Life Before Haven

Life Before Haven

Derek Tillotson
4 minute read

I have a confession to make… I was never a hammock camper.

I grew up camping with the boy scouts and with my family. We slept under the stars, in snow caves, and of course in tents. The first full night I ever spent in a hammock was my first night in a Haven Prototype. Crazy, right?

Young boy smiling in his new tent circa 1984

Hammock camping wasn’t even on my radar because a few minutes of laying in any camping hammock I tried told me it wasn’t an option. Some people love the feeling of being cocooned in a traditional hammock, but my legs ache when they are kept straight out. I need a little bend in the knees. And I never liked the pressure on my sides. No thanks.

Hammocks were out of the question, but even before developing the Haven Tent I also found myself drifting away from the traditional tent concept. I just couldn’t justify the weight. Why would I carry and set up all these poles and material so I could essentially just sleep on the ground.... Ultimately, I trimmed myself down to a sleeping bag, air mattress, and a tarp. This became my kit.

Here is a video from a pre-Haven camp. Sure enough, it’s just me and the ground.

If the weather was nice, I’d sleep under the starts. If not, I’d turn my tarp into a simple A-frame tent with some paracord. Either way I would suffer through the night, sliding off my pad, feeling the odd angles of the ground that I tried to make level before laying down. Sleep was never the highlight of my earlier camping trips.

One night in the High Uintas of Utah was particularly miserable. I had my little A-frame tent pitched for what looked like a wet night. Sure enough the wind picked up and the rain started. It was a downpour. As the tarp shook above me, rain was splashing in from the open ends of my A-frame, my head and feet were getting soaked. I had to do something so I took out my pocket knife and cut the paracord holding the tarp up.

The A collapsed and I spent the rest of the night laying under the tarp in the mud. For me and many others camping always included a bit of misery. And trying to be "ultralight" just made it worse!

Selfie of a man camping with a sleeping pad on a tarp

Things changed during the summer of 2018. I was laying in a camping hammock and envisioned my head and feel lowering to a single plane, and the pressure coming off my sides. My notebook came out and the first sketches of the Haven Tent were made. I’ve told the whole Haven Story in another blog post, check that out here.

Now that Haven Tents are shipping all over the world, I love hearing first impressions. Today I woke up to this comment on one of our YouTube videos.

“I’ve been preparing for today for several weeks… I have my Haven set up literally in my living room (don't ask how). Set up was super FAST. I sat down, laid back, and just said over and over, oh honey, oh my gosh, ohhhh this is WOW!!!! I am elated beyond description…” Michelle (ID)

When people ask me to explain what it is like to camp with a Haven Tent, I say. “Imagine you somehow backed your bed from home in to a little bag and carried it into the woods. That’s what it’s like to sleep in a Haven.”

It took a lot of work to get here, but we’ve finally made sleep the highlight of camping. We're honored to be a part of your adventures!

Derek Tillotson Haven Tents Founder

Green camping hammock tent set up in the woods

And here’s a first impression video that we just can't get enough of. Lots of Oooo’s and Ahhh’s in this one too.

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