BMW Designworks Collaborates with The North Face to Imagine New Camper Concept

In Las Vegas today, BMW Group subsidiary Designworks unveiled a new camper concept and virtual reality experience, in partnership with The North Face, to imagine the future of protection from the elements.

The lightweight camper concept and virtual experience were designed by Designworks to showcase a new fabric innovation from The North Face called FUTURELIGHT, which uses Nanospinning technology to create the world’s most advanced, breathable, waterproof material.

“We combined both physical and digital worlds to showcase this material, ensuring the holistic vision of the brand was clearly communicated, while giving people a real ‘hands-on’ experience,” said Laura Robin, Designworks LA Studio Director. “Thinking about extreme performance in new and unexpected ways from our experience of working across multiple industries, helped us to provide consumers with a unique and never before seen insight into the very heart of the material and its key attributes.”

The FUTURELIGHT camper was inspired by the 2008 BMW GINA Light Visionary Model concept car.  Like the GINA Concept, the FUTURELIGHT Camper is made of a fabric outer shell, consisting of a flexible material stretched over an iconic geodesic dome to demonstrate the potential uses of FUTURELIGHT fabric beyond just apparel.

The revolutionary Nanospinning process used to create FUTURELIGHT, has allowed the The North Face designers to add air permeability into the membrane of a fabric for the first time. The process creates nano-sized holes, allowing for incredible porosity while still maintaining total waterproofness, letting air move through the material and provide more venting than ever before.

FUTURELIGHT will first become available to consumers in The North Face Fall 2019 product line and will be featured across the brand’s pinnacle performance collections.

[Read more…]

2018 Hyundai Kona: Soul Adventurer

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

The small crossover utility market continues to be a hot topic as sales increase from active lifestyle consumers seeking solutions that appease their diverse needs. With character traits based on athletic styling, inventive storage, fuel efficiency and both advanced connectivity and telematics, automakers have set the bar high with vehicles such as the all-new 2018 Hyundai Kona. It drives smarter, works harder and plays longer.   [Read more…]

Eating Soulfully at Cafe Ono in Kona, Hawaii

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

For three days we zipped around the Big Island of Kona, Hawaii trekking to gardens, national parks, volcano sites, healthy eats and lava attractions. We admired the natives and their beautiful lives while they ogled in reply. Fun, energetic places make you want to engage in fun active routines such as the set of reverse dips I completed on the hitched Thule rack carrying our Specialized road bike while admiring the all-mighty Pacific during lunch break. But it was the food that really set the tone of our Hawaiian vacation.   [Read more…]

Pine Haven Camping Resort: Our Inaugural Family Summer Vacation


Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

Wow, I can’t believe Back To School activities commence in just a few short weeks. It was not that long ago when my wife Misa and I began planning for an active and engaging summer break with the kids. Maybe it was the two-week Japanese venture to Tokyo Disneyland that hyper-accelerated our July. Since we base the major events (usually overseas) on the girls’ two birthdays, the time in-between seems to fly by like eagles. Either or we couldn’t endure another season without organizing the clan for a summer camping trip deep in the woods of South Jersey with 36 anxious and energetic family members.

The Fit Fathers headquarters is based in Silver Spring, MD while half of the family lives in Delaware and New Jersey. Our middle ground for the inaugural Rawlins/Redds Family Summer Vacation would be the picturesque views of the Atlantic Ocean and one of South Jersey’s finest campgrounds known as Pine Haven Camping Resort. With so many minions to get from locale to locale I looked into Mercedes-Benz’s Sprinter division and scheduled a 12-passenger unit to handle the bulk of our transportation needs. Yep, that tall ubiquitous European van has been updated for 2015 to continue its impressive array of amenities for suitors. It was the ideal vehicle for the journey with the ability to carry each passenger and their luggage, which fit perfectly under each seat. There was also enough cargo volume behind the third row to store our food, sports equipment, additional luggage for those that over packed, a few baby strollers, and two adult bikes since our model was devoid of a hitch. More importantly, the family school bus and its 26.4 gallon fuel tank is powered by clean diesel. In fact, we only made one fuel stop during the round trip road trip. [Read more…]

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Metris: Van Camping at Dunton Hot Springs, Colorado


Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

I slept in a van last night and it was pretty cool! Actually it was cool since the evening temperature drops considerably in Colorado. The camping experience at Dunton Hot Springs brought back fond memories as a child sleeping with Mother Nature. Of course the fresh air, inspiring views, freedom of life and simplicities of survival in the countryside are the antithesis of modern day luxuries and convenience. But for me, I love disconnecting from technology more often than most so I can enjoy the world as a minimalist, which in turn makes “one” more aware and observant. For that reason I had a highly enjoyable time van camping with Mercedes-Benz (M-B) and their all-new Metris and updated Sprinter Vans.

The ubiquitous Sprinter, that tall European van has been updated for 2015 to continue its impressive array of amenities for suitors. An odd ball to some since hitting the scene in 1995, the Swiss Army knife covers everything from RVing to cargo to industrial delivery applications. M-B, which created a separate division for their van unit sold 26,000 Sprinters in 2014 and is currently up 19.5% year-to-date in correlation to the industry, which is up 14%. The United States is the second biggest market in Sprinter sales behind hometown Germany. My wife’s boss has a custom Sprinter that is more like a condo than any type of automobile. Yan takes it road tripping with his wife at least once a quarter to get away from the intense demands of his consulting job at Deloitte. No need for a hotel room since his pride and joy is embellished with sleeping quarters, a mini kitchen and lounge.


Since vans generate 1 billion dollars in annual business it isn’t surprising that M-B needed to expand the US line-up with the aptly dubbed Metris. The mid-size commercial application has been around in Europe since 1996 and now makes its American debut. Built in Spain, expect the Metris to provide services for hotels, taxi companies and airport shuttle businesses. It’s basic for now and offers no leather, wood trim, power sliding doors or anything fancy. The Metris is much smaller than the Sprinter but has similar capabilities such as towing 4,960 lbs. or seating up to 8 people, and gets around by way of a 2-liter 4-cylinder direct‐injection turbocharged gasoline engine (208-horsepower) and is paired with a 7-speed automatic transmission with available ECO start/stop. In Europe the Metris rocks a diesel engine – my first choice – but M-B is not seeing the demand in the US currently. Which is peculiar because the Sprinter is outfitted only with diesel engines. I didn’t get to drive the Metris since this trip was only a preview for the pronouncement of its introduction into the American roster. With standard airbags (up to 8), ATTENTION ASSIST, Crosswind Assist and load-adaptive ESP expect the commercial van to go for $28,950 and $32,500 for the passenger model. Optional safety technologies include Blind Spot Assist, Collision Prevention Assist and Lane Keeping Assist.


To experience the Sprinter Vans from behind the wheel and the Metris as hostiles, we headed to the sensational views of Colorado for a short stay and impressionable experience. Upon landing at La Plata County Airport in Durango M-B turned over the keys to a Jupiter Red 2015 Sprinter 2500 Crew Van with the new Low & High Range 4×4 Package ($6,800), Active Safety Plus Package w/Parktronic ($2,545), the Driver Efficiency Package ($1,485) and much more. In fact, all optional conveniences escalated the $38,270 MSRP to $57,440. My riding partner and I drove for about four hours because we got lost in the Rockies but didn’t mind as the optional 3-liter V6 BlueTEC turbo diesel and 5‐speed automatic transmission ($985) were powerful and efficient. Along with two 4×4 powertrains, the new Sprinter also comes with an elective Super High Roof and Crosswind Assist to keep the van on its path during strong gusts. The base engine is the 2.1-liter 4‐cylinder BlueTEC turbo diesel with the 7G Tronic automatic transmission. The 4×4 came in handy when we stopped for photos and had to traverse off the beaten path for the most optimal view. The audio and Nav system were pretty basic so our ride was quiet as we took in the sounds of Colorado life, especially through San Juan National Forest. Upon arriving to the area we proceeded on gravel for the next 12 miles to Dunton Hot Springs’ main entrance. Magnificent is an understatement!

Founded in 1885, Dunton was originally a gold rush mining town. Its peak population reached 300 residents until only two were left after it became deserted. For decades the couple operated it as a cattle ranch while living off the land. The latest rendition of the town was purchased in 1994 and restored over the following seven years. Today the luxurious, rustic escape sits atop 8,700 feet of altitude and substitutes as a haven for those looking to hike, mountain bike or burn campfires in the middle of the mountains. The log cabins look as authentic as 1885, but step inside and you will feel like a high roller. This is why I chose the Metris for my stay. The hot springs are soothing to the skin and satisfying to your soul, especially the featured tub in the meditative bathhouse.


Although the Metris is suited for mostly commercial use, M-B did bring a few Marco Polo camper models over from Europe. The roof extension is actually the bunk and one of two sleeping quarters. In total it can sleep up to four, but only two comfortably. Yet, the van is flexible enough for personal purchases and has an array of configurations. For example, I partially wrote this story from the cabin’s mobile office. Nifty features include front swiveling seats, omnipresent storage pockets and bins, table/desk, sliding rails for various formations, curtains to cover all windows and a cadre of 12 volts.

The journey to Colorado was memorable and my fixation on recreational vehicles has increased, especially with the stealthy Overlanding Sprinter by Sportsmobile West. With over 44 floor plans and the ability to design your own studio, the platform is perfect for nomads like myself.

[g-gallery gid=”7559″ random=”0″ watermark=”0″]