Trail Interview: Meet Spirit of 1876 – The Rooftop Tent Shopping Experience You’ve Been Waiting For
Looking to Test Drive some Rooftop Tents and Maybe some Awnings? Spirit of 1876 has you covered!
Welcome to Spirt of 1876 – an adventure shop located in Colorado focused on rooftop tents (RTTs), awnings, and a ton of other cool Overland and Offroad gear accessories.
We really wanted to do this interview with Mike from Spirit of 1876 because of what they offer, something that no other company does; a boutique shop with all the up and coming RTT brands on the market. These guys know what’s hot and not only that – they personally test it all.
If you are looking for the ultimate RTT overland gear buying experience, look no further.
Our Experience with Spirit of 1876
When we first spoke with Mike (owner and Cheif Adventure Officer of Spirt of 1876) on the phone, we knew he was the real deal. Not just another eCommerce RTT reseller looking to make a few bucks. It was clear Mike was in it for the long haul, had a really cool concept going, and had a deep understanding of the tent/overland industry when it comes to product offerings.
Mike recently helped me decide on a new awning we were looking at for our white 2014 TEP 4Runner. At first, I was considering a 270-degree awning and all my personal research was pointing towards one until I spoke with Mr. Spirt of 1876 himself. Mike asked me a series of questions about how I travel, my style of chill, weight concerns, what tent I was running, and much more.
Instead of selling me a $2000 270 awning, he recommended a $700 180 awning (the Peregrine 180R) for my travel style – and boy was he right. I am glad I didn’t end up with a 270. Not that 270s are bad, it just wasn’t for my family and me, and that’s the point.
He didn’t try to sell me on something I didn’t need. He honestly wanted to figure out the best product for my needs. Whether you talk to Mike or anyone else at Spirit of 1876, they are going to genuinely suggest what’s right for you, your build, and your family first. Hit them up if you have any questions.
Mike runs a true customer-first business – and we really dig that!
An Overland & Offroad Shop Dedicated to the Experience
Shopping for the larger gear items like tents and awnings online can be tough. We all have functionality and compatibility questions for our builds. When you start to add in accessories and scalability on top of looks – it’s virtually impossible to make a decision on the fly.
Spirit of 1876 has a local shop located in Castle Rock CO, where you can physically go jump into rooftop tents and swing open awnings. Their team will literally show you how to deploy a tent, open an awning, and close it all back up again. If you are new to the industry or just want a first-class shopping experience – this is the place to be. They also feature a ton of camping, overland, and offroad gear accessories to further outfit your build.
We all know this gear isn’t cheap. By offering a hands-on approach with the top brands in the industry on display, they give their customers an experience that can’t be found anywhere else. The only other place you find setups like this is once per year at Overland Expo, for example.
Don’t stress if you aren’t local to Colorado or within driving distance, you can always call them and actually get a human on the phone. I know, crazy right!
To top it off, Spirit of 1876 is out here consistently testing gear. This is not your average sales rep at Bass Pro Shops, these guys truly know their stuff. They push their gear through its paces to ultimately give you the most accurate information possible in order for you to make a more informed decision on what’s right for you.
Meet Mike – The Founder and Chief Adventure Officer
Mike came from a background much like many of us. A steady 9-5 day job guy looking for a way to spend his days doing what he loves; adventuring and enjoying the outdoors with his family.
He sold eCommerce software for about 10 years, worked for a couple of startups, and then got into flipping houses with his wife. All the while, trying to research how to get back out there with the family.
After heading up sales and marketing for an offroad trailer company for a while, Mike started to see the demand for even more travel portability; offroad trailers, rooftop tents, etc. Eventually, Mike went on to start a rental company; the Spirit of 187
The company went on to offer high-end turn-key camping experiences by offering both trailers and rooftop tents. Some might say one of the first few overland rental companies in the game. The trailers were decked out with high-end finishes and gear, it was an outdoor experience unavailable anywhere else. At the same time, they offered that gear for sale and displayed it in their showroom for customers who enjoyed the experience but wanted to recreate it again and again on their own.
To top it all off, they will install and mount the gear for you. That’s right, they will install your rooftop tent, awning, and all the accessories that you choose to go with it.
Trail Interview: Meet Spirit of 1876
After quite a few phone calls, we had the absolute pleasure of getting to know Mike a bit more. I am confident that if you have any RTT, awning, or overland gear accessory questions – Mike and his shop can give you some of the best advice out there. Without any more, let’s jump into more about Mike and his Spirit of 1876.
Q: What did the name come from?
A: Colorado’s born on date was August 1st, 1876. Our born on date was August 1st, 2018. Our main goal is to help individuals and families get outside while giving back to this beautiful state we call home. That’s the Spirit of 1876.
Q: How did you get into the Industry?
A: I was at a crossroads career-wise and wanted to get into something that selfishly I was in to, sounds crazy now that I say it, hope my wife doesn’t read this…I told her it was a good opportunity. Haha
Q: What do you guys offer the Overland & Off-Road Community?
A: A judgment-free zone. Do we joke? A lot! But we’re here to also educate and inform, not criticize or sell you the gear you won’t use. We offer hands-on experience so we can walk you through and discuss the pros/cons.
Q: So, you let the community come test drive different rooftop tent brands?
A: Yes, with so many brands that offer such similar features and functionality, it’s tough to compare and contrast. By offering the option to test multiple brands, we understand your camping needs and make recommendations based on a number of factors. In the end, you decide which gear is best for you, we’re just here to show you all your options.
Q: Are you an Ecommerce Store or Overland Showroom or Both?
Both, we’ve got the in-store experience down, the product speaks for itself, but we want to deliver a sliver of that experience online. In-store, it’s like an off-road candy store located in an off-road mall.
We share a wall with UpTop Overland, a parking lot with Altitude Offroad, a powder coater, fabricator, window tinter, diesel garage, 4×4 shop, etc. It’s an all in one overland experience. We’ve got a lot planned for the end of 2020 to improve the overall shopping experience both in-store and online.
Q: What is your favorite product to sell and why?
A: Rooftop tents because they always bring joy to folks. It’s like a fort or a treehouse but for adults, it makes you feel like a kid again. No matter who it is, or what their previous opinions were on the topic, every single time folks leave with a new appreciation for a rooftop tent. We carry between 5-7 depending on inventory at any given time.
Q: How has COVID affected your traffic?
A: In store, we’ll never know. We opened our new store in March so experienced the grand opening and grand closing in the same month. Overall the industry is up, with activities and events sidelined, folks are looking to get out more than ever.
Q: When you guys started, what did you feel was missing from the Overland world?
A place to see, touch, feel, demo this high-end gear. People are passionate about their rigs, it’s not easy to make such a big investment on an accessory sight unseen. A warm environment with a staff that cares and wants to help. A one-stop-shop for all things vehicle adventure.
Q: Was there a defining moment when you feel people got your concept?
Being at shows when I worked for a trailer company, and seeing folks react to the rooftop tent above. You either heard of it but never saw one, or are completely new to the concept, either scenario you’re enthralled.
Q: Can we get a sneak preview as to what collaborations are next?
We’ve got a special build we’re working on now, and we’re also teaming up with some really cool brands to bring you some rad content.
Q: If you had to pick the most innovative RTT company, who would it be and why?
I’d go with James Baroud. We carry a lot of brands but in terms of innovation, James Baroud has been the leader for almost 30 years. With so many unique features that separate their tents from the competition, it’s hard not to choose them.
For example, they are the only tent brand that offers 360-degree views, a solar-powered exhaust fan, standard LED lighting, superior fabric, and an industry-leading 5-year warranty. These guys have been the best in the business for decades, seeing one in person helps see why.
If you are located within driving distance of Co, go check out this boutique Overland shop where you will likely spend way too much money. It looks like REI – only cooler, and with more up and coming brands.
Photos provided by @gun_rnr and Spirit of 1876.
Questions or Comments? Leave them below!