Bend business elevates tent camping

New Bend showroom for rooftop vehicle tents

By Rachael Rees / The Bulletin

Published Dec 24, 2013 at 12:01AM

Q: Where do you see the company in the next five years?

A: Bobby Culpepper: We’ve looked at possibly franchising. The big thing is to have a warehouse. We’re going to start making products in America. … So we’re going to bring a lot of work to the States, but our goal is to have an American price and a Chinese price because that way people can choose. Everyone wants you to make “made in America,” but nobody wants to pay the price because it’s very expensive to build here; that’s the problem.

Q: What is the value of the retail showroom?

A: Jamie Rose: We are the only one that there is in America, for any of the tent companies, even ones that have been around longer. So the fact that people can come in and see the product, get inside it and feel it is huge.

What: CVT Cascadia Vehicle Tents

What it does: Sells rooftop tents and accessories

Pictured: Jamie Rose and her husband Bobby Culpepper

Where: 1310 S.E. Reed Market Road, Suite 130, Bend

Employees: Four

Phone: 541-312-8368

Website: www.cascadiatents.com

Jamie Rose is aiming to elevate the camping experience through vehicle rooftop tents that get campers off the ground.

“For me, the worst part about going camping is to arrive and then have to find and clear a spot that’s even,” said Rose, owner of Bend-based Cascadia Vehicle Tents.

But with her rooftop tent, she said, camp is wherever she parks her vehicle — no pitching necessary.

Rose bought the company three years ago and recently opened a Bend showroom on Southeast Reed Market Road with her husband and sales manager, Bobby Culpepper.

“The nice thing about a rooftop tent is you don’t have to have that specific spot in the ground,” Culpepper said. “And you know in Central Oregon when you put out your ground tent you always find a rock no matter how clean you get it.”

Cascadia currently offers 10 different tent styles that connect to a variety of roof rack systems. Each comes with a mattress, ladder and travel cover, Culpepper said, and the price ranges from $995 for soft-shell tents up to $2,800 for fiberglass models.

“You can take it from your car and put it on the cab of your truck, the bed of your truck, on a trailer, on a Volkswagen, on an SUV, whatever you want, as long as there’s a rack or rail system,” he said.

And for those customers who want to test out products before they purchase them, he said, Cascadia has a rent-to-buy program with its tents, trailers and accessories.

They take two to five minutes to open and up to 10 minutes to close, he said, depending on the tent style and the height of the vehicle.

Tents range from 56 to 87 inches wide and are up to 59 inches tall when open and compress down to 14 inches in height when closed.

“You can leave your pillows, your sleeping bags, your blankets on the inside of the tent, fold it up and just leave it there,” Culpepper said.

The company has sold more than 1,000 tents throughout the U.S. and in Canada, Culpepper said. And while 75 percent of the company’s tent sales are online, he said, customers have come from as far as Canada and Florida to visit the showroom.

Rose said the company plans to sell other camping equipment beyond vehicle tents, including portable solar panels, refrigerators, awnings, roof racks and trailers.

“We want to be an outdoor store from the tent down,” Culpepper said.

— Reporter: 541-617-7818, rrees@bendbulletin.com