2007 Jeep Wrangler Smittybilt Roof Top Tent ReviewPosted in Features on September 19, 2015
Camping and wheeling go hand in hand. For many, it's all part of the off-road experience. Whether it's for a few days or a week, disconnecting from your daily routines for a little outdoor camping trip should be on everyone's to-do list. Over the years, our camping accommodations have ranged from a blanket in the backseat to a full-blown multi-person tent.
When we first started building our 2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, we fully intended to use it as a base camp and adventure machine. Over the past year, we've done just that. Finding that we are camping more than ever before, we decided to check out some better camping arrangements. Since we already jokingly refer to the '07 JK project as the Ali-Lander, we thought we might as well look into one of the overlanding essentials—a rooftop tent.
The idea of a rooftop tent might seem odd, but what we've found is that it's fairly practical. The concept is simple: You have a quick and easy tent to set up; it's off the ground and away from critters and your stumbling campmates; and you don't have to worry how rough the ground is below. For ours, we decided on one from Smittybilt.
One of the attractions to Smittybilt's RTT (Roof Top Tent) was the fact that it's substantially less expensive than some of the others on the market but still includes many of the same features and materials as the pricier models. The setup includes a 2-inch-thick high-density foam mattress that easily sleeps two adults, a 600D heavy-duty rainfly (which we found works great!), mosquito netting, and an assortment of compartments and openings. Weighing right around 118 pounds, it isn't exactly something you're going to toss atop your rig by yourself. However, it's no more difficult than taking a hardtop on and off.
Once it was bolted in place, we've found it only took a few minutes to set up. With that being said, you may look like a spider monkey as you scoot around the roof of your Jeep to get the rainfly and all of the awnings secured. The more times you use it, the more efficient you'll become. The taller you are (or the closer your rig is to the ground), the easier the process will be.
In terms of the tent quality, it's probably one of the nicest we've owned. We are habitually cheap when it comes to buying tents, which is probably why we can't seem to make them last. There are a few spots where the fabric stitching could be a little better, but overall we've been very pleased with the fit and finish. One of the first things we usually kill on lower-end tents are the zippers. Thankfully, this hasn't been the case here.
Speaking of zippers, there are a lot of them. The celling, sides, and main openings can all be unzipped to make for an extremely airy setup. It also has a built in LED light and power cord long enough to plug into the auxiliary power port on your Jeep. This is an extremely helpful feature at night. We just wish the steps had a little illumination too.
The fact that it's physically connected to the Jeep has been the biggest benefit. We can now camp places we normally would not have considered before, which makes for a more exciting and remote experience. On the flip side, having this much weight and bulk up top has been noticeable. The rack and top let you know they are up there. This was mostly noticeable because of the increased wind noise, but the weight was definitely something we felt on the trail. If you daily drive your rig and your commute consist of long highway jaunts, we strongly suggest keeping the tent in the garage until you are ready to use it again.
We were a bit skeptical about getting the Smittybilt RTT (especially for $800) at first, but we've found that it makes camping surprisingly simple, and it's especially nice not having to sacrifice any interior space for a tent. If you're serious about camping, we strongly suggest checking out the roof top tent options. For the price and quality, we are very happy with our Smittybilt RTT. It's not for everybody, but it's a worthwhile investment for those who are serious about setting up camp in comfort far beyond the normal campground.
Smittybilt's RTT (Roof Top Tent) is designed to bolt up to a variety of roof racks. We are running a Smittybilt SRC series rack on our Unlimited JK, which is load-rated for up to 300 pounds. This is more than ample for the weight of the tent and occupants.
There's very little setup to the RTT as it arrives largely pre-assembled. Once you determine if you want the tent to open to the side or to the back of the vehicle, you'll attach the rack-mounting rails to the base of the tent. Using a friend to help hoist the 118-pound tent atop the Jeep, we bolted the track clamps to the roof rack's tubular crossbars.
Once you unfold the tent, you'll have a handful of poles to insert that hold up the exterior awnings. These are especially nice when the weather turns nasty. To date, we haven't experienced any wind-related issues that would've caused them to falter.
Inside, there's plenty of room for two adults. There's enough space for a gear bag or two and to change comfortably. Almost every part of the tent that can unzip has mosquito netting, which really helps to keep the tent cool and bug-free. We are sticklers for comfort and found the 60mm foam mattress were more than adequate for a good night's rest.
Learning to climb in and out of the tent is definitely an adjustment. We had to opt for the ladder extension since our JK was lifted. At night, it can be a little tough climbing down in the dark, so keep a headlight or flashlight nearby!
Included with the tent is a thick waterproof cover. Despite making a bit of wind-related chatter, we haven't had any trouble with the cover. Putting it on is a little challenging for those with a shorter reach, so it's not a bad idea to bring a small step ladder with you.
One item we opted for was the Smittybilt Overland Tent Awning. At a touch over 8 feet long and 6 feet wide, it spans the entire length of the JK's roof rack. A shorter version is also available for those looking to do a similar setup on a two-door.
Similar to the RTT, the awning isn't rack-specific. The two brackets that clasp the awning to the JK have enough length and optional mounting holes for a variety of applications.
While setting up the tent is an easy one-man job, we found it helpful to have a second set of hands to toss up the awning. Thankfully, both can be completely set up in just a matter of minutes.