Why does anyone buy a Tentbox?

Tentbox is a company that makes tents that you mount on top of your car. They unfold complexly and provide a sleeping platform high up off the ground for folks that want to spend the night out in the Great Outdoors. They appear to be spreading like wildfire among folks with Land Rover Defenders and Jeeps and vans with snow & mud tyres.

But I cannot understand why they are spreading so rapidly, because as far as I can tell, they are inferior products sold for an inflated price. As of summer 2024, the cheapest Tentbox that you can purchase goes for just over £1,000. This gets you a 2-man tent that erects in "under 5 minutes" and only increases your car's drag coefficient by like 10%.

Compare this with a reasonably luxurious backpacking tent. Compare this with the Vango F10 Xenon. You can tell that this is a good tent because of how many names it has. It weighs about 5 lbs and packs down to about the size of a sleeping bag. It has a generous vestibule for cooking and packing out of the elements. It has lots of headroom and is wide enough that you could sleep 3 people with flexible personal space tolerances inside. It goes up in under 5 minutes, and costs less than half of what the cheapest Tentbox costs. The Tentbox, however! requires that you climb up a ladder in the dark to access it.

I simply don't understand. The only instance I can think of where sleeping on top of your car could be preferable to sleeping on the ground is if there's a significant threat of animal intrusion into your tent. Make no mistake, however: sleeping on top of your car is not going to stop a curious brown bear after a night of grilling steaks inside of your tent. They're famously good climbers.

I feel like Tentbox is a trend, an offshoot of #vanlife: instagrammable, enviable in a sort of wholesome way, more affordable than finding a used Vanagon and more convenient than a retrofitted Fiat Ducato. It feels in the same way like purchasing a personality to sell yourself online. I suspect that in four or five years eBay will flood with secondhand Tentboxes used less than a dozen times.

Lifestyle Outdoors


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