Sleeping bags, sexy time, singles soiree

The Sexy Hotness sleeping bag. Pitched tent optional.

The Sexy Hotness sleeping bag. Pitched tent optional.

Tae Kim and I stand inside the rustic Bloodhound bar in San Francisco, smiling at the 20- and 30-somethings streaming in after work. Kim and crew are hosting a free party for singles, complete with name tags, snacks, microbrew in jelly jars and games. He has an epic mission: Get young singles to fall in love with camping. “Once they do it, they love it. They get a deep connection with other people and with the environment,” Kim says.

Kim is the creative director of Alite Designs, a new company that makes functional and quirky camping gear. At tonight’s party, he’s introducing the Sexy Hotness sleeping bag.

Sexy Hotness features zippers between the legs and built-in padded slippers. When nature calls, campers can make a midnight run for the restroom without ever leaving the comfort of the cushy purple bag.

There’s more: Campers answering the “call of the wild” can learn from small Kama Sutra illustrations on the bag’s lining. Sexy Hotness bags zip together, too, making truly happy campers.

Kim started Alite (pronounced “alight”) to inject a sense of playfulness into the too-serious world of camping gear. “The North Face acts like camping should be stoic and hard. We want to navigate the outdoors with a sense of humor.”

That essential lightness attracts people like Natalie, a 23-year-old nanny, who plans to pitch a tent for the first time this summer. This is her first singles experience, too. “I’m looking for a guy like Conan O’Brien,” she giggles.

But the event is more than just sexy sleeping bags. Jyoti, 30, a psychiatry resident, surveys the room uneasily. “Will somebody be into me?” she wonders aloud. As I reassure her, the event’s organizer, Christine Choi interrupts, shouting instructions for mingling. Participants begin hunting name tags with animal stickers that match their own. I’m here to dispense relationship advice, so my tag has a heart, a teddy bear and Barry White.

I squeeze through the crowd, stopping to eavesdrop on a guy from Pixar chatting up a woman from Yahoo. Across the room, Jyoti talks to an attractive guy. Later, I congratulate her: “You guys had a real connection.” She shrugs, “That’s because I kept telling him he’s awesome. He knows nothing about me except that I don’t want to be here.”

As the Bloodhound’s regulars pack in, it’s nearly impossible to hear Kim and Choi directing partygoers into the final activity: species encounter. I’m a judge for this game. The rules: Couples blindly pull two animal cards from a deck and act out an encounter between the creatures while dressed up in Sexy Hotness sleeping bags. The first couple struggles to grasp instructions, so I chime in, trying to help.

The male team member stares at me. Turning slowly to his partner, a woman he just met, he says: “Oh my god! Did she say, ‘Mount her’?”

“No!” I bark, startled. “Encounter. You have to interact with each other.”

The man is confused. Choi patiently repeats the instructions as the other judges and I dissolve into laughter. Sexy Hotness, all right.