Meet Derek Tillotson: The Creator of Haven Safari, Your All-In-One Hammock Tent

Derek Tillotson is the creator of Haven Safari, a unique all-in-one hammock tent that is perfect for camping and outdoor adventures. We had the opportunity to speak with Eric about his invention, and he shared some insights into how it was created and what makes it so special. Read on to learn more about this innovative new product!

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An Interview with Derek Tillotson

What inspired you to create the Haven Safari?

“I just love sleeping on the ground,” said no one ever… followed by “I love being folded like a banana all night.” For most people, sleep is the low point of camping. Haven Safari builds on our proprietary lay-flat design to truly make sleep the highlight of camping.

I made Haven Safari because we looked at how people were using our backpacking tents and realized many were used for car camping or just hanging in the backyard. If we took weight considerations out of the equation, how nice could we make this thing?!

What are some of the features that make the Haven Safari unique?

As a sleep system, Haven Tents differentiates with comfort. The air mattress base and hammock support closely mirror a traditional mattress. We’ve grown accustomed to a certain level of comfort… cots, air mattresses on the ground and traditional hammocks take us out of our routine and comfort.

Beyond the proprietary flat-lay, we use an integrated rainfly, bug net and other accessories. Typically, those are modular in hammock systems. The Haven Safari is everything you need in a single bag. 

How long did it take you to design and perfect the Haven Tent?

I got the initial idea for the Haven Tent in the summer of 2018. I was lying in a traditional hammock and thought, “This would be so much nicer if my head and feet were lower.” From that, we designed and patented the Haven Tent. 

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Our first Kickstarter launched in September 2019. We’ve continued to learn and improve ever since. Haven Safari is the latest in what’s been 4 years of innovation and sleep perfection. 

Who is your target market for the Haven Safari?

Haven Safari is perfect for car and motorcycle campers, people who want to lounge in their yard and people that don’t have to go very far to set up camp. As a rule of thumb: if you plan to carry it, look at our Standard Haven Tent or Haven XL. If weight isn’t an issue, Haven Safari is unbeatable!

How has the reception been for the Haven Safari so far?

As the first safari or glamping style hammock on the market, we didn’t know what to expect from our Kickstarter campaign. But interest has been great since we launched! We raised more in 2 days of the Safari campaign than we did during our entire 1 month Haven Tent campaign. 

Those who have had a chance to see it in person and lay in the new Safari tent are even more excited. 

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in starting this business? 

We launched in fall 2019 and quickly ran into COVID-19 lockdowns and shortages. We had to do everything required of a production-dependent startup in a whole new world. 

We had no experience, so luckily we didn’t know what normal was like. We just rolled with it and learned to be light and scrappy. I have to say that the Kickstarter community was overwhelmingly understanding and awesome throughout the whole process. 

Do you have any future plans for the Haven Tent? If so, what are they?

I love going on adventures. With Haven Tents, I feel like I am taking a small part in each and every trip that someone takes with a Haven Tent. We will continue to serve our customers and improve our products. We have some ideas in development and are always open to suggestions. 

For the last two years, we have been the new gadget. This year, we are working to make ourselves the gold standard of tents and hammocks alike. 

What is your favorite part of your job?

I am my first customer and biggest critic. My favorite part is getting outside and using the product myself. In epic locations. I’ve shared these adventures in the journal on our website

What is your favorite camping memory?

Last September, we planned an overnight trip in Iceland to showcase the Haven Tent. Iceland isn’t known for its forests, but the Haven Tent can also be pitched on the ground as a bivy tent. We hiked (in the dark) to a far-flung ridge over a glacier and got destroyed by wind and rain all night. It was probably the worst night I’ve ever had in a Haven Tent. But the product designer in me loved it. We took our tents to the most inhospitable place in crazy conditions and woke up completely dry!

The tent’s performance made this one memorable. After we packed up, the clouds parted for a few seconds and we even got to see the glacier.

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Do you have any tips for someone who is new to camping and wants to try it out?

There is something in nature that we need. It is critical to our happiness and mental health. Camping is a way to submerge ourselves in this elixir. Walking in the park touches on this, but going to bed and waking up outdoors… now that’s the stuff. 

A good night’s sleep with a Haven Tent is icing on the cake. 

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Chad

I'm a co-founder and writer here at Unfinished Man. I write, manage the look and feel of the website, and make sure that nothing breaks. I also reply to the vast majority of our emails, so if you're sending one through, I suggest you be nice. Everyone says I'm the least offensive of our writers, so they gave the email jockey task to me. When I'm not improving the site, I write about fashion, video games, politics, and anything related to science and technology.

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