It's 7:55 on Thursday morning. In 5 minutes, the gates will open, and cars full of camping gear and walk-in festival goers with tents and shade structures on carts will start pouring in. Tents will fly up, tarps will hang, shade structures will pop up, and camping chairs will unfold. Within a couple of hours what was once a lonely, empty campground will have been transformed into a wall to wall long weekend camp/party zone.
For anyone that has been to a music festival like our favorite, High Sierra Music Festival, this annual ritual is affectionately called "the land grab."
In July 2014, Corine and I were pregnant with our first son, Quincy (High Sierra "coincidentally" takes place in Quincy, CA). Four years prior, at our first HSMF together (Corine's first, my first dates back to 1997), we had exchanged our first "I Love You"'s in the Funk'n Jamhouse during a Mother Hips late night show. This year we had decided to splurge on a VIP Festivall Package so that we could get inside and set up our campground on Wednesday.
What that meant was as our friends started arriving, we were there to help them set up their tents.
We set up A LOT of tents! And, Corine began to wonder, why isn't their a tent designed for the specific needs of festival goers?
You see, the tents we were setting up all fell into three categories. Funny enough, ever since I started camping at concerts and festivals (The Grateful Dead at Saratoga Performing Arts Center Summer 1988 was my first) I had gone through all three of these categories myself.
- Camping/Backpacking Tents - These are small and light. They are designed to be carried into the backcountry and to withstand the harsh elements. Honestly, they are way too small and over engineered for a music festival. I used to sleep on a thin Thermarest in my small "2 person tent", no wonder I was still single when I met Corine :)
- Cheapo Tents from Big Box Retailers - These are the most common tents you'll find in the festival campground. Why? Well, they're inexpensive, and they do the job ok. They come in various sizes, most are not big enough to stand up in or are way too big for the allotted amount of space you are entitled to take. When I first met Corine, I bought a cheap 12 person tent. It's huge, but it isn't free standing, and the construction is pretty cheap.
- Higher End Car Camping Tents from a Specialty Camping Store - Stores like REI, Cabelas, and Sportsman's Warehouse sell high-end tents designed car camping. After our first couple festival camping experiences, we invested in a REI Hobitat tent. It's pretty good. We could fit a big, comfy queen air mattress in it and it fit well under a 10'x10' shade structure. I can stand up in the middle of it. However, we can't open a roller bag suitcase inside it; the air mattress takes up most of the space. We end up storing gear outside under our shade structure.
Somewhere around 10 to 15 tents in, Corine had an epiphany. Most festivals allow a 10'x10' space for a camper's tent. High Sierra Festivall Packages specifically allow early-in campers 10'x10' for their tent and 10'x10' for a shade structure. Most campers end up setting up two 10'x10' shade structures, one over their tent and one as "living" space.
Why not build a tent out of a 10'x10' shade structure? Why not use all of that space for sleeping, dressing, storing clothing and costumes, and whatever else happens to go on inside the privacy of your tent? Why not make it tall enough that your typical guy can stand up inside their ENTIRE tent? And, while we're at it, how about some color besides boring camping green or brown?
The idea for the Qamp Tent was born!