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Rooftop Tents 101

Posted in Features on June 4, 2018
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Rooftop tents are all the rage these days in the overlanding community. Take a walk around Overland Expo West and there are dozens of companies manufacturing them. The tents are affixed to just about any 4x4 on the market. Models are designed to fit over your Toyota Tacoma, Jeep, or Porsche Cayenne SUV. The configurations are endless. So, why purchase a rooftop tent? The first reason is to get your sleeping quarters up off the ground. Overlanding terrain is not perfect. A sudden storm can turn the dirt to mud. The last place you want to be sleeping is in a puddle of water. Rooftop tents make it harder for the creepy, crawling critters to get at you. There are plenty of things that come out at night that you can’t see. There are no stakes to bang into the ground. These tents are designed to flip open or pop up within minutes. Most can sustain a moderate windstorm.

With all the choices, what are the recommend brands to go with? We scoured the 2018 Overland Expo looking for the best designs. Smittybilt’s Overlander is designed to mount to a trailer or roof rack. You should be looking for a heavy-duty rip-stop polyester material that will withstand the elements wherever your overlanding trip may take you. The James Baroud line is designed to allow your bedding to stay in the tent when you stow it, maximizing space inside of your vehicle for other necessary gear. The tent mounts are designed with aerodynamics in mind without costing you precious fuel mileage on an adventure. We all know when you are off-the-grid and there are no gas stations for miles, every drop of fuel counts. Another feature to consider is the set-up and tear down. The Baroud models can be folded down and secured in under two minutes with four latches. Tepui is the only company to offer their patented Zipper Gimp technology. The tent canopy easily zips away and you can add another one of their tents to the mount. Want the orange one for Baja? No problem. Just zip it away. You can change it when you get back for a thicker-material tent for that Alaska adventure.

Keep in mind that you have to climb a ladder. After all, you are on the roof. You want to look at a company that constructs a sturdy ladder for easy up-and-down access to your sleeping quarters. Pope Overland Expedition tests their tents directly in the elements of the Colorado mountains. Temperatures there can drop below freezing with regular rain and snow. Their tents are designed to sleep four people depending on what model you get. They have a fold-out system that extends the tent beyond the rooftop of your vehicle. Steel stakes are included to secure the tent to the ground below. Whichever brand of tent you select, be sure it works for the weather you plan your overland adventure in and the vehicle you will attach it to.

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