Roof top tents?

Submitted: Monday, Feb 22, 2021 at 11:47
ThreadID: 141110 Views:1098 Replies:16 FollowUps:12
I've never owned or slept in a roof top tent.

Wondering if anyone here can pass on their experiences with them?

We've always tented in the past.

I've been looking at them, but I think they'd ...

Flap alot in a high wind, you'd roll around in bed when windy as the vehicle would be buffeted by the wind.

The ladder could be slippery when raining. The ladder could be uncomfortable on your feet.

It's hard to get the RTT level.

Packing them up is a physical exercise.

They're a hassle because you still have no where to dress, standing up, so you need to also pack a tent or muck around with an awning or tarps to make a private space.

It removes the roof as an area where you can store things.

If you've had/have a RTT, does that sound correct? Would you buy one again?

Thanks for any help.
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Reply By: Member - Bigfish - Monday, Feb 22, 2021 at 11:53

Monday, Feb 22, 2021 at 11:53
Had one and everything you listed can happen. Biggest issue is slipping...so easy to do an ankle or worse. Also if you have to get up at night they are a pain. Wouldn't go down the RTT path again...better off with a swag.
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Follow Up By: Siringo - Monday, Feb 22, 2021 at 12:06

Monday, Feb 22, 2021 at 12:06
Thanks Bigfish
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Reply By: Grizzle - Monday, Feb 22, 2021 at 13:06

Monday, Feb 22, 2021 at 13:06
I've had the fold out type and currently have a James Baroud one that lifts vertically. The fold out type still gives you around half of your roofrack so you can still store some gear up there. Lots of room in them but a pain to open up and close.

High winds aren't really more of a problem than any other canvas structure.

Yes ladder can hurt your feet. I've had no issue with slippy ladders.

James Baroud type takes up all of your roof rack. Not as much room in them but really easy to set up and pack down.

I've done a lot of travel in swags, and both of those tents.

I reckon its an age thing, I've just turned 59 and am leaning towards going to the dark side and buying a van.

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Follow Up By: Siringo - Monday, Feb 22, 2021 at 13:49

Monday, Feb 22, 2021 at 13:49
Thanks Grizzle. Our ages are similar, don't want a van, maybe in a few years, but not at the moment.
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Follow Up By: Grizzle - Monday, Feb 22, 2021 at 14:29

Monday, Feb 22, 2021 at 14:29
Yep I hear you!!

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Reply By: RMD - Monday, Feb 22, 2021 at 13:06

Monday, Feb 22, 2021 at 13:06
Siringo
Not me, but friends have, and comments are same as Bigfish said it is.
I have used a roof rack because I value the area for solar panels above roof and canopy of ute. On side of roof rack and canopy LHS, had RHS tube which included a rope/sail track. Two extension smaller section RHS pieces (carried) slipped into RHS Sq tube at either end. Each had a sail track section so when assembled, 30 seconds, a long wide cover/tarp slid into track and extended out the side. Pegged down and a couple of short poles in eyelets to create a low outside wall allows the Swag, BigFish mentioned, to be used and all under cover and protected. Much cheaper too.
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Reply By: Member - rocco2010 - Monday, Feb 22, 2021 at 13:58

Monday, Feb 22, 2021 at 13:58
Siringo

You have just listed all the reasons why I’ve never had a rooftop tent.
I’ve travelled with and seen plenty who use them, some happily, others not always so.
At my age I don’t wish to sleep more than a metre off the ground.
Cheers
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Reply By: Member - McLaren3030 - Monday, Feb 22, 2021 at 14:20

Monday, Feb 22, 2021 at 14:20
Hi Siringo,

Everything you have listed is the reason I have never owned a RTT. I have travelled with people who have them, and whilst they are fine when you are young, fit and mobile, they are no good when you are older and less mobile. I am happy with my swag when I need to be travelling light, otherwise, in the van.

Macca.
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Reply By: 2517. - Monday, Feb 22, 2021 at 14:23

Monday, Feb 22, 2021 at 14:23
The main advantage is the bed, being able to leave it made up with the pillows and all.The trick with dressing is take you clothes up when you go to bed and in the morning take everything down so you are ready to fold the tent up.You soon learn to find the ladder at night and back down,mine was on a high vehicle and I needed to Carry a small ladder to fold it up,don’t mount it so it open over the rear door ,the side better ,put it to one side and you can leave the cover attached which is all way coved in dust.We found condensation was a problem on The Canning in the winter and in the desert generally.We lived in our for seven weeks on one trip,you will be amazed at how good you get at setting up,we only traveled up north so rain was never a problem. I sold mine ,age catches up would I buy another one ,yes there are a long way ahead of swags.I did take the Fly off due to wind in the Simpson.
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Reply By: Siringo - Monday, Feb 22, 2021 at 14:32

Monday, Feb 22, 2021 at 14:32
Thanks everyone for the info.

We're planning a trip to Cape York later this year. We've never had trouble tenting with dingoes, lizzards, snakes and so on, but crocodiles are a different kettle of fish.

It'd be nice to crawl into bed knowing your biggest threat were mozzies.

We'd never set up near water & always try to keep some of barrier or step between the water and the tent.

Is it safe to camp in a tent up Cape York?
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Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Monday, Feb 22, 2021 at 14:45

Monday, Feb 22, 2021 at 14:45
Lots of people camp in tents and swags up in the Cape. You just have to be sensible when it comes to choosing the location. As you have stated, don't camp too close to a water source up there. Back in 2004, we did a trip through The Kimberleys in a tent, no problem with crocs, snakes or any other large bitey things, just the mozzies.

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Reply By: Member - Jim S1 - Monday, Feb 22, 2021 at 17:04

Monday, Feb 22, 2021 at 17:04
Must admit, I'm ALWAYS happy to be a metre off the ground in our camper. We always sleep soundly and comfortably and that's important ..... for us anyway.

Cheers
Jim
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Reply By: Idler Chris - Monday, Feb 22, 2021 at 19:52

Monday, Feb 22, 2021 at 19:52
Hi Siringo. I had a Hanibal RTT for over 12 years. I travelled extensively over this time and would have opened and closed it over 1200 times. All the negatives you quote are inconsequential IMHO. Every setup for travelling has compromises and in my experience a quality RTT is an extremely good solution. The greatest single advantage is you are not held back by a trailer. Send me a PM if you want further info. Chris
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Reply By: Member - Garth (NSW) - Monday, Feb 22, 2021 at 20:58

Monday, Feb 22, 2021 at 20:58
Hi Siringo,
Had a no-name RTT for around 15 years. Love it.

Most of the pros and cons have been mentioned, however for me dealing with your muddy/wet boots as you enter has been the number 1 issue. I bought an ARB BootSwag that sits at the base of the ladder and that helps. However I've just bought a new RTT with the change tent that zips to the tent and covers the ladder which finally solves the problem for me.

Like anything with ladders you need to be careful and as for age, as long as most of your parts work its no problem (I'm 60).

Travelled with a RTT and a small basket on the roof on a Prado for most of that time. You just need to be careful with the weight. As someone else mentioned every tent is a compromise. Having to pack up the tent to get some milk from a shop is a pain but I like the rapid deployment that comes with the tent type.

regards
Garth


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Reply By: Michael H9 - Monday, Feb 22, 2021 at 23:56

Monday, Feb 22, 2021 at 23:56
Don't worry about crocodiles, just camp 11 metres from the water...




Roof tents are no good if you're staying in the same place for any length of time and using your car to explore each day.
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Follow Up By: Siringo - Tuesday, Feb 23, 2021 at 09:20

Tuesday, Feb 23, 2021 at 09:20
Haha, very funny video.
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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Tuesday, Feb 23, 2021 at 12:51

Tuesday, Feb 23, 2021 at 12:51
RTT's do not take long to pack up and yes you do have to pack up if you want to use the car. However if you have a trailer you have a greater set up time, greater cost, you have to be able to store it when not in use, and you have to tow whenever you travel. If you base camp a lot get a trailer, if you tour a RTT is considerably easier IMHO.
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Follow Up By: Siringo - Tuesday, Feb 23, 2021 at 14:12

Tuesday, Feb 23, 2021 at 14:12
Thanks Idler Chris. One thing that appeals is that you can keep some of your bedding within the RTT.

RTTs, to me, look awkward to pack up, the sides always look like they would just ballon out & then you have the hassle of sticking that back into the bag and so on.

I do like the idea of not having to find a place large enough for a tent, sometimes when travelling through deserts, you can find yourself surrounded by spinifex without a large enough spot to put the tent up.
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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Tuesday, Feb 23, 2021 at 14:19

Tuesday, Feb 23, 2021 at 14:19
Hi Siringo there any many tips and tricks with RTT's and a lot depends on what you are planning to do. More than happy to have a chat if that helps. 0419846292 usually anytime. Chris.
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Follow Up By: Michael H9 - Tuesday, Feb 23, 2021 at 14:26

Tuesday, Feb 23, 2021 at 14:26
Hard shell RTT's are great if you're travelling every day. Far easier to set up and pack up than a fold over canvas style, plus they are a lot more aerodynamic and less like a brick on your roof. There have been some very interesting discussions around the traps lately on roof load limits that you should spend the time researching. Off road limits are usually only 66% of on road limits. Check out the issues that Ronny Dahl and Tyler Thompson have had. Tyler lost his RTT recently on Fraser Island when it flew off the car.
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Follow Up By: Siringo - Wednesday, Feb 24, 2021 at 09:20

Wednesday, Feb 24, 2021 at 09:20
Thanks for the kind offer Chris, much appreciated.
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Reply By: Member - nickb "boab" - Tuesday, Feb 23, 2021 at 15:10

Tuesday, Feb 23, 2021 at 15:10
we have a RTT & luv it.. fold out type . the thing is dose it suit your purpose ??
ours is a basic type but like so many other things they get to complex .
i have a camp king RTT made in QLD on my bucket list & NOT the other kings :((((
the well made hard top shell RTT are the way to go !
all the things mentioned in your post & some replies are excuses not reasons IMO
note: we also have caravan camper trailer tents & many swags ...

campking RTT

Cheers Nick b
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Reply By: Hoyks - Tuesday, Feb 23, 2021 at 20:59

Tuesday, Feb 23, 2021 at 20:59
Flap alot in a high wind, you'd roll around in bed when windy as the vehicle would be buffeted by the wind... I haven't had an issue, Like any tent if you pull the canvas taught and use the spreaders for the windows it isn't an issue. I've slept through some good thunderstorms and snow without noticing any serious swaying.

The ladder could be slippery when raining. The ladder could be uncomfortable on your feet.... Could, but the ladder I have has nice angled 1.5" wide rungs that are fine on bare feet. The ladder is on an angle, so you can lean against the structure and feels safe. The floor and covered entry keeps the ladder dry, so moist feet aren't a huge hazard.
You can trip over a guy rope on a normal tent too, so nothing is without risk.

It's hard to get the RTT level... not really, depends on the site. I've used it a lot and can count on a blind butchers left hand the number of times I've had to put a rock under a wheel to level it out.

Packing them up is a physical exercise.... Can be. Mine is on a canopy that is at roof height of the cab. I climb in, fold the bedding in 1/2, hook up the elastic straps that help pull in the sides, remove the pillows and fold it up. I can zip the cover on from the side steps and reach across the headboard, on the roof of a lifted wagon might be more challenging.

They're a hassle because you still have no where to dress, standing up, so you need to also pack a tent or muck around with an awning or tarps to make a private space..... I have no issue sitting down and getting dressed. I'm 6'4" and can kneel in the tent fine. No need to step out to change your mind.

It removes the roof as an area where you can store things... I can fit 2 x 5m sea kayaks up there as well as the RTT. A dual cab with a canopy gives you some real estate though.

I like mine because it saves me room in the vehicle as the tent and bedding is on the roof, I only have a couple of pillows in the car. I can also set it up and knock it down a lot quicker than a tent, especially when I just fold it out, stick in a couple of window spreaders and throw the pillows in and its done.
Ventilation is better than a tent on the ground, much easier to get any cross breeze that is going, or zip it up and block any wind.
I have felt a bit exposed in a thunderstorm though.

I've done a few improvements to mine; beefed up the attachment system, shock cord around under the folded out floor to hang towels and boots off and LED strips inside the tent.
I had 3 sleeping in there on a particularly snowy trip to Barrington tops and a stormy couple of nights in Mareeba.
I've had it for 9 years now and would get another. It makes sleeping so much more civilized.
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Follow Up By: Siringo - Wednesday, Feb 24, 2021 at 09:28

Wednesday, Feb 24, 2021 at 09:28
Thanks for the detailed reply Hoyks, it's a great help.

What brand RTT do you have if I can ask?

I have a 3" lifted Patrol on 32's so the roof is a bit high.

It's the packing up part that concerns me most I guess.

We always arrange things so my wife can do them as well and packing up an RTT may be hard for her? We've looked at the hard shell RTTs, some are great, some average. The hard shell RTTs are easier to pack up, but also about twice the price of a non hard shell RTT.
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Follow Up By: Hoyks - Wednesday, Feb 24, 2021 at 17:46

Wednesday, Feb 24, 2021 at 17:46
Mine is an Austrack Campers tent, its an older one and only around 1.2m wide though.

I'll admit that zipping the cover on is a bit of a pain, particularly if you're vertically challenged.

I was out camping and this single mum turned up in a Prado with a tent on top. She was a dynamo. Unzipping the cover from the ground? Not for her, straight up the spare tyre and onto the top of the tent, hanging over the side she had that cover off in seconds and was just about doing chin ups to fold it out on the way down.
Impressive to watch.

If my budget stretched that far, I'd have a look at a Drifta RTT. Its around double what I paid, but set up is a lot easier, being 1/2 hard shell and no zip on cover to wrestle with and the latches are on the one side.
Having the shell also lets you use the top for some (very) light weight gear or solar panels.
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Reply By: Member - David H72 - Thursday, Feb 25, 2021 at 21:21

Thursday, Feb 25, 2021 at 21:21
I have a Gordigear RTT (based on the Gold Coast) and have never experienced any of the issues you mention.
The ladder has nice wide treads, it unfolds very easily and as the previous poster said just requires putting in the window spreaders. The ladder is protected by a generous overhang and an option, which I own, is a tent which fits under the overhang of the tent and encloses the ladder, so plenty of dry space to get changed, make a cuppa, and leave your muddy boots. I can easily kneel inside too.
Folding up just requires attaching the two elastic straps to pull the sides in, checking it’s all tucked in when folded, and then doing up the zip. The ladder is permanently attached to the tent floor and is used to unfold and fold the tent.
They are an exceptionally good quality.
Check them out on YouTube. There is a very old but good video there detailing their build, use and quality.
Melbourne Vic. Land Rover Disco 4, AOR Matrix Pop Top

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Reply By: BigDog78 - Monday, Mar 01, 2021 at 13:39

Monday, Mar 01, 2021 at 13:39
I have similar concerns as you Siringo, wondering whether it's worth it going the RTT route or not. If I do go with an RTT, I have been tossing up between a Darche Panorama and the ARB Simpson III based on the write up here https://outdoorexplorer.com.au/best-roof-top-tents-australia/

Does anyone have any experience with either or these tents? Or other recommendations?
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Reply By: Siringo - Monday, Mar 01, 2021 at 13:52

Monday, Mar 01, 2021 at 13:52
We've decided to stick to our tent for now. The decision to move to an RTT wasn't clear cut, so we've decided to do nothing.
Thanks everyone for the help.
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