Of the 43 million Americans who went camping last year, about two-thirds slept within a few hundred feet of their cars—which means the majority of us are car campers. Yet, we invest in tents and sleeping bags that would be more at home deep in the Himalaya.
According to Rich Hill, founder of upstart gear company Ticla, when it comes to car camping, there’s very little choice for equipment. It’s either high-end mountaineering gear, or Wal-Mart. “By trying to sell car campers technical backpacking equipment, we’ve driven them out of specialty retailers and into the big-box stores where they end up purchasing a value product,” he says.
The idea behind Ticla is to bridge the gap between low-end disposable products and high-end mountaineering equipment, with the goal of making car camping fun and easy. “We care about design and quality materials, but we made concessions on technical features like weight to offer gear better suited to car camping,” says Hill, who’s formerly worked for Patagonia, Prana, Ibex and Marmot. “We spent a ton of time thinking about making the products naturally easy to organize so that people don’t have to waste their time figuring out how to fold a five-pound tent into a hyper-light sandwich baggie.”
Ticla debuted its line at the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City last year, and the first products hit shelves in March. Ticla’s affordable range of tents ($275–$450) sleep two to four people, and come in three styles ideal for festivals and family car camping trips. The materials are both kid- and dog-proof, they feature 360-degree views, even with the flies on.
The warm-weather Besito sleeping bag (rated 30/45 degrees) sells for $100 and is crafted for comfort—luxury even—with an oversized fit and 8×8-inch box-stitch quilting reminiscent of that comforter on your bed. The trade-off is weight: the bags are nearly three pounds. Fortunately, weight isn’t really a factor when car camping.
The real genius behind Ticla’s products is the way the gear is designed for ease of use—particularly the way it all fits together neatly in the car. Sleeping bags and pads can be purchased as a kit, with a storage sack that also fits a pillow, headlamp, and even a book. There’s no juggling multiple stuff sacks. Actually, there’s no stuffing at all. Even the tents and shelters intuitively fit into functional hand-held totes. ticla.com