Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in Overland Journal, Summer 2017.
Everyone loves the idea of a tree house, and for the overlander, few things resonate as much with this concept as the rooftop tent (RTT), a comfortable and elevated retreat from the creepy crawlies and uneven terrain below. I ordered my very first RTT from Eezi-Awn in South Africa in early 2004—a green canvas number. Now, over a decade later, these innovative Afrikaners have recently released their first hard-shell solution: a black aluminum model with angles reminiscent of a jet fighter. In the 30-year history of their brand, Jack and Jess Stuhler never fully embraced the idea of a hard-shell, flirting briefly with their Alu-Cap design, a hybrid folding style. They wanted to do it better, and they wanted it to be different—the Stealth was born.
Everything about this tent exudes quality, from the welded and press-bent panels and recessed ladder storage to the ultra-plush mattress. Installation is simple and uses the same hardware as their other models. I fitted the Stealth to my Mercedes G-Class using three Rhino-Rack crossbars, distributing the 185-pound load over more of the rain gutter. Opening the shell requires unlatching four clasps and giving the rear handles a gentle press skyward. Once in motion, the large gas struts assist in lifting the top the rest of the way, resulting in an angled profile with about a foot of material in the front and a large rear canvas wall. The back allows for three entry points with screened and covered doors, all accessible by the movable ladder. Once inside, the fit and finish is excellent, with a padded ceiling and several ventilation ports. The main door can be propped open like an awning with two long (and retained) poles. My only complaint is a lack of inside pockets or nets to help better organize gear.
Sleeping in the Stealth is a joy: the thick canvas blocks out nearly all light, and the weight of the material minimizes flapping. I cannot overstate how good the mattress is, its firmness and thickness completely support me as a side sleeper. It is not just a foam pad with a thin cover, but a nearly 5-inch cloud of overlanding dreams. The ladder is of typical Eezi-Awn quality with extruded aluminum and a deployable extension. However, even with the additional length, it did not quite reach the attachment points on the Gelandewagen; taller vehicles will require a different extension. I also appreciated the overall style and colors of the tent, the black textured exterior complemented by the dark gray soft panels. While I do not always use rooftop tents when I travel, I enjoyed this model enough that it has become a permanent addition to my personal vehicle camping options.
$3,900 | EEZIAWN.CO.ZA | EQUIPT1.COM | 866-703-1026