Roof Top Tent (RTT) Questions

adaml

Active member
I'll go ahead and pile on here as well.

It's definitely a love/hate relationship and it almost all depends on how you're going to use it.

For me, the pros are
  • Doesn't take up space in the car with having to pack a tent, sleeping pads, sleeping bags, pillows, etc
  • Don't have to muck about with sweeping rocks out from the tent ara
  • MUCH more comfortable than a ground tent
  • Depending on the style, it's MUCH easier to setup which is HUGE when you live in the PNW and arrive at a campsite after dark in the rain or snow
  • I personally enjoy being up off the ground (just makes me feel better which allows me to sleep better)
  • Depending on the style, it's also MUCH easier to take down (I no longer have to be in the dirt and mud, rolling up a tent footprint and rainfly and everything else)

Some cons of the whole setup are
  • Definitely more expensive than a ground tent
  • You set up camp and you're "stuck" (e.g. if I get up in the morning to go see an early sunrise, I have to wake everyone up and pack up the tent in order to go)
  • If the car isn't level, you'll tend to slide around a little in the tent
  • Probably going to drop your MPG by a few (some more than others)
  • Might require you to get special equipment to mount it
  • Not the easiest thing to take on and off of your car

All that being said, I think it's important to understand that so much of this still comes down to (1) what tent you get and (2) how you're going to use it. A lot of those cons can be mitigated or may not even matter if you have a different situation than me.
 

Randun

Member
I'd start with YouTube, there are no less than a dozen overland channels that have done RTT pro/con videos.
Thank you so much for your opinion.

I have been doing so much research online and on YouTube.

I created this post here to see if anyone had any other opions other then what I see posted online.
 

Randun

Member
Welcome. This topic has been covered many times but it's also a personal choice for your own unique situation. Here's some great reading material:



Thank you so much for those previous posts.

I have seen those, and I was just wondering if anyone had any new opinions (pros/cons) on RTTs.
 

Randun

Member
@Randun It really is a personal thing, I slept in a ground tent for a couple of years but trying to find clear space, and sometimes dryish to pitch the tent got tired fast. I then slept inside for about 8 years, but as my trips got longer that was always work juggling gear to sleep.

Last year I got an RTT, a small one Tepui Ayer 2 man, it is light (95lbs) and works well for me.

Setup and take down about 15 minutes a little more in the rain or snow
Fuel economy hit not measurable , but I drive an 04 LR Discovery II so it is not like I had any fuel economy anyway
Off road performance impact none, but I do not rock crawl and the Disco is heavy

Best thing here in the Pacific Northwest, if I can find a more or less level spot and a hockey stick of distance off the side of the Disco I am good to sleep.

A few things it will not really protect you from either bears or nosey racoons, they can both climb. I have not had an issue with either off roading, but I have seen raccoons climb step ladders
If it gets wet you will need somewhere to setup and air it out when you get home
They are not cheap
Most times you are not getting into any garages with one up there
You will need good load bars or a roof rack and those count against your dynamic roof load. (total safe weight up top when moving)
If you like to camp in one spot for day then explore each day you will setting up and taking down the tent every day. Not an issue for me as I go solo and tend to move a fair bit.
Thank you so much for your opinions. I really appreciate it.

I like the ease of set up and break down with RTTs too!

I had not thought about raccoons up the ladder before? Thank you so much for saying that too.
 

Randun

Member
Pros:
-Look cool on social media
-Not sleeping on the ground
-You can pretend to be on an expedition

Cons:
-Expensive
-Can make your vehicle top heavy
-Can drop your MPG
-Can't stand up to put your pants on inside of one
-Have to crawl down a ladder to pee at night
-Can't store much in it when its all folded up
-Garages and parking garages are now off limits
-Hard to haul kayaks or a canoe
-Vehicle is stuck when its being used
-Can cause issues if you pack it up wet
-Requires a beefy roof rack or bars
-Looks silly when you are parked at the mall
Thank you so much for your opinions.

I have not thought of looking cool on social media or pretending to be on an expedition as pros before. Those were new ones to me. :)

Do you own a RTT? I would assume not since you didn't say anything about one in your post, but if you do, which one do you have?
 

Randun

Member
One of the most debated subjects in this forum. I have one and I really like it. I have other tents and use them but I really like my soft RTT. Personally it sleeps better than anything else I have used. Packing them up is a pia..no debate there but in every other way I like them. I also use my annex most of the time.
Great response. Those are some great opinions that you have.

Who makes the soft RTT that you have?
 

Randun

Member
I have a Baroud Evasion Hardshell. I like it, but will definitely not get a Baroud again. My current favorite is the ikamper skycamp. Good summary of pros / cons by jnich77. Expanding on that a little, setup / takedown is very easy with most hardshells, so you can roll into camp at 1am and be in bed at 1:03. The Baroud is easy to towel off and close up even when raining. But you need to level the truck to level the tent (or devise a leveling system for your rack). Most of them really suck to get out of because you are backing out of a tent and down a ladder. Adding decks dramatically improves the RTT experience, especially getting in and out. They will be a target for thieves, many RTT's do not have any theft prevention measures built in, so you may not feel comfortable leaving your rig places with the RTT installed.
Thank you so much for your opinions! I really appreciate your time and your help.

I have a lot of friends that have RTTs and most of them prefer the hard shells too.

Why did you make the comment that you would not buy a Baroud Evasion Hardshell again?

The hard shell that I have been looking at does have a lock attached to it. Good to know that is needed.
 

Randun

Member
It is all relative to the level of comfort (or discomfort) that you are accustomed to. After decades of sleeping in light weight mountaineering tents and very minimalist camping I find my James Baroud RTT and a fridge in the back of my JKUR to be the height of luxury. Now if I was downsizing from a Winnebago my perspective might be a little different.
So true!

I have always had a ground tent and am looking into RTTs as my next adventure buddy.

I use a cooler for food, but would love to have a fridge. Your set up seams amazing!
 

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Randun

Member
I went from sleeping in a tent of various sizes for about 50 years, to a RTT on a trailer to an Aliner..The older I get the more comfortable I want to be.
That is me too!

I have always been in a ground tent.

Which RTT did you have when you had it?
 

Randun

Member
We have a large Tepui that we love and are looking to move to a hardshell. Why wouldn't you go with the Baroud again? The XXL is our top choice. I have leveled my truck for a RTT before so I'm not concerned about that aspect. What particular didn't you like about the Baroud?
I like the hard shell RTTs too.

Have you heard of Tuff Stuff Overland before? I have been looking at their products and really like what I am hearing. These are the two I have been looking at:


 

Randun

Member
That's my wife. ;)

My own Pro/Cons:

Pro:
Flat sleeping area
Away from any critters/animals
Don't need to fuss with a ground tent when it's windy
Keeps in more heat
Packing up is a little bit cleaner; don't have to roll up a tent on the ground
Can be setup anywhere the vehicle goes

Con:
Have to walk around the vehicle multiple times during set up; undo straps, remove cover, undo ladder
Not all campgrounds are RTT-friendly
Level rig is a must
You're up there for the duration unless you really, really have to pee
Keeps in the heat
On/Off vehicle is a PITA sometimes; can limit vehicle in day-to-day living
Sucks to tear down/set-up if you're staying in a campground multiple days but drive places.


It's also a pretty good conversation piece. We've had multiple people ask about our RTT and if we like it.
Thank you so much for your time and your help with my questions.

Do you own a RTT? If so, what brand did you go with?

I really like the points that you bring up about being away from the critters, staying warmer, and how the tent can be setup anywhere that the vehicle goes.

Regarding your cons, have you seen the hard shell RTTs out there? There set up and break down is so quick and there is no straps to undue. Also, what do you mean by not all campgrounds are RTT friendly? This is an interesting point that I would like to understand more.

Thank you for all of your opinions!
 

Randun

Member
As was already posted in response, there are some well documented problems with some Baroud tents. I actually really like mine, but there are a few problems. One is that the bottom isn't perfectly flat. The sides are slightly lower than the middle where the rails are. This will cause crossbars to dig into the bottom of the tent if they aren't long enough to protrude from the sides of the tent. Very poor documentation from Baroud as far as whether crossbars should be wider than the tent or not, and the bottom not being flat just seems like poor quality control, bad design, or both. Then it seems like my tent may be developing the dreaded fabric wear problem. Not enough to worry me yet. Add that to a nightmare experience buying the tent, and the result is I will not buy one again. Just seems like Baroud is still trying to coast on being the only quality product in the RTT market for years, meanwhile other companies are clearly innovating. There are a lot more options now than just a few years ago when I bought my Baroud tent.
This is a great response!

Thank you so much for taking the time to give your opinions. I really, really appreciate it.
 

Randun

Member
As a former owner I'll add a few:

2" soft foam mattress generally sux and is included in 90% + of the RTT sellers basic tents.
Its been covered a bit - they are not fun to put away if on top of your lifted truck.
Thank you so much for your opinion.

What RTT did you have? Why did you get rid of it?

I have heard great things about the mattress in the RTT that I am looking at right now.

Thank you for sharing your experiences!
 
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