Roof Top Tent (RTT) Questions

Randun

New Overlander
Dec 17, 2020
9
0
1
San Clemente, CA
Hi everyone! I am new to this forum, and I'm so glad to be apart of it.

I have a question for all of you that will listen.

I'm thinking about getting a roof top tent (RTT). Do any of you have one? If so, what are the pros and cons of a RTT?

Thank you all so much for your time and your help!
 

LemonLC

New Overlander
Feb 18, 2021
2
2
3
Hey @Randun,

I am also new here! We have an Alucab Gen 3 RTT on our 80 series (Gen 3.1 Expedition Tent - Tents - Alu-Cab - Europe)

Before settling on this we used a ground tent, one of the (I think this brand was eezi-awn) soft shell RTT which double up on themselves when packing away (Series 3 Roof Top Tent) and since have used an iKamper on a Gladiator we rented in the US.

Our reasons for having a RTT vs a Ground tent were ease of setup (it takes us all of 30 seconds to set up and put away), overall convenience and to some extent (whether real or imagined) an additional sense of security when in the national parks in Africa. In any case both of us seem to sleep better up top.

There are cons of course- additional weight up top, we could have still had the stuff I mentioned on a roof rack and camped on the ground (or by taking up half roof with a soft shell RTT and the other half with a rack (but weight??), climbing down the ladder in the middle of the night for a pee, additional wind noise on the road (although we have solved this with a baffle up front).

As for weight in general, prior to the RTT, we had a rack, jerries (lots of them) and the max track and our second spare tire. At the same time as adding the RTT, we added an additional fuel tank in the chassis, found a way to fit that tank and the second spare in the chassis and had a new bumper arm built to hold 2 jerries. So while the RTT has weight condiserations we have considerably lowered our centre of gravity than our original setup. All of this though has meant a new, more beefy suspension setup as once we got done with this 3rd rebuild the rear was sitting a little low......

Why did we choose the Alucab (we have had it for 4 years now approx)
  • We were buying it in SA and it is made there.
  • It is easy to setup- one person, 30 seconds- both up and down.
    • There are options with a scissor lift at the back of the tent which allows for more space/ volume once open, but when we looked at these, the space gained was outweighed by the considerable faff to put them away (in comparison to the Gen 3).
  • Mattress and all bedding stays in. Also enough space to have custom mattress put in, which we have done and is incredibly comfortable.
  • No need for a roof rack to mount it to. It goes straight to the rails via some load bars (weight saving).
  • It takes load (50kg, although this does make it harder to open) and allows us to have a solar panel, our Maxtraxx and a custom aluminium basket for additional stuff like firewood or a rangers camp gear if we are travelling with one. This was the main reason for choosing this sort of tent over another.
  • It has attachment rails on either side allowing us to mount stuff (an awning etc).
  • It is aluminium and tough!
The benefit of the soft shell ones and even some of the newer hard-shells like the smaller Ikamper are that they take up less space (ie not your whole roof). The main drawback of the soft shells, for me, is that they are a hassle. You have to take off the cover, which is extra hassle, oftentimes you find yourself (at least we did) on the roof to deal with it.

You do get more space with them and the iKamper (and now there are other similar options) really maxims space and are relatively quick to put up and down. But either there are no load bearing options or they are far too low to be of use to us.

It does, at the end of the day, come down to personal pref
 
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Randun

New Overlander
Dec 17, 2020
9
0
1
San Clemente, CA
Hey @Randun,

I am also new here! We have an Alucab Gen 3 RTT on our 80 series (Gen 3.1 Expedition Tent - Tents - Alu-Cab - Europe)

Before settling on this we used a ground tent, one of the (I think this brand was eezi-awn) soft shell RTT which double up on themselves when packing away (Series 3 Roof Top Tent) and since have used an iKamper on a Gladiator we rented in the US.

Our reasons for having a RTT vs a Ground tent were ease of setup (it takes us all of 30 seconds to set up and put away), overall convenience and to some extent (whether real or imagined) an additional sense of security when in the national parks in Africa. In any case both of us seem to sleep better up top.

There are cons of course- additional weight up top, we could have still had the stuff I mentioned on a roof rack and camped on the ground (or by taking up half roof with a soft shell RTT and the other half with a rack (but weight??), climbing down the ladder in the middle of the night for a pee, additional wind noise on the road (although we have solved this with a baffle up front).

As for weight in general, prior to the RTT, we had a rack, jerries (lots of them) and the max track and our second spare tire. At the same time as adding the RTT, we added an additional fuel tank in the chassis, found a way to fit that tank and the second spare in the chassis and had a new bumper arm built to hold 2 jerries. So while the RTT has weight condiserations we have considerably lowered our centre of gravity than our original setup. All of this though has meant a new, more beefy suspension setup as once we got done with this 3rd rebuild the rear was sitting a little low......

Why did we choose the Alucab (we have had it for 4 years now approx)
  • We were buying it in SA and it is made there.
  • It is easy to setup- one person, 30 seconds- both up and down.
    • There are options with a scissor lift at the back of the tent which allows for more space/ volume once open, but when we looked at these, the space gained was outweighed by the considerable faff to put them away (in comparison to the Gen 3).
  • Mattress and all bedding stays in. Also enough space to have custom mattress put in, which we have done and is incredibly comfortable.
  • No need for a roof rack to mount it to. It goes straight to the rails via some load bars (weight saving).
  • It takes load (50kg, although this does make it harder to open) and allows us to have a solar panel, our Maxtraxx and a custom aluminium basket for additional stuff like firewood or a rangers camp gear if we are travelling with one. This was the main reason for choosing this sort of tent over another.
  • It has attachment rails on either side allowing us to mount stuff (an awning etc).
  • It is aluminium and tough!
The benefit of the soft shell ones and even some of the newer hard-shells like the smaller Ikamper are that they take up less space (ie not your whole roof). The main drawback of the soft shells, for me, is that they are a hassle. You have to take off the cover, which is extra hassle, oftentimes you find yourself (at least we did) on the roof to deal with it.

You do get more space with them and the iKamper (and now there are other similar options) really maxims space and are relatively quick to put up and down. But either there are no load bearing options or they are far too low to be of use to us.

It does, at the end of the day, come down to personal pref
Thank you SO much for your time and your help. I really, really appreciate it!

You bring up some great points, and I think I am going to go with the purchase. I'm really leaving towards a smaller, hard-shell type.

I'm the type of person who like to hear from real people. I like to learn from their experiences and expertise. So I really appreciate you taking the time to give me your opinion.

Have a great week!
 

LemonLC

New Overlander
Feb 18, 2021
2
2
3
Thank you SO much for your time and your help. I really, really appreciate it!

You bring up some great points, and I think I am going to go with the purchase. I'm really leaving towards a smaller, hard-shell type.

I'm the type of person who like to hear from real people. I like to learn from their experiences and expertise. So I really appreciate you taking the time to give me your opinion.

Have a great week!
Absolutely my pleasure! We felt the iKamper was great and the new small one they make looks great. Only issues with them are the mattress (at least the one we had on the rental truck) was separated into two parts and could have been more comfortable and you could not leave your sleeping stuff inside when closed- I imagine you probably could, but it is a really difficult close and I wonder if you do not place staring on everything.

Anyway, good luck and keen to see what it is you choose to get!

Here is the Alucab on Lemon prior to the current re-build where she has the lightweight Aly box on the back and the maxtraxx are pushed forward (where they should have been all along.
IMG_4951.jpg
 
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Randun

New Overlander
Dec 17, 2020
9
0
1
San Clemente, CA
Absolutely my pleasure! We felt the iKamper was great and the new small one they make looks great. Only issues with them are the mattress (at least the one we had on the rental truck) was separated into two parts and could have been more comfortable and you could not leave your sleeping stuff inside when closed- I imagine you probably could, but it is a really difficult close and I wonder if you do not place staring on everything.

Anyway, good luck and keen to see what it is you choose to get!

Here is the Alucab on Lemon prior to the current re-build where she has the lightweight Aly box on the back and the maxtraxx are pushed forward (where they should have been all along.
View attachment 960
Thank you so much for your tips on the iKamper. I have been looking at a couple of their competitors. The tents are really similar.

Great pic by the way! Love your set up!
 

crw

New Overlander
Jun 25, 2016
6
1
1
Hi
I have an EeziAwn RTT which I've had since 2010. It is mounted to my 4x4 trailer while in Africa and to the top of a Landy Def 90 when I'm overseas. It is still in very good conditions given the weather it's been through.

As mentioned above it is the ease to setup and tear down. Also I feel somewhat safer being off the ground...Africa has may creatures that can do you harm.

Again, as mentioned, the early morning pee can be a mission particularly when it's multiples. The other down side is that you must pack the RTT if you want to use the vehicle to game drive or pop out for supplies. If you are planning to camp in one spot for a week or two the the collapsing of the tent is a pain. We never stay long in one spot so not an issue. There is an age related 'con'. While young and strong the climb up the ladder is not worth thinking about but when you are in your later years that climb can become Everest in size, particularly for the ladies. Then there is the decent in the morning. There is no gracious way to reach the first step of the ladder without mooning the camp.

All in all, I like the RTT.
 
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Randun

New Overlander
Dec 17, 2020
9
0
1
San Clemente, CA
Hi
I have an EeziAwn RTT which I've had since 2010. It is mounted to my 4x4 trailer while in Africa and to the top of a Landy Def 90 when I'm overseas. It is still in very good conditions given the weather it's been through.

As mentioned above it is the ease to setup and tear down. Also I feel somewhat safer being off the ground...Africa has may creatures that can do you harm.

Again, as mentioned, the early morning pee can be a mission particularly when it's multiples. The other down side is that you must pack the RTT if you want to use the vehicle to game drive or pop out for supplies. If you are planning to camp in one spot for a week or two the the collapsing of the tent is a pain. We never stay long in one spot so not an issue. There is an age related 'con'. While young and strong the climb up the ladder is not worth thinking about but when you are in your later years that climb can become Everest in size, particularly for the ladies. Then there is the decent in the morning. There is no gracious way to reach the first step of the ladder without mooning the camp.

All in all, I like the RTT.
Thank you so much for your time and your help.

I really appreciate your incite and your opinions.

Have a great day!