RTT to ground tent any regrets or vice versa

Lucky j

Explorer
I will pitch in, but for different reason.

I went like pretty much every body from ground to RTT. Never regretted it for vehicule traveling. I love the fact that sleeping bags and pillows would remaine in the RTT. And no matter what, putting a RTT (soft one here) away wet, is still better for me than the same with a ground tent.

What I really love about the soft RTT is the fact that I could sleep even when raining with all windows open and have a 360 degree view. No ground tent or hard shell rtt can do that.

We have now move to a TD with a very nice stargazing window that can open. Even if the window reduce the inclose impression (or even better,mwhen no bugs, to sleep with both doors open) it will never equal the soft RTT with all 4 side wide open and never worry about little rocks on the ground. Yep, a good matress can help, but it is never wide enough to protect your knees.

Btw, even with the TD, I have kept all that foes in my RTT set-up on my off road trailer. ;) and off course I still have my ground tents.
I forgot to mentionned that my RTT is on a trailer. I have a TJ wrangler, and did not want to go with a roof rack, I drive as much as I can w/o soft top in summer and a roof rack makes that hard to do and also the braking up camp for a quick ride around for a day is not good with me. A trailer allows me to do that and the RTT is lower to the ground, making it easier to open and close, cause I do not have to climb around the jeep.

As for kid, I do not camp with kid, only my gf as teens and they do not camp with us any more. But kids are natural climbers, they love tree house and latters, and guess what is a RTT?

I do camp with a 85 lbs dogs, and that one need help up and down. But she just loves the rtt.
 

ducktapeguy

Adventurer
I have not switched to a ground tent yet, but since my kids are getting bigger, I've been seriously contemplating an OZ or Springbar style tent. I flip back and forth as to whether i want to go back to sleeping on the ground, on some trips I think it might be easier, but on other trips I'm glad to have the RTT. For the price, the ground tents definitely have an advantage when it comes to interior space and weight. Also, there are times I wish I wasn't anchored to the campsite because of the tent on my car. But everyone has different priorities and styles of camping, so there's never one right solution.

My main priority is speed and ease of setup, since I'm usually rolling into camp late at night and setting up in the dark. I think a RTT (especially the hard shell ones) probably have the advantage here, because I can camp anywhere I'm able to park, I never have to worry about finding a flat, level site large enough for a tent. There were some sites where setting up a large ground tent would be cumbersome. It's not so much the tent itself, but all the pre-setup (clearing the site, unpacking the tent, etc) that needs to be done before setting up, then the post setup (staking it out, putting all the bedding and mattresses in) that really add a lot of time to the actual setup time. And I'm not sure how some of these large tents can handle high winds, there are times where winds suddenly pickup in the middle of the night after I've gone to sleep. Do people always stake out their ground tent every time? How do they handle the wind you can't stake it out?

The other reason I have hesitated in getting a ground tent is because the packed size for some of these tents are huge. I think the OZ tent is over 6' long when packed, which means I'd have to store on the roof anyway, negating some of the advantages I was hoping to achieve by switching to a ground tent. Putting a RTT on the roof is a pain in the *** no matter which tent you have, but at least it's usually not done very often. Even though these ground tents weigh half as much as a RTT, having to lift it up and take it down each time would get really old, really fast.

The biggest variable in setup for a RTT is the mounted height of the tent. On a subaru, setup is a breeze, I can park the car and be sleeping inside the tent in about 2-3 minutes. On a lifted landcruiser, it's like a combination of rock climbing and parkour, you really need to be comfortable climbing all over your car. It can take up to 10 minutes, but the good thing is that it's pretty consistent regardless of weather or terrain. Even though the mattress and some sleeping bags can be stored inside the tent in the closed position, with the whole family I've never been able to fit all the bedding and pillows and extra clothes needed. What I do is mount a small roof rack right in front of the RTT where I can store all that stuff in action packers, so I can just reach out the front and grab it.

My family loves the RTT, because there is some added sense of security to being on top of the vehicle, whether it's real or imagined, it doesn't matter to them. If it makes them more comfortable and allows me go camping more often, it's worth it. Kids just love RTT because it's cool, there's something special about sleeping up high, the kid in me agrees. For solo camping I'm probably indifferent about ground vs roof, but if I did a lot of camping by myself I'd probably skip a tent altogether and just find a way to sleep inside the vehicle.
 
Last edited:

Runt

Adventurer
Depends on the site, # of people and duration of stay
Hard shell RTT for travel where your on the move solo or for two. With 3 kids, we add a RTT on Off Road Trailer for Family camping with the kids.
I personally prefer the sleeping platform in the vehicle when traveling solo.
We do not run ground tents unless we are back packing.
 

ducktapeguy

Adventurer
I want to thank everyone on their comments.

A few things. I like the trailer idea, however I do not want to haul a trailer (I do not think yet). While it will give me more room inside, I eventually will be building a drawer system for my fridge and gear.
On the setup times, thinking back the RTT was faster to setup as the gear was all inside and ready to go. Even on the soft tents I folded my sleeping bags etc
That leads me the the next issue height. I have a 3" lift with 33" tires. while not huge on a FJ60 with a RTT it will be up there for sure. While I can climb in the ladder and do not get out in the middle of the night for a bathroom break, I cannot say the same for two small kids.
I can picture it now, I have to pee dad! I get up climb down the ladder and then help them down. and they go pee. This is not a fun scenario for me. for that a ground tent will be more ideal.

This and the top heavy aspect of it (thanks for several of you reminding me of this) could be a deal breaker.

I will spend more time thinking about the pros and cons. and for all of you thanks!! you did not make this much easier LOL. I did expect that.

How about anyone who has been camping with small kids. Preference?
Re: small kids. I've been taking my kids camping since they were about 2-3 years old. I think staying in the RTT is one of the reasons they love going camping, it's almost like a giant tree house for them. When the kids were was small they're in diapers so the pee breaks weren't an issue. When my son got a little older, what i did was stand him on the roof rack that's mounted right in front the tent like a balcony, and just let him pee over the side. It was even easier than a ground tent because I never had to leave the tent, I just reached outside and held on to his clothes so he didn't fall. Just make sure he's pointed downwind. My daughter was a lot easier in that she rarely woke up in the middle of the night so I don't remember having any problems. It's really not that much different than a ground tent in that you still have to get up and get out of the tent, the only difference is going down the ladder. Some people seem to think the ladder is a big issue, but for me it's almost like second nature now. But then I also don't get completely plastered when camping so maybe that has something to do with it. By the time you slide out on your stomach and let your legs dangle over the edge, it's only about 2-3 steps to get down, or one step and jump. Similarly, getting up is a couple of steps. At a certain age when kids can understand instructions and sit on the edge by themselves, it's easy enough to just carry them up and down without having them use the ladder. By the time they're too heavy for that, they can usually manage the ladder on their own.

The bigger issue would be the height of your vehicle and the type of camping you do. Things become quite a bit more difficult to setup when the tent is above your head as opposed to eye level. 3" lift with 33" tires is about the same height of my FJ40, and it takes a bit of practice and some gymnastics to setup and take down efficiently. A hardtop tent would probably be a lot easier in that regard. If you do a lot of off camber trails in heavily forested areas, a RTT is probably not worth the trouble. On older vehicles lacking sufficient power, you definitely can feel the weight up there. On newer cars it's almost unnoticeable.
 

kdeleon

Observer
Re: small kids. I've been taking my kids camping since they were about 2-3 years old. I think staying in the RTT is one of the reasons they love going camping, it's almost like a giant tree house for them. When the kids were was small they're in diapers so the pee breaks weren't an issue. When my son got a little older, what i did was stand him on the roof rack that's mounted right in front the tent like a balcony, and just let him pee over the side. It was even easier than a ground tent because I never had to leave the tent, I just reached outside and held on to his clothes so he didn't fall. Just make sure he's pointed downwind. My daughter was a lot easier in that she rarely woke up in the middle of the night so I don't remember having any problems. It's really not that much different than a ground tent in that you still have to get up and get out of the tent, the only difference is going down the ladder. Some people seem to think the ladder is a big issue, but for me it's almost like second nature now. But then I also don't get completely plastered when camping so maybe that has something to do with it. By the time you slide out on your stomach and let your legs dangle over the edge, it's only about 2-3 steps to get down, or one step and jump. Similarly, getting up is a couple of steps. At a certain age when kids can understand instructions and sit on the edge by themselves, it's easy enough to just carry them up and down without having them use the ladder. By the time they're too heavy for that, they can usually manage the ladder on their own.

The bigger issue would be the height of your vehicle and the type of camping you do. Things become quite a bit more difficult to setup when the tent is above your head as opposed to eye level. 3" lift with 33" tires is about the same height of my FJ40, and it takes a bit of practice and some gymnastics to setup and take down efficiently. A hardtop tent would probably be a lot easier in that regard. If you do a lot of off camber trails in heavily forested areas, a RTT is probably not worth the trouble. On older vehicles lacking sufficient power, you definitely can feel the weight up there. On newer cars it's almost unnoticeable.
+1 on what Ducktapeguy said.

We do have a big Gatorade bottle we keep upstairs for the kids. They're still at the stage where when they feel they need to pee, they need to pee NOW!

Also echo what's mentioned on soft-side RTTs and heavy vegetation. I was lucky i didn't tear up my cover after all I put it thru.
 

BobsCreek

Adventurer
In my case I love my CVT rtt, but I also travel with a ground tent. Depending on where I'm camping and for how long I will bust out the ground. I mean, if I'm going to be camping in a decent location for a few nights, it's easier to use the ground tent. If I'm camping in the same spot and it's a mud fest, well that's the RTT.. if I'm moving the next day, it's Tuesday rtt.
 

Recommended books for Overlanding

The Alchemist, 25th Anniversary: A Fable About Following ...
by Paulo Coelho
From $10.47
Dreaming of Jupiter
by Ted Simon
From $16.43
We Will Be Free: Overlanding In Africa and Around South A...
by Mr Graeme Robert Bell
From $17.87
Long Way Round: Chasing Shadows Across the World
by Ewan McGregor, Charley Boorman
From $14.59
Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why
by Laurence Gonzales
From $9.99

DCH109

Adventurer
Fantastic reply's everyone. than you very much.
While I was leaning towards a ground tent, I have leaned back towards a RTT. I talked to my son's and the older one was all about the RTT. The younger liked the ground tent, but I think I can sway him.
While I really do not want a trailer and sold my M416, it may be something that pops up again later, but one of the larger military trailers.
 

hank122

New member
I'm new to 4wd traveling in the backcountry but I've had extensive camping and backpacking experience when I was younger and plenty of ADV/touring on 2 wheels in the last 2 years. While riding the bikes, it was usually a combo of camping and motels and anyway, light weight gear was important.
I recently purchased a 4Runner (after watching my adult son having a blast in his Jeep) and I'm in the process of buying a ground tent that is bigger and more comfortable than the 2 man ultralight I used while backpacking. My son has had a Smittybilt RTT for a couple of years and I can see the advantages there
A couple of observations;
At this stage of my 4wd journey, I can fit everything I need for a week long trip inside the vehicle so while I intend on getting a roof rack at some stage, it's not a problem right now.
I've watched my son climbing all over his jacked up Jeep getting his tent setup, though it is pretty quick, it's a concern for me. I don't mind setting up a ground tent but I agree with others' points about site selection problems etc.
RTT's are expensive, no way around it. They are also a pain to lift onto the roof of my sons Jeep, even with two of us. There is no way I would leave one on my vehicle year round or even for weeks between camping trips. I drive my 4Runner to work every day.
Grounds tents do take longer to set up but I'm used to it. I'm looking at OZtents and I have no illusions about the 30 second setup with all the stakes and guylines but I do like the idea of extra headroom and the walk-in/standup height of those tents. I'll be adding a camping cot (a first for me) and a large Themarest self inflating mattress.
There are definite positives and negatives for both types.
I'm going to start on the ground and see how it goes for now.
I'm within 2 years or so of partial retirement and am looking forward to some really long trips in the future. I hope to have the 'camping' part of this sorted out by then.

Hank.
 

jeep-N-montero

Expedition Leader
While the OZ is nice, have you taken a serious look at a Springbar yet? I can literally set ours up in about 4 minutes and are a bit easier to transport than an OZ.
 

jk6661

Observer
While the OZ is nice, have you taken a serious look at a Springbar yet? I can literally set ours up in about 4 minutes and are a bit easier to transport than an OZ.
I have a Springbar Family Camper 7. I love it, but I have to call BS on this. Four minutes?! You can't even lay it out and pound in half the stakes in 4 minutes.
 

jeep-N-montero

Expedition Leader
I have a Springbar Family Camper 7. I love it, but I have to call BS on this. Four minutes?! You can't even lay it out and pound in half the stakes in 4 minutes.
We have owned 3 of them and became very efficient with setup, in the dark it's about 6-7 minutes.
 
Top