Habitent Cockpit enclosures are popular with boaters who either live aboard or spend time in the cockpit in all weather situations.
To find and install an enclosure it probably means you would contact a canvas maker or make one yourself. This is both time consuming and expensive. Recently we were made aware of Habitent which is a alternative to custom heavy enclosures.
Habitent is an off the shelf cockpit tent which can be installed yourself. The tent come in a kit with poles, straps, lightweight cover and all you will need for installation. There are no permanent fittings required. The cost of Habitent is in the UK 360 pounds which translates to 20-40% of a custom made cover.
Below you will read a review by an actual user and Journalist writing for the UK’s East Coats magazine. We have not seen this product, we are just reviewing information sent to us and we believe this is a good option for many boaters.
How it works
Front end You can install the Habitent with or without a dodger. If you do not have a dodger, there are poles in the kit which when used with a halyard provides the front support.
Back end The backend support is made from fiberglass poles which fit together like a tent! The support is then attached to the aft pushpit to provide a stable platform
Cover The cover is made from a light rip-stop polyester. The sides and aft end have windows and openings so you can open up the tent for air flow or for getting in and out. It looks well thought out and reasonably priced. The manufacturers recommend the tent not be installed all the time for wear and tear and should not be left up in violent storms.
Habitent Test Review
Dick Holness for East Coast Sailing
Picture from article by Dick Holness for East Coast Sailing online magazine www.eastcoastsailing.co.uk May 2012.
Habitent is a new concept for a cockpit enclosure. We are all used to seeing the ‘traditional’ cockpit tent, custom made in acrylic canvas to suit the individual boat, often zipped onto the edge of the spray-hood and usually involving a stainless steel tubular frame. Such enclosures provide ‘an extra cabin’, shelter when moored in bad weather, and are usually robust enough to be left in place all the while the boat is unused, even during winter weather.
Habitent addresses the basic need for shelter and more living space in a different way. It is not custom- made to fit your specific boat and it is not made of heavy-duty canvas with sailmakers’ expertise – instead, it uses modern camping materials and knowhow, and the makers warn against using it in ‘severe’ weather conditions. We became aware of the product via an interesting post on the Moody Owners’ Association website, and it captured my interest immediately because it seemed to me to be aimed at us, typical cruising folk. We want a ‘tent’ occasionally when away cruising and perhaps stuck in harbour somewhere in shabby weather, but don’t use one often enough, or want one badly enough, to dig very deep to buy a cockpit enclosure.
And that is one of the attractions of Habitent – the price. I rang the makers of my three-year-old spray- hood and asked for a ballpark quote for a cockpit tent to match. The answer (and bear in mind that their quote for the spray-hood was among the lowest at the time) was £1200-1400. The current list price of the ‘Habitent Size M’ we tested on our Moody S31 is £360.
The test product was received with interest. Not having an abundance of stowage space on board, we were immediately impressed at the small size of the two packages – the ‘tent’ was in a nylon bag just 70cm long and 22cm in diameter, and the bag containing the folding pole sections was a similar length and narrower. A set of webbing straps in different colours is provided, together with a bunch of elasticated toggles. The total weight was just 9.5kg.
Spreading out the tent at home, we were further impressed at the quality of construction and the attention to detail. We really don’t know anything about modern camping kit, but this thing seems beautifully put together and has a plethora of zips, toggles and straps. Instructions are printed on a fabric sheet stitched into the tent bag along its top edge. And when you turn it over using the bottom edge, the printing continues to be the right way up. Someone has thought about this! However, the instructions are one thing, but what you have to do isn’t as obvious as it might be from the wording, and the best lesson was learnt by watching the short video on Habitent’s website.
And so to the boat. Working from the front, an anchorage for the front edge is provided by broad webbing straps which can be tensioned across the full beam of the boat from the toerails or stanchions, or between coachroof handrails, according to the detail of your boat. If you go right out to the sides of the boat, then as the makers rightly point out you create a trip hazard. We realised later that on our boat we could simply run it between the handrails as seen in the photos, and in fact thinking about it since, perhaps I could just use each handrail plus the mainsheet track and the genoa fairleads, and do without the webbing altogether. This is a good example of how this product is thought out to cater for different circumstances, and how the new owner needs to spend time sorting out how best to fit it to their own boat.
The front edge is anchored to the webbing belt (or other static objects as above!) with more webbing straps (all with typical push-in tensioning clips) then unrolled aft over the sprayhood. Here’s a key difference from a conventional cockpit enclosure – if you don’t have a sprayhood, you can still use a Habitent, because a pole is provided that can be used across the front edge of its ‘roof’ and suspended from a halliard or from the boom. We didn’t try this out.
Unrolling it aft along the cockpit, the next step is to assemble the rigid arch that holds up the aft end of the tent. We found assembling this arch the hardest part, because it supports the entire aft side and, we thought, needed to be put together under tension. Clipping the final ‘leg’ together involved a fair bit of strength, we found, and both being poised in each corner of the pushpit I was concerned that one of the poles could ping overboard. However, a phone call later revealed that I had misunderstood the instructions – we should have released the Velcro pockets for the feet of the poles first. That would have made the job dead easy!
Having put the arch together, its upper part was pinned back to the pushpit with more webbing, which also served to put down-force on it and hold it in place on the deck outside the cockpit coaming.
And that is basically it. The remaining webbing and elastic toggles can be used to stabilise the bottom edge aft and at the sides, attaching to whatever is handy on your boat. In my case, we didn’t manage to properly secure the aft lower edge, as our coaming is effectively the top of the transom and the pushpit is partly mounted on it. However, given more time and thought I felt sure that I could get round this. The tent has four ‘windows’, one looking aft, one forward, and one on each side. The forward one is redundant if you have your spray-hood up; each of the other three windows has zips down each side and can be rolled all the way to roof level and strapped there. Each window also has a fly-screen, and a privacy flap, both of which also have zips and can be rolled up.
The tent is made from modern rip-stop flame-retardant polyester, water resistant and coated for UV resistance. Its ‘water-resistance’ seemed fine – we had a spell of very heavy April showers during the test and nothing came through. Zips are all nylon, and the tents are all coloured grey and white. The rear arch is formed from uprights in GRP tube with steel ends, joined to an upper section in steel tubing which folds into three when stowed.
The Habitent currently comes in two sizes, catering for boats up to about 31’ long. Three simple crucial measurements are needed before you ask Habitent if one will fit your boat. An LED lighting kit is available as an extra, and the tent has provision for housing it when in use.
From a practical point of view, the tent is light and easy to handle, but there is ‘a lot of it’ as becomes apparent when it’s wet and you have two arms full of it! Getting it dry could be a problem on a small boat, although I can say that it does dry very quickly indeed if you give it a chance. Getting it back into its small bag requires a degree of cunning and again might be difficult on board, but no great problem if there is a handy pontoon or quayside close by.
It’s important to understand that this is not your normal marine product, it’s a tent for a boat. These days you can get a lot of tent in a camping shop for £360, and Habitent’s price reflects this.
In summary, we think that Habitent is a very clever idea, which has materialised as a well-made, reasonably-priced and innovative alternative to traditional cockpit enclosures, provided you don’t need one that will stand up to all that the weather can throw at it. We suspect it will actually put up with more than the makers say, but in this day and age they are probably right to be cautious with their claims.
The acid question – would we buy one? Yes, I did.
Designed for many boats in the 20 – 32 foot range. There are two Habitent models, depending on stern width.
- Cockpit Enclosure 1.6m – 2.0m Stern
- Cockpit Enclosure 2.0m – 2.4m Stern
This unit is for boats with a stern measurement of 2.0m – 2.4m
The Habitent Adjustable Cockpit Enclosure adds to the enjoyment of your boat when moored by converting the rear cockpit area into a weather resistant leisure zone.
The Habitent is simple to erect and requires no permanent fixings to your boat. Windows to the side and rear of the Habitent give panoramic views whilst insect nets to these areas will reduce the impact of midgies and mosquitoes.
On hot days the side doors can be rolled up or retained over the guardrails to give shade from the sun whilst allowing the breeze to cool the area.
1x Habitent Unit complete with – 1x Holdall Bag 1x Fibre Glass and Steel Pole Rear Frame Set 1x Auxiliary Steel Pole
Webbing (colour may vary) 4 x 19mm x 2000mm c/w plastic side clip buckles 2 x 19mm x 5000mm c/w plastic side clip buckles 2 x 25mm x 5000mm c/w plastic side clip buckles 4 x 100mm Shock Cord Loop and Ball
Habitent RRP: 360.00 (Inc VAT) + Shipping