SHIFTPOD Mini Review
Advance Shelter Systems ShiftPod Mini Review (MSRP $799.00)
Have you ever slept in a space ship? Until the most recent Rogue Overland Winter Expedition Trip I wasn’t able to say that either. Now after four nights in Arizona I get to say that I have, or at least what I would imagine it to have been like.
My first impression of the ShiftPod Mini was that it looked like a space ship, since it looked nothing like a conventional tent and must not be from this world. I wasn’t too far off as the tent is made from some advance materials designed to insulate against the elements as well as reflect UV and light making it even easier to sleep in darkness no matter what time of day.
I received the Shift Pod, and the only preparations I did before my first trip was set it up in the garage and install the removable floor that easily zips in. Setup was very simple and having the floor removable will make it easy to add larger objects that might not fit through the opening as well as clean up after any muddy or dusty trips.
Once you get to where ever you are planning on camping, the deployment time is quick. There are instructions in the bag, along with a few goodies like ear plugs and some eye masks, additionally you will find the tent stakes and extra material used for patching any holes in case you encounter a jealous bear that forgets to be courteous and does not use the door when trying to get inside to sleep with you. There is also a rain fly, and small carry back pack for the items. All you have to do for setup is remove it from the bag that has backpack style carry straps, zipper and a buckle clasp then generally place it in the location that you are looking to camp and start pulling out the sides. There are loops in the middle of each side panel that are also used to stake down in windy conditions. In the case of the mini there are 4 sides, while the full size one has 6. Once those are pulled out, you go inside and push the roof up. With that, your set up is complete. Add stakes to hold down the sides, place the fly if conditions require and set any guy wires as needed. With how easy it is, this really has been my favorite tent to set up.
After you are all set up and get inside there is surprisingly more headroom and space then the outside leads to believe. I was quite shocked how roomy it felt despite it only being approximately six foot by six foot. The nice thing with the walls that bow outward is that it makes it even more roomy. There are two personal item bags that clip onto the interior poles to store any phones, tablets, books or keys. There is also a loop at the peak of the roof so that you can hang a small lantern. There are also four port holes that when unzipped create more then enough airflow and ventilation. There are also two additional vents built in on opposite sides that are intended to aid with ventilation that differ from the port holes. The vents have an additional layer of mesh with a Velcro boarder that is intended to hold a small filter, to keep dust down from the inside. Very creative solution while continuing to provide ventilation. Additionally, there is a small three inch opening with a cinch closing that is there to allow for any cable to pass through if needed. Lastly, there is a nice safety feature that helps in getting out of the tent, the door is labeled boldly with “EXIT”. This brought about many funny conversations but as the inside of the tent can look the same, and it is nice that the door had a label in the event of needing to egress rather quickly. The door also have nicely labeled screen and door tags to make it even easier when closing up.
Our first night in the tent, we were amazed with how much warmer it was on the inside then when we were out by the fire. The insulated walls had proven worth it at first glance. The rigidity of the tent would also be tested that night as there was a slight breeze that eventually turned into a howling wind. We were near a structure that only seemed to intensify the wind. All around us, I could hear the fabric of other tents whipping in the wind while we remained untouched. I do not think the tent even moved once from the wind. With the tent being insulated and it being in the thirties that night we quickly learned that the vents at the top may need some help to vent some of the excess moisture that builds up from exhaling which can create condensation on the inside. For the rest of the trip we opened the port holes up as we went to bed which helped to nearly eliminate any additional moisture. Then in the morning we would close the vent and it warmed up nicely to get up and get dressed and on with the morning.
Tear down and packing away for the next leg of the trip was just as simple as the setup. Once everything was removed form the inside, I would open the vents to help it pack down and not trap air inside. Then from the inside I pulled the roof down before exiting, and walked around pushing all the sides in. Once the stakes were removed I would grab one corner and bring it upright and gather the rest fo the corners. I then took a included strap and buckled it to hold it together, the second included strap went around the widest part of the bundle to help smush it down for easy storage. It then went into the bag and was zipped shut. Yes it was larger then a backpacking tent, but there was no rolling and pole wrangling for it to fit in the tiny bag. It even closed down to fit in the bag with little to no effort. I would imagine if the removable floor was off the tent, it would fold more compact and the floor would still fit in the bag, as this is how it was shipped to me.
Overly easy setup and tear down
Even though I was not able to stand up, the head room was impressive for a tent with this foot print
Stands up to the wind well
Does well in warm or cold weather
More on the expensive side. However, I feel worth the cost.
On the small side for more than two adults and a kid or two.
Can condensate on the inside during cold weather if the vents are not opened
After sleeping in this for four nights I am certainly looking forward to getting out and using it more. I have always been in search of a tent that I felt met my needs. I think this one has certainly met them all so far. If I was King for a day and could get word back to the head of ShiftPod I would make a slightly larger version. Sure they have the full size one that is six sided and approximately one hundred square feet but I feel as though a five sided in-between version with one more side then the mini with four sides would work out well. It would give a little more head room and more then enough room for two adults, a few kids and all the gear needed. This would make it easier for the longer trips where you are based out of one spot longer and spread out once base camp is setup.
Overall I would highly recommend this for anyone that is looking for not only a tent for camping but a simple, easy to deploy and tear down, insulated, sturdy shelter that will keep them out of the elements for all of their adventures to come.
If you need something bigger then check out our first impression of the SHIFTPOD 2:
See you on the trails!
-Shaun of Rogue Overland