The SylvanSport GO came onto my radar in 2007 as a brave new concept in the age-old category of the pop-up tent trailer. Indeed, this was a camper designed for a younger, hipper outdoor crowd, a pop-up you could park at a mountain bike race and get visitors streaming over to see what was inside.
Outdoor media heralded it as a feat of design and ingenuity theretofore unseen in the camping world. It even won an award from the Industrial Designers Society of America.
But then there was the price tag. After its release, the SylvanSport GO was marketed at $8,999 fully loaded. Next came the quips about the company’s “$9,000 tent on wheels.”
Pricey, to be sure. But SylvanSport’s pop-up offers a slick and convenient option for outdoors lovers looking to pull a wilderness home behind their truck or car.
The GO weighs 840 pounds, allowing for use with small cars that have a trailer hitch. It has high-flotation tires and 13 inches of ground clearance for pulling the trailer into moderate off-road terrain.
It packs into a low-profile bullet of a trailer with a strong aluminum frame that can be adorned with racks for bikes, kayaks, or skis. You can load gear and supplies inside the lockable main compartment before hitting the road.
At your destination, the integrated tent, which is made by Kelty, unfolds like an origami flower to create a spacious and weatherproof pod. It has windows, walls, zippered doors, a stair step, bed platforms, and a table.
I tested a SylvanSport GO for three nights last month while car camping along the Mississippi River. With my wife and two small children, the trailer offered ample room when compared to a typical family tent. I configured the trailer one night with its bed platform nearly taking up the unit’s entire 118-inch width. With an inflatable mattress, we created a luxurious sleeping spot larger than a king-size bed.
Our demo trailer had a removable fabric storage unit on a wall for organizing and stashing all manner of small items. The table clicked in place easily for a meal at night while the bugs swirled outside.
We set up the GO’s optional awning accessory with poles and stakes in the dirt. This extra polyester roof, which is like the vestibule on a large tent, adds a space for stowing bikes or gear outside the main door. Set a camp table under the awning and you have an adjacent living space off the main room for eating or hanging out while still protected from the rain or direct sun.
Overall, I found the GO to be comfortable and convenient. For safety on the road, the GO has LED taillights and turn signals. But the unit is not powered, and there is obviously no bathroom inside.
Like with a tent, most GO users will cook with a camp stove. You won’t sleep on the ground in this trailer. But you will zip the door open and closed, and you’ll have to hike to the outhouse at night before bed.
For a quick, solid space to make your home outdoors — and as a trailer to transport gear while getting there — SylvanSport’s “tent on wheels” is a one of a kind camping option.