Import RTT From China? Ever try it? Pitfalls concerns?

Ford Prefect

Expedition Leader

BLUF: (Bottom line up front)

I found several RTTs that can be imported directly from china. The prices seem to be around $300-600.00 USD. Why don't people just do this?

So the story...

I am thinking about picking up a new RTT. (If my work does not decide to move me out of the country this summer! haha)

Anyhow, I want to get a hard shell tent of some sort. I am looking for a bigger tent as I am 6'6, and my wife is about 6'. Clearly we need a tall person tent.

I have found a few different companies who sell them. They say that minimum purchase is 1 tent. Therefore I am trying to understand why more people don't just import them on their own rather than paying these exorbitant prices. I have seen RTTs to my likeing upwards of $5,000.00 US. How in the world they charge that I do not know. But honestly. what else would I have to pay for to do this and why doesn't anyone seem to be doing it as well?

Obvious things would be shipping, customs, and taxes.

Anything else I missed as far as possible expenses buying from china?




Supporting Sponsor, Overland Certified OC0018
Add shipping, insurance, import duty, brokerage, custom clearance, shipping from port to your location. Then ask yourself what happens if it arrives damaged, or the quality is less than expected.


Shipping cost for 1 tent would be the hurdle. Don't think there would be any duty, brokerage, customs etc...

Besides that you are not getting something that someone else has already feted out, when dealing with direct from China, that is worth something.

If you are thinking about doing some deep background research perhaps on-site review and bringing in dozens or more (obviously for resale) it would be a good idea. Cascade, Teipi, Ironman, ARB, Tuffstuff etc... business model.


Supporting Sponsor, Overland Certified OC0018
Having imported product in the past I think you have to take shipping, insurance, import duty, brokerage, custom clearance, shipping from port to your location into account.


Don't do it, I looked into to it as well and it's not worth the savings...if you do end up saving in the end. At least if you buy a Tepui, CVT or even a Smittybilt at least you have a company to complain to if there is a problem.

Ford Prefect

Expedition Leader
Thanks Y'all. I suspect that I don't have the time for it, but I liked the idea. I figured there had to be a reason.


New member
I took a gamble and bought two RTTs from China...essentially I was willing to risk $1500. The process two about two months from order, build, shipping and delivery. Ultimate for me, it all worked out. I was more than surprised at the quality of the tent when it arrived and the savings made it all worth it. Definitely take into consideration all the costs mentioned above, as those will easily increase the purchase price. Obviously the savings are in the number of pieces you order, which can drop the price to about $300 per RTT if you order 10 or more

Overall, I ended up paying $900 per tent, vs paying $1300+for the other name brand tents....for me it was worth it. Oh and it also came with the annex and ladder extension for that price. Here it is mounted on a custom built trailer. It's been about 3+ years since I've had it and still going strong.

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Cult Hero

Very interested in this also as I have been extensively researching this.

I personally cannot come to terms with paying $2200 for the tent I want. That is absolutely ridiculous for a TENT. Now that I have found via alibaba many many manufacturers that are eager to work with me to provide exactly what I want, I am tempted to go in that direction (and even buy a couple more for resale).

The issue I have is honestly I don't think these tents are worth the money that is being asked. When you can buy expedition quality (kevlar guidelines etc) for $600 I question where the $$$ is going.

Then when I see the exact same tent advertised on Alibaba that Tepui is selling for 1/3 of the price I just feel ripped off.


Is this the off brand RTT that you bought?


ETA: all things being equal, what would be the main differences between these two and the Smitybuil (besides the much cheaper price for the Smittybilt)?



The Smittybuilt is a different design. Not sure about build quality etc - I'm sure its similar. I like the more covered entrance of the TuffStuff style with the ability to use the large annex room around the ladder etc... I don't think the annex is included with the SB, and by the time you add in freight, cost difference is minimal.


We setup a group buy to order 15 from China. But with import tariff and logistics it just wasn't worth the risk for a $300 saving. Ordering from a company you have some warranty.


New member
I've wondered the same thing about the costs on these. All these RTT I've seen seem flimsy and don't look like they would handle the winds or rainstorms I've encountered with normal backpacking tents and they are 5x the cost. The difference being my tents aren't attached to a platform for easy set-up. But easy set-up IMO doesn't equal quality and durability.

Mike S

Sponsor - AutoHomeUSA
Although these are products are cheap, importation of this type (or possibly ANY type) of product is best left to importers who do this commercially and understand how to do it. If you are buying one-off from an overseas vendor, they can ship ANYTHING they want, really, and your recourse is extremely limited and unlikely to be satisfactory. Caveat Emptor - the buyer alone is responsible for checking the quality and suitability of goods before a purchase is made.


Expedition Leader
It's interesting how many people don't really consider how much a product costs to research and design, build and test, rebuild better if testing fails, and ship out from the other side of the world. That doesn't even account for customs processing or the cost of running a retail business. So while most of the RTT's you buy through a retailer may come from the same exact factory in China that you can buy from direct, you do get some assurances by purchasing from a reputable seller that is trying to sell a product that will maintain a good reputation. This is even more important in a niche market such as expedition equipment, where if a bad batch of gear makes it through to a consumer then it could cost the seller its business trying to make it right.