Product Spotlight: The new ARB Simpson III Roof Top Tent

Discussion in 'Cruiser Outfitters' started by cruiseroutfit, Aug 26, 2009.

  1. cruiseroutfit

    cruiseroutfit Moderator Supporting Vendor

    Messages:
    4,445
    Location:
    Utah
    Product: ARB Simpson III RTT

    Rather than take bunch of pictures of the new tent and I decided instead to take I some pictures of the areas I really think ARB has improved upon with the new Simpson III tent. Comparing the Simpson II to the Simpson III is difficult, one because I don't have a Simpson II tent around here anymore and two because they changed so many little things about it that its just 'different' in the overall product, all of which I like and result in a more functional tent.

    To preface, I really liked the Simpson II tent, the quality of the build was much higher than any of the other similar models from different brand names I had personally worked with, and to be fair the price reflected it of course. I spent a couple of dozen nights in my SII in the short time I owned it, it wasn't about replacing it out of need rather replacing it because there was something newer & better. Not only because I retail them, but because I use them regularly too, with dozens of nights in Roof Top Tents in the last year alone, I get my fair share of product insight. The 'awning over ladder' feature is very welcome for me. Being as both of my tent installs are on lower height applications (bed mount on Tacoma and Trail-Trailer mount), the tent's door is normally right at eye level. With the awning you can be in the tent with the door wide open taking a nap, changing your shorts or reading a book with out feeling like everybody can see you. It may be less of an issue for others, but its a big one for my wife and one I really like too. The fallback of the SII was that it required guy lines to stretch the awning setup out from the tent and keep it from flapping around. Unless you really pulled it tight it would still flap a bit and in some terrains its obvious that staking is a pain and you would end up resorting to a pile of rocks or some camping gear. Still worth having the awning.

    Now, the major features that changed on the new Simpson III...

    Starting with the cover, a far improved zipper. The teeth are No. 10 Vislon plastic and of a 'courser' design. With a bit of dust on the older spiral zipper could become very difficult to zip closed and I found myself using a 'zipper wax' every other trip just to ensure it was easy to close. Not a bad solution really, since I picked up a couple tubes of the wax I use it on everything, all the tent zippers, cargo bag zippers, my Engel transit cover, etc. Theoretically the course zipper would allow more dust/moisture into the tent, I haven't notice this at all. My truck is driven daily with the tent on top, I've never had so much as a drop of moisture inside. My guess is the quality of the zipper attributes to this. Additionally they switched the direction of the cover straps, improved the material used and added a 3rd strap. This has proven to really cut down on the amount of billowing the cover does. The cover material itself was improved from a 560 gram/meter PVC to a UV stabilized 900 gram/meter laminated PVC with heat welded seams to prevent water intrusion.

    The structure of the tent also received a major re-work. The hinges were beefed up from 3mm to 4mm thick and the hardware was improved over the previous version. The roof bows also were beefed up, from 16mm raw to 25mm anodized aluminum. The elbow fittings all switched from PVC to a more durable nylon. The canvas is thicker, going from a 240 gram/meter to 300 gram/meter Poly/Cotton rip-stop canvas with Poly coating for water protection. All of the stitched seams are now fulled welded with seam tape to eliminate seepage through needle punch holes. The rain fly material was upgraded from 180D Nylon to 300D Oxford polyester also featuring the poly coating.The ladder looks the same, but it too is now anodized and has bigger knobs on the locker pins for easier locking and unlocking (such as with gloves on).

    Detail showing hinge setup
    [​IMG]

    Detail showing seam tape and zipper quality as well as overall fit/finish
    [​IMG]

    This picture shows the detail difference of the new course zipper and the loose zipper is a section of the older zipper
    [​IMG]

    One of the other major improvements of this tent is the 'flap and boots' made to protect against moisture, bugs, air, etc. The earlier tent had the flaps over the hing area, but the tent is almost 'wider' in the tent area, with the two sides of the tent material at the hinge overlapping each other. Then coupled with the loose flap on the inside and the Velcro'ed flap on the inside, produces a very satisfactory seal against intrusion.

    Details showing the boot around the bow that stretches out the awning
    [​IMG]

    Details showing the flap closed
    [​IMG]

    The SII had grommets in the tent material through which you guided the smaller awning poles into a angled hole in the tents aluminum base. While this worked, the tent material can shift in its track slightly from side to side and in the dark or cold it could be hard to align the grommet and the base hole while trying to insert the awning pole. The new tent has 'slots' 3" or so long that give you plenty of access to find the hole and set the awning pole.

    Detail showing awning pole flaps
    [​IMG]

    The ladder/door awning no longer uses guy wires and now uses a single bow that protrudes from the tent (through the boots mentioned earlier). The bow is tensioned by sliding out of receiver tubes on the inside of the tent and tightened into place using a thumbscrew on each side. A big improvement over having to find suitable guy line locations and one less thing to worry about and trip over. While it is an improvement, it does add to setup time and a bent bow could make the tent difficult to put away, I've been working with ARB on this aspect of it and I'm confident we'll figure out a solution. In the meantime you just have to be careful not to bend the bows... hasn't been an issue for the majority of users. Along with the awning bow being tensioned like this, the bow over the main door is also tensioned in this manner, resulting in a far tighter tent material, leading to less flapping of billowing in the wind. The downside to this is that the main door opening is slightly shorter than the previous model, not a huge deal but something worth noting.

    Details showing the awning and over door
    [​IMG]

    Detail showing interior telescoping bow detail
    [​IMG]

    Other improvements include finer quality screens on the doors and windows. Hooks on the awning straps (short straps that hold the awnings shut when not in use), which used to be a loop & "shaft" on the SII. The zippers on the tent body itself are of higher quality. The floor and the interlocking extrusion are of higher quality and better overall fit and finish too. The new black ABS plastic floor is easy to clean and seems robust and resistant to gouging or dents. The mattress was upgraded from single layer extruded foam to high density bonded chip foam, offering increased comfort and better durability. I honestly didn't mind the older mattress, but this one is a bit firmer which my wife likes.

    Pic showing the floor and extrusion detail
    [​IMG]

    Why the ARB Simpson III? ARB has always been a leader in innovation, while they by no means were the first to bring Roof-Top-Tents into the mainstream US market they were and are one of the leaders to this day. Look at their product development versus that of the competitors, while ARB is introducing bigger and better model tents, others are just releasing models similar to that of the last. Additionally with ARB you know you have the R&D and product support of a company that is not going anywhere, these tents are tested on a daily basis in the harsh Outback's of Australia and rest assured if areas are found in need of improvement, ARB will do just that. The changes from the Simpson II and Simpson III illustrate this point greatly. Additionally ARB as well as Cruiser Outfitters stock a full variety of tent replacement parts, anything can break, its how its resolved that matters. Most parts for the Simpson III are just a couple of days away.

    In use, Kokopelli Trail, April 2009
    [​IMG]


    Hope that helps. If you have any more specific questions or would like more pictures let me know and I'd be happy to oblige. I'll be out in it again this weekend so I might snap a few more pictures.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2009
  2. TJDIV

    TJDIV Back in The U.P. Moderator

    Messages:
    2,115
    Location:
    Upper Michigan
    Thanks for the thread, Kurt.

    I actually want to do this very set up on our Tundra. Are the supports something you built to spec?
    Another night last night of sleeping on the ground and I know my days of that are numbered.

    It'd be great for the U.P. Overland trips, etc. I still need to find a great tent pad for hiking though.

    Are those supports just on the side of the bed? I have a bed cover that has rails on the uppers is why I ask.

    Thanks,
    Tom
  3. cruiseroutfit

    cruiseroutfit Moderator Supporting Vendor

    Messages:
    4,445
    Location:
    Utah
    Glad you enjoyed the review, if there are any other products I deal with that you would like to see covered by a similar review, let me know!

    The rack is a product from Front Runner called the "Bakkie Rack", specifically designed with Roof-Top-Tents in mind. Paul May of Equipt Expedition Outfitters is the US importer of them.

    A few more pics of the Bakkie Rack:

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Sep 14, 2009
  4. Joe_E

    Joe_E

    Messages:
    3,311
    Location:
    the NJ word..
    Very cool indeed Kurt. I plan on getting a roof top for my 60 project. I really like the ARB.
    Still working on the rears though so it will be a while.;)

    Thanks for getting the floater parts out to Jim C quickly.
  5. cruiseroutfit

    cruiseroutfit Moderator Supporting Vendor

    Messages:
    4,445
    Location:
    Utah
    Let me know if there is anything else I can tell you about it :D

    Thank you! :cool:
  6. HWY22

    HWY22

    Messages:
    349
    Location:
    Jackson, WY
    Kurt,
    Although I have my Maggiolina and Columbus RRTs, I have steered clients who want a fabric tent to the Simpson lll. They are the best value for fabric tents.

    I was very impressed with the quality and the finish of the internal stitches. I had a client who traded in a Columbus back to me for a Simpson lll when he went from a Cherokee to a Taco.

    Great product - great value! Thanks for the write-up.
  7. cruiseroutfit

    cruiseroutfit Moderator Supporting Vendor

    Messages:
    4,445
    Location:
    Utah
    Thanks for the kind words, sounds like you have quite a bit of experience with other tents and that means a lot to hear you rank them as such. :cool:
  8. Mace

    Mace rock scientist.. Staff Member s-Moderator

    Messages:
    18,033
    Location:
    Las Vegas
    Cool stuff Kurt..
  9. rozerdemit

    rozerdemit

    Messages:
    1
  10. cruiseroutfit

    cruiseroutfit Moderator Supporting Vendor

    Messages:
    4,445
    Location:
    Utah
    I've been meaning to update this. I now have what I am calling the Simpson IIIb or Simpson III.5 basically some running changes were made to the design, slight but worth bringing up. I'll get some photos and do an update soon.
  11. cruiseroutfit

    cruiseroutfit Moderator Supporting Vendor

    Messages:
    4,445
    Location:
    Utah
    Finally getting around to an update on the Simpson IIIB/III.5

    Rather than discuss each and every change made to the tents, I'll highlight the two that really matter, the telescoping bows and the floor. Neither are easily photographed as they are 'construction' type changes but I'll hopefully clarify through words. There have been other rolling changes made that are now featured on the SIIIB such as upgrade zippers, an upgraded cover with with 'dual' cinch straps and looped strap holders making stowage that much easier.

    The telescoping bows found above the entrance door as well as at the perimeter of the entrance vestibule were prone to bending in the SIII. In most cases it was as result of improper deployment/stowage of the tent but extreme winds, or loads on the bows such could slightly tweak the bows. As they are a rather tight slip fit with the receiver tube, any bend would result in an almost impossible attempt to slide them back together. ARB quickly resolved this by reinforcing the bows with a fiberglass insert, thus eliminating the problem all together. For Simpson III owners looking to upgrade their setup, the reinforced bows and receiver tubes are available direct from ARB.

    The second and more rare problem encountered by some SIII tent owners was some minor floor cracking, in all cases it was cosmetic but long term use could allow moisture damage the structure and material of the tent. Using a different ABS plastic and construction method this problem has been 100% eliminated with the SIIIB. As you can imagine this is not really something you can upgrade without major overhaul though I have had customers cleanly fix the cracks thus eliminating any future problems.

  12. cruiseroutfit

    cruiseroutfit Moderator Supporting Vendor

    Messages:
    4,445
    Location:
    Utah
    SIIIC Updates:

    The telescoping bows found above the entrance door as well as at the perimeter of the entrance vestibule no longer use 'thumbscrews' to hold them in the open or closed position. They now use a much easier to set 'cam' system that simply requires you slide out the box and give each leg a half turn, locking it in the out position. While the fiberglass reinforced bows of the SIIIB solved all the issues myself and customers were having, the system of the SIIIC is that much faster. It is possible to replace the box on your SIII or SIIIB with the newest system used on the SIIIC.

    We've got a couple of the Simpson IIIC's in stock if you are in need of the latest and greatest tent :D
  13. alpendubber

    alpendubber

    Messages:
    786
    Location:
    Oregon
    Very nice write-up! I'm pretty sure I checked out your set up at CM09. I have wanted one ever since. Well, I just took the plunge and ordered one today. Hopefully the one I get is a IIIC. It's going to get some heavy use this year starting with the Koko double overnighter!:beer:
  14. cruiseroutfit

    cruiseroutfit Moderator Supporting Vendor

    Messages:
    4,445
    Location:
    Utah
    Should have ordered it from us, would have guaranteed you the IIIC and the hardware upgrades we send out with the tents ;)

    Unless you get old stock your pretty much guaranteed to get a IIIC, a great tent that will suit you well on the Koko :cool:
  15. sonk76

    sonk76

    Messages:
    840
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    How easy is it to install and uninstall the roof top tent from the roof when not in use? It won't fit in my garage and I would have to remove it when not in use. How much of a pain is this? Does it require two people?

    Thanks.
  16. cruiseroutfit

    cruiseroutfit Moderator Supporting Vendor

    Messages:
    4,445
    Location:
    Utah
    While it really depends on your mounting, generally speaking its a 10-15 minute process for two people. The tent isn't really that heavy but due to its size, its awkward. Utilize Thule or Yakima load bar options and it could be a 5 minute process. Hope that helps!
  17. RandyP

    RandyP

    Messages:
    1
    I'd like to get a IIIC from you. I live on the coast of California. How does the sales tax and shipping work ? Do you have one to ship now ? My brother lives in Brigham City.

    RandyP
    rkp2@att.net
  18. cruiseroutfit

    cruiseroutfit Moderator Supporting Vendor

    Messages:
    4,445
    Location:
    Utah
    Thanks for the order Randy!
  19. Rock Dog

    Rock Dog

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    colorado
    After seeing this tent in action all week, and seeing how well it stood up to the high winds we encountered for several days on end, i am very impressed. I have been wanting an EZI-AWN T-top tent for awhile, but this one was impressive for the money... a good bang for the buck...
  20. cruiseroutfit

    cruiseroutfit Moderator Supporting Vendor

    Messages:
    4,445
    Location:
    Utah
    Keep me posted, you know how to reach me :D

Share This Page