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Camping Actually Sounds Enjoyable With this Portable, Gas-Powered Mattress Heater

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BLACKCAN II Pro Heating System promo image

A weekend in the wilderness is supposed to be an enjoyable experience, so why feel guilty about taking advantage of technology to make it as comfortable as possible? The BLACKCAN Ⅱ Pro fills your sleeping pad with a constant supply of warm water so no matter how cold it gets outside, you’ll remain toasty and warm inside your tent.

Even during the Summer months, it can get cold enough at night to make sleeping in a tent an unpleasant experience if you haven’t splurged on sleeping bags and mats engineered to prevent the cold ground from wicking heat away from your body. But heading out into the wilderness in the Fall and Winter makes keeping at warm at night even more of a challenge. At least if you’re not willing to hit the hay wearing all the clothes you brought with you.

The BLACKCAN Ⅱ Pro packed away inside a carrying case.

Designed more for occasional car campers than serious excursionists who spend hours getting to a secluded camping spot with only what they can carry on their back, the BLACKCAN Ⅱ Pro is a mattress heating system powered by the same propane or butane tanks that are used to power travel stoves. Heated sleeping pads aren’t a new idea, but they’re typically powered by batteries that need to be fairly substantial in size (heavy) to keep power flowing all night long, and that require another source of power to charge back up during the day.

Instead of powering heating elements, the BLACKCAN II Pro heats water in a small pot. It also has a thermoelectric generator that creates enough power to keep a circulating pump running all night, sending freshly heated water into the mattress, which returns to the pot afterwards cooler and ready to be re-heated. A single 1 lb. canister of propane or butane gas will keep the BLACKCAN II Pro system running for up to 12 hours, while the thermoelectric generator produces enough excess power to charge up a smartphone or other smaller electronics at the same time.

A camper filling the BLACKCAN Ⅱ Pro's pot with water from a plastic bottle.

The whole system hangs from an included tripod that users set up just outside the tent for safety reasons. But should it get knocked over by an animal or a middle-of-the-night bathroom run, the gas will be automatically turned off. The BLACKCAN II Pro also features audible alarms for when the whole system overheats because the desired water temperature has been set too high, or when the water level in the pump and pot gets too low.

Sleeping on a bed of warm water sounds luxurious, and the BLACKCAN II Pro system isn’t exactly a cheap camping solution. The smallest version, with a single-sized mattress, has an MSRP of $819, while the largest, king-sized option will eventually sell for $899. That’s roughly the cost of a high-end sleeping bag rated to -40 degrees Fahrenheit, although the BLACKCAN II Pro can potentially keep three to four sleepers warm at the same time.

Its creators are going the Kickstarter crowdfunding route to help put the system into production, which, as always, has its pros and cons. The earliest backers can pre-order the BLACKCAN II Pro system discounted to $539 to $589, with delivery expected as early as September, later this year. But crowdfunded products fail far more often than they succeed, and the ongoing pandemic and supply chain issues make it even harder to put something with electronics inside it into production. If you do choose to back the BLACKCAN II Pro, be ready for potential delays, or the risk of it never actually being delivered, with no hope of a refund.

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