:53:10