We just spent nine days in the hot (and cold), extremely windy, dusty, inhospitable Black Rock Desert…and we loved every minute of it. Burning Man is sheer beauty, love, art, and magic (read our travelogue on the experience, here) but you need to be prepared to fully enjoy yourself. Wondering how we survived 50-degree daily temperature swings, 40mph dust storms, and a nine-day cultural phenomenon? The ShiftPod insulated tent!
SHIFTPOD asked us to experience their new SHIFTPOD2 at this year’s Burning Man. We told them we would only write this review if we loved it…and guess what? The thing was freaking amazing!
WHAT’S A SHIFTPOD?
Designed by Burning Man veterans that camped in every possible configuration on the “Playa” for over two decades, Christian Weber and his team came up with the ultimate shelter. Made of a high-tech seven-layer fabric that insulates from heat/cold/wind/dust/rain/sun, this spacious pole-free tent is super easy to set up; plus, it’s portable and stylish enough for even the most discerning Burner.
- In Transit: 6 feet tall x 1 foot wide; 64 lbs
- In Use: 12 feet x 12 feet x 6.5 feet tall
- Features: 2 doors, 6 portal windows, 2 ceiling vents, 2 AC duct vents, 2 power cord pass-throughs
After one practice run in my brother’s SF apartment (though his living room was too small for the full expansion of this nomadic palace), I was able to set it up in a mere 29 seconds, see our IG highlights for this setup and other BRC gems to prove it! When you include zipping in the floor and hammering in the stakes it takes around three minutes for one person to FULLY set up the SHIFTPOD2. Imagine spending 30 minutes trying to put together a massive tent or taping together a hexayurt in a blinding dust-storm/torrential downpour on your next camping trip and you’ll understand why a quick set up is so valuable. There are NO tent poles to fumble with and we didn’t use a single rope during our nine days on the Playa. It comes with stainless steel stakes (they won’t rust out or bend) that can be pounded nearly flush to the ground so people won’t trip on them in the dark. Plus, they have a nice hole at the top for tying off guylines and easy removal with the back of your hammer.
PRO TIP: Before you lay out the floor on the dusty ground, be sure it’s shiny side up so you can start clean!
COMFORT & STYLE
After visiting numerous different structures, no camping setup made as much sense as the SHIFTPOD. Sure, there were some amazing artistic structures and $200,000 RVs but for the amount of time and money, none were as effortlessly stylish and inviting. Having a 12×12 structure that you can stand up in, gives you the space to settle in and decorate. To get ourselves started, we ordered two SHIFTPOD cots that come with quilted sleeping pads and blankets. These were super comfy and nestled together nicely to make a double bed. We added a table and chair and still had plenty of room for our bags and storage shelves. Plus, the tent comes with a bunch of hanging pockets to help you organize your bits and bobs.
PRO TIP: Hook bungee cords between the built-in tent poles and you’ll create clothes rack for your wardrobe.
The Black Rock Desert can get extremely cold at night. The new SHIFTPOD insulated tent is dialed in for sub-zero temps:
- The multi-layer walls create less condensation than single or even double-wall tents
- Center pole to support the ceiling when you are camping in snow zones
- Ceiling vents for a heater’s CO and even your own CO2. A camper from the Overland Bound Community recounted a recent camping trip, “The weather service reported a range of -2 to 9 degrees F, not including windchill. With my SHIFTPOD and a Buddy Heater, we stayed around 60 degrees all night, even as the cold sunk into the valley.”
KEEP COOL (Day Sleeps for the Night Burners)
In addition to the NASA-inspired fabric that can handle massive temperature swings, this insulated tent comes with a free “Blast Shield,” a shade structure to keep you even cooler. A friend who has owned both models said his SHIFTPOD2 with the blast shield was between 15-20 degrees cooler than his original SHIFTPOD. Having attended Burning Man 2018 with a SHIFTPOD2 I can say that we did NOT need an AC to sleep at night–we could snooze until around 10am before the sun or a DJ woke us up. That said, we did bring a floor AC unit that we got on Craigslist for $80 and it was SUPER nice when we did stay up all night and needed to sleep during the heat of the day. The SHIFTPOD2 has two vents that have drawstrings to accommodate various size AC ducts.
PRO TIP: Try to find an AC with two vents (air out and in). If you have a one-vent AC just leave a portal cracked so you don’t create a vacuum that will collapse your tent.
SUPER PRO TIP: If you don’t want to buy an AC and a generator, build your own swamp cooler for under $30, which can be run on solar.
Burning Man can be freaking windy. One minute it will be bluebird skies and you’re sipping a piña colada someone just gifted you…and the next minute it’s a complete dust whiteout and someone’s Walmart Tent (boo) is soaring through the sky like a kite. SHIFTPODs have been tested in 100mph winds and stood strong.
All doors, windows and the floor are equipped with water and dust-proof zippers. The floor can also be unzipped from the structure which is great for cleaning. Plus, they have ventilation ports with dust filters so you can catch a bit of breeze without the grit.
PRO TIP: Put a heavy doormat outside for your shoes and a carpet inside to collect remaining dirt.
Going to Burning Man with a crew? Want to make your own camp? You can use the tunnel system to connect up to five SHIFTPODs. The tunnel doorway also provides a nice foyer to remove dusty/dirty clothes and keep shoes and backpacks out of the rain.
There are two sealable power-cord holes, one on either side of the pod, to run electricity without creating gaps in the structure.
PRO TIP: Grab one of these solar + battery setups and you can power your lights, charge a phone, and run the fan on your swamp cooler without a noisy and fossil-fueled generator.
The SHIFTPOD2 is airline compliant and fits inside nearly any car or will easily strap to the roof. Unlike a car/truck roof tent, you can leave your SHIFTPOD set up while you explore in your vehicle and when not in use, it can be loaned to family and friends.
- Swag: A MOOP bag (to support Burning Man’s leave no trace initiative), eye masks, earplugs, and two combination locks for doors.
- Giving Back: SHIFTPOD donates one shelter to a community in need for every 20 they sell.
- Self-reliance: While RVs sound convenient, their water and electricity are prone to problems on the Playa. A SHIFTPOD is glamping without the fuss.
- Resale Value: Not sure if you will love it as much as we did? No worries, these insulated tents retain their value and sell like hotcakes every spring/summer/pre-Burning Man.
BUY A SHIFTPOD INSULATED TENT
The SHIFTPOD2 costs $1,499. While that sounds a bit pricey, it’s totally worth it, not to mention it’s on sale at this link (HoneyTrek affiliate), knocking off $200 and adding in a $129 Blast Shield for free…so basically a $329 discount. Compared to the other Burning Man alternatives of renting an RV for around $3,000, or renting a HexaYurt for $500-$1,500, the SHIFTPOD is well worth the money…and you can use it for decades to come. Some reviews say the size and weight are cons, but when compared to a HexaYurt (the most similar option) the SHIFTPOD2 is smaller (for transport and home storage), more durable, simpler to set up, lighter, and much easier to fit into your ride (important if you are carpooling or driving a rental car with no roof-rack.)
Heading into Burning Man we were pretty concerned about finding a shelter comfortable and tough enough for nine days in the extreme desert. As I think you can tell from the review above, we could not have been happier with our SHIFTPOD2, and highly recommend it to anyone who’s into festivals, car camping, or just looking for a little more comfort and cool-factor than a traditional tent.
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