Tuesday, December 10th, 2019

Canal cruising in a floating itinerant shelter

Published on December 10, 2015 by   ·   No Comments


Camping is on the up and up, and every year more and more people are pitching up in campsites all over Britain.  London-based designer Daniel Durnin has had a brainwave creating a floating tent, the Water Bed, which allows city dwellers to utilise the miles of inner city waterways in the UK and essentially camp on the canal.

The canals form a glorious ribbon of countryside that wends its way through cities nationwide.  With campsites tending to be miles from where the majority of people live, if you fancy a spontaneous weekend camping – why not utilise these inner city green belts?

The Water Bed is a cross between a rowing boat, a canal boat and a tent.  It is designed to hitch to the back of a bike so you can cycle down the towpath until you reach a (semi) rural idyll, when you can unhook and launch.


Durnin worked as a cabinetmaker in Oxfordshire making bespoke furniture.  He recently completed an MA in Design Products at the Royal College of Art.

“The luxury of simplicity.  The urban landscape is ever growing and ever more pressured.  The Water Bed reconnects us to nature using the existing waterways within and beyond the urban environment.  Allowing time to escape, reflect and enjoy the environment in which it is placed,” says Durnin.

The Water Bed is a simple wooden hull with two large bike wheels aft and a smaller wheel at the bow.  These make the boat easy to manoeuvre on land and easily towed behind that aforementioned bike.


The interior is surprisingly spacious with plenty of room for two to lounge around.  There’s even a small solar panel that provides enough power for a bit of light once the sun goes down so you can play a few rounds of Gin Rummy before bed.

The entrance is on the starboard, the rest of which is panelled to give a bit of privacy from prying eyes on the towpath.  The port side has canvas panels that can be rolled up to give you panoramic views of the birdlife and passing barges

Fore and aft are large windows, which are hinged to allow even more fresh air into the interior.  The ‘galley’ has room for a camping stove and a pullout shelf upon which you can rest your cup of tea (or G and T).


This is a working prototype and the light wooden hull makes the vessel easy to launch, however there is a possibility of a more robust version in aluminium which could be used as a more permanent residence and allow for a cheap place to live in cities where house prices are pushing working people out

Bearing in mind there has been a 36% increase of liveaboards in London in the last five years, this might not be such a strange idea.  Although if you’re going to make the Water Bed your forever home it might be more fun moored up under the blue skies of the Canal du Midi rather than the grey ones above the Grand Junction.



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