In the realm of outdoor camping, innovation continually reshapes the way adventurers experience the wilderness. One such innovation, which initially appeared doubtful in its viability, is the hitch-mounted vehicle tent. This concept, once considered dead on arrival, has undergone significant development and refinement. Notably, global brand Thule and other tinkerers have worked tirelessly to present a viable alternative to the traditional rooftop tent (RTT).
U-rang, a startup, enters this space with its unique iteration – the Hitch Home. This product is a foldable, inflatable two-person tent housed in a rugged, wheeled box that attaches to a vehicle’s hitch. It promises a setup time of as little as three minutes and can be detached from the hitch, allowing for vehicle mobility during camping trips.
One of the main critiques U-rang addresses is the inconvenience associated with rooftop tents. These include the necessity to pack up the tent to use the vehicle, aerodynamic inefficiencies, the inability to use the sunroof, and the challenges of accessing a tent perched high off the ground – think midnight bathroom trips.
The Hitch Home offers a different take on hitch-mounted tents, using inflatable construction to ease setup and disassembly. Unlike a lightweight backpacking tent, this product is stored in a large wheeled cargo box, simplifying transport. Users can store it in a garage and easily roll it to their 2-in Class III vehicle hitch receiver for secure attachment and transport.
At the campsite, the tent unfolds from its storage box, setting up on top of it and a separate collapsible support stand. Inflation, which includes an integrated air mattress and air tube frame, is accomplished within minutes using the included 12-V pump.
However, the need for a separate tent support frame appears to be a design oversight. A more integrated solution, perhaps with the tent standing atop the open lid of the storage box and using adjustable-length folding legs for support, could offer a cleaner, all-in-one design. U-rang does include spring extension legs on the base of the box, which hints at the potential for such an integrated solution.
The current design of the Hitch Home has several separate elements that need independent installation based on weather conditions. These include a weatherproof roof fly, fly walls, a front awning, and an all-season “shelter” for enhanced weather protection. This modular approach complicates the setup process in adverse weather, making it more akin to pitching a ground tent than the simpler setup of a rooftop tent, which typically has pre-installed rain flies or hardshell roofs.
U-rang is offering two versions of the Hitch Home: a 77-lb (35-kg) two-person model and a 99-lb (45-kg) four-person variant. Kickstarter pledge levels for these models start at US$2,690 and $3,190, respectively, with various kits available depending on desired weather protection.
Despite the innovative approach, the Hitch Home’s value proposition remains questionable. It rivals rooftop tents in price and requires more time to set up to the same level of weather protection. For those deterred by the high, non-detachable nature of rooftop tents, traditional ground tents, possibly elevated with a cot, might offer a more cost-effective solution.
However, the Kickstarter community seems to embrace the Hitch Home, with the campaign already surpassing its $10,000 goal well before its deadline. With 51 days remaining, U-rang is on track to commence deliveries by July, aiming to provide backers with the Hitch Home experience by the peak of the summer camping season.
In conclusion, U-rang’s Hitch Home represents an interesting development in the field of camping equipment. It attempts to address some of the shortcomings of rooftop tents, offering a hitch-mounted, inflatable alternative. While its design and pricing may not appeal to all, it certainly adds to the diversity of options available to outdoor enthusiasts, indicative of the ever-evolving nature of camping gear and the continuous pursuit of convenience and efficiency in outdoor adventures.