Meet the GO! by SylvanSport

September 4, 2011 by Rex Vogel · 22 Comments  
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At SylvanSport, a Brevard, North Carolina-based startup company, Tom Dempsey and his team of designers set out to put the cool back into pop-up campers.

Tom Dempsey sits inside a GO camper with a customer's two dogs, Diggidy and Gertie. The GO pop up camper, built by Sylvan Sport, is a highly engineered 800-pound camper that can carry extra outdoor equipment such as canoes and bicycles and be towed by a small car. (Credit:

Tom Dempsey sits inside a GO camper with a customer's two dogs, Diggidy and Gertie. The GO pop up camper, built by Sylvan Sport, is a highly engineered 800-pound camper that can carry extra outdoor equipment such as canoes and bicycles and be towed by a small car. (Credit:

As an entrepreneur, Dempsey saw an opportunity to make camping, already a relatively affordable vacation option, more comfortable for a new generation, reported the Asheville Citizen-Times.

They came up with the Go, an 800-pound lightweight but solidly constructed platform that turns into a spacious living quarters that you can tow behind a Prius, instead of a huge pickup. The Go is billed as “Mobile Adventure Gear” rather than a trailer, which brings to mind the old-fashioned aluminum box on wheels.

“Pop-up campers are part of the entry-level RV world, which hasn’t really changed in the last 40 years,” Demspey said. “We wanted to take the pop-up camper out of the RV world into the REI world.”

The Go has proved a hit with enthusiasts eager to drive cross-country to Brevard to pick up their $8,000 campers, ordered online. Dempsey sees “a massive paradigm shift away from SUVs and big trucks to more compact cars, but people still want to play even if they own a Prius, so we hitched our wagon to a trend to more efficient vehicles.”

Dempsey got his start out of college as an industrial designer for Coleman, a leader in camping equipment, including those pop-up campers that your parents might have used on their summer vacations.

Dempsey went on to become a serial entrepreneur, starting up a medical supply company in Huntsville, Alabama, before returning to his first love—recreation. He was able to transfer much of the plastics injections technology from his first company into a successful kayak company, Liquid Logic, near Brevard, North Carolina.

The gearhead generation

But Dempsey kept thinking about those pop-up campers and how to make them cool for a new generation. Seven years ago, he started yet another company, SylvanSport, to see his vision through.

The Go, an 800-pound lightweight but solidly constructed platform that turns into a spacious living quarters. (Credit:

The Go, an 800-pound lightweight but solidly constructed platform that turns into a spacious living quarters. (Credit:

He enlisted the aid of Kyle Mundt, an industrial engineer who had worked for Johnson Outboard Motors designing GPS units and fish finders, and Tom Reeder, a mechanical engineer who had a background in precision metal manufacturing at Cane Creek Cycling.

They wanted to design a product that would appeal to “gear heads”— those outdoor enthusiasts who appreciate well-designed mountain bikes, kayaks, backpacking, or rock climbing equipment.

“We put our energy, time, dollars into truly engineering a piece of gear,” Mundt said inside a Go that he and Dempsey popped out in just 10 minutes. “We have a custom aluminum, tigue-welded extension frame that you would find in the best mountain bikes.”

“People think, ‘Oh, a tent on wheels’ and then they see one and fall in love. There’s a market out there,” Mundt said.

Camping has changed as people want to tote more gear with them to the outdoors, be it mountain bikes or kayaks. By the time you get everything stuffed in the back or tied on top, you’ve run out of room for the dog. The Go can haul all the gear, as well as provide two comfortable beds off the ground.

That versatility is what sells many customers, Dempsey said. The Go serves as a ready-made trailer to cart a motorcycle or lawn tractor or take home the refrigerator you bought at the store.

That interest in the cool camper cuts across a large demographic. One couple picked up their Go in Brevard and immediately set off for Alaska with it in tow.

Meet the Go! All ready to Go! (Credit:

Meet the Go! All ready to Go! (Credit:

Some 200 Gos have been sold to date, and Dempsey sees interest expanding. Triatheletes, kayakers, musicians, families, and couples of all ages have taken to the Go.



SylvanSport was founded in 2004 to develop great gear to support an evolving sense of adventure. Adventure can be on a mountain, river, or in your backyard.

Their team brings decades of experience designing and making outdoor products from the most respected companies. They offer products that blend utility, quality, and value while respecting the purity of the places our adventures take us.

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If you enjoy these articles and want to read more on RV travels and lifestyle, visit my website: Vogel Talks RVing.

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22 Responses to “Meet the GO! by SylvanSport”

  1. walt kaiser on September 4th, 2011 11:34 am

    $8,000 ? WOW.

  2. Gary on September 4th, 2011 5:28 pm

    Who in the h### would pay eight grand for this? I cannot imagine anyone, unless (1) too much money, (2) very foolish, (3) want to “show off” (like this would do it) , ( stupid), (5) don’t really understand the word “camping” (6) as Jay Leno once said ” what were you thinking”..

    I am stupified!!!

  3. frank sobotka on September 4th, 2011 6:48 pm

    Looks like something the REI crowd would love, but eight grand, plus shipping, for a tent? For that amount I can buy a trailer frame, build my own, and have plenty of do-re-mi left. But I guess they have the right idea for towing with a Prius. BTW, better tell them that some of their links are defunct. Only the http:store….. ones work.

  4. Howard Barron on September 4th, 2011 7:54 pm

    They must be “gold plated ” to cost 8K. The REI crowd might do better trying to pull it with a mountain bike, rather than a Prius!

  5. butterbean carpenter on September 4th, 2011 9:32 pm

    Howdy Rex,

    I took a $150 motorcycle trailer, put a $29 7X10 tent on it and went camping…

    It wasn’t as fancy, but it worked well enuff… $8K is estupido!!! But they are from

    North Carolina$$$$$$$

  6. G Shea on September 5th, 2011 3:21 am

    What a RIP OFF! No gear? Just a tent on wheels? 8,000 and no reefer, stove, sink, heater/air, toilet?? Really? Gimme a break…
    G Shea

  7. graddy0051 on September 5th, 2011 8:50 am

    Maybe it comes with the Prius?

  8. Geoffrey Pruett on September 5th, 2011 10:04 am

    Beautiful to look at, priced like an art object. Should fit right in with some people who think unless they paid a lot for something it is disposable.

  9. Bonifacio (Bodie) Dominguez on September 5th, 2011 10:30 am

    I agree that it is a bit more then I would pay, but if it sells who am I to say it is not worth it? Wish the builder luck in their business.

  10. Joan on September 6th, 2011 3:12 pm

    I think it is way to expansive, how many will it sleep, Not good for the middle class. Try again.

  11. Go-fast 37 on September 6th, 2011 5:43 pm

    8K for WHAAAT ????

  12. Tom S on September 7th, 2011 6:02 pm

    Who are we to judge?

    How many RVers who spend $250,000 on a $150,000 motor home? We’re a country of 300 million individuals.

    I hope they sell a ton of these

  13. GaryM on September 8th, 2011 4:27 pm

    We took a little labor day camp trip with family – all retired. We met a couple of (2.5) hours south east of here. Sure, we had all the cast iron in the 5er but the fuel cost alone was about $180. Green as we feel, we just aren’t. WE love the 5er and the big Ford Diesel but the fuel economy of the rig pulling the GO would be much more impressive.
    We paid way more than $8000 for our rig. I’m thinking that if we really tried, we could make something like this work. Probably wouldn’t get to shower as often-probably have to find a porta pot, and a few other niceties. Well, maybe I will keep the 5er and not go so far.

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