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The glamping boom is good business for tent manufacturers

Markets, Product Trends | June 1, 2024 | By: Kelly Hartog

Tenting in Luxury’s waterfront en suite tents along the inlet of the fjord at Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge’s five-star glamping resort on Vancouver Island, B.C., Canada. Tents are constructed from 12-ounce Sunforger treated canvas.

During the pandemic, many people sought to spend more time in nature. That trend hasn’t subsided, but they also want connectivity and more creature comforts. That’s good news for the glamping industry and, by extension, fabric and tent manufacturers. Research and Markets projects the glamping market will grow from $2.79 billion in 2023 to $4.91 billion in 2028, for a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.1%. Allied Market Research states that the global glamping tents fabric market is projected to reach $1.9 billion by 2032, growing at a CAGR of 10.8%.

Emerging from the pandemic

Three fabric and tent manufacturers that sell both to businesses and direct-to-consumer attest to the growth in the market and are adapting accordingly. At ArchiWorkshop in Seoul, South Korea, co-principal architect Hee-Jun Sim says, “We’re witnessing an upsurge in demand for immersive, nature-centric experiences that offer a respite from urban confines.”

John Delaloye, CEO of Diamond Brand Gear Company in Asheville, N.C., says people were eager to get outside during the height of the pandemic, but now he sees the industry “stepping back just a little” and looking at ways to be more thoughtful about the whole glamping experience and focusing on sustainable aspects.

A peek inside one of Tenting in Luxury’s en suite tents. A connected bathroom is situated off the back of the tent. Images: Tenting in Luxury

Brenda Hagerty, president of Porcupine Canvas/Tenting in Luxury in Boucherville, Quebec, Canada, agrees. “During the pandemic, it was crazier than crazy,” she says, laughing. “But this year is picking up. We lived so harsh for several years that if people are going to spend their money on tents, they don’t want to be 4 feet from their neighbor. They want some privacy, a barbecue on the front patio and a fridge inside. It’s the amenities that people are realizing are just as important as the tent.”

Focus on fabric

Regarding the actual tents, Sim says there has been a focus on eco-friendly and durable fabrics, including hemp, recycled polyester and organic cotton. “These materials are not only environmentally responsible but also offer enhanced durability and weather resistance, crucial for outdoor settings,” he says.

Diamond Brand Gear’s Atlas tent.

Hagerty says, “The true glamping consumer wants everything that’s done with a natural fiber. They’re still looking for the organic cottons, the hemps. Organic cotton is by far the easiest one still to sustain because cotton is such a quick-growing crop.” She says her company tried using polycotton blends, but clients didn’t like the feel of it because there is a plastic material mixed in that is supposed to make the tent more resistant to tears. However, she says, after doing some testing, they found the blends didn’t outlast the old-fashioned cotton tents.

Now with the focus more on natural-style fabrics, Hagerty says she’s seen greater improvements in the construction of canvas. “The weaves are coming in different; they’re tighter, they’re a double-fill weave, so they’re stronger. And in our market, people still prefer the 100% treated canvas for tent construction.”

Production planner Allie Durr prepares fabric panels for reinforcement.

Another side of the sustainability issue is using less to begin with. Delaloye says, “Our goal is to optimize all parts of the tent. Sometimes it’s OK to use less material if it’s a better, more durable material. Things [like] that will make a positive impact, especially on the front end.”

He admits Diamond Gear traditionally has used blended polycotton fabrics. “It’s a great fabric, super durable and fairly versatile,” he explains. However, he says, it’s difficult to recycle at the end of its life. “So, we’ve actually taken old tents back that we’ve made for folks and will hopefully start to do that for other brands.” Once it reclaims the tents, the company converts them by upcycling them into bags and other products.

Hagerty also has concerns about polycotton blends. “You need different percentages [of polycotton blends] to maintain the breathability of a tent,” she explains. “There are all these European companies that are coming out with these fabrics to make them windproof and waterproof versus just water-resistant. But the minute you go waterproof, the tents don’t breathe. So, people must do some type of ventilation.”

Diamond Brand Gear’s 100% recycled polyester, with a PFAS-free durable water repellent coating, weighs around 10 ounces per square yard. Images: Diamond Brand Gear

That’s one reason Diamond Gear is focusing on fabrics that are 100% synthetic or 100% organic. Delaloye says, “What we’ll be bringing out into our glamping products this summer is a more environmentally friendly product that is made from 100% recycled polyester.” He says it could be the first non-PFAS, C0 durable water-repellent coating on a tent fabric. The company also is working on an organic hemp cotton blend.

Sim says there’s also a growing emphasis on modular and prefabricated construction methods. “These techniques allow for minimal environmental impact, faster construction times and greater flexibility in design,” he says. “Moreover, they facilitate the creation of structures that can be easily expanded, adapted or relocated as needed.”

ArchiWorkshop’s pebble-inspired Stacking Doughnut tents in Seoul, South Korea. Double-layer cladding protects the tents in all weather conditions. Image: ArchiWorkshop

The generational drive

“People who travel,” Hagerty adds, “want the internal frames—not just the ones that are the true style prospector glamping tent.” And while her company has developed framing systems for those who regularly travel, “Ninety percent of my market is still the traditional prospector tent that’s hung from poles,” she says.

Image: ArchiWorkshop

Sim, Delaloye and Hagerty agree that younger millennials and Gen Z are driving the eco-friendly, sustainable glamping trend. “Social media influence is significant in this demographic,” Sim says, “with a preference for aesthetically unique and picturesque glamping sites that provide a backdrop for digital content creation.” According to a 2023 Insuranks survey in North America, nearly 1 in 6 people (14%) chose their glamping sites based on how “Instagrammable” they were, with 22% of Gen Z admitting to doing this.

Hagerty says, “Those 40 and under are really driving [the trend]. They don’t want to stay in hotels. They are more concerned than older generations about the carbon footprint that we leave and global warming.” She says she has industry clients who go one step further. “They’re out on Facebook Marketplace and at estate sales buying older furniture, upcycling it and putting it in their tents. They’re buying barn wood to put on their floors.”

ArchiWorkshop’s Modular Floor tents in Seoul, South Korea, have a structural flooring system. The toilet and shower stall are separated from the main area by an artistically painted wall. Images: ArchiWorkshop

“The younger generation definitely wants innovation,” Delaloye adds. “They want new things, new experiences. So, we pay a lot of attention to the indoor space and the outdoor space because we know part of the reason people go glamping is they want to be outside—on the porch, on the deck, potentially under shade—and experience the world outside of the tent’s interior. We’re really paying close attention to that transitional space.”

With older demographics—older millennials, Gen X and baby boomers—Delaloye says that in the U.S., “I think they look more toward convenience. It used to be people would use a shower house and shared bathrooms at a site.” Now, he says, glampers want a private shower and bathroom at their tent “even if they’re rudimentary.”

The focus with older adults and families “is on comfort, accessibility and quality,” Sim adds. “[They] prioritize wellness-oriented experiences, with amenities that cater to health, relaxation and family activities. The inclusion of local cultural experiences, guided nature tours and wellness workshops are particularly appealing to these age groups.”

Overall, says Delaloye, there is a definite shift in the industry “to responsible tourism and being eco-friendly and dealing with solar energy and water conservation. And I really want to do whatever we can in the industry to encourage others to lead the way with sustainability.” 

Kelly Hartog is a freelance journalist in Los Angeles, Calif.

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