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RTT - Hardshell vs Softshell???

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Vagabond.Explorer

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Currently RTT shopping and am between an iKamper and 23Zero. I only know tents that go on the ground, don't magically unfold and pop up or have hard shells. So the wisdom of those that do would be appreciated. Information on my setup / situation is below.


Working remotely, and the tent + annex will be my basecamp for the time being. I'll have a bike and hopefully that'll get me to the hiking trails so I don't have to break camp too often.
I'm pretty much going to be living out of the tent + annex and will be camping at locations all around the country.
I drive a F150 and will mount the tent at 12" above the bed rails. Only the back of an iKamper or 3" of a 23Zero will be above the cab.
Very good chance of switching to a Bronco in 2023, so aerodynamics would become more important at that point.
Decent chance of getting some kind of trailer for the tent so I can have that be basecamp instead of my vehicle in 2022/2023.


Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated. I don't mind spending the $ on the right gear, but at the same time I do like saving money.

Thanks!
-T.J.
 
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Patman

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I have a 23zero Walkabout. No complaints about the tent. Wife hates the mattress, and having to climb out. A memory foam topper fixed one of the two issues for her. My only issue is the base camp side of it. It's not as quick as anyone ever hopes. I can still set up and tear down a classic dome faster. Although that may change if it wasn't 7' off the ground. A hard shell will always pack down quicker. Now if you mount it on a trailer and you can unhook and explore, no issues.
 

Vagabond.Explorer

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I have a 23zero Walkabout. No complaints about the tent. Wife hates the mattress, and having to climb out. A memory foam topper fixed one of the two issues for her. My only issue is the base camp side of it. It's not as quick as anyone ever hopes. I can still set up and tear down a classic dome faster. Although that may change if it wasn't 7' off the ground. A hard shell will always pack down quicker. Now if you mount it on a trailer and you can unhook and explore, no issues.
Thanks Pat!

The part about setup and teardown is really good to know! And that makes the decision much easier as a iKamper is less than a 23Zero and trailer. And that difference is probably better put to the down payment on a Bronco than a trailer. The Bronco will get me a lot more interesting places than the F150 will!

The possibility of having to pack the tent up to drive to a trailhead at a fair number of parks to get a hike in between work ending and the sun setting is making the hard shell seem like a better way to go for the speed of things.

-T.J.
 

Road

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Having a RTT that low, just 12" above the bedrails, will make the annex ceiling height pretty low, or at best will make the sidewalls fold a good bit at grade (depending on how raised your F150 is).

My choice, after considerable research and climbing around, under, and over every type of tent set up I could find, was a hard shell popup on a rack I can raise and lower, depending on need.

Here's a post I just made about it:


I would not give up my RTT in my present config for anything. It's made my adventures much more pleasurable, longer-lasting, and memorable, by far. I can say this after literally sixty years of every other type of ground tent experience one can imagine, all over North America and Europe.

basecamp_2572-900.jpeg


In that post linked to above are a mess of images of the different ways I can set up my RTT, along with a plethora of past posts here on OB about RTT types, setups, preferences, etc.

The choice of RTT type or even whether or not to have one has been talked about ad nauseum for years, though the search function here is less than exact or thorough.

So I've compiled a list of just some of the RTT threads.

Here's a post I made in such a thread, with what I consider to be the benefits of my hardshell RTT, based on experience of over 600 nights out in all kinds of weather and situations and all over North America:


Here are several more you may find helpful; all of which talk about rooftop tents and various types:

Soft shell, hard shell or ground tent?

Rooftop Tent Camping - has several opinions on RTT, ground tents, why, etc:

Eight pages of Roof Top Tent or Ground Tent:

Nine pages of Rooftop Tent, Yay or Nay. OP asks who switched from RTT to ground tent, or vice versa, why, and if RTT are just gimmicks:

Ten pages of "What is your preferred shelter? Rooftop Tent vs Ground Tent vs etc...
.
 

Vagabond.Explorer

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Having a RTT that low, just 12" above the bedrails, will make the annex ceiling height pretty low, or at best will make the sidewalls fold a good bit at grade (depending on how raised your F150 is).

My choice, after considerable research and climbing around, under, and over every type of tent set up I could find, was a hard shell popup on a rack I can raise and lower, depending on need.

Here's a post I just made about it:


I would not give up my RTT in my present config for anything. It's made my adventures much more pleasurable, longer-lasting, and memorable, by far. I can say this after literally sixty years of every other type of ground tent experience one can imagine, all over North America and Europe.
Road, thanks for your experiences and the links! I do agree that 12" above the rails is a bit short. It's a combination of cost and availability that's driving me to a lower setup. Should also be better for wind resistance as well. If I wasn't likely to be swapping vehicles in 2023 I'd spend more on the rack, but I'm trying to keep costs and potential losses low.

Since I'm just looking for something to sit under out of the sun while working, I may switch to an awning as it'll let the breeze through better and should be faster to setup and teardown.

-T.J.
 
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North40overland

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My opinion, Hard Shell Roof Nest all day long. I have had mine on the rig almost a year, used it over 50 nights so far, wouldn't go back. For an F-150 I would recommend the Condor XL. It is huge on the inside and won't hang over your cab. It is more feature rich than the iKamper and costs less. Hope you pick the one that is right for you but our Condor has been working great for us.

20210517_002145180_iOS (2).jpg
 

Vagabond.Explorer

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My opinion, Hard Shell Roof Nest all day long. I have had mine on the rig almost a year, used it over 50 nights so far, wouldn't go back. For an F-150 I would recommend the Condor XL. It is huge on the inside and won't hang over your cab. It is more feature rich than the iKamper and costs less. Hope you pick the one that is right for you but our Condor has been working great for us.

Thanks Mike!

I had looked at the Roof Nest products, and just took another look at the Condor vs Skycamp Mini. Besides price, the differences I'm seeing are the LED light and it being slightly bigger when open and slightly smaller when closed. However it also looks thicker and less aerodynamic, not sure if it is but that's how the pictures make it look. Since you own one, could you share your thoughts both on the differences that influenced your decision and aerodynamics?

The price difference for me is less than you think. Living in NY, I have to pay tax on internet purchases (The merchant collects it so I'd pay $3,475 for the Roof Nest). However there is an iKamper dealer that I can take a road trip to and purchase it tax free, while also getting a second set of hands to help get it up on the truck to install that I don't really have back home. Then go camping for the weekend. The dealer also has units in stock, so I wouldn't have to deal with shipping delays and such.
 

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We started with Tepui (the largest don't remember the name) with an annex. We loved it the annex was great for changing. But the zipper went on the cover and it ended up being such a pain to close. We then Moved to a James Baroud and love it set up and take down are great. The only drawback for all of the hardshells is that none of the annexes have floors.
 

North40overland

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My opinion, Hard Shell Roof Nest all day long. I have had mine on the rig almost a year, used it over 50 nights so far, wouldn't go back. For an F-150 I would recommend the Condor XL. It is huge on the inside and won't hang over your cab. It is more feature rich than the iKamper and costs less. Hope you pick the one that is right for you but our Condor has been working great for us.

Thanks Mike!

I had looked at the Roof Nest products, and just took another look at the Condor vs Skycamp Mini. Besides price, the differences I'm seeing are the LED light and it being slightly bigger when open and slightly smaller when closed. However it also looks thicker and less aerodynamic, not sure if it is but that's how the pictures make it look. Since you own one, could you share your thoughts both on the differences that influenced your decision and aerodynamics?

The price difference for me is less than you think. Living in NY, I have to pay tax on internet purchases (The merchant collects it so I'd pay $3,475 for the Roof Nest). However there is an iKamper dealer that I can take a road trip to and purchase it tax free, while also getting a second set of hands to help get it up on the truck to install that I don't really have back home. Then go camping for the weekend. The dealer also has units in stock, so I wouldn't have to deal with shipping delays and such.
Fair enough. Man taxes are rough. For me I really like that the lights are built in, it comes with the gear bag, shoe bag, and landing pad for no extra cost. If memory serves I think the mattress on the roof nest is also a bit thicker. I actually wanted the ikamper because it matches my rigs color scheme but went with the roof nest because I felt it was a better value. As for the aerodynamics I have no issues. I think all the hybrid tents are going to be less aerodynamic than a true clamshell but I don’t think an inch or so probably does much. We all look for different things but this one has been great for us. Hope this was helpful.
 
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leeloo

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this is something to consider, if you have to put it up and remove it from the car often, If the car is very high, with no pulley system in garage, for a hardshell will take about 3 fit adults to set it up.
 

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I have a hybrid. THe Go Fast Camper Co makes a SuperLite. it has a cloth covered hard top and bottom, soft on three sides and comes in at only 90Lbs I have taken it on and off solo. I've seen some cool people have rigged up bike pullies and make a system to fit it off the rig. I built a "skateboard" for it and store in on it's side. Oh it is in my avatar pic. only sleeps two people and it takes up the WHOLE roof top so all my gear is inside. Helps me from hauling too much and it is all packed inside a locked rig when we go hiking or rafting
 
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cug

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We had one of these - cool concept but it didn’t work out for us.
  • The mattress absolutely sucks. It’s just plain bad. Might be okay if you are in your 20s and not a side sleeper.
  • As soon as you substitute the mattress for air mattresses (Thermarest), the setup time and convenience is down
  • You can’t do “basecamp” - whenever you need your vehicle for something, the tent has to be packed away. So sunrise or sunset photo shoots are a pain.
  • It’s basically always on the car, because install and take down takes a while and two strong or three normal adults.
  • Day to day driving was not great, the weight up high is very suboptimal. And we always had to check the height
  • You have to account for vehicle leveling in the setup time, which can be a bit.
Currently we are back to a ground tent. Doesn’t take all that much longer to set up and eliminates the above downsides. We have different plans for the future, but they are in way different realm - price and comfort, but for us it’s worth it.
 
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Vagabond.Explorer

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Fair enough. Man taxes are rough. For me I really like that the lights are built in, it comes with the gear bag, shoe bag, and landing pad for no extra cost. If memory serves I think the mattress on the roof nest is also a bit thicker. I actually wanted the ikamper because it matches my rigs color scheme but went with the roof nest because I felt it was a better value. As for the aerodynamics I have no issues. I think all the hybrid tents are going to be less aerodynamic than a true clamshell but I don’t think an inch or so probably does much. We all look for different things but this one has been great for us. Hope this was helpful.
Thanks Mike! The taxes in NY are crazy, especially since anything shipped into the state has to have tax charged on it now. It does have a bit over half an inch thicker mattress which is nice. The more I think about the lights the cooler they seem as well. The bags, not as much to me. But I'd still run into the problem of finding enough people to help me get it up on the roof where I currently am. Have to admit I'm thinking about it a bit more but the installation is really the sticking point.


this is something to consider, if you have to put it up and remove it from the car often, If the car is very high, with no pulley system in garage, for a hardshell will take about 3 fit adults to set it up.
Thanks Mihai, I'll be pretty much permanently mounted, I may remove it once a year or something but it'll probably just live on the truck. Good to know that it'll be a pain if I do remove it.


I have a hybrid. THe Go Fast Camper Co makes a SuperLite. it has a cloth covered hard top and bottom, soft on three sides and comes in at only 90Lbs I have taken it on and off solo. I've seen some cool people have rigged up bike pullies and make a system to fit it off the rig. I built a "skateboard" for it and store in on it's side. Oh it is in my avatar pic. only sleeps two people and it takes up the WHOLE roof top so all my gear is inside. Helps me from hauling too much and it is all packed inside a locked rig when we go hiking or rafting
Vance, I had looked at their products, but the footprint is too large to fit where I want to put the camper. The cap / camper combo is really cool, but not sure how long I'll be keeping the truck so ruled that out.

We had one of these - cool concept but it didn’t work out for us.
  • The mattress absolutely sucks. It’s just plain bad. Might be okay if you are in your 20s and not a side sleeper.
  • As soon as you substitute the mattress for air mattresses (Thermarest), the setup time and convenience is down
  • You can’t do “basecamp” - whenever you need your vehicle for something, the tent has to be packed away. So sunrise or sunset photo shoots are a pain.
  • It’s basically always on the car, because install and take down takes a while and two strong or three normal adults.
  • Day to day driving was not great, the weight up high is very suboptimal. And we always had to check the height
  • You have to account for vehicle leveling in the setup time, which can be a bit.
Currently we are back to a ground tent. Doesn’t take all that much longer to set up and eliminates the above downsides. We have different plans for the future, but they are in way different realm - price and comfort, but for us it’s worth it.
Thanks for your thoughts Guido! Some of those I hadn't previously thought of, so thanks for bringing them up.
As someone who will be camping for an extended time while working remotely. The ease of solo setup of both the tent and awning/annex (Need somewhere to work) beats anything I can think of doing with a ground tent you can stand in or something similar. I think that will outweigh needing to close it up to use the vehicle.
My mounting location is also above my pickup bed, but under the roofline so that mitigates those problems.
I'm not 20, but I'm fairly certain that the mattress comfort will be at least as good as my normal (odd) sleeping arrangements at home. It has to be at least as good as my ground camping setup of a foam sleeping pad under one of those self inflating foam ones, and I can sleep on that for a week or more without being uncomfortable.
 
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PapaDave

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I love my IKamper, it’s everything they advertise it to be, even the thin mattress unfortunately. I got the interior cargo net so I store 2 comforters in the shell inside and it closes on my deflated exped single and duo tucked up along the hinged side. (I ditched sleeping bags years ago.) Those 2 air mattresses fit nicely side by side and make sleeping awesome. I cannot keep my pillows inside though. I have the interior cold weather option which works too well, I can barely breathe at night so I only use it for below freezing. I have the annex which is huge but “feels” like it takes forever to set up even though it’s under 10 minutes. I also got the awning which is huge as well. I wired my tent for power to run lights and chargers while in the tent.

All in all I probably have about 100 nights in it since 2018 and have no thoughts about changing it out unless I completely change vehicles to an Earth Cruiser or van. Mine has faired very well in the pines of the Sierras as well.

1883E35F-723C-40C5-9784-1E3220E228E3.jpeg73917B8D-1624-4D51-9544-C969233EA4E4.jpeg1175A4B9-8CE6-4CEA-AC6F-3B141EF4E4BA.jpeg
 

Vagabond.Explorer

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I love my IKamper, it’s everything they advertise it to be, even the thin mattress unfortunately. I got the interior cargo net so I store 2 comforters in the shell inside and it closes on my deflated exped single and duo tucked up along the hinged side. (I ditched sleeping bags years ago.) Those 2 air mattresses fit nicely side by side and make sleeping awesome. I cannot keep my pillows inside though. I have the interior cold weather option which works too well, I can barely breathe at night so I only use it for below freezing. I have the annex which is huge but “feels” like it takes forever to set up even though it’s under 10 minutes. I also got the awning which is huge as well. I wired my tent for power to run lights and chargers while in the tent.

All in all I probably have about 100 nights in it since 2018 and have no thoughts about changing it out unless I completely change vehicles to an Earth Cruiser or van. Mine has faired very well in the pines of the Sierras as well.

View attachment 217378View attachment 217379View attachment 217381
I’ve actually been living in an iKamper Mini with awning for the past 7 weeks on the road. Since I’m a remote worker and need power I’ve gotten state park campsites with electric and been using a 500w space heater instead of the thermal insulation. I’ve also installed custom lighting.

But I’m looking at selling it and getting a truck camper after just a few months. Probably because I’m working for 8 hours a day 5 days a week and that’s a very different situation than being on vacation or otherwise just traveling.

If I was on vacation or retired this would be perfect. But working I need a heated place to sit old cold mornings, etc that a RTT just doesn’t provide.
 

PapaDave

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I’ve actually been living in an iKamper Mini with awning for the past 7 weeks on the road. Since I’m a remote worker and need power I’ve gotten state park campsites with electric and been using a 500w space heater instead of the thermal insulation. I’ve also installed custom lighting.

But I’m looking at selling it and getting a truck camper after just a few months. Probably because I’m working for 8 hours a day 5 days a week and that’s a very different situation than being on vacation or otherwise just traveling.

If I was on vacation or retired this would be perfect. But working I need a heated place to sit old cold mornings, etc that a RTT just doesn’t provide.
Yeah that is a different situation for sure. It’s one thing to camp for fun and another to be exhausted and need to rest. 4Wheel Campers might be more comfortable. I’m sure you’ve looked at a bunch of different ones
 
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I have a TuffStuff Alpha ll and I love it. I like the over hang at the opening for when it’s raining outside, I can climb in and take my wet shoes/boots off out of the rain, something that a lot of these tents don’t have. I also got the annex and can set it up for longer stays or if the weather is bad. I also like the lights on it, we used it a lot at the camp sight, light can be white or yellow or combination. I have a half bed rack and my MPG has not been hurt to bad, about 1 MPG lost. I have a problem and TuffStuff is going to fix it, good company in my eyes.
 

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Vagabond.Explorer

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I’ve actually been living in an iKamper Mini with awning for the past 7 weeks on the road. Since I’m a remote worker and need power I’ve gotten state park campsites with electric and been using a 500w space heater instead of the thermal insulation. I’ve also installed custom lighting.

But I’m looking at selling it and getting a truck camper after just a few months. Probably because I’m working for 8 hours a day 5 days a week and that’s a very different situation than being on vacation or otherwise just traveling.

If I was on vacation or retired this would be perfect. But working I need a heated place to sit old cold mornings, etc that a RTT just doesn’t provide.
Yeah that is a different situation for sure. It’s one thing to camp for fun and another to be exhausted and need to rest. 4Wheel Campers might be more comfortable. I’m sure you’ve looked at a bunch of different ones
The 4WC units are awesome, but will probably get a full sized unit. Not like I can go too far out there since I need a cell connection to work. And adventure / dirt bike could hang off the back and get me out to more interesting places when I have the time.
 
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donmontalvo

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If I was on vacation or retired this would be perfect. But working I need a heated place to sit old cold mornings, etc that a RTT just doesn’t provide.
I just bought an iKamper Skycamp Mini and a Rhino-Rack Backbone + Vortex crossbar rack for my 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon.

I do a couple two week vacations per year, and I'm finally going to be able to conveniently camp at KOA without the need to pitch a ground tent.

No telling what I'll do when I retire, but something tells me I'll be roaming around the country for a few years, before settling down and doing road trips a couple/few times a year.

I haven't read this entire thread, but I stumbled onto it while looking for info on space heaters, would like to know what folks have for heating a RTT, and how they've got it set up.

Thanks!
 
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Vagabond.Explorer

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If I was on vacation or retired this would be perfect. But working I need a heated place to sit old cold mornings, etc that a RTT just doesn’t provide.
I just bought an iKamper Skycamp Mini and a Rhino-Rack Backbone + Vortex crossbar rack for my 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon.

I do a couple two week vacations per year, and I'm finally going to be able to conveniently camp at KOA without the need to pitch a ground tent.

No telling what I'll do when I retire, but something tells me I'll be roaming around the country for a few years, before settling down and doing road trips a couple/few times a year.

I haven't read this entire thread, but I stumbled onto it while looking for info on space heaters, would like to know what folks have for heating a RTT, and how they've got it set up.

Thanks!
If you have a site with electric you can use a small space heater. I’ve been using a 500w unit plugged into an aquarium thermostat to set the temp.

If you plan on camping in the snow or below freezing temps I’d highly recommend the thermal pack. The 500w can’t quite keep up in those situations.
 
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