In the summer of 2012, my family and I camped at Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge In Southern Oregon and were intrigued by Land Rover with roof top tents. These type of tents are an efficient use of real estate space on the roof of your vehicle that is seldom used other than for storage.
Range Rovers are not exactly spacious on the inside, so some innovative folks used the roof as the sleeping area. To be honest, I had never seen a roof top tent on a vehicle except in cartoons and movies. We felt like we were on an African safari when we camped amongst the Range Rover club.
If you are considering a Roof Top Tent for your camping adventures, saddle up next to me and we can go down the road together. At this point, I have not bought one.
I am contacting various manufactures and distributors. I have been impressed with everyone that I have talked to thus far on the phone. Roof Top Tents were born out of the need for comfort and adventure.
From what I have seen so far, it appears that many of the RTTs being sold are clones of each other. The key thing to look out for is not where the tents are manufactured, but how they are manufactured. Below are some pictures from a few manufactures.
After talking with many of the distributors and builders of roof top tents, I have come to the conclusion without actually seeing one, that most tents are going to be very high quality. People who buy this type of tent have money, brains, and ambition. Dealers, distributors, and sales reps are users of extreme outdoor gear. It's a small community linked by forums, blogs, and events. Nobody can afford to sell junk because they will be out of business. Period.
Some Companies like Autohome, Howling Moon, and James Baroud still manufacture their own products. Autohome has been in business for over 50 years. I have a hunch that a lot of companies have tried to copy their products. Others contract to reputable manufacturing plants in Asia. Both the Maggiolina made by Autohome James Baroud RTTs appears to be top shelf in every aspect. I plan on visiting with an Autohome rep to see their product mounted on a truck.
Yes, there are variations with options and freebies, but essentially they appear to be the same. On the other hand, each company is different and in the long term, you have to wonder who is going to be around. At the end of the day, I want a high quality tent that has replacement parts available when needed.
Why get a roof top tent when you can sleep on the ground for a lot less money?
When I first saw price tags starting at $795 for a tent that weighs a minimum of 75 pounds, I thought to myself "You got to be kidding!." It's all about real estate space and total over all experience on your camping trip. Our family likes to disperse camp for free in open areas and national forests. Having a roof top tent will give an extra measure of comfort and space to enjoy our trip even more. We often like to rent out a cabin for half week as an added luxury. Having a roof top tent is going to give us a cabin like experience that we can take with us.
Roof top tents remind me of African safaris. It seems like a lot of these adventure tent companies started because of their passion for camping adventures. I learned a whole lot more about these tents by visiting the Expedition Portal website and forum.
My research kept point back to the Expedition Portal Forum. I have spent hours reading through the Expedition Portal and other forums about roof top tents. Cascadia tents are a favorite on the Expedition Portal. I missed out on the 30% off group buy.
Cascadia Roof Top Tents
Cascadia makes soft and hard shell design tents. The hard shell designs are like my fiberglass Thule cargo carrier. The soft shell are basically a tent, frame, and platform stuffed into a soft carrying bag that is strapped to your roof.
The Expedition Portal linked to Cascadia Car Top Tents. I contacted Cascadia and talked with Bobby, the owner and designer of all the tents and mentioned that I the liked look and design of their tents and I wished that I live near Bend Oregon. He informed me that he will be in the Bay Area this weekend and is willing to take a few tents with him for me to look at. Amazing.
I met with Bobby as he was assisting a customer with the install of a new rtt that the customer purchased. The install took more time than Bobby expected because the rack was a low profile design by ARB. Set up takes minutes.
Check Out Expedition Portal For The Ultimate Roof Top Tents Buyers Guide
The Expedition Portal has what they call a Roof Top Tent Buyers Guide. It's more of a collection of links to all roof top tents suppliers and manufactures. Many of the suppliers have tents that look identical to their competitors. I will be writing about as many of the companies to help out other buyers.
Roof Top Tent Types
- Soft shell These are tradition type of tents mounted on a platform.
- Hard shell Roof Top Tents These are similar to fiberglass roof top cargo boxes built by Thule and Yakima. The fiberglass clam shell becomes the roof for the tent.
- A frame Hard Shell The a-frame tents have a distinct advantage of giving you more standing room on one end of the tent and being lighter than a rectangular tent.
I like the looks of the hard shell RTT. Sleek, aerodynamic, and low profile. The soft shelled tents look bulky but are amazing when deployed. It's like pulling rabbits out a magic hat. You start to wonder how such a large tent can fit inside such a small bag. It reminds me of an adult tree house. My brain is getting information overload from looking at so many different designs and manufactures.