Best Roof-Top Tent?

Hi guys,
Looking at going across the Great Central Road next year and we've decided to get ourselves a roof top tent. There's so many on the market and I'm not sure where to start. Looking to pay under about $3000, but willing to go up to 4 grand if I find something I really like.

We've looked at camper trailers, but they are all far more than we're willing to pay and we won't use it often enough to get our money's worth.

Can anyone tell me what are better roof top tents, what to look for, and which ones to avoid?

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Reply By: Member - Andrew L (WA) - Sunday, Sep 28, 2014 at 17:26

Sunday, Sep 28, 2014 at 17:26
I have traveled extensively with a friends who have an Autohome roof top tent and if I was in the market for a roof top tent this is what I would be buying.
AnswerID: 539633

Follow Up By: Holly Anne - Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 12:30

Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 12:30
Hi Andrew,
Yes, I've heard that the Autohomes are good. My concern with these was the price. They were a bit more than I wanted to pay, but I might investigate them further and see if I can get one second hand. Thanks!
FollowupID: 824328

Reply By: steved58 - Sunday, Sep 28, 2014 at 17:34

Sunday, Sep 28, 2014 at 17:34
I have a arb rooftop tent with awning side and rear add on rooms I use it for where the caravan will not go Ie. Cape York and we have found it performs very well no problems the mattress is a little hard so we fitted a latex mattress topper and it is now very comfortable Watch the rooftops on the road some brands seem to balloon up with air arb and others seem not to if air can get in so can dust We did 3000kms on dirt in the cape with ours and not one drop of dust got in apart from what came in on our feet ha! ha!
AnswerID: 539634

Follow Up By: Holly Anne - Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 12:23

Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 12:23
Thanks for the info. How does it hold up in the wet and windy?
FollowupID: 824325

Follow Up By: steved58 - Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 14:24

Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 14:24
Wet and windy is no problems stay nice and dry and no tent pegs to worry about unless you put up the awnings The only problem with the rooftop is taking it on and off I have installed a boat winch as used on boat trailers to lift it on and off the landcruiser however my garage is high enough to do this We can set up in as little as 5 minutes for a simple overnight stop and packup in about 10 minutes if we have only used the rooftop no awnings etc

all the best steve
FollowupID: 824338

Follow Up By: Member - YOUNG NOMADS - Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014 at 19:17

Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014 at 19:17
We were "stuck for 24 hours in our ARB (re-badged Howling Moon) a few years ago, after 2 inches of rain in 24 hours in the desert.
We remained dry at all times. The original ARB roof top tents were re-badged Howling Moon roof top tents...the materials & design are probably superior to the current ARB brand models.
Ours is the Simpson model with the extended foot / ladder end of the tent. We have the annex as well and have found it very good for more than a one night stay.
As far as wind..we have experienced some very rough weather on the Strezlecki problems at all. In very windy conditions, we don't open/ unclip the side and end window canvas.
It is a good idea to have as much roof rack space around the tent, as being able to climb up on the rack to pack up is a big bonus.
We have just purchased a TVan, in which we plan to use for all our further outback travels.
We have really enjoyed the flexibility and convenience of roof top tent travel...I reckon we need never use it again. it is currently collecting the wrong sort of dust ;)
Here's a pic of our location on the top of a sand dune, where we spent 6 days..marooned by mud & rain.
FollowupID: 824396

Reply By: linds_72_99 - Sunday, Sep 28, 2014 at 19:22

Sunday, Sep 28, 2014 at 19:22
I can also recommend the Autohome hard shell rooftops. Used a Columbus model for a number of years in all weather. Set up in less than a minute and pack down in a couple. Great for a couple but no good for a family of 4.

Hope this helps to find a suitable roof topper.
AnswerID: 539640

Follow Up By: Holly Anne - Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 12:24

Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 12:24
Thanks :) We are a family of 3, but two will be sleeping in the tent and the other person in the car.
FollowupID: 824326

Reply By: Member - daz (SA) - Sunday, Sep 28, 2014 at 20:34

Sunday, Sep 28, 2014 at 20:34
Used to have a Hannibal. Used to supplement the caravan on a 6 month trip through NT & WA Great quality tent I purchased mine second hand for $1700 & got $1600 for it 18 months later. Good quality second hand the way to go to save money
Cheers dazz
AnswerID: 539649

Follow Up By: Holly Anne - Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 12:25

Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 12:25
Hm. Sounds pretty reasonable. We're quite willing to buy second hand if it saves us some money and it's in good enough condition. Thanks!
FollowupID: 824327

Follow Up By: Freshstart - Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014 at 21:24

Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014 at 21:24
We have a Hannibal but unlike others we open ours over the rear door of the 100 series. The drop down tailgate on the 100 series gives a covered "kitchen bench" areal, inside and out of the weather. With full access to the fridge and drawers in the car. I hate cooking in the rain!

Our bed opens to a 1.6 x 2.4 double bed. And we have had grand kids sleep on stretchers in the annex.

FollowupID: 824402

Reply By: shakey88 - Sunday, Sep 28, 2014 at 21:42

Sunday, Sep 28, 2014 at 21:42
If you search for thread number 100249 you will get some info on the James Baroud range. I have the eSpace model and can't speak highly enough of it.
AnswerID: 539653

Follow Up By: shakey88 - Sunday, Sep 28, 2014 at 23:13

Sunday, Sep 28, 2014 at 23:13
This is the eSpace model I mentioned. Lifts up front and back, so lots of headroom and plenty of foot room at the lower end. Built in solar powered extractor fan and a removable LED light and large storage pockets.

FollowupID: 824303

Follow Up By: Holly Anne - Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 12:36

Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 12:36
I believe I've actually seen these in person at a camping show I went to last year. I was quite impressed, I remember. I had completely forgotten about them, so thanks for reminding me! The guy there told me they were great, but that's what he's supposed to tell me. Glad to know that they're as good as he made them out to be. Will definitely have a look at these, thanks!
FollowupID: 824329

Follow Up By: MactrolPod - Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014 at 07:09

Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014 at 07:09
We have had one of these for a few years now and find it fantastic.
I did fit a couple of solid grab handles to the rear corners as the struts are powerful, they do hold it rigid in a very strong wind!
We have not camped in rain so getting in and out in those conditions offer no protection, but a sail track has been fitted for a tarp if we suspect its going to be bad. It is up in a minute, that includes unpacking the ladder from the vehicle. And packed away 100% in two. Very user friendly. I'm 6'1" and fit no worries, but limit what we take up there as it is only a mattress.
FollowupID: 824359

Reply By: Kanga1 - Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 07:30

Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 07:30
Hi, we have been happy with our Gordigear RTT, they have a good 80mm thick mattress in them. Very Comfortable. Cheers, Kanga.
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AnswerID: 539669

Follow Up By: Holly Anne - Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 12:39

Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 12:39
Have had a look on their website, and it seems to be exactly what we're looking for, in the right price range. These didn't turn up on google, so thank you very much for posting! Will very definitely have a good look at these, they look great.
Thanks :)
FollowupID: 824330

Reply By: Wayne's 60 - Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 09:09

Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 09:09
Hi Holly,

We bought an Aussie Traveller 2nd hand over eight years ago. We have both "rooms", as pictured - the standard and family. Ours is mounted on our 6x4 camper trailer, the wall height was suited to a Hilux and so it is too short to sit on the roof of our Cruiser.
Depending on the type of trip and how long we will be in one place, will depend on whether we use the "small walls, or the large walls. The only other modification was to the mattress, an Orthopeadic inner sprung mattress keeps us comfortable when we are away :-)
It does get some looks while we are away and people are being nosey, all good too.
For what we do, and it has been along the GCR twice, we love it.

FWIW, ANY camping equipment is a large investment,
what ever it is, from a tiny tent to a big as 5th wheeler, you need to use it!!

Enjoy your trip.

Wayne & Sally.

AnswerID: 539672

Follow Up By: Holly Anne - Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 12:50

Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 12:50
These look good too. I like the idea of the interchangeable walls. How much are they new, do you know?
FollowupID: 824331

Follow Up By: Wayne's 60 - Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014 at 09:25

Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014 at 09:25
Hi Holly,

Interesting to note that the link I posted above to the Aussie Traveller website, has nothing on it about prices. So we cannot help with an answer.

Like any camping setup, what suits a person or couple, may not suit others. Friends had an A.T on their vehicle and to them the packing up side of things was an issue. On our trailer, is is less of an issue and it is easy to fold with the two of us......marginally more difficult to pack up by myself if I am away running a course or if it is windy. Our A.T. is similar to Hugh Dorey's Galaxy RTT, with the walls all in place - though our floor is additional and we bought this type because of the walls all around the room. As previously indicated, if we are in one location for an extended period, we take the larger room. It does take a little longer to set up, though we enjoy more than double the size it allows - especially in bad weather. The added bonus is that we can move the vehicle without having to pack up the tent every time we want to go for a drive. Our trailer is little more than a 6x4 box with bat wing lids and the tent sits on pipe racks. It has water tanks, battery bank and storage for our bits that make our time away that little bit more comfortable. It is still a work in progress :-)
Enjoy your camping with whatever style you end up choosing.
Wayne & Sally.
FollowupID: 824370

Reply By: The Landy - Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 09:51

Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 09:51
Hi Holly

Whilst not in the brief of the question you have asked, but have you considered a good quality centre-pole tent?

Usually they will set you back around $800 or thereabouts. Much less than a roof-top tent.

For the most part, a roof-top tend is only a sleeping space, a tent gives you a room. And whilst many roof-top tents have rooms that can be added, it will be just as time consuming to set up as a tent and with a tent you won’t have the weight penalty on top of the vehicle. Of course, there are times that roof-top tents may provide a better alternative.

Hopefully some food for thought if you haven’t already considered.

Cheers, Baz – The Landy
AnswerID: 539677

Follow Up By: Holly Anne - Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 12:56

Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 12:56
We've considered ground tents, but my mother's a bit concerned with creepy crawlies and snakes making their way into our tent. She's a bit of a sissy, but we want her to come with us and if she's coming then we need a roof-top tent.
Thanks for your reply - I'll show this to her and maybe she'll change her mind :)
FollowupID: 824332

Reply By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 15:04

Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 15:04
Holly - had both an OpenSky Canvas RTT and currently a Maggiolina (basically an Autohome). Was more than happy with both.

I travel with a 4wd club-mate who has a James Baroud and he loves his.

Avoid the cheaper imported (Chinese) copies of the hard shells - heard a few stories about poor finish quality - if you go for the had-shell either Autohome or JB are good - probably the JB wins on price point.

Camped a few times in my OpenSky in very strong winds and rainy weather - never has any issues with seal and stability. Gave it to my nephew.

AnswerID: 539689

Reply By: Hugh D (WA) - Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 20:11

Monday, Sep 29, 2014 at 20:11
Hi Holly,

I have a Galaxy roof top tent on my 110 Defender. I went for the Galaxy as it is an all in one set up. This being the tent folds out to the sleeping area up on top and a room down below. No zipping up walls or fussing about with a floor as they as all attached to your tent.
My last trip was to Cape York via GCR and as much gravel as possible. I did not have issues with dust or moisture even though the cape turned on rain for most of the time I was there. Many a morning the tent was packed away wet and the next night the bedding was dry.
I purchased it in 2011 and it has kept me warm and dry over a lot of this wonderful country of ours.
Down side is when it is up, your vehicle is locked in place. The same goes for other RTT I suppose. Yes it did bellow after I replaced the cover but a strap or two sorted that out.
It cost $1964 and sits on my car all year.
They have a good web site, worth a look.

Hugh Dorey

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AnswerID: 539702

Reply By: tim_c - Friday, Oct 03, 2014 at 13:39

Friday, Oct 03, 2014 at 13:39
There are some compromises and which one you get might depend on your intended use. I had a Howling Moon which was one of the first available in Australia - it was very similar to the larger ARB tents, though it had a heavier/thicker canvas which blocked most of the light (which could be good or bad depending whether you like to wake up with the sun). It had a foam mattress which the previous owners had made a fleece covering for and was very comfortable - I slept better in the tent than at home. If you're moving every day or so, then they're great, but if you like to set up a base camp for a few days and do short trips from there it's a bit of a nuisance because you have to pack up your whole campsite to drive anywhere.

At one stage on the Gibb River Rd/Mitchell Plateau, we ended up travelling with a couple who had a Maggiolina tent on their car. The Maggiolina was quicker to set up and pack up (they just unclipped the top (hard) cover, inserted a handle and wound the roof up - a bit like a Jayco camper) whereas the Howling Moon (and ARB) tents have a cover that you need to unzip, then pull off (sliding the edge out of the sail-track) and then find somewhere to put it (noting that it could be quite dusty or wet, or even muddy - I usually rolled it loosely, dirty side in and put it in the front passenger footwell), unfold the tent, undo the elastic shock cords from inside and set up the frame to hold the awning over the ladder. Once the Howling Moon was set up, we could open large windows which had huge awnings over them so you could have the windows open in any weather - even rain coming it at 30 degrees from horizontal! The Maggionlina has a couple of tiny windows in the sides, but they had no weather protection, so if you're going to spend time in the steamy rainy tropics, it might be better to get something more like the Howling Moon.

Both of them you could leave your bedding in - the Maggiolina was wound back down using the handle, then the sides had to be tucked in so they weren't pinched in the "lid" and then the lid was clipped shut. The Howling Moon was again a little more complicated - clip the shock-cords back in (these pulled the sides of the tent in as the tent was folded shut), remove and store the frame for the awning over the ladder extension, then fold the tent shut. Then came the fun part of putting the cover back on - slide it in the sail-track, throw it over the tent and zip it all around, which could be a quick task, or a mongrel, depending how flat you could get the tent to fold down (which depended on how much bedding you left inside, where it was stored, and most importantly: how that awning over the ladder ended up!). You can get them without the awning over the ladder, but I think the benefits of the awning over ladder outweigh the added difficulty in packing the tent away.
AnswerID: 539862

Follow Up By: tim_c - Friday, Oct 03, 2014 at 13:40

Friday, Oct 03, 2014 at 13:40
Oh, the Maggiolina was just like the Autohome tent someone mentioned above.
FollowupID: 825493

Follow Up By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Friday, Oct 03, 2014 at 14:44

Friday, Oct 03, 2014 at 14:44
Tim, you summed up my experience between the two in a nut-shell .... I could have written that word for word.

My Open-Sky was a great tent, very comfortable (with a self inflator on top of the matress), however I had it on a roof cage on top of a 40 series troopy, so the sucker was high and involved a fair bit of up & down to pack away. You had to make sure the bedding was packed flat otherwise it was a pig to fold, otherwise a great tent.

The Maggiolina is a breeze, literally less than 1 minute to erect, however about 3-4 mins to put away as the scissor legs & bevel are inside the tent, plenty of room for bedding, however you've got to clear the bedding form the ends (just pull the pillow and covers in a bit when you exit in the morning) otherwise they can get stuck in the legs. A bit more tucking in to clear the lid. Not a nuisance, just a bit of care is needed. The previous owner ran some sail-track along the long sides of the lid and made a couple of awnings that can be erected with extension poles (spigots) and a length pole with eyelets. I don't use them unless the weather looks dodgy, however it gives very good coverage on both sides of the tent.
FollowupID: 825494

Follow Up By: tim_c - Friday, Oct 03, 2014 at 16:28

Friday, Oct 03, 2014 at 16:28
Thanks Scott.

One other thing I neglected to mention was that the Maggiolina took up the whole roof of the car - with the Howling Moon you could possibly fit something else up top along with the roof top tent.

And another thing: the Maggiolina appears more streamlined which may be important if you're doing a lot of high speed highway travel. I'm not sure that I particularly noticed much difference in fuel consumption with the Howling Moon up top, but the car did have more trouble maintaining speed on the hills. I often rolled up the ladder awning at the front of the tent as I zipped the cover on (which was usually the biggest cause of any difficulties I had in zipping the cover up!) with the idea of creating a rounded "nose cone" on the front edge which I hoped would help but I'm not sure if it made much (if any) difference.
FollowupID: 825500

Follow Up By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Friday, Oct 03, 2014 at 16:44

Friday, Oct 03, 2014 at 16:44
Tim, the old troopie with the Open Sky had a similar streamline to a government bus :-)

The new set up with the Maggioline is more streamlined (relatively)

What it looks like up (at Durba Springs)

FollowupID: 825501

Follow Up By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Friday, Oct 03, 2014 at 16:49

Friday, Oct 03, 2014 at 16:49
Shot of old set up packed away

FollowupID: 825502

Follow Up By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Friday, Oct 03, 2014 at 23:47

Friday, Oct 03, 2014 at 23:47
This shot here gives you an idea of what you can do for extra cover. Notice the sail track along the long edge and the angle bracket with an eyelet on the end. all you need is good quality rip stop with sail cord on one edge and a loose loop on the other edge. Run a pole with eyelets through the loop and all you need is two poles with spigots for each end to extend the awning oput. Takes all of 2 minutes to set up and a similar time to take down. Just make sure you run the canvas though the sail-track before you erect the tent (easier to reach).

FollowupID: 825515

Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Saturday, Oct 04, 2014 at 05:32

Saturday, Oct 04, 2014 at 05:32
Nice setup Scott
I don't quite follow what you mean with the angle bracket in the centre with the eyelet stay on it , are you attaching a spreader bar to it?
FollowupID: 825516

Follow Up By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Saturday, Oct 04, 2014 at 10:41

Saturday, Oct 04, 2014 at 10:41
Alby, thanks - yes the spreader bar runs lengthwise though the loop in the canvas - just stiched under along the length.

You look at the end of the tent base (just above the blinker on the canopy) and there's two (or four for both sides) angle peices with an eyelet hole in it. Just put the extender bars (with spigots on both ends) in that and into the eyelet of the spreader bar - extend and lock - all set up !

Quite simple really.

This shot here shows them on both sides of the base...

FollowupID: 825542

Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Saturday, Oct 04, 2014 at 19:45

Saturday, Oct 04, 2014 at 19:45
Ok got it now, I was looking at the two brackets in the centre above your pvc tube and it was getting me confused. I gather that they are there to support your ladder

Great idea and nice and simple

FollowupID: 825571

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