As lights get cheaper and more widespread (LED prices dropped nearly 98% over the past decade alone), darkness is turning into a luxury: 99% of the population experiences a noticeable level of light pollution, and it’s rising at around 2% per year. Already, one-third of the global population cannot see the Milky Way.
Abundant screens at home and light pollution outside make it harder than ever to get complete darkness. In addition to the camping use case, consumers are also using blackout tents for several surprising reasons.
As far as camping, tent manufacturers have two ways to grow the market: they can convince existing customers to upgrade or convince new ones to buy their first tent.
One of the biggest complaints about camping is getting a poor night’s sleep. By solving for sleep quality with blackout tents, multinational camping brands like Coleman are removing a large bottleneck to camping adoption and unlocking a much larger market to whom they can sell their line of camping gear.
Blackout tents help make camping appealing to light sleepers or those who want to wake up on their normal schedule, not when the sun comes up. Typical tents also trap sunlight, often making it hotter inside the tent than outside, also meaning it’s harder to sleep.
This ties in with the broad trend towards “glamping,” and otherwise making outdoor activities more casual; for some people, the fun of hiking is dealing with nature, but for others, a bit too much exposure to nature gets in the way of a good time.
The market for blackout tents is split into three distinct categories: campers, parents, and partiers. For parents, a blackout tent is a way to bring children along for a hike, since the tent allows them to take a nap during the day. Some point to this as the sole reason they upgraded from a standard tent: the pain of spending the last few hours of a hike in the company of an underslept and cranky small child.
Another surprisingly big market is people who attend outdoor music festivals, particularly as music festival lighting has increased over time with the drastic decline of LED prices. For them, blackout tents are a way to sleep in until midday, so they can wake up when the fun starts instead of when the sun comes up.
Beyond blackout tents, the decline of light prices and the growing ubiquity of lights and screens has led to a wide range of new product categories – from blue light glasses to a rise in eye drops for dry eyes – and the continued growth will inevitably lead to more.