Why use a RTT?

#1
I am trying to wrap my head around Roof Top Tents. I just don't get them for the vast majority of camping situations.

IMHO-
They are expensive,
heavy,
you have to deal with a ladder,
you can't drive away for the day,
they are exposed to dust/dirt/rain at highway speeds,
it is tough to carry things like boats and boards on top
you have to get your vehicle parked just right

I guess if you spent a lot of time in swampy conditions and/or in areas that have potential predators- they would be useful. But those conditions are not prevalent in North America.

Given all of these potential negatives- why use one instead of a tent?

Help me out here.

Thanks,
Christo
 
#2
Expensive - yes, but not too much more than an equally heavy duty style ground tent.

Heavy - 100-150lbs, not much weight when it's mounted to a truck.

Ladder - never been a problem for me.

Driving away - it takes ten minutes to pack the tent up, not a deal breaker by any means.

Exposed to dust/rain - when packed the tent is completely enclosed in a cover and dust/waterproof.

Hard to carry stuff - all depends on how you mount the tent. My tent is mounted level with the cab of the truck and I can still carry kayaks, canoes, lumber, etc on the roof rack.

Vehicle parking - it might take a few minutes to park the truck mostly level but it's not hard.
 
#3
Good reasons for a RTT: they're out of the mud and dirt so they're clean, they hold all of your bedding, freeing up the interior, they're incredibly comfortable, they offer some additional security from wildlife, they can provide the side or rear of you vehicle with additional shelter, most have lights inside, adding chargers for your phone or other devices is trivial, and they let you play in a treehouse despite your graying and/or thinning hair.

Expensive? It's a 4-season tent with a mattress that will let you sleep like a baby for many nights over many years. A comparable ground tent starts around $250. A couple nice sleeping pads will run you $300. You're halfway to a rooftop tent there. What about depreciation? What can you sell used camping gear for vs a used rooftop tent?

Heavy? 140 lbs or so, but the vehicle carries it for you.

Ladder? Not necessarily. Check out an Ursa Minor J30 on a JKU or the Tacoma Habitat.

Drive away? Even a folding model takes maybe 5 minutes to close up when fully configured. The hardshells are even quicker.

Exposure? They come with covers or shells. The sewn-on logo has faded but otherwise my 3-year-old cover still looks like new.

Cargo? Depends on which tent model you choose. Look at the Tepui White Lightning or the Roofnest Sparrow X.

Level parking? So easy that it need not be a consideration. It's easier than finding a good place for a tent.

 
#4
I bought my roof tent used so the initial cost wasn't that bad. Yes its a little heavy - about 125 lbs, but it goes up in about a minute, down in 3 and holds all of my bedding freeing up space in my short wheelbase Land Rover.
All I have to do is find a reasonably level spot to park and I have Lev-O-Gages inside the truck that I can glance at to see if I'm close and then get out and crank up the tent. It's warm, dry and very comfortable. The only downside is having to use a ladder but that's not that bad.
The only better setup and than I can imagine is my friend Rob's elevating roof on his Land Rover 110. He doesn't have to get out of his truck to climb in bed.
 

Attachments

M1078

Adventurer
#6
It takes a lot more time finding a rock free level spot for a ground tent than it does opening my tent and climbing in bed. Most people I see complaining about RTTs have never used one. I'll never sleep in a ground tent again.
 
#7
I don't think a RTT is for you...
Given all the cons you provided... pretty much says so.......


It takes a lot more time finding a rock free level spot for a ground tent than it does opening my tent and climbing in bed. Most people I see complaining about RTTs have never used one. I'll never sleep in a ground tent again.
Same here. I hate ground tents, NEVER had a pleasant night in one. I sleep like a baby in my RTT.

One compromise option is the tent cot. I got one that I'm looking forward to trying out for the first time soon. Several benefits of the RTT but small and easy to pack. I do think it is going to be considerably less comfortable, but in mild weather I think it will be acceptable.
 
#8
PART_1502125091257.jpg I can get my wife in a RTT, ground tent not so much, she woke up covered in earwigs camping once.
I also like not crowding the interior, with a bed. In my case plenty of roof left.
 

BPD53

Not Always Friendly
#10
One compromise option is the tent cot. I got one that I'm looking forward to trying out for the first time soon. Several benefits of the RTT but small and easy to pack. I do think it is going to be considerably less comfortable, but in mild weather I think it will be acceptable.
I'm pulling my tentcot out of mothballs for a trip tomorrow. I've never used mine, but loaned it out a few times with positive reviews.

I'm surprised a tentcot is long enough for a tall guy like you Airmapper. Short guys like me seem to have it easier when it comes to camping gear.

I'll pick up a RTT one day after a company makes a hard shell single man version.
 

rnArmy

Adventurer
#11
I'm pulling my tentcot out of mothballs for a trip tomorrow. I've never used mine, but loaned it out a few times with positive reviews.

I'm surprised a tentcot is long enough for a tall guy like you Airmapper. Short guys like me seem to have it easier when it comes to camping gear.

I'll pick up a RTT one day after a company makes a hard shell single man version.[/QUOTE]

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My buddy and I bought two 2-man tentcots from Cabela's for our last trip up into Canada - thought we'd give that concept a try. We spent quite a few nights in them. A couple observations:
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1. They take up a lot of space in the vehicle, are heavy (50lbs), and a bit of a PIA to set-up. Once set-up, they were nice (first picture).
2. Our double sized cots had a bar running down the middle. Not a big deal; just don't think you're going to sleep in the middle of it (in ours anyways).
3. Not a lot of headroom inside. I hope you're not claustrophobic.
4. Having a double-sized one for one person was nice - it gave you room for your bag of clothes and such (and rifles) on the other half of the tentcot.
5. At 88" long, it was plenty long for us (we're both like 6'1" tall).
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http://www.cabelas.com/product/Cabelas-Deluxe-Tent-Cot-Double/1591314.uts?slotId=1
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After we came back from our trip, I wasn't sure what to do with my tentcot. I ended up mounting it on top of my little trailer as a RTT (I removed the outer legs on the tentcot). I had to have a cover made for it (which wasn't cheap) and buy a ladder (another expense), but I like it. I've slept in it once since mounting it on the trailer - worked out nicely. But the way it folds (by design), you can't keep your sleeping bag or anything inside it.
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I used this sleeping bag (linked below) the last time I slept in the tentcot and it really worked out and fit in the tentcot well (at least for one person anyways). Even though the tentcot has a bar running down the center, it was nice to have a double-sized sleeping bag so you didn't feel like you were sleeping in a mummy bag.
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https://www.sportsmansguide.com/pro...as-hunter-double-sleeping-bag-0degf?a=2163397
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Yukon Prince Rupert Camping.2.jpg Hardtop.26.jpg Cover.3.jpg Trailer ladder.3.jpg tent cot.23.jpg tent cot.22.jpg
 
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Corey

OverCamping Specialist
#12
Kevin brought up some great points, and I will add since getting my roof top tent back in 2008, I have never ever slept better while camping.
Never a ground tent again for me.

Going down the ladder is not so bad for that midnight piss break, you get use to it.
Easy to setup, and easy to take down.

Plus it reminds me of my youth building tree forts :D
It is nice being up off the ground and not tracking dirt inside.
I use flannel sheets, a down comforter, and a thick mattress pad, same as sleeping at home.



 
#13
I'm pulling my tentcot out of mothballs for a trip tomorrow. I've never used mine, but loaned it out a few times with positive reviews.

I'm surprised a tentcot is long enough for a tall guy like you Airmapper. Short guys like me seem to have it easier when it comes to camping gear.

I'll pick up a RTT one day after a company makes a hard shell single man version.
I was actually surprised as well, I got it based on it's given dimensions and it is longer than I am. They had an XL model I might come to regret not getting because it's a shave wider. I agree it's a bit cramped inside for moving around, it's not confining, but you will have to lay in it kind of like a coffin, no spreading your legs and arms out much.

I recently got a inflatable sleeping pad I'm going to try to use with it to make it somewhat comfortable. Of course this is all untested.

I see myself going to a hard shell RTT eventually. I just can't bring myself to drop the cash on it yet. The lower profile, faster setup and takedown all suit how I like to travel better. I tend to go back and forth from trips with a different camp every night to weekends in the same spot. Fast and easy setup and takedown is better for both, even though I don't like breaking camp when I know I'm coming back that evening.

I'm amazed how far I've come camping, and still have yet to go. I remember using the ground tent, neatly placing a tarp down, building the tent with those folding poles, tacking it down, pumping up an air mattress. Then the last morning undoing it all except it was a big wet mess that I got mad at, wadded into a big ball in the back of my SUV and dumped in the yard to sort out later. All that crap can drive someone as anal as me nuts.
 
#14
Thanks for posting your pics.
Getting up in the middle of the night to relieve myself is a bother I prefer not to take. Got a pee jar with a tight fitting lid (peanut butter jar). It is s much better than crawling out in the rain or cold to relieve myself. Especially when I sleep in the Rover, it is a bit tight in there, probably like your tent cot.
I do like the idea of the tent cot though. Had a RTT mounted on my M416 trailer for awhile but sold it with the trailer as it would not fit on the Rover to get in the garage.
I now have an OZ tent that takes moments to set up. Only use it when both of us travel and camp together. Although putting it back in the bag wet is not fun.
 

Corey

OverCamping Specialist
#15
Thanks for posting your pics.
Getting up in the middle of the night to relieve myself is a bother I prefer not to take. Got a pee jar with a tight fitting lid (peanut butter jar). It is s much better than crawling out in the rain or cold to relieve myself.
I tried one of those red portajohns a few years back, too easy to dribble on my nice down comforter :D
It just takes a few minutes longer to pull on some shorts, sandals, and make your way down to a bush or the privy tent with portapotty in it.
 
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