Rooftop Tents – The Good, the Bad, and what do you really think

Perhaps I have simply opened my eyes a little more when travelling these days, whether it is a short-trip up the freeway, or a long-trip into the Australian Outback. But seemingly, there are increasing numbers of rooftop tents attached to four-wheel drive vehicles these days.

And I might add, some rather precariously and looking top heavy!

No doubt price-point has made them far more attractive given you can buy one of reasonable quality for a few hundred dollar’s versus prices in the range of $1,500/2,000 if you go back a number of years. And whilst quality may have been sacrificed for price, the price difference in buying “budget” versus “quality” is enough to at least consider budget despite the potential for a difference in quality.

But are rooftop tents meeting the expectations of purchasers?

Mrs Landy has never been a fan of ours and is why it sits in the garage gathering dust. Her reasoning is that you can only sleep in it, versus a tent which can be a living space. The other is there is an “inconvenience factor” in so far that it needs to be closed if you need to use the vehicle.

And for sure, skirts can be added to many rooftop tents to give additional living space, but it all takes time to set-up. So set-up time versus a tent wouldn’t be a key determinant usually.

My thoughts are no, not really, and despite the fact we mostly use a camper trailer these days, I have leaned towards Mrs Landy’s view over time (as is often the case!).

Mind you, I have slept in bivvy bags on the side of snow Cladded Mountains, hiking tents in the bush, touring tents in the outback, a rooftop tent, and camper trailers and concluded there is no perfect solution to sleeping arrangements.

But I’m interested to here from others, has a rooftop tent met your expectations, or would you reconsider its use now that you have had time to assess?

Cheers, Baz – The Landy

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Reply By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 09:35

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 09:35

Like you I have "camped " in a range of situations throughout my life graduating from backpack through to caravan.

I think the rooftop tent has many things going for it but I believe it is a young person's tent.

As we age we need to be careful not to expose ourselves to unnecessary risks and I count climbing ladders in this list. One mis-step could result in serious injury and we don't heal to well in later life. I even chose our van awning on the basis that I can set it up while on the ground.

I have found people with rooftop tents seem to be happy with them but those I know are young enough to quickly pack them to use the vehicle.

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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 10:30

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 10:30
I agree that RTTs are for younger people. That need for night-time excursions that seems to become a frequent feature of advancing years does not mix well with ladders in the dark. And risking a broken bone or 3 in some remote location is simply not worth it. The fact that the vehicle has to remain stationary once set up doesn't bother us - its the same for our sleeping arrangement in our Troopy - it just takes a bit of forward planning, not too hard to do.


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Follow Up By: Member - Ian F (WA) - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 12:05

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 12:05
The most difficult part I found was to admit that we are not getting any younger and realise that when and if we fall we are know longer 19 even though our brain may contradict this.
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Reply By: Been-Everywhereman - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 09:57

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 09:57
I am still young and I started in swags when I was single and thought they were great for many years because once set up you could drive away and stay set up.
Then the rooftop tent crept into my single life. Bought an ARB style one but because the outside fly would flap in the wind I hated these stupid things (rooftop tents). Then I bought a Maggiolina hard top version and loved it but as stated previous I could not stay setup for day trips or if the weather was terrible it was not practical for sitting in when I wasn't sleeping time.
Then hooked up with my now wifey and bought an Oztent, wow, these are awesome and still love it because it simply sits on the roof in its container and we would use that when we leave the van behind if we are doing things like creb, or otl etc...
For me it is caravan all the way because we have towed it into many places Lorella Springs, Savannah Way and doesn't stop us going many places and if we do take a bad turn off then it gives us reversing practice. hahahaha.
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Reply By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 10:56

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 10:56
Interesting discussion Baz. I started out on my 1st 4wd trip with a cheap 2 man ground tent. The tent was fairly simple to set up (fly tent) however I got sick of hauling the bedding and mattress in & out all the time and sleeping on the ground. So I fitted a Howling Moon to the roof rack of my 40 series troopy. Loved the tent, never had a bad nights sleep in it, however bejesus that sucker was high ! A lot of climbing and crawling around to pack it away.

So when I built my next 40 with a tray I swapped it for a Maggiolina wind up tent which is my current set up. Again a great tent to sleep in and I mount from the side and a bit lower. At my current age (mid 50's) I don't find it too hard, however I'm already thinking about an easier set up in the near future. I'm about to embark on a project to re-configure the set up on the back of the 40 series to get some weight out of it. Currently the thinking is either similar set up with RTT or go towards a 2nd hand Heaslip tray top. The Heaslip is currently ahead in the race for two reasons.... 1. it has a cover out of weather area and 2. a damn sight easier to get to the sleeping arrangements.

Currently most of my travel is with a group of 4wd's where we are more interested in traveling remote tracks and most of our camping is either no more than 1 or 2 nights so the Maggi is ideal as it's so damn easy to set up and put away. However that is going to change and I'm looking to spend more time in one place so having a removable camper is looking more attractive.

My 2c worth...
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Reply By: Mazdave - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 12:22

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 12:22
Similar to previous comments, we started out with a variety of tents, from 2 man to Tourers, then as the family grew (4 kids) it advanced to a Camper Trailer. Now with no kids, our sleeping outfit of choice is a Carry Me Camper. Whilst we are not quite at the age of consideration of wellbeing and worried about falls from ladders, we find this particular unit serves our camping and touring needs exceptionally well. A large comfortable bed up off the ground and away from the creepy crawlies and moisture, we tend to sleep better in this than our own bed. (Might be something to do with the stressless freedom and the amount of pre-sleep drinks!)
The other advantage is at this point in our lives, we don't need to tow anything, which gives better access to remote areas and just makes the trip less stressfull. Like previous comments, if you want to leave your campsite its a fairly simple packup and set up again, but you tend to do all those things prior to setting up camp for the night anyway.

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Reply By: AlbyNSW - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 12:56

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 12:56
Nice relevant topic for this forum Baz :)

We have done various tents, swags and a RTT but have never towed a CT or van. Our RTT sat dormant for a few years and I thought its days were over but my wife has fallen in love with it again so are making a new canopy set up that is more user friendly with it.

What she likes about the RTT in particular is:
-That it is a clean space up above all the dirt and mud
-You are up high off the hot ground and you catch more breeze.
-You are at a better viewing height in bed to just lie there and look out at the beautiful surrounds
-You can tuck into some nice spots that you would typically not want to set a tent up on
-The fast setup

I like it because she likes it...............nothing else matters really.

As you said there is no perfect solution and that goes for vehicle choice as well. We don't stay in one spot and move on most days so this style of accommodation works well for us at the moment but if the bride decides she wants to go back to the swag tomorrow the RTT will become a garage ornament again.
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Reply By: Robin Miller - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 13:02

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 13:02
There are lots of advantages to not having to tow and I think many have little other choice than to use a rooftop which does have its own set of good points.

But having to "go for walk several times a night" doesn't fit well with the climb up and down Baz.

My wife would also never climb the ladders required either.

Our own solution of sleeping in the car has proven to be a much easier way of doing things from ease of access to being quieter inside as well as keeping out noise and increase saftey and increased thermal properties.

However it did require that all applicanes and fittings be tailored to fit the space available.

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Reply By: Member - John - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 13:48

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 13:48
Baz, Over the years I have had tents, swags, and RTT in two configurations. First RTT was on the roof rack on the Patrol, good, but could be better. Second configuration was the RTT on top of a camper trailer, nearly perfect............ The RTT is on a rack that can be raised and lowered 300mm. Raised after set up for access under floor etc, fit annexe and lowered to pack up and for transit. Trailer has slide out kitchen and storage, and fish box storage above the kitchen etc. If you need to use the tug, disconnect and away you go. Drifta have a very similar set up. The only problem now is with me, the knees are not as good as they should be and I am having hassles using the ladder, hence the move to a hard floor Aussie Swag.
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Reply By: Steve - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 14:31

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 14:31
Always thought the Travelander slide-on looked a nifty bit of kit but never really looked closely.

Anyone know much about these?
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Reply By: vk1dx - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 14:50

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 14:50
If this has been said before in this thread - oops - I didn't read it all.

We have a Hannibal extra wide one and the full enclosed annex. This gives a large double bed size of 2.4 * 1.6 M. Sometimes the Grandkids sleep up there with us, or on stretchers on the annex floor. It also has a flap that matches the rear door on the 100 series giving us an enclosed "kitchen" area using the tailgate as a kitchen bench.

It's worth spending the extra dollars for one with good canvas. The bloke's thin one beside us at Coward Springs, on the Oodnadatta Track, was ripped to shreds.

The only drawbacks are extra height going shopping and you can't leave it at a camp and come home to a camp already set up. It has a habit of "wanting to be with you". We take a cheat tent to "reserve" our campsite.

They definitely have their place and are ideal for long CSR or Simpson Desert drives or high Victorian Alpine treks etc.

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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 14:59

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 14:59

The photo didn't make it. In the Simpson Desert on the WAA line in 2012. At about 6:30 am. I don't wear a watch so if I am wrong - stiff. The only time of day.
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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 17:19

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 17:19
How we used to do it!!!!!

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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 20:11

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 20:11
Thanks Landy. I snuck one in there of another contraption of ours that also had good canvas. I was actually talking to a mate on the phone and that was the quickest way to show him a photo.
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Reply By: Idler Chris - Vic - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 15:47

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 15:47
Baz. It is horses for courses. For what its worth this is my setup and why.

In answer to your question "But are rooftop tents meeting the expectations of purchasers?" For me the answer is yes, and in spades.

I have had my RTT for over 8 years now, have had about 860 nights in it (2014 was a bigger than average with 175 nights), have had it up and down about 700 times. When I am base camping I will often pack it up in the morning thinking I will use the vehicle but not actually use it. The setting up is not that difficult.

These days I am on the plus side of seventy and personal safety has always been my number one consideration. IMHO you need to be fresh and alert to clearly recognise all the potential dangers that can arise when touring this great country and in particular in the more remote regions. I good nights sleep is a prerequisite for being fresh and alert and for me the RTT is the only arrangement I have found to ensure this. The bed is huge, I find very comfortable, and because it is off the ground it is away from anything that might want to get you. No crocs, snakes, mice, dingos, creepy crawlies etc. I rarely have to zip up the netting as being high I find few, if any, mossies, sand flies, etc. I even feel safe when camped overnight on the side of the road or in truck stops as any uninvited guests coming up the ladder will find my heel or a lump of iron in their face. In camper trailers, caravans, and on the ground tents if you hear noises (real or imaginary) in the night you cannot see around you, whereas with a RTT you have a panoramic view.

As for RTT's being for younger people. Do not quite agree but you must be careful. The mere fact that you are travelling to remote places would indicate that you have some abilities, but its is inevitable that the day will come when you just are not able to climb a ladder. All I say is that the benefits of a RTT are significant and I am not about to throw them away lightly.

I see not towing as a huge benefit. Go anywhere, less fuel (=greater range), the safety factor of not towing, need less area to camp, can camp on uneven and/or rocky ground, don't have to put pegs in the ground, if its hot and there is shade I can setup in the shade and later drive to where I want to camp. As I usually cook using the fire I can setup near the fire and later move to where I want to sleep.

The Ladder. Everybody mentions "the ladder". Firstly you make sure that there is plenty angle on the ladder so it is easier and safer to climb, there are many ways to do this. Secondly for the blokes (and girls if they like, but usually not as much an issue) take a bottle with you ( I use a Liptons Cold Tea bottle) so one up and down the ladder per night. Quite apart from that, it takes about 7 seconds to ascend or descend the ladder, so for what is well under a minute of ladder time you get 8,9,10 or what ever hours beautiful sleep. It is a no brainer for me. Sure there can be an element of danger with the ladder which escalates as your mobility decreases with age, but by ensuring there is plenty of slope on the ladder I believe it is well worth it for the great sleep that you get from a RTT.

If you look carefully at the cover on my RTT you will notice it looks a bit baggy. Hannibal made me a much bigger cover at my request. So while it does not make the package look nice and neat, it is much easier to live with. I can leave more bedding inside the tent, I can put ground sheets on top of the folded tent before putting the cover on, I do not have to tuck the sides of the tent in so as to get the cover on, and it is far easier to get the cover on.

I have all the side skirts but only use them occasionally. When I am travelling with others I can easily move further away if I want more privacy. As I can move once setup it is easy to move to face the sun and/or into the wind for protection and shade.

RTT's I have found to cope with the elements far better. No chance of blowing away being bolted to a 3+ tonne anchor and easy to reposition if necessary. On cold nights they are very warm with the few extra covers. On warm nights I have both ends open so you get any breeze going. Even the not so warm nights I will have both ends open so I can still see the stars and have a cool breeze on my face. I like to face the vehicle east so that from my pillow I can see the sunrise.

For safety reasons I take a grab bag into the tent each night containing, vehicle keys, PLB, Spot device, Garmin GPS, Mobile phone (it has my phonebook), Sat phone, 2 torches, camera (in case of a spectacular sunrise), and water.

Which way to go, “budget” versus “quality” ? Again a no brainer for me. At 860+ nights so far "quality" is the obvious choice. My RTT is looking a bit faded but there are no tears and not one screw has come loose, it does the job today just as well as the day I brought it. I have no reason to believe that it will not continue to deliver for a long while yet. I never take my RTT of the vehicle so the external cover has to cope with all the elements. My current cover is the second one I have had and I will need to replace it sometime in the next twelve months. In the time my RTT has been on the vehicle it has travelled 200,000 kilometres.
Condensation. I have heard many people complain of condensation in their RTT. I have never experianced condensation in my RTT nor have I heard of it from another Hannibal owner. If you are planning to get a lot of use from your RTT I would suggest that you need the tent made from a breathable material like canvas and to steer away from the so called "budget" models.

I cannot over emphasise the benefits and freedom of not having to tow anything. On the occasions that I travel as one vehicle, there is not a track that I cannot go down. As an inquisitive outback/remote tourer I put great importance in having this ability. So when I am based camped and have to pack up to go for a drive I remind myself of the money, time and hassle I am saving by not towing and the pack up process no longer seems a chore.

Years ago I said that as I get older and had done many of the more challenging tracks and destinations I would get a camper trailer. Well the chances of me getting a camper trailer are diminishing as the RTT is just so very easy to live with.

We all know about "happy wife, happy life". My partner does not come with me very often unfortunately but for other reasons than the RTT, She likes the RTT for its ease, comfort, and simplicity. But the ladies place more importance on other issues and the two hurdles they tend to have difficulty with is "the ladder" and the fact you cannot stand up in a RTT. When my partner comes I would use the side panels more often (easier to put up with two of you) and if travelling with other, camp a bit further away and maybe just string up a tarp to change behind. For what its worth, a big comfy double bed firmly anchored can be a lot more practical for to two people than a shaky camp stretcher.

As I said at the start it is horses for courses. We all know that every setup is a compromise, there is no such thing as the perfect setup. So at the end of the day you have to decide on what is, and is not, important to you and what you are prepared to compromise on.

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Follow Up By: The Landy - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 16:29

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 16:29
Hey Chris

That is a great comprehensive response that I know many will benefit from. So thanks for taking the time.

And on quality, I like the concept of quality every time, and given the use you have had the cost has become almost irrelevant.

Cheers, Baz…
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Follow Up By: sweetwill - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 16:34

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 16:34
Idler Chris,you hit the nail on the head buy quality once, your idea of the not so tight cover I will be using next cover, as for the ladder I will be mounting my rtt on to my trailer in futcher, and as all have said you get the best nights sleep in a rtt.
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Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 17:31

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 17:31
Chris I hope you don't get your plastic bottles mixed up ;)
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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Vic - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 21:20

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 21:20
For anyone interested I have turned the above into a blog. I have added more info and photo's so if you want more info go over to the blog.
Baz (The Landy) has also put up a blog and comments on his blog by Steve (eighty matey) made me chuckle as his experience would appear exactly the same as mine. I to think about taking the RTT off when I am at home, but if I hear about a trip thats on this weekend I want to be able to put the fridge in and go.
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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Vic - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 21:25

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 21:25
Alby your not the first to make that comment. The water bottle is a different size and has a different top. If on the odd occasion I drink to much and don't notice then I also will not remember it, so ,no problem.
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Follow Up By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 22:24

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 22:24
Chris, my Dad who camps quite often with me has the 'up in the night half a dozen times' problem. He uses one of those fabric softener bottles with the large opening - plenty of volume and very hard to miss. Something like this...

Otherwise your post on RTT's sums it up pretty well.
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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Thursday, Feb 05, 2015 at 07:58

Thursday, Feb 05, 2015 at 07:58
Seems like out little chat on the phone made it's way into print Chris. The bottle issue!!!

You mentioned about taking the tent off the roof. I have four short lengths of chain secured to the underside of the verandah. I undo the four bolts securing the tent to the roof rack, slip a couple of lengths of 4x2 under the tent and lift the tent one corner at a time and hook the chains onto bolts in the ends of the tent. Takes about 10 - 15 minutes and "away you go". No tent on the top.

Just like we used to remove a cattle tray from the back of an old Bedford back a few (!!!) years - decades (!!!). Only then we used empty 44's to support the "lengths of wood" which were a bit stronger than my flimsy 4x2 (90x45) pine. They were the days. And they cant even measure four inches these days.

Slow down, he says to himself - the topic is RTTs.

That's something I missed in my earlier post - it's a hassle at night getting out for a nature call.

I am not as flexible as I used to be. Especially at night. The old pegs don't seem to want to bend over the edge of the tent to reach the ladder, but I don't think the plastic bottle is the right way to go with company up in the tent. Just imagine what the grand kids would say. "Grand Dad !!!!!!!"
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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Vic - Thursday, Feb 05, 2015 at 12:24

Thursday, Feb 05, 2015 at 12:24
Yes these type of bottles are also good, but you need to cut the pourer out first.
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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Vic - Thursday, Feb 05, 2015 at 12:39

Thursday, Feb 05, 2015 at 12:39
vk1dx great to chat yesterday.
Five years ago I knocked the old house down and built a new one. The garage is of 3 car size with a higher than normal roof and hooks so I back the Cruiser in and easily lift the RTT off the same as you do. Problem one is there is only one car (not mine) in the garage and the rest of the space is taken up with crap. Besides I have been know to decide on a trip in the morning and be gone by the afternoon and I want to keep that flexibility.
Don't quite understand why your legs need to bend over the edge of the tent to reach the ladder, don't you exit backwards in which case your legs can be fairly straight.
As for the grandkids I thought they had bunks down below. If they are upstairs leave the upper rear shock cord in place and drape something over it to make a curtain. You could also give them some Valium or something so they don't wake up. LOL
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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Thursday, Feb 05, 2015 at 13:30

Thursday, Feb 05, 2015 at 13:30
I can't just walk down the ladder so I go "over the edge" on my stomach. The other way around! Still wouldn't do it. I guess my upbringing is a little "north shore". Can't change and couldn't be bothered changing. I would fill the rest of the garage with model trains. This is off topic so I will email you a link. Or you could look for vk1dx on youtube and find his trains.
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Reply By: Member - Tony F8 - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 18:58

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 18:58
Not that big on RTT's, my own reasons, but a mate recently bought a Bundutec. This must be the rolls royce of roofies, and a similar price.
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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Vic - Thursday, Feb 05, 2015 at 00:56

Thursday, Feb 05, 2015 at 00:56
Every product has its good and bad points. The Bundutec is a great product but the main issue with it and all other hard shell RTT's, is that in standard form if it is raining you will get wet getting in or out. I prefer a RTT that opens out over the back of the vehicle and so provides a protected area without the need of having to have a separate awning. The ladder needs to be under cover. Hard shells are also usually heavier with this unit some 20% heavier than mine. Part of this maybe due to the fact that it looks bigger, but I do not want or need bigger. Depending on your setup this may not be significant. Again personal preference, but I have enough electrical things in my setup without adding more.
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Reply By: bigden - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 19:23

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 19:23
have to say i am not a fan
what happens if you have to move for what ever reason? what if you want to go out and get some fire wood?
or set up camp and then go for a look around?

and if your like me and have to get up a few times thru the night

i have an instant tent , i think its easier than a swag and you can stand up in it . i might get howled down but i think rtt are just a bit trendy.
my instant tent is up or down in 5minutes
where can you stop with your rtt that you cant put up a tent?


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Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 21:46

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 21:46
Hahaha, you have the latest gadget an Instant Tent and you are calling a RTT trendy ( tongue in cheek)

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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Vic - Thursday, Feb 05, 2015 at 13:03

Thursday, Feb 05, 2015 at 13:03
Hi bigden, as I said in my blog horses for courses your setup works for you and thats great. You ask a few questions but they are all answered in my blog. The trend in RTT's has been around for over fifty years so it must have something going for it. With a RTT you can camp lots of places where you cannot put up a tent. With a ground tent you need reasonably flat and dry ground and a place where you can use pegs in the ground. Up north it can be hard to find dry ground, I have actually camped in the shallows of rivers up north. The biggest benefit I have found is when you are travelling and you get tired and you just want to pull off the road for the night and with a RTT you can stop anywhere no matter how uneven, rocky etc. Once even setup in a recently plowed paddock. Remember I travel a lot and could just be meandering around exploring.
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Follow Up By: bigden - Thursday, Feb 05, 2015 at 18:53

Thursday, Feb 05, 2015 at 18:53
alby, yes you got me on the trendy bit, it just seems they are advertised everwhere as the must have accessory.

idler chris, your another one to shoot me down :) i must admit ive never thought of camping wheel deep in a river. at least you still need to be on level ground unless you want an uncomfortable night

maybe i need to go out with someone that has one and see what its like ,because to me it just seems a lot of work to have your tent on your roof when you could put it on the ground

what about when you guys set up camp and then want to drive around for whatever reason?


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Follow Up By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Thursday, Feb 05, 2015 at 19:28

Thursday, Feb 05, 2015 at 19:28
I'm not going to argue about personal choices as they're personal, however with my Maggiolina it's literally 3 clips and 1 minute (tops) on the crank handle to set up. All the bedding and pillows stay up there, so if I think I'm going to move or snig some firewood or whatever, I just leave it until I'm sure I don't want to move anymore.

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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Vic - Thursday, Feb 05, 2015 at 19:33

Thursday, Feb 05, 2015 at 19:33
Hi Dennis, no one is shooting anyone down, all we are doing is sharing our experience with the hope that it helps others. No do not need level ground (although preferred of course) I carry a leveling ramp but will also put a wheel on a rock if available, and if the ground is not to hard will dig a hole to put a wheel in it. I quite often travel with up to 10 other vehicles. I always hold back and let the ground dwellers choose their sites first. As a result I get a lot of practise with uneven ground but its really no issue for me. As for you last question if you reread what I and others have said you get the answer in detail. The quick answer is you think about what you are doing and if anything needs the vehicle, you do this before set up. On the days we are not driving I still often pack up just in case I want to use the vehicle. You must remember that putting it up and down is no big deal, about half a stubbie.
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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Vic - Thursday, Feb 05, 2015 at 19:56

Thursday, Feb 05, 2015 at 19:56
Scott, there is certainly no argument. I have set out what I do and why. You have done the same. I have given my reasons why I do not prefer a hard shell but you think their great. What we are doing here is trying to help the people who looking at different camping options to inform them of some of the options and what to look out for. You are obliviously very happy with your Maggiolina so anyone reading this should give it some consideration to see if it suits what they are trying to achieve.
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Follow Up By: bigden - Thursday, Feb 05, 2015 at 22:49

Thursday, Feb 05, 2015 at 22:49
i have been having a light hearted go at you all,
scott your setup does look easy, even if you cant stand up in there.

i like my comfort,
in 7 weeks travelling to the cape in 2013 we spent 7 nights in the tent.
the rest was in at least dongas or cabins
no camping in punsand bay, we stayed in the best? resort in bamaga

i have spent 2 nights in a swag in the last year, the third night i called it quits and stayed in a motel
yes i know i am soft, what can you do
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Reply By: Hoyks - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 19:39

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 19:39
I'm not a fan of trailer campers, mainly because some of them need some much effort out into setting them up that you don't want to actually pull them down each day. I also generally only stay 1 night and don't trust people not to steal my stuff, so set up and pack up times are important to me.

I bought one of the cheaper RTT's from Austrack Campers who have a regular shop, rather than an on-line store, I figured if anything went wrong I like a counter I can beat my fist on.

For the price the canvas is reasonable quality but the floor is double skinned aluminium, unlike the marine ply floor you find in the Hannibal product. It does makes it cheaper and lighter, but probably won't last as long. One thing I did find is that with the mattress out and crawling around inside the tent my knees did dent the floor, but the mattress spreads the load under normal circumstances.

I have done a few mods to mine and included some LED strips that are hooked up to the battery via a dimmer switch, as well as re-enforced some of the attachment points.

I started camping with Mum and Dad in those poxy, leaky A shaped nylon tents everyone had in the 70's. From there I progressed to hutchie's, swags and dome tents, but found transferring everything from the car to the tent and back a pain, especially when I took my own kids camping and they would disappear whenever this job was to be done. The wife isn't interested in life in a tent, so I do it on my Pat Malone.

Now I have roof top tent, it is easy to set up and I can just lay the sleeping bags flat, throw the pillows in the car and zip it up. i'm not an old fart, so unless I have had a few drinks before bed I don't need to water a tree in the middle of the night. I did a trip up north and spent 16 nights straight in the tent, 3 of those it rained solidly and the side wall started to let the water though on the last evening, but once it dried it was good again. Even when wet we could fold it up and the sleeping bags didn't get wet, but the best bit was I could pull up and have the tent ready for sleeping in in all of about 10 minutes and then get dinner on, packing up after breakfast was about 1/2 an hour, but that was packing the kitchen away too.

Zipping the cover on was probably the hardest bit, but I can climb all around the tent as it is on the back of the ute, on a wagon it would be a bit more difficult.

The best addition I found too: it is a small movement activated LED flood light. It has a magnet (or the screw on mount) and I'd stick on the back of the ute pointing at the ladder. if you do need to get up in the night, then a foot on the top rung was enough and the light came on for a minute. It was also handy for keeping white tailed rats out of the camp and from eating the car electrics....they did get my shaving cream though.
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Reply By: Member - Andrew & Jen - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 19:54

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 19:54

Good topic - thanks

Having used (and still using as the occasion requires) swag, tents, CT and a van, I am looking at the pros and cons of a super cab tray top, dual cab size, with a Carry Me Camper - Walk In version. There are others of this genre as well, eg Tailgate campers.

Rather than a tall ladder and no room to stand, this model has a drop down tail gate with just a few steps up to an enclosed landing, then up onto the bed.

Why the dual cab version? So I could utilise the space between the front of the camper and the front of the tray to carry a few things such as a second spare tyre, extra fuel / water and perhaps a Honda generator.

My thoughts are to get a smaller van and tow that with the ute, with the option of leaving it somewhere while I access difficult to get to places for a few days OR sometimes just head of by myself with the ute.

Worth having a look at this option I reckon.
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Reply By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 20:14

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 20:14
Had ours for 5 years and all good but as we age , things may change. It must be the fastest unpack and pack up around. Love it!! Michael
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Reply By: gbc - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 21:24

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 21:24
We have had ours for just over 7 years now. It fits in with my other camping setups and definitely has a place. Not for everybody, but for touring and being in a different spot each night they are great. Makes it easy to really utilise and organise the space in the rest of the vehicle too. I made a slide out kitchen out of one of my drawers in the twin cab and the whole system works perfectly.
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Reply By: AlbyNSW - Thursday, Feb 05, 2015 at 13:22

Thursday, Feb 05, 2015 at 13:22
Slightly off topic but I was discussing with a mate the other day about the price of the premium imported brands of hard shell RTT's starting at $3,500.00 with the other option the cheap Chinese versions of the same at around $1200.00.

We were talking about why none of the local companies have not brought one to the market. The fibreglass shells could still be imported from China if need be and then trim them locally using Aussie canvas.
I would have thought there was scope for a decent margin to make it a viable venture and would be well received with the public?

Just a thought
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Reply By: dean ( SA ) - Thursday, Feb 05, 2015 at 15:29

Thursday, Feb 05, 2015 at 15:29
Good post.
If the RTT is wet at pack up time can you leave your bedding etc in there.
Are any brands better than the other for this ?
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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Vic - Thursday, Feb 05, 2015 at 18:46

Thursday, Feb 05, 2015 at 18:46
With a Hannibal it does not matter how much rain you have had it is always dry inside. Thats what you pay for and thats what you get.
The real trick is can you pack it up when it is still raining. With a Hannibal if at the critical moments you are quick water ingress is minimal.
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Reply By: The Landy - Friday, Feb 06, 2015 at 08:17

Friday, Feb 06, 2015 at 08:17
Hi Forumites…

Thanks for taking the time to comment, I’m sure many will benefit from the various insights and thoughts on Roof Top Tents (RTT).

The thread highlights that not only are there many modes of camping, but also a great variety within the modes, for example the different styles of RTTs available.

I must say I’ve always like the hard-shell styles of RTT even if the Magnolia makes the vehicle look like an Esky on Wheels. Thanks to Scott for the picture of his esky, um rig…

And a call-out to Chris (Idler) for his thoughts and view point which he has included in a blog, Roof Top Tents (RTT), for future reference.

Good weekend to all…

Cheers, Baz – The Landy

Ps: Mrs Landy said, nice try Baz, but just hook-up the TVAN for a weekend away!
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Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Friday, Feb 06, 2015 at 09:49

Friday, Feb 06, 2015 at 09:49
I had a good laugh at your PS, she saw straight through you.
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Reply By: Shippshape tents - Friday, Feb 06, 2015 at 11:36

Friday, Feb 06, 2015 at 11:36
Hello all,

May I add my comments to this roof top tent discussion... firstly, I totally agree with The Landys comment "...and concluded there is no perfect solution to sleeping arrangements".

I also agree with the downsides of using a roof top tent - the need to pack 'everything' away before going for a drive.

of course, I do agree with the ease of set up and pack down, plus all his other comments by Eighty Matey.

I recently travelled from Port Macquarie NSW to Melbourne and return (1400km each way) and simply popped my Shippshape open in the middle of the night for a quick snooze. Same goes for weekend and touring holidays out bush - very quick and easy. They can be a pan when you want to set up for a week and need your vehicle to go sight seeing - putting any tent up, down, up, down, up, down gets to you after a while.

Regarding climbing a ladder to get in and out of bed... that can indeed be a pain depending on your ladder climbing abilities and how often you wake to find yourself busting for a nature walk on a freezing cold night.

Now, regarding buying cheap: I totally understand that not everyone can afford "the best", which is where there is a huge market with the imported roof top tents appearing on every second 4x4 we see floating around.
Do I like them, well yes and no. They serve a purpose, are cheap to purchase, lightweight and take up less room on the roof racks compared to our own Shippshape tents.

BUT, as per Eighty Materys comment of "we've been using a Shippshape rooftop tent for about four years."... we have customers with Shippshape roof top tents that are 15 to 20 years old. Sure, they have been asking for replacement covers from time to time, plus have minor canvas repairs carried out... BUT>>> I'll wager there are NO elcheapo roof top tents floating around in 10 to 15 years time. You won't get them repaired and the resale value will be (close to) ZERO.

Hope that helps someone.

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Reply By: Grizzle - Wednesday, Feb 11, 2015 at 16:01

Wednesday, Feb 11, 2015 at 16:01
I got a Rooftop tent as a byproduct of purchasing a Waeco CFX50 fridge through a well know 4WD Magazine online shop.

I wasn't actually looking for a tent but it came with the fridge at a price of $1467 delivered for both.

I normally camp in swags.

As I had planned a Cape York Trip (3 1/2 weeks Cairns to Cairns) I decided to give it a go.

As said before no need to tow a trailer.

Quick to set up and pack away. Main issue being the height above the ground means you are clambering around your car standing on wheels etc.

Lots of room inside allowing you to sit up or kneel and easy to get dressed/undressed.
Suprisingly easy to climb up and down ladder. (Friend who I went with and I are both in our 50's)

Stays dry even in heavy rain and heaps of ventilation with big flyscreened windows and doors.

You don't have to worry about the state of the ground, you just need to be reasonably level.

Tends to take up most of your roofrack space so things like tables/chairs and other things I normally store in a rooftop bag have to be stored elsewhere. (A bit of a pain)

You can feel the weight up there. (Weighs approx 65kg)

Cover picks up a lot of dust so you can get grubby packing/unpacking.

I think best use of it is something like a weekend camping where you would setup and stay for 2-3 nights, or where ground conditions make it difficult to swag/tent.

Would i buy one outright if it hadn't come basically free? Probably not.

Will I use it again, yes i think I will.

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