An argument against Roof Top Tents

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oldmopars

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This was one of the big factors I looked at when I thought about what rig to get. In the end for me the RTT was a no-go due to the ladder, cost and I have dogs.
My wife does not like ground tents, so for me the only option was to get a rig I could sleep in the back of. The list of vehicles that allow you to sleep in the back of, and still carry all the gear is very short, mid-size and larger.
The RTT looks cool, and works for some. Sleeping in the back of my rig is the best of both worlds. It is always set up, so no set up time. If I want to leave camp, there is no break down time. I can also carry a full size, 6in memory foam mattress and have tons of comfort.
You really need to look at how you travel, your needs, and budget to know what is best for you.
 
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MarioT'sCJResto

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My two Golden Retrievers nixed the roof top approach. While they are smart and learn quickly, ladders are not their forte.
Here’s my second chance at posting my reply.
I also tossed the RTT option out the door for my 3 pups; one Goldie Chow mix, and two black mouth curs.
 

phlfly

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RTT add mass and CG point, but they are way better than sleeping in tent even fast set up tents like one been advertised by Mike I think Gazelle. The tent is bulky too and long plus foldable bed plus good mattress and wind/rain brings even more challenges. I have GSD and she sleeps in the truck bed as I have topper. I slept in topper as well but it's not enough ventilation even with fan in summer. I like set up like Alicab its,really great but if you have one or two people. I found ikamper is best for family of 4.
Anorther great set up Habitat. But then make a choice between Sprinter van or Truck.
Someone said sleeping inside the truck like Toyota land cruiser its great idea if you have 2 people but it became like a permanent solution with only two seats . Don't like that .
I'm really thinking late upgrade to Habitat when kids are gone . I like idea of living space during bad weather conditions on long travels. Plus plenty of the sleeping space and another plus metal construction.
 
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MMc

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I have looked at RTT’s and decided to pass. The hard top or clam shell RTT’s are much better built than the soft tents are, he does separate the the different styles. The “they are faster to deploy” is false, I can drop my bivi bag, slide my pad and sleeping bag in faster than putting up any tent, ground or RTT. It needs a 30”x 80” slice of dirt which is very easy to locate. It picks up in a jiff too. If I choose to put up a tent, most backpacking tents go up in 10 mins. I understand a house tent does take longer and passed on them years ago. Everything is a trade off. I am thinking about doing the Pan American, if I do it will be in a pop-top camper.
I’ll pass on says anything about the social media guys.
 

MMc

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Many of my trips include surfboards, SUPs, Kayaks a Zodiac or some combination of them. My roof is full.
Yea mine too, surfboards, kayaks, fishing rods fill the top very well. I do love living in So Cal.
 

Pathfinder I

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I'm like @Road -- I love my RTT and wouldn't go back to a ground tent. I have hundreds of nights in ground tents, and probably even more in my RTT at this point, and the RTT is very much preferable. It really does broaden your options of what you call "home" for the night. I've personally found that a truck with an RTT is much more acceptable in some non-typical places than a ground tent. For example, we've been stuck a few times and stayed at the Chateau Wal Mart (they are a big chain of really nice campgrounds, there are usually one or two in every major city. They aren't big on green spaces but usually have a well equipped grocery store and 24 hour bathrooms and for some reason don't charge for camping. I'm sure you've seen one before. I've actually heard some people just shop there -- like, even without using the campground. Crazy world!). A ground tent is frowned upon in these situations.

The other big difference between ground tent and roof tent, which becomes apparent with enough nights in either, is that the Roof Tent is comfortable regardless of what's going on on the ground. Rain. Ice. Bugs. Roots. Rocks. All of these things become irrelevant in an RTT, but they are all serious considerations for ground tenting. Of particular note is how you manage to ground tent in the mud -- the only thing worse than packing up a wet tent is packing up a muddy tent. This is especially true for long trips -- The RTT, for long-term living, stays a lot cleaner in bad weather.

As for the challenges some folks have noted, we've solved a few of them -- we are a family of 3 humans, 3 pets - two German Shepherds and a cat. No problem at all with the RTT. The dogs can get in and out no problem, and we have plenty of space inside for all of us. The cat usually stays home but also fits if need be! :D.

For those curious, this is how the dogs do it; it's quite easy and safe (old rig, no video of them doing it in the new rig but it's the same process):

 

2dub

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I've only personally owned ground tents. I've stayed a few nights in an RTT. I think it's all just personal opinion. Late last year I bought the Gazelle T4. Is it perfect, absolutely not. Do I like it a lot? Yes I do. I considered a RTT. I just don't feel it was right for me.

T4 over RTT:
  • I can stand up fully to get dressed.
  • Ease to set up
  • Lower weight (Not light by any means & it is bulky)
  • Don't have to climb a ladder
  • Cost
  • Storage when not in use
Now maybe if I had a trailer where I could leave it on there and not set up and remove it, then I think I may be more likely to use one.

With limited exp with a RTT what I prefer about a RTT:
  • Bed/Padding is right there
  • I do like the feel of being off the ground
  • If you can park your vehicle somewhat level, you've got a spot to camp
  • Being on the roof doesn't take away interior/truck bed storage.
  • Hard to forget - Yes I once forgot to pack my tent once on a trip--- Hello WalMart special .
 

Tundracamper

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I've only personally owned ground tents. I've stayed a few nights in an RTT. I think it's all just personal opinion. Late last year I bought the Gazelle T4. Is it perfect, absolutely not. Do I like it a lot? Yes I do. I considered a RTT. I just don't feel it was right for me.

T4 over RTT:
  • I can stand up fully to get dressed.
  • Ease to set up
  • Lower weight (Not light by any means & it is bulky)
  • Don't have to climb a ladder
  • Cost
  • Storage when not in use
Now maybe if I had a trailer where I could leave it on there and not set up and remove it, then I think I may be more likely to use one.

With limited exp with a RTT what I prefer about a RTT:
  • Bed/Padding is right there
  • I do like the feel of being off the ground
  • If you can park your vehicle somewhat level, you've got a spot to camp
  • Being on the roof doesn't take away interior/truck bed storage.
  • Hard to forget - Yes I once forgot to pack my tent once on a trip--- Hello WalMart special .
Yeah, but the T4 doesn’t have the cool-factor being on your roof all the time. I saw a 4Runner parked in a hotel parking lot this morning with a RTT. There are also a couple of people in my hometown that drive around with them permanently mounted. Guess I don’t understand sacrificing fuel mileage 340 days a year for the 25 days you go camping. But I guess it wouldn’t look cool then:)
 
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Paasche

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I really like ours. I'm lucky enough to ride my bike to work most of the week so my tent stays on my truck. We try to have my truck setup so we can take off and not have much too load up or take down when we go. Right now we've been just doing short trips for the most part and it works out great for us. I do really like being up off the ground and so does my family. Definitely not a necessity but nice to have. I am having trouble moving around my truck recently due to my knee though-so that's a negative.
 

Viking1204

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I have an Overland Vehicle Systems RTT and a Gazelle T3 ground tent, they both have their advantages. Some places I've camped have tent pads, if you want to use your RTT you have to pay the RV rate and park in an RV spot. For those times I use my T3 with a cot, almost as comfortable as my RTT but not quite. I can open or close my RTT in about 10 minutes, throw a pillow in and be ready to sleep. The T3 setup probably takes about 20 minutes since I have to first pull the tent out, anchor it down, go back and get the cot, set it up, and then bring the bedding and set it up. Some campsites like Mount Mitchell in NC only have tent sites you have to hike into from the parking lot so I'll be using the T3 when I go there this Fall.

I think the option to have a ground tent or RTT is having the best of both worlds. When I go to Overland Expo East this year I'll be using a mix of my RTT and T3 depending on where I am camping for the night. My trip there and back from NW Florida will include at least one night in Cheaha Mountain Alabama, Cloudland Canyon in Georgia, Mount Mitchell in North Caronlina and then off course the Expo site in Arrington, VA.
 
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Moebius01

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At the end of the day, I think I'd like to have the option of both. To start, we'll be using ground tents because the wife and I want to be sure how much we're going to get into overlanding. If we decide on only a few weekends per year kind of thing, investing the $$$ in an RTT just doesn't make sense. If we get heavier into it, then it could come into play. Have a nice ground tent for the base camp style trips, and be able to attach the RTT if we're going where either the ground conditions are questionable, or we know we'll be trekking to different spots frequently. I can think of several places where I'd like being up off the ground a bit better.
 
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Cool Feet

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I love the looks off roof top tents. I like the idea of pulling into a cool place and sleeping without worrying what's on the ground.

I looked at roof top tent for years and decided that climbing down a ladder in the middle of the night to water the plants is not a good idea.

Most roof top tents are heavy weighing 90 plus pounds. I want a lightweight tent that's easy to set up ,and take down, and easily stored in the off-season. I found the perfect solution. I built my own roof top tent using the Gazelle T4 for under $300!

If you are interested in using the Gazelle T4 as the perfect roof top tent read on.
  • The Gazelle T4 weighs about 30 pounds and sleeps 4 people comfortably.
  • No ladder required to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.
  • The Gazelle T4 stores in the back of my van behind the passenger seat in the off-season.
  • My 2 boys routinely set up the tent in 60 seconds or less by not using the rain fly on a 5 week camping trip. It takes longer to get the tent out of the van. Taking the T4 down and putting it back inside the bags takes about 5 minutes.
To qualify as a roof top tent, I store it in my Thule roof top cargo box while camping. I bought a ladder to lean against my van to look cool. The ladder is useful for getting gear out of the Thule. It cost $100.

Besides being easy to set up, it's a comfortable tent for sleeping 4 large adults because it feels big on the inside. Having 2 doors makes getting in and out easy without stepping on everyone.

We camped in this tent for over 5 weeks. We stayed 1-2 nights at every camp site. The tent still looks like it's new after this adventure.

Oh, the T4 sells for $279! Add $100 for the ladder if you want to look cool!

wisconsinCamping.jpg

tentwithboys2.jpg
 
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MOAK

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We remote camp. We used to carry a large tent for base camp and a three man tent for overnighter s. Over the years it became somewhat frustrating when we would be unable to pitch either of our tents because of a multitude of reasons, rocky, muddy, not enough level space, pull through sites only, high winds, torrential rains, etc etc. Finally after years of self debate & research, pulled the plug & bought our Tepui Ruggedized. Because it is mounted on our trailer it is great for base camping ( deploying the annex ) as well as overnighters and will set up anywhere we park it. The guy in the vid mentioned they are all the same? I beg to differ. My SIL & my BIL both have RTTs of two popular brands. One is a clamshell, the other a soft top. The fit & finish, the structure of the canvas, hardware, framing, zippers, ease of packing down? No comparison. This RTT has been a bigger game changer for us than the fridge freezer. We now can literally camp anywhere it is legal to park the trailer. A44EDF3D-ABEF-437A-9E8E-C4B3B0AF5A77.jpegCC005FA1-6494-48F7-A7A5-43630A46502B.jpeg5FFFC0DD-DABF-469D-A177-60A77B69FB68.jpeg
 

MarioT'sCJResto

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We remote camp. We used to carry a large tent for base camp and a three man tent for overnighter s. Over the years it became somewhat frustrating when we would be unable to pitch either of our tents because of a multitude of reasons, rocky, muddy, not enough level space, pull through sites only, high winds, torrential rains, etc etc. Finally after years of self debate & research, pulled the plug & bought our Tepui Ruggedized. Because it is mounted on our trailer it is great for base camping ( deploying the annex ) as well as overnighters and will set up anywhere we park it. The guy in the vid mentioned they are all the same? I beg to differ. My SIL & my BIL both have RTTs of two popular brands. One is a clamshell, the other a soft top. The fit & finish, the structure of the canvas, hardware, framing, zippers, ease of packing down? No comparison. This RTT has been a bigger game changer for us than the fridge freezer. We now can literally camp anywhere it is legal to park the trailer. View attachment 206981View attachment 206982View attachment 206983
Love the setup
 
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Billiebob

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The big plus for an RTT is kids, put the kids to bed upstairs, they will be safe, secure and the adults can party on and sleep wherever.
But that is the only plus I see. The kids 'ill love it. It's like a tree house.
 
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w0lfpack91

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My two cents is everybody who makes these videos tends to copy/paste their view points, I have seen 4 videos that title and run over the exact same points. The issue is all these points can be avoided by moving the tent from the roof to a trailer. I’ve got mine bolted to a rack on a $600 harbor freight fold up trailer, it follows my XJ, YJ, and Trailhawk anywhere I can go. It works well as a base camp and can be leveled anywhere with the four corner trailer jacks. $600 countered 90% of these points for the same price, sometimes cheaper, than a good all season ground tent.
 

kwill

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If I'm going to pull a trailer, why use a crappy (IMO) RT tent? I'd prefer a tear drop or square drop or other small, enclosed trailer.