Have Tent, Will Travel…In Style

Having produced more than 120 television series over the last quarter century, it isn’t so much what I’ve put on the small screen that I remember most, but rather it’s the series that didn’t get made. These are the ideas that I was convinced would be welcomed by audiences everywhere. Sadly, sometimes one just can’t get network executives to embrace genius and vision—that’s my story…. One of life’s truths, of course, is that it’s what you can’t have that is most haunting.

One particularly memorable fail was a dreamy series with the working title of, The Keys to Alaska. It involved a vagabond’s journey of fishing and camping from the Florida Keys to Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. It was designed to be Steinbeck’s, Travels with Charlie, through the lens of a recovering Wall Street broker fresh off his own personal crash. Throw in a dash of Thelma & Louise, and the possibilities are endless. Obviously.

I had mostly forgotten about the concept until one day I saw a magazine ad with a pickup that had a tent perched osprey-like atop its cab. The truck was parked along the shores of a river with the kind of stunning backdrop I envisioned my protagonist enjoying at nearly every stop from Florida to The Last Frontier. There it was, the perfect roof-top tent—which also reminded me of another series we produced about uber treehouses (hmmm, Roadhouse—The 4Runner?) that was seemingly made with my series in mind.

The booming growth in interest in roof-top tents speaks to the love of the open road and the freedom that comes with that. North America is a big landscape just waiting to be fished, camped, hunted, hiked, or generally explored no matter your interest.

When I see new tent models from Front Runner, I can’t help but picture myself behind the wheel, my Lab as my co-pilot, a stash of fly-rods, waders, coolers, sleeping bags, and a hunger to cast to every pool along the way that looks like it could hold some trout. The ingenious tent campers are invitations to go…almost anywhere your heart desires and four wheels can take you.

Because of the pandemic, millions of Americans and others needed to get away, and escaping to the wild was good therapy and an ideal way to social distance—along a trout stream, national park, or simply in a nearby woods. In just a couple of minutes, you can have the tent fully deployed in one easy motion. The tent’s body is constructed of water-repellent, and ultra-durable 260-gram poly-cotton ripstop fabric. The rainfly is made of rainproof, UV-resistant polyester oxford fabric whose hallmark is good looks and durability. The tent sits atop a sturdy base with an aluminum frame, sheeting, and a dense foam mattress with washable moisture and mildew resistant cover.

Unzip the skylight vent windows in the roof and you can take in the fresh air, sunlight, or stargaze all night. To access your bedroom with a view, just climb the aluminum ladder that quickly takes you above the critters roaming the forest floor at night. MSRP: $1,169.

Then there’s CVT’s Pioneer Series of roof top wonders. Climb the telescoping ladder and you’ll be greeted by a three-inch thick mattress protected by a washable cover which can be left in your tent as a permanent element. The floor of the tent is made of an aluminum frame and foam insulation. The body of the tent is constructed of 280-gram poly-cotton rip-stop fabric that has the feel of a regular tent. There’s a permanently attached rain fly with a stargazer window that can be used day or night, rain or shine. The tent’s windows also allow for panoramic views. What strikes you most about this model, however, is its versatility and the seemingly endless configurations you can employ. MSRP: $1,795.

Since, unfortunately, you’re not able to tune-in to someone enjoying the roof top tent life, you’ll just have to hit the road and do it yourself.

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