Rooftop tent pros/cons?

Bludozer

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IMO an RTT is a giant waste of time if the goal is solo trips. Build a drawer/platform set up in the vehicle, with only one person you won't have to pull a bunch of stuff out to sleep two, you can just have all of your gear on one side and the platform on the other. "Set up" time will be 2 min just like an RTT and you don't have to deal with all the other negatives that come along with it.

If it were just me I would only ever sleep in the vehicle, just the best way to go if solo. Considering a trailer set up now as solo camping is rare for me nowadays.
 

Otter

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I've done solo trips for years. Spent all but the last year sleeping inside the truck. It's cheap and easy way to go.

That being said, I love my RTT. I'm still solo more than half the time. There's some tradeoffs and the extra expense. The comfort of my RTT is far and away greater than sleeping inside the truck. Not just the mattress, but the headroom, the space around me, and the large mesh window openings. The doors are basically blackout curtains, and on cool mornings,I can sleep as long as I want without the sun shining in my eyes. For me, it was worth it.
 
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My 2cents, RTT are great for all the reason already listed in previous post. My draw back was when wheeling or going in to town for supplies you had to pack things up, so RTT on a trail gives you the best of both worlds. I‘ve travelled for months through Greece and Turkey making life easier. Cost of a RTT, well I’ve owned this set up for 6 years kept maintained when not in use. It’s paid for its self many time over. PS, it great to be up high when it rains and your camp site turns in to a river.

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87warrior

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I picked up a used ARB Simpson III last year to try out a RTT. The previous owner had the tent for about 5 years and took several trips to Baja with it. To ym surprise, the tent is still in good shape. My experience has taught me a few things:
  • The ARB RTT is a big, heavy, SOB. I loose 2mpg when the tent is on my 100. It is also a challenge to install/remove solo. Not impossible, but not fun. Interestingly enough, the tent doesn't really change how to vehicle drives.
  • In rainy weather I can have shelter set up in just a couple of minutes.
  • Thunderstorms are more concerning when in the RTT, but no soggy floor is worth it!
  • Packing up a wet RTT sucks. A good water repellent applied before it gets wet keeps the fabric from soaking the water.
  • Views out of the RTT are amazing.
  • I still sleep better in a hammock, but the RTT is nice when no trees are around or when the wife comes along.
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Saddletramp

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Roof top tents are a love hate relationship. I have had three over the years and a USA Venturcraft tent trailer plus sleeping in the back of my truck.

My Autohome Airtop has more than 70 nights, compact, aerodynamic, all bedding stays in there. After 6 weeks in Northern Canada and Alaska with plenty of rainy and windy nights, I have no complaints. It stays on top of my Prinsu rack on my 80 all the time. Perfect for just me or possibly a young couple who like to spoon but it is not roomy. Set up takes about a minute, take down maybe 5 minutes with tucking fabrics and bedding to get it all closed up. I keep my ExPed megamat in the tent so it is incredibly comfortable. Bedding is top and bottom sheets with several wool blankets and a down comforte, never been cold even in single digit nights.
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my other tents were flip out style, soft cover with aluminum floors. More spacious but more time to set up and take down. Foam bedding sucks. More noise in the wind and rain but bigger than a queen size bed.

Trailer is by far the most comfortable but towing a trailer is not for everyone, even me when the trails get tight and you have to make 100 point turns.
I’m with @Otter on listening to others, we have over 500 members (not all active) in our CopperstateCruisers club and there are really no two setups the same except for the 4 or 5 Campteq set ups, even those have several down sides.

Chances are you will either like it and look to up grade or you will find the simplicity of a ground tent fits you better.
 
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As so much has been already mentioned, I'll just add that it is very important to classify tents into THREE different category's.

1. Ground Tents
2. Hard Top RTT's
3. Fold Out RTT's

The differences, (by this I am referring to the pro's and con's) between a hard shell RTT and a fold out RTT are as many as comparing ground tents to RTT's in general.

One example would be ......... many people don't like the fact that after they set up a "fold out" type of RTT, the vehicle is no longer usable.

With my "hard shell" RTT, I never deploy my tent until a minute or two before hitting the sack. My truck is always ready to go ....... unless I am sleeping.
 
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I’m with @Otter on listening to others, we have over 500 members (not all active) in our CopperstateCruisers club and there are really no two setups the same except for the 4 or 5 Campteq set ups, even those have several down sides.

Chances are you will either like it and look to up grade or you will find the simplicity of a ground tent fits you better.
With respect to the Campteq setups, what are the down sides there if you don't mind me asking? I've never seen one in person, but they seem pretty cool.
 

Saddletramp

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With respect to the Campteq setups, what are the down sides there if you don't mind me asking? I've never seen one in person, but they seem pretty cool.
i think the downside is the same as my Airtop, it is tight for two people. The length is good but lying on your back your toes hit the ceiling, deal breaker if you are tall or have big feet. The lack of insulation on the aluminum shell make it a cold mofo in winter and oven in summer. Several folks have solved some of these issues by painting the roof with a Buskote like product, adding foam yoga mats to the inside ceiling.
Form factor of the Camp teq is superior in all regards, low to no wind noise, simple set up and take down, tight seals to the roof of your landcruiser make the tent look like just belongs to the truck.
 

Hojack

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EStein

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If you're camping solo or with only 1 other person max, this is the way to go. If you pack heavy, throw everything on the roof rack.






I built that with $150 budget, and its comfortable, i feel safe inside, and i don't have to setup/take down, climb a ladder. I'm not adding unnecessary weight to the top, causing wind drag/noise, and it's more stealth sleeping inside. I lived in my truck for 23 days while traveling across the U.S last year. Slept like a baby and feel safe every time.
Hey man curious where you were camping in these photos? Planning on an epic road trip this summer. Going to take advantage of the forced time off and rough with my girls for a couple weeks. I’ve got a free spirit high country 80 mounted on an off-road trailer. It’s tight for four of us but it works and my wife likes being off the ground.
 
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+1 on the hard- vs softtop roof top tents.

I've used a mates RTT for a few weeks, that was nice. So now me and my mates have a few Chinolina's and am impressed by the quality.
It's on my roof for more than a year and a half now, gets a lot of abuse from branches in the forest, I load it up with wood, steel etc and it holds up fine.

The hard top models are really easy to set up and take down, I've got a triangle hard top model myself (140*215cm / 55*85inches).
I'm 188cm / 6'2 and can sleep with another person comfortably inside the RTT. Perfect for a la 100's in the hills.

I always have my sleeping gear in the tent, when I go to bed I get the ladder, undo the latch and it pops up.
In the morning I go out, eat some breakfast, close the tent and am om my way.

The speed of setting up (30 secs including getting ladder) and closing it again does it for me. It's also nice to have a comfortable matress to sleep on.
It is also possible to open up some ventilation, inserting the steel pins takes some more time but not more than a minute.

I've also used a softtop / folding tent but that one did take some time to set up. I also had to take the bedding out, did not like that, was a little bit more spacious though.

Before I had the roof top tent I used a pop up tent, that was also fine but you could only set up on relatively flat ground. With the roof tent I can go on rocks, gravel and wet places without a problem. I just make sure I'm relatively level, if that is hard then just point the rear (where my head is) a bit up and it's ok (it does not have to be perfect).

I'm 25 and I have no problem with the ladder. That said I was on a trip in Albania last year and spend a few days camping with a couple in a Maggiolina (wind up) roof top tent on their LandRover Defender. That vehicle is quite high and they had no trouble at all getting up their (fancy)ladder (age around 65).

The downside is the thing on your roof, it's kind of bulky, caches wind and makes some noise. You'll probably notice it when cornering too. Another downside is that you gain height, I use my HDJ100 as a daily driver with the RTT on it, I can't fit in parking garages anymore. Also when offroading in the forest sometimes I have to be careful with trees while leaning the vehicle to one side. Other than those things I do not see any downsides.

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Hey man curious where you were camping in these photos? Planning on an epic road trip this summer. Going to take advantage of the forced time off and rough with my girls for a couple weeks. I’ve got a free spirit high country 80 mounted on an off-road trailer. It’s tight for four of us but it works and my wife likes being off the ground.
I was in Utah, google up BLM land in Utah and you can pretty much park there and camp. I have a couple spots that i love and recommend i can give you, free dispersed camping. This was outside of Bryce Canyon, 9000ft up so breathing was a little difficult if you're not acclimatized

 
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I have a I'm
Hey guys,

Been thinking of getting a rooftop tent. I never did before because they seem bulky, look too small, inconvenient, only good for 1-2 people, etc. However, with my family getting less interested in camping and me being more interested in getting out there solo, I'm reconsidering. I'd love to hear thoughts from rooftop tent owners.

Specifically -

  1. Are they easy to set up and tear down so you can drive daily? A la 100s in the hills?
  2. Does not being perfectly level make it annoying to sleep on a slant?
  3. Is the ladder a pain for getting in/out?
  4. Is it too short to be worthwhile?
  5. Is it the kind of thing that is "cool" but not really worth it?
Any other thoughts are appreciated!
Hey guys,

Been thinking of getting a rooftop tent. I never did before because they seem bulky, look too small, inconvenient, only good for 1-2 people, etc. However, with my family getting less interested in camping and me being more interested in getting out there solo, I'm reconsidering. I'd love to hear thoughts from rooftop tent owners.

Specifically -

  1. Are they easy to set up and tear down so you can drive daily? A la 100s in the hills?
  2. Does not being perfectly level make it annoying to sleep on a slant?
  3. Is the ladder a pain for getting in/out?
  4. Is it too short to be worthwhile?
  5. Is it the kind of thing that is "cool" but not really worth it?
Any other thoughts are appreciated!
I have an ikamper it takes less than a minute to set up and take down. Wouldn't change it for anything it's just pricey but worth every penny. Here it is on the truck, I also run it on my fj40 and outback.

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  1. Are they easy to set up and tear down so you can drive daily? A la 100s in the hills? Yes
  2. Does not being perfectly level make it annoying to sleep on a slant? Yes
  3. Is the ladder a pain for getting in/out? No, except maybe while drunk
  4. Is it too short to be worthwhile? No
  5. Is it the kind of thing that is "cool" but not really worth it? No

I've been using a RTT for 4 years now. Hard to go back to anything else. Tear down in the morning is easy. Only thing that sucks after you get over the mental anguish of having to do it is dealing with a wet tent if that is the case. I use a rag to dry it off if need be before closing it up.
 
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Bought a Smittybilt last year..the smaller one

Seems its the budget priced one of any of them

Only used a a few times....yes...the ladder in the middle of the night sucks

Easy set up/take down...pretty good quality..nice mattress...$1100 w/truck rack

Currently mounted on Chevy in pic...below cab height....

 

EStein

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I was in Utah, google up BLM land in Utah and you can pretty much park there and camp. I have a couple spots that i love and recommend i can give you, free dispersed camping. This was outside of Bryce Canyon, 9000ft up so breathing was a little difficult if you're not acclimatized

Hey thanks! I’m planning on taking July or August off and hitting the road with my family. Probably visit some colleges for my daughter so when I get a general itinerary together, I might hit you up for those spots. We were out there a few years ago and the country is spectacular.
 

Dparo

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So I am about to pull the trigger on a CK RTT hardshell. I can't sleep on the ground anymore due to a bad back and hammock camping is really the best results for me but I do that when backpacking. We are planning on doing the IDBDR in late August so we won't be at any place more than a night. I've been wanting it for quite some time but now that the time is at hand I am having 2nd thoughts on spending nearly $5k. Not that I have doubts on using it but that I have doubts on whether it is right for me.

I am almost 6'4" and 250lbs so I like space and would add another few inches of mattress to what exists. I don't want a soft top RTT because of the time to deploy and stow. I don't do serious rock climbing or anything, mostly exploring old FS roads in search of ghost towns or through NF properties.

I am a firm believer in buy one, cry once. I am thinking that the RTT will get mostly solo use or if when I bring the pup, and when the family goes we use a OzTent or something similar. It's just me being a bit hesitant.
 

Otter

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So I am about to pull the trigger on a CK RTT hardshell. I can't sleep on the ground anymore due to a bad back and hammock camping is really the best results for me but I do that when backpacking. We are planning on doing the IDBDR in late August so we won't be at any place more than a night. I've been wanting it for quite some time but now that the time is at hand I am having 2nd thoughts on spending nearly $5k. Not that I have doubts on using it but that I have doubts on whether it is right for me.

I am almost 6'4" and 250lbs so I like space and would add another few inches of mattress to what exists. I don't want a soft top RTT because of the time to deploy and stow. I don't do serious rock climbing or anything, mostly exploring old FS roads in search of ghost towns or through NF properties.

I am a firm believer in buy one, cry once. I am thinking that the RTT will get mostly solo use or if when I bring the pup, and when the family goes we use a OzTent or something similar. It's just me being a bit hesitant.
As I said above, I love my Alu-cab. Only a few minor complaints, which were easily fixed. If something were to happen to my tent or truck, I would buy another one. I might go for the Bush Company Alpha though instead. I like the awning on all sides, the mounting rails all around, and the inside setup. I looked at the Camp King last year at HIH and rode around with the guys that distribute them in the US. It's a nice tent, but I didn't see many advantages over my Alu-cab for the price. That's just my opinion though.

Aluminum hardshells are the way to go as far as I'm concerned.
 
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So I've had my RTT for a few years and I love many things about it and hate many things.

First, the positive: No need to find a flat rock free spot to setup your tent. The ground can be wet, snowy, etc. Just level the vehicle, which is easy by just putting a tire on a rock if necessary. This is huge for me for where we like to camp. And I find them more comfortable than my old setup since it has a nice mattress inside.

Now the bad: Can't setup camp and then drive off. No base camp with exploring during the day. No quick trip to the swimming hole. No drive after dark to the top of the hill for a photo op. Once it is open, if you need to drive somewhere, you are taking it down. Also, I'm old and get up several times during the night. My cruiser is pretty tall and getting down in the middle of the night to pee is a pita. And my 100 lb. dog ain't going to be sleeping with us either.
 
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I'd look at the hard shell options.
- Easier to setup and take down
- Less wind noise / better mpg
- You can reposition the vehicle without closing it up (im talking super slow moving around camp)

For 1-2 people they work great. Setup takes 5 min, take down is less than 10min. All of your bedding stays in place which is a huge time saver.
 
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