Capable of fully opening and closing in just 3 seconds, the Mollusc is a brave step forward in tent technology. The big boy version is the size of a small apartment and probably too big even for a car, but Mollusc has just launched a Kickstarter campaign that includes a portable Nano version designed for “expeditioners, campers, and mountaineers.” Imagine laying down to sleep at night under the stars and at the first hint of wind or cloud-cover simply pulling your shelter over you. That is exactly the experience that this tent provides.
The Standard Mollusc is the larger version. It measures an impressive 19.6 ft/6m in diameter and 9.8 ft/ 3m in height for a total footprint of 128 ft2/ 39m2. The skeleton is built from steel tubes with hefty aluminum and steel hinge hubs, and the canopy is a resilient marine acrylic canvas and polyester or nylon reinforced PVC. Unfortunately, the entire tent weighs 446 lbs/225kg and makes sense only for semi-permanent structures that are deployed for long periods of time in the same spot.
The Nano is the much more portable version built to meet the demands of backpackers and campers. The Standard’s baby brother weighs 55 lbs/25kg, and is oval shaped with a diameter of 10.6 ft/3.25m and a height of 5.18 ft./1.58m. It has a zippered doorway with a porthole and seam sealed curtained PVC main window, as well as fine-mesh vent ports. In addition, it has 2-way zippered walls, webbing reinforced flysheet, and an integrated tray groundsheet. The frame is constructed of a mix of steel, aluminum, and carbon fiber, which helps to shed some of the weight of its larger sibiling. The Nano’s canopy is made from a medium weight polyurethane-coated polyester. Reportedly, the set up takes 15 minutes with three people or two people in “perfect conditions.”
The Mollusc design is attractive and can serve some niche communities well. While I probably won’t be taking a 55 lb. tent on any overnighters any time soon, this is an ideal tent for outdoor festivals for example. It provides almost complete freedom when fully retracted and can lock up almost instantly in an emergency situation such as the arrival of rain. It looks like these tents have come a long way over the three years since Mollusc first started working on them, and we’re looking forward to an ultra-light version that will be more backcountry-friendly in the future.