Home podcast Podcast Episode 17 : Rooftop Tent or Ground Tent?
Podcast Episode 17 : Rooftop Tent or Ground Tent?

Podcast Episode 17 : Rooftop Tent or Ground Tent?



  1. Just finished listening to pod cast # 17 regarding ground vs RTT. We had a RTT and loved it, but there was a couple of issues that made us sell it. One, my wife and I are getting older and she didn’t like climbing up the ladder to go to bed, and two getting up during the night and going to the latrine. Those two issues made us sell it and buy a hybrid tear drop. Weigh all issues before spending big money. I suggest renting units that have the RTT and see if you like it before you buy it.

  2. I have been having this internal debate about both, it came down to price, roof space, comfort, and ease of use. I looked at the Gazelle and then looked up the best rooftop tents. I discovered the “Tuff Stuff” brand it was rated well. Based on the price of the Gazelle ground tent, a sleeping cot, and pad, I was able to spend only $500 more for a roof top tent. Plus it came with a free room annex!

  3. I think Michael made some very good points.

    As the owner of a Maggiolina Extreme (hard shell) RTT, I’d like to make a few comments on my experience with mine. First off, I’ll address what is probably the most often complaint mentioned by so many people. It is not necessary to climb down the ladder in the middle of the the night to take a leak. Years ago when I was into Sailing big time, relieving yourself on a small Sailboat could be problematic. West Marine and many other boat supply stores offer what is called a “Little John”. Its nothing more than a large pee bottle with a leak proof cap. I have used this item for years on a sailboat and several years now with my RTT.
    Just get out of your sleeping bag, get in a kneeling position and do your duty, secure the cap on tightly when you’re done and stow it in the netting on the wall of my RTT.
    For the ladies in our life, they make a “Lady J Adaptor” which fits a womans anatomy …….. allowing the use of the “Little John”, (its weird talking about this) My wife of 19 years will attest to how great this system works, all the while being as simple as can be. We have a lady friend that refuses to try using one. Like a RTT, its all a matter of choices.

    The issue of setting up a base camp and having the ability to hop in your truck and go places is NOT and issue with a “hard shell” RTT. I will remove my table, stove, all my gear needed for camping from my vehicle …….. while NOT raising my tent. It takes a whopping 2 to 3 minutes to deploy …… just minutes before retiring for the night. In the morning it is a 10 minute job to lower it. I think that is pretty cool. Again, this is a huge advantage to a “hard shell” RTT, versus the folding type.
    My Maggiolina is also rated as a 4 season tent. For the majority of people this is a non issue, for me it is, as I hunt, fish and camp the entire year. The floor and the ceiling are insulated along with the mattress for comfort. The tent is always 8 to 10 degrees warmer inside on cold nights and much cooler in the summer (Arizona) months. I use a Taylor indoor/outdoor thermometer to monitor this. The fiberglass shell does not suffer from UV damage from our sun with a coat of wax once or twice a year.

    Climbing up and down the ladder is just something that needs to be addressed on a personal basis. I am older and it took a few nights to get comfortable with the process. Going down is harder as you need to be facing the ladder going both up and down. I just returned from a trip into Wyoming spending 11 consecutive nights in the tent. Its second nature now that I got the fell for it.

    With all of this being said, these tents are expensive and I realize many people cannot spend thousands on a hard shell RTT.

    You can compare ground tents to RTT’s until the cows come home but, I think it is really important to compare a hard shell RTT and a soft shell RTT on a basis of their own, after deciding to look at a RTT as an option.

    There is no right or wrong. Doing your homework and looking at ALL the options will make you a happy camper. As always, your mileage will vary, LOL 🙂

    Camp on a recent hunting trip ………..

    The tent (as advertised) can be stowed away wet after a night of rain without causing mildew or getting the bedding wet. I was a bit leery of this at first but it has proven accurate time and time again.

  4. For me the needs changed and continues to change with the family. My wife, 6yo boy and 1yo girl love going outdoors. We often found ourselves going to places (ie dispersed camping) where we preferred to not sleep on the ground, so we invested in an RTT. Also, an RTT was easier to setup when we arrived at our spot during the evening. The kids loved the aspect of climbing up and down and being up high; my son had to learn to get out on his own early morning to go #1; yes we had to have a family rule to always close the door so that the little one didn’t fall out and a way to prevent her from climbing up the ladder without us knowing.
    The two downsides of an RTT for me are:
    – Once you setup you can’t drive. So we have to plan accordingly. Once the RTT is deployed, there is no going out places or finding firewood.
    – The RTT is mounted on the truck roof, it’s only 135#, but yes there is wind resistance, it’s my daily driver to work, and it’s not that easy to just put away and put back on when you need it.
    With my wife currently 3mnths pregnant, she is still able to get in/out of the RTT ok. However, that will change as the pregnancy moves along, but we know she will likely sit out of the overlanding trips next year.
    We also from time to time join other friends at campgrounds where we hunker down for 2~3 nights. That’s when we rather have a ground tent; easier to get in and out, and we can use our vehicle if we need a quick trip to the store or go to nearby hiking trails.

    There was a 7 day trip where we packed both RTT and a ground tent. Then I decided to add the RTT annex. I’d use the Annex if we hunker down for more than 1 night. We use it to store gear, clothes, and a place to change when there are other campers within eye sight.

    There was a 2 night trip where I went solo. Instead of the RTT, I brought my backpacking 2 person ground tent.

    So my short answer is … have both RTT and Ground tent and bring what you need for that trip.

  5. Just bought a RTT but haven’t had a chance to use it and it doesn’t look like I will too soon. Nevertheless I was sold on the idea for a couple reasons. One is that I’ve never been comfortable sleeping on the ground in rattle snake/ scorpion country. The RTT pretty much solves that problem. I also keep tabs on Brad with Trail Recon, and he’s talked about pros and cons of using a RTT a few times. Once, he was using the RTT and his son had a ground tent. They joked about finding a tarantula in the tent when he went to bed…not sure how well I’d sleep after that.