Share your rookie knowledge, please?

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lhoffm4

Rank I

Contributor III

154
Boise, Idaho
First Name
Lee
Last Name
Hoffman
NOT "as seen on YouTube", for sure!

Back story- Had a widow-maker on Valentines day, 2020. im 54. Spent a month in the hospital right as Covid started shutting down everything. Spent the next 5 months at home, "recuperating". Bout broke me mentally. To pass the time, I think I watched everything on HBO, and YouTube...twice! Long story short- started planning my camp trailer with a roof top tent. Must have looked at every video I could find and every make and model RTT for the past few years...

I settled on, ordered and received my Smittybilt Overlander XL in March of this year. Doc gave me a cautionary blessing to start working out- translation...start trailer build.

Base trailer- ' 79 F250 longbed home built. Upgraded the wheels to match my Chevy 3/4 ton, using some spacer adapters for bolt pattern change. Works flawlessly. Next I found and modified a sturdy steel contractor roof rack to fit over my topper shell. Facebook Marketplace is your best fren-amie.
I Found some expanded metal panels along with the square tube steel for the rack legs and supports/deck on the rack at a scrap yard. Bought some grinder and cutt-off saw blades for the grinder and a 10lb spool of mig-wire for a welder I borrowed from a friend.

Once the rack was ready, I got my son and a couple of his young-buck pals to toss the new 130lb RTT (Smittybilt Over lander XL "thanks President Trump") up onto the roof rack. It held- so far so good.

Got everything bolted down and opened up. Wife starts to lose her scepticism. We "try it out" in the side yard. Sleeps great! OEM mattress IS a bit slim, so she buys me a 3 in. gel mattress pad for Fathers Day gift. VERY NICE upgrade.

Also picked up a telescoping ladder (OEM ladder too short to support the tent up on the rack). 10ft, 350lb capacity telescoping ladder was nearly the same price as the OEM ladder extension for the Smittybilt... Plus, no one seems to like the sliding ladder, even Smittybilt went to a telescoping ladder in their gen-2 tents...no brainer.

Here's just one of my "rookie-maneuvers"... Can't close the darned thing unless I pull out the new foam mattress! I see all these vids of folks adding foam mattresses, leaving bedding, adding anti condensation pads (which I was looking to do, but now not sure) and folding everything up (selective editing)? I guess I missed some things from all these videos... The cursing and swearing when things don't work as we planned/want them to?

Also, remember I'm 54, I see folks setting these up and taking them down in minutes! I'm going to have to call B.S. here too! At least my first few tries were in the 1/2 hour to 45 minute range... I know "practice...". Come on guys, my wife is convinced we could have paid for a nice BnB several times over!

I guess I'm going to have to meet up with/ chat with/ train with a few of you pro-verlanders to figure "shtuff" out.

So am I alone here? If so, maybe this roof-tent business isn't for me... I would LOVE to hear some of your rookie mistakes and pearls of wisdom gleaned from the hard knocks school of trial and error. Who knows, someone like me might benefit from the experiences of others. I never bought completely into the philosophy that I can only learn from my own mistakes... I'm pretty sure I can learn something from yours too!
 

Road

Not into ranks, titles or points.
Member

Advocate III

3,379
On the road in North America
First Name
Road
Last Name
Dude
Member #

6589

NOT "as seen on YouTube", for sure!

Back story- Had a widow-maker on Valentines day, 2020. im 54. Spent a month in the hospital right as Covid started shutting down everything. Spent the next 5 months at home, "recuperating". Bout broke me mentally. To pass the time, I think I watched everything on HBO, and YouTube...twice! Long story short- started planning my camp trailer with a roof top tent. Must have looked at every video I could find and every make and model RTT for the past few years...

I settled on, ordered and received my Smittybilt Overlander XL in March of this year. Doc gave me a cautionary blessing to start working out- translation...start trailer build.

Base trailer- ' 79 F250 longbed home built. Upgraded the wheels to match my Chevy 3/4 ton, using some spacer adapters for bolt pattern change. Works flawlessly. Next I found and modified a sturdy steel contractor roof rack to fit over my topper shell. Facebook Marketplace is your best fren-amie.
I Found some expanded metal panels along with the square tube steel for the rack legs and supports/deck on the rack at a scrap yard. Bought some grinder and cutt-off saw blades for the grinder and a 10lb spool of mig-wire for a welder I borrowed from a friend.

Once the rack was ready, I got my son and a couple of his young-buck pals to toss the new 130lb RTT (Smittybilt Over lander XL "thanks President Trump") up onto the roof rack. It held- so far so good.

Got everything bolted down and opened up. Wife starts to lose her scepticism. We "try it out" in the side yard. Sleeps great! OEM mattress IS a bit slim, so she buys me a 3 in. gel mattress pad for Fathers Day gift. VERY NICE upgrade.

Also picked up a telescoping ladder (OEM ladder too short to support the tent up on the rack). 10ft, 350lb capacity telescoping ladder was nearly the same price as the OEM ladder extension for the Smittybilt... Plus, no one seems to like the sliding ladder, even Smittybilt went to a telescoping ladder in their gen-2 tents...no brainer.

Here's just one of my "rookie-maneuvers"... Can't close the darned thing unless I pull out the new foam mattress! I see all these vids of folks adding foam mattresses, leaving bedding, adding anti condensation pads (which I was looking to do, but now not sure) and folding everything up (selective editing)? I guess I missed some things from all these videos... The cursing and swearing when things don't work as we planned/want them to?

Also, remember I'm 54, I see folks setting these up and taking them down in minutes! I'm going to have to call B.S. here too! At least my first few tries were in the 1/2 hour to 45 minute range... I know "practice...". Come on guys, my wife is convinced we could have paid for a nice BnB several times over!

I guess I'm going to have to meet up with/ chat with/ train with a few of you pro-verlanders to figure "shtuff" out.

So am I alone here? If so, maybe this roof-tent business isn't for me... I would LOVE to hear some of your rookie mistakes and pearls of wisdom gleaned from the hard knocks school of trial and error. Who knows, someone like me might benefit from the experiences of others. I never bought completely into the philosophy that I can only learn from my own mistakes... I'm pretty sure I can learn something from yours too!
.
Well, I hope it gets easier for you, Lee. I bet it will, so don't give up on RTTs quite yet.

I absolutely love mine, though after tons of research and climbing around, in, and under trailers and RTTs, chose to get a hard-shell pop up RTT, not a soft-side fold out like the Smittybilt. Works much better for my style of adventuring. Undo four latches and give it a shove, and it pops right up. Takes literally 2-3 minutes. Just about as easy to pack back up, too, and much easier and faster than the soft-sided folding RTTs.

I like my regular sliding ladder, too, much more than the telescoping ones. I'm not fond of the half step that is often created, nor the grit and sand that inevitably gets into the telescoping ladders.

I'm in my late 60's, though active and energetic. Though I love the up and down of setting up camp, my trailer, the RTT, and big-assed awning, I intentionally chose the various elements for ease of use and quick set-up and tear-down. Took a lot longer years ago when I first started with the whole rig, though it's down to an easy going less-than-20-minutes to set up everything from the time I unhook the trailer to sit and have a beer under my awning.

I don't really have any rookie mistakes in regards to my RTT, though do in other areas, for sure.

I almost lost my trailer to a lake once, and that was after having plenty of experience with it all over America on long adventures.

I'd unhooked it, removed the safety chains, and started cranking the front up to level it...and she started rolling on her own towards the lake. It was full of gear, had a full water tank, rack and RTT, so much closer to its GVW of 3500lbs. No way was I going to be able to stop it.

Fortunately, it was slowed by some roots and stopped against a larger root, after not going too awful far. I about shit a brick as she was rolling, though, and had visions of half submerging the ass end of my van and trying to hook the trailer back up blind.

You can bet I no longer remove the safety chains now until I know it's level front to back, side to side, and is well chocked.

Good luck with your RTT. Re: the mattress, try it with just the new 3" gel topper and see what it's like. All I use in mine is the cheapo 2-3" foam mattress it came with, topped with a doubled-over comforter under my sleeping bag and jungle blankets. I sleep like a happy baby. It's by far the best sleep I've ever had in all my decades of camping.

Add some images to your posts...a lot more folks will have a much better idea what you have going on.

.
 

lhoffm4

Rank I

Contributor III

154
Boise, Idaho
First Name
Lee
Last Name
Hoffman
.
Well, I hope it gets easier for you, Lee. I bet it will, so don't give up on RTTs quite yet.

I absolutely love mine, though after tons of research and climbing around, in, and under trailers and RTTs, chose to get a hard-shell pop up RTT, not a soft-side fold out like the Smittybilt. Works much better for my style of adventuring. Undo four latches and give it a shove, and it pops right up. Takes literally 2-3 minutes. Just about as easy to pack back up, too, and much easier and faster than the soft-sided folding RTTs.

I like my regular sliding ladder, too, much more than the telescoping ones. I'm not fond of the half step that is often created, nor the grit and sand that inevitably gets into the telescoping ladders.

I'm in my late 60's, though active and energetic. Though I love the up and down of setting up camp, my trailer, the RTT, and big-assed awning, I intentionally chose the various elements for ease of use and quick set-up and tear-down. Took a lot longer years ago when I first started with the whole rig, though it's down to an easy going less-than-20-minutes to set up everything from the time I unhook the trailer to sit and have a beer under my awning.

I don't really have any rookie mistakes in regards to my RTT, though do in other areas, for sure.

I almost lost my trailer to a lake once, and that was after having plenty of experience with it all over America on long adventures.

I'd unhooked it, removed the safety chains, and started cranking the front up to level it...and she started rolling on her own towards the lake. It was full of gear, had a full water tank, rack and RTT, so much closer to its GVW of 3500lbs. No way was I going to be able to stop it.

Fortunately, it was slowed by some roots and stopped against a larger root, after not going too awful far. I about shit a brick as she was rolling, though, and had visions of half submerging the ass end of my van and trying to hook the trailer back up blind.

You can bet I no longer remove the safety chains now until I know it's level front to back, side to side, and is well chocked.

Good luck with your RTT. Re: the mattress, try it with just the new 3" gel topper and see what it's like. All I use in mine is the cheapo 2-3" foam mattress it came with, topped with a doubled-over comforter under my sleeping bag and jungle blankets. I sleep like a happy baby. It's by far the best sleep I've ever had in all my decades of camping.

Add some images to your posts...a lot more folks will have a much better idea what you have going on.

.
Thank you for the reply and the pearls of wisdom. I take encouragement by your example and hope to be going strong too for several more years. Maybe we will share one of those beers under an awning overlooking a choice view of Gods country some time.
 
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Road

Not into ranks, titles or points.
Member

Advocate III

3,379
On the road in North America
First Name
Road
Last Name
Dude
Member #

6589

Thank you for the reply and the pearls of wisdom. I take encouragement by your example and hope to be going strong too for several more years. Maybe we will share one of those beers under an awning overlooking a choice view of Gods country some time.
.
Sounds good to me, man. I've not explored Idaho anywhere near enough and it's been way too many years since I've wandered around Montana and Wyoming. I've been wanting to get back up that way to explore night sky photography potential.

bibelc-190308--1517.JPG

.

 
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smritte

Rank V
Member

Member III

2,827
Ontario California
First Name
Scott
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.
Member #

8846

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You can bet I no longer remove the safety chains now until I know it's level front to back, side to side, and is well chocked.
This is the exact reason I started installing parking brakes on my trailers. Nothing more fun then unhooking and having it roll away. The two times it happened, I swore it was stable. As @Road said, it just takes practice. A better mattress makes all the difference too. I have 8 years on you and I can tell you just keep at it or break down and get a small hard side trailer like I did. The big question is, do you learn from your "rookie" mistakes or do you expect a different outcome each time?
 
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David C Gibbs

Rank VI
Member

Member III

3,316
Boise, Idaho
First Name
David
Last Name
Gibbs
Member #

7988

Hi Lee,
We too are in Boise. I own an 88' 62 Series LandCruiser, and our current travel rig is a 2018 Tacoma TRD-Offroad, Double Cab, Short-bed. We are currently not camping, but travel to a Glamping base camp, and sightsee form there. I am an avid Fly-fisher. We've seen 98% of this State, probably 89% of Oregon, Washington, 99% of Northern Calif, Lots of Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Montana, Colorado and Wyoming. I have a 2 Drawer File Cabinet full of Maps. 90% of all the National Forest maps.

There are places and spaces - we haven't been to, but that is limited. Just ask, we'll assist and share what we know about the location.
David
 
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rgallant

Rank II

Enthusiast II

366
British Columbia
First Name
Richard
Last Name
Gallant
Ham Callsign
VE7REJ
hi @lhoffm4 you need to step back a bit and use your backyard to sort things out. I am 63 and I can get my 2 man RTT closed up and ready to go in about 20 minutes.

I keep a pillow and medium duty sleeping bag in there on the stock mattress, no way another 3 inches would go and close.

As suggested try with just the gel pad it may be all you need. You may have to play with what you can get inside and what needs to stay in the truck.

Once you get it figure get a bag for the stuff that does not fit in the tent and put all your night time needs in it and mark it. With a trailer you might be able to get away with a good dry bag, but I prefer my bedding side.

Set the tent up and take it down a few times at home, tucking the fabric in is the hardest thing, I use a hockey stick for reach and cheap silicone spatula for up close. They stop the zipper form catching fabric

 
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MazeVX

Rank V
Member

Member III

2,741
Gießen Germany
First Name
Mathias
Last Name
Kreicker
Member #

8002

NOT "as seen on YouTube", for sure!

Back story- Had a widow-maker on Valentines day, 2020. im 54. Spent a month in the hospital right as Covid started shutting down everything. Spent the next 5 months at home, "recuperating". Bout broke me mentally. To pass the time, I think I watched everything on HBO, and YouTube...twice! Long story short- started planning my camp trailer with a roof top tent. Must have looked at every video I could find and every make and model RTT for the past few years...

I settled on, ordered and received my Smittybilt Overlander XL in March of this year. Doc gave me a cautionary blessing to start working out- translation...start trailer build.

Base trailer- ' 79 F250 longbed home built. Upgraded the wheels to match my Chevy 3/4 ton, using some spacer adapters for bolt pattern change. Works flawlessly. Next I found and modified a sturdy steel contractor roof rack to fit over my topper shell. Facebook Marketplace is your best fren-amie.
I Found some expanded metal panels along with the square tube steel for the rack legs and supports/deck on the rack at a scrap yard. Bought some grinder and cutt-off saw blades for the grinder and a 10lb spool of mig-wire for a welder I borrowed from a friend.

Once the rack was ready, I got my son and a couple of his young-buck pals to toss the new 130lb RTT (Smittybilt Over lander XL "thanks President Trump") up onto the roof rack. It held- so far so good.

Got everything bolted down and opened up. Wife starts to lose her scepticism. We "try it out" in the side yard. Sleeps great! OEM mattress IS a bit slim, so she buys me a 3 in. gel mattress pad for Fathers Day gift. VERY NICE upgrade.

Also picked up a telescoping ladder (OEM ladder too short to support the tent up on the rack). 10ft, 350lb capacity telescoping ladder was nearly the same price as the OEM ladder extension for the Smittybilt... Plus, no one seems to like the sliding ladder, even Smittybilt went to a telescoping ladder in their gen-2 tents...no brainer.

Here's just one of my "rookie-maneuvers"... Can't close the darned thing unless I pull out the new foam mattress! I see all these vids of folks adding foam mattresses, leaving bedding, adding anti condensation pads (which I was looking to do, but now not sure) and folding everything up (selective editing)? I guess I missed some things from all these videos... The cursing and swearing when things don't work as we planned/want them to?

Also, remember I'm 54, I see folks setting these up and taking them down in minutes! I'm going to have to call B.S. here too! At least my first few tries were in the 1/2 hour to 45 minute range... I know "practice...". Come on guys, my wife is convinced we could have paid for a nice BnB several times over!

I guess I'm going to have to meet up with/ chat with/ train with a few of you pro-verlanders to figure "shtuff" out.

So am I alone here? If so, maybe this roof-tent business isn't for me... I would LOVE to hear some of your rookie mistakes and pearls of wisdom gleaned from the hard knocks school of trial and error. Who knows, someone like me might benefit from the experiences of others. I never bought completely into the philosophy that I can only learn from my own mistakes... I'm pretty sure I can learn something from yours too!
Thanks for that, gave me a laugh! The truth is that not every rtt is made the same and the hinge in the middle is literally the one one who bends or breaks and makes the difference between leaving your crap in or having to pull out everything. Sorry that you choose the wrong one somehow. I seen about 100 tents in person and I know now what I buy (still don't like them but better for my back and the wife wants one...)
 
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lhoffm4

Rank I

Contributor III

154
Boise, Idaho
First Name
Lee
Last Name
Hoffman
Hi Lee,
We too are in Boise. I own an 88' 62 Series LandCruiser, and our current travel rig is a 2018 Tacoma TRD-Offroad, Double Cab, Short-bed. We are currently not camping, but travel to a Glamping base camp, and sightsee form there. I am an avid Fly-fisher. We've seen 98% of this State, probably 89% of Oregon, Washington, 99% of Northern Calif, Lots of Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Montana, Colorado and Wyoming. I have a 2 Drawer File Cabinet full of Maps. 90% of all the National Forest maps.

There are places and spaces - we haven't been to, but that is limited. Just ask, we'll assist and share what we know about the location.
David

Way cool! I'd love to pick your brain more! We should grab a burger some time I'd love to see pics of your set up and find out if/how it has evolved over time.
 

Punkin_Willy

Rank IV
Member
Adventure

Contributor II

1,154
Harrisburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, United States
First Name
Steve
Last Name
Riss
Member #

28977

Service Branch
Navy Veteran
.
Sounds good to me, man. I've not explored Idaho anywhere near enough and it's been way too many years since I've wandered around Montana and Wyoming. I've been wanting to get back up that way to explore night sky photography potential.

View attachment 202202

.

I absolutely love this shot!
 
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Road

Not into ranks, titles or points.
Member

Advocate III

3,379
On the road in North America
First Name
Road
Last Name
Dude
Member #

6589

I absolutely love this shot!
.
Thanks, man - I love it too; it's one of my favorites. I'd leveled the trailer for sleeping and counter & sink, then saw how out of level the table and chairs were on the ground out front, which bugged me, though shot it anyway, with just illumination from a pocket Streamlight.

It's one of those images that transports me right back there every time I see it, steps from the Rio Bravo del Norte and Mexico.
.