We are dependent on our Jeeps for all kinds of things. They get us out of the house when we just can’t stand the chattering wife or screaming kids. Our Jeeps get us out of civilization and let us get into the back woods for camping, hiking, hunting, or whatever our favorite recreation is. We can take them muddin’, rockcrawlin’, and trail runnin’. Whatever it is that we are using the Jeep for, it usually means we are out in the woods and far away from the idiots we encounter in everyday life. Most of us just toss a tent on the ground and call it good. For a couple of days a month, that is well and dandy. But when you come home, you’ve gotta take the tent back out to get the dirt or moisture out of it, air out the sleeping bags, clean the cookware, and more. There are just all kinds of boring and time-consuming chores to keep the equipment in good condition for next timeand who wants to do that??>
There are better ways to camp that will result in more comfortable nights, easier setups, and the ability (not to mention willingness) to get out there more often. By picking the tent up off the ground, you will be able to camp cleaner, you don’t have to worry about snow or rivers flowing through the tent, and you’ll be safer from whatever critters might come crawling around. Most rooftop tents have mattresses in them, along with enough space to store your sleeping bags and a couple of pillows, making packing and unpacking so much faster. Cleanup is easier, too. About once a year you can hose it off and vacuum it out at the same time you clean your Jeep.
If you don’t have a roof that can accept a tent, you can always pick up an old military trailer. But there are also many dedicated off-road/camper trailers on the market. Face it, it takes time to convert an old military trailer, and then you still have an old military trailer. Many, if not all, trailers on the market will tow better than any old military trailer and are available with many options. The nice thing about a trailer is that when properly equipped, you can store everything you need for a trip in it and be ready to go at the drop of a hat. There is nothing quite like coming home from work on a Friday, hooking up the trailer, and going wherever you want knowing that you have everything you need on hand for a camping trip. No more having the wood and forgetting the matches, or having the tent and forgetting the rain fly. We’ve had a few experiences with off-road trailers and have daydreamed a lot about the different ways to camp in luxury, so we dove into our bookmarks and catalogs to put together this buyer’s guide for rooftop tents and trailers of every size (oh my!).
Adventure Trailers JK Habitat
Why is a trailer company leading off the tent section? Well that would be thanks to the JK Habitat and organizing the section into alphabetical order. The JK Habitat is a replacement hardtop for the four-door JK that features a flip-forward roof that provides sleeping area over the hood of the JK when open. The area over the interior of the Jeep features a 60/40 hatch and provides additional head room so you can stand up and move around the interior. Once in the sleeping area, the hatch can be replaced for additional sleeping room. When the Habitat is closed it provides more insulation than the factory top ever could, increasing the effectiveness of the A/C system. The Habitat also features a large, comfortable mattress. Once the Habitat is installed, the Jeep can be outfitted however you want from no interior changes all the way up to a full self-sustaining mini-RV.
Size (inches): 64x98 (closed), 64x196 (open)
Accessories: 12V lights, drawer system
Contact: Adventure Trailers, 877/661-8097, adventuretrailers.com
ARB Series III Simpson
ARB tents are born of the rigors of the Australian Outback and can be mounted on just about any rack. The fabric is a high-quality cotton/poly ripstop fabric and is breathable, waterproof, and mold resistant. Mold resistance is important for the time that the tent is stowed. If you stow it wet, or water gets in while it is closed you won’t know about it until you open it next time with that nice smell of mold and mildew. The mattress is 212 inches thick and there is a flysheet that can be raised above the tent on multiple steel bows, which allows the windows to be opened even in rain. All windows and doors have insect screening, and the integral bungee cord system helps pack the tent away neatly and quickly.
Size (inches): 55x47 (closed), 55x94 (open)
Accessories: annex, ladder extension
Contact: ARB USA, 425/264-1391, arbusa.com
Autohome has been around since 1958 and the company’s experience has led to some awesome tents. The Maggiolina is one of the company’s higher-end models and combines the comfort of a hard-shell camper with the convenience and portability of a soft tent. There are five different trim levels available within this line and many different sizes within each trim level. The top hard shell is made of marine-grade fiberglass with gelcoat and a quilted synthetic headliner. The bottom is a 1-inch bonded foam/fiberglass sandwich that also features a 2-inch-thick mattress. The hard shell provides better insulation and protection from the elements than just canvas or nylon can. The soft sides are a Dralon synthetic material, a crank-driven system raises the top, and a gasket seals the assembly when it is in the down position.
Price: $2,399 (small AirLand), $5,299 (medium carbon fiber)
Size (inches): 51x83 (small), 57x83 (medium), 63x84 (large)
Accessories: reflective winter hood, awning, ceiling kit (depending on model)
Contact: Autohome USA, 888/852-2359, autohomeus.com
At the other end of Autohome’s lineup is the Overcamp. Adhering to the less is more philosophy, it is a simple, fold-open tent made from a 420-gram cotton/acrylic blend based on a 58-inch-thick platform made of marine Microlam sheathed with high-impact plastic. The mattress is made of 3-inch-thick closed-cell foam with a washable cotton cover. When closed an included heavy-duty PVC cover can be put over it to keep the elements out. The doors and windows all feature a fine-mesh mosquito netting and there are two internal storage pockets. There are three other complete Autohome lines between these two, so check out the website for more info.
Size (inches): 2512x79 (closed), 51x79 (open)
Accessories: winter hood, under-mattress air circulation system, extra awning poles
Contact: Autohome USA, 888/852-2359, autohomeus.com
As you might imagine from the name of the company, Camping Lab is all about getting out there. They offer three sizes of tents and all are made from lightweight laminated polyester ripstop canvas. A coated polyester cover is included for when the tent is closed. There is mosquito netting to keep out the bugs and interior pockets for stowage. The side windows are protected by awnings, so you can still have ventilation even in weather. The ladder, structure, and base are all made from lightweight aluminum to minimize center of gravity changes to your Jeep once it is up there. The mattress is 3-inch-thick high-density foam and removable bungee cords help to fold the tent back up and are removable during use.
Price: $725 (small), $800 (medium), $1,050 (large)
Size (inches, open): 47x94, 55x94, 71x94
Accessories: changing room, ladder extension
Contact:Camping Lab, 786/489-8258, campinglab.com
Cascadia is a small company based in the heart of Oregon and has designed its tents to suit an outdoor-loving lifestyle. The company has two lines, the Mt. Shasta and Mt. Bachelor editions. The Shasta adds a veranda at the entrance door, which creates more available area for a changing room. The tent fabric is 300D fabric with PVC and UV coating. The floor is and aluminum sheet and foam sandwich. The windows feature mosquito netting. The universal mounting system allows for mounting the tent to be left, right, front, or rear facing.
Price: $1,195 (Mt. Shasta), $995 (Mt. Bachelor)
Size (inches): 48x55 (closed), 55x96 (open)
Accessories: annex room, ladder extension
Contact: Cascadia Tents, 541/312-8368, cascadiatents.com
Eezi-Awn has been building and designing rooftop tents for 28 years and they currently have five different distinct lines of tents. There are different sizes within each line and made with differing materials. All the lines feature window awnings and flysheets supported by steel rods, internal storage pockets, quick-release plastic flysheet clips, and built-in air vents. Mattress thickness varies from 238-inch up to 318-inch, depending on which series you pick.
Price: $2,019 (Series 3)
Size (inches, open): 47x94 to 86x96
Accessories: DIY mounting kit, ladder extension
Contact: Eezi-Awn, eezi-awn.com
They say green is in, and the folks at Mombasa outdoors took it seriously with a two-tone green tent. The flysheet is 200D Polyester fabric with a PVC coating in Forest green. The tent is made from olive green 300D rip-stop fabric and there are two mesh windows. The mattress is 212 inches thick and rests on an aluminum sheet and an aluminum frame base. Unlike many competitors whose mounting systems will only allow the tent to be set up to open to one side or the other of the vehicle, the new universal mounting system can be configured to allow either front or rear opening as well.
Size (inches): 94x55 (open)
Accessories: ladder extension, changing room
Contact: Roof-Top-Tent, 800/919-9013, roof-top-tent.com
Until Adventure Trailers came around, we thought that a trailer made in the ’50s that bounced around behind the Jeep no matter where we went was perfectly OK. Now we know that just because it is a trailer doesn’t mean that it needs to ride horribly and wag the back end of the Jeep. There are three lines offered: Chaser, Horizon, and Teardrop. All three can be had plain-Jane with wheels to match your Jeep’s bolt pattern, or all the way up to fully stocked with a kitchen, fridge, and a water tank. The Chaser is the budget-oriented model and features one central storage box. The Horizon features a central storage box with rear access and side boxes are optional. The teardrop is an enclosed design that has a mattress inside for completely enclosed camping.
Price (base): $6,637 (Chaser), $9,501 (Horizon), $13,699 (Teardrop)
Accessories: water tank, stove, propane, awning, rooftop tent, nose box, batteries, solar charging system, fridge
Contact: Adventure Trailers, 877/661-8097, adventuretrailers.com
Campa must think they are making boat trailers because even the chassis is stainless steel. Stainless steel boxes with stainless steel hinges and stainless steel adjustable latches means Campa offers a limited lifetime warranty on materials and craftsmanship. Campa offers two pre-specified trailers: the Explorer and the Expedition. However, the trailers are designed as modular units so that if your tastes go from camping to kayaking to ATVs you can re-outfit your original chassis with other modules to fit your changing needs. Each trailer features two Hi-Lift jack points, two rear anti-tilt legs, a mud flap set, and a lockable spare tire bracket manufactured from, you guessed it, stainless steel. The axle is a 2-inch-diameter tube 5,500-pound-rated unit hung from a seven-leaf spring pack.
Price: $22,500 (Explorer), $23,750 (Expedition)
Accessories: Partner steel stove, Engel Fridge, solar power setup, Katadyne water purification system, Honda generator, Odyssey brake controller, and more
Contact: Campa Trailers, 440/353-1917, campausa.com
The name should give this one away. It is a collapsible tent based on a compact aluminum trailer that weighs only 1,000 pounds empty. There is over 100 cubic feet of storage and the all-welded aluminum construction means no plywood or screws to come loose on washboard roads. Once it is setup, it reminds us of a summer camp tent but has drawers and couches inside that convert to a bed with a 4-inch-thick mattress. Closed it is 96x72 inches and open it is a huge 96x114 inches. Unlike the summer camp tents of yore, this tent is made out of Sunbrella material which is very water and fire resistant. The front door is huge (tent is 7-feet tall at peak) and the back window is also big allowing for a lot of airflow to help stay cool. Both the front door and back window have mosquito netting so you don’t become a meal. You can take kayaks, canoes, and even ATVs along by simply lashing them down to the aluminum top deck when closed.
Accessories: ramps, winch, awning, heater, dual water tanks, water tank pumps, lift axles
Contact: MSE Welding and Fabrication, 775/867-3268, haultent.com
The manufacturers of our favorite dirt toy have thrown a hat in the off-road trailer ring. Much like the pop-up trailers we remember from our youth, the Mopar Jeep trailer has tons of interior space with a queen-sized bed, a sofa with a stowable table, a built-in aluminum cabinet and a 110-volt power supply. There are two versions available. The Trail Edition comes with 32-inch BFG Mud Terrain tires and offers 12-inches of ground clearance. The Extreme Trail Edition comes with 35-inch BFG Mud Terrains, offers 15-inches of ground clearance, and features a heavier frame. The suspension is a unique torsion bar and trailing arm setup and the trailers are available in a variety of factory-match colors. Possibly best of all, it can be ordered and delivered to your local Jeep dealership all ready to tow away.
Price: $9,995 (Trail), $11,995 (Extreme Trail)
Accessories: 110V power outlet, additional skidplating, aluminum tail light guards, 10-foot square exterior awning
Contact: Mopar, 877/426-5337, mopar.com
Teardrop-style trailers were popular in the ’40s but then RV popularity boomed and the teardrop went by the wayside. SoCal teardrops have brought back the original teardrop using modern materials and assembly techniques. The trailers are built on a 2x3-inch by 0.120-wall chassis riding on Old Man Emu springs with Rancho RS9000 shocks. The axle is a 3,500-pound-rated axle equipped with 10-inch trailer brakes and there are no hidden costs here. The base model Buzz-Off line has a single curb-side door, 12-volt outlet, cabin light, cubby holes, and flip-down shelves.
The higher-end Krawler has all that plus cupholders and an AM/FM/CD radio inside. Both models feature a comfortable 4-inch-thick foam mattress. The Krawler also has the kitchen, a class 24 battery, and an on-board marine charger included in the price. The teardrop is worth considering if you camp where it is windy and your tent keeps you up at night or if you camp with kids. By throwing a tent on top, the sleeping capacity goes up to at least four.
Price: $8,995 (Buzz-Off), $14,995 (Krawler)
Accessories: water tank, jerrycan holders, awnings, exterior radio, solar panels
Contact: SoCal Teardrops, 909/982-1199, socalteardrops.com
Tentrax has been around the off-road Jeep crowd for years and most likely you’ve already seen one. Due to the small shape and light weight, they tow-great behind short wheelbase Jeepsboth on- and off-road. They have a fiberglass tub construction and can clear up to 38-inch tires. The 38s provide approximately 20 inches ground clearance. When optioned with the tent and bed there is over 30 cubic feet of storage in the trailer under the 60x96-inch folding bed (when open). The tent is custom-made in the USA and the bed is mold and mildew resistant and flame-retardant. It can be set up and ready for sleep in about 5 minutes.
Price: $3,330 (bare-bones base price)
Accessories: off-road package, skidplate, various rack options, tent and bed, 12V electrical system, polypropylene fenders, 1,400-pound Torflex axle
Contact: Tentrax, 800/488-2022 tentrax.com