You can be a die-hard ground tent person and still need something more. Maybe you’re surrounded by RV lovers, or perhaps you camp in places where the ground is less than ideal for a ground tent. Regardless, a rooftop tent (RRT) could be an excellent investment.
Smittybilt has a rooftop tent that could be just what you’re looking for. It’s a self-contained system that travels with you and offers some protection from ground elements such as moisture or ice. Let’s take a look at both the specs and how it performs to see if this is the right option for you.
Tech Specs – A Quick Look
It’s not all about the specs, but you’ll need a primer to see if it’s compatible with your current rig. This particular design is a one-person operation. It folds out easily and packs back up without having to need a second pair of hands, making it suitable for solo travel if necessary.
- Fabric: 600d ripstop polyester
- Waterproof: yes
- Color: Coyote tan
- Poles: anodized aluminum
- Hinges: stainless steel
- Mattress: 60mm high-density foam
- Removable mattress cover: yes
- LED interior light
- Open size: 95” x 56″ x 51”
- Folded size: 56” x 48” x 10”
- Load capacity: 661 pounds
- Sleeps: 2-3 people
It includes a one year warranty and comes with the appropriate mounting brackets to ensure straightforward installation.
Exterior – Durable and Straightforward
The exterior of the tent uses ultra-durable 600 denier ripstop polyester. This level of tent is not only waterproof, but it also resists tears and gashes even with regular use. Ripstop polyester prevents small punctures from becoming huge tears through the weaving of the fabric, but you probably won’t have to worry about that. If something does happen, the tent is straightforward to patch, giving you a bit more life.
It comes in just one color, Coyote Tan, but tan is a durable one. It won’t show fading from sun exposure and provides a nice, neutral profile to blend into the background wherever you are. Mosquito netting provides a suitable airflow for warmer months, but effectively keeps out bugs.
The seams are double-stitched and sealed. A metal frame with lightweight, anodized aluminum poles with stainless steel hinges provides a durable, but lighter weight framing with simple set-up. Overall, it’s a highly durable exterior meant to work in three-season camping with ease.
The ladder leaves a bit to be desired. It uses a two-piece system that locks into place using a slide, but it creates a bit of give at the joint that doesn’t feel quite as sturdy as other, higher-end models. Make sure you don’t get any sand or grit in the sliding mechanism, or you’ll have a hard time operating it.
The biggest issue with the ladder is that the pins must lock into predrilled holes to ensure safety, but depending on your vehicle and the terrain, those may not work. You could end up needing to drill your own holes, so be prepared for that.
Interior – Comfort for Two
The interior makes up for any issues you might have with the ladder. It features a comfortable enclosure with a U-shaped roof designed to give you more height across the entire width of the tent. It’s high enough for two adults to sit relatively comfortably and sleeps two to three.
The padding is around two inches thick and uses a memory foam-like material for comfort. For most people, that should be enough to sleep for a few days, but if you’re particularly broad-shouldered or have hip trouble, you may want to add another padding layer just to be safe.
The windows provide good air circulation in most weather, and heavy-duty zippers make getting in and out relatively simple. Exterior shades provide some protection from the sun, helping keep the interior cooler. Be advised – the tent will still heat up pretty quickly in the deep summer months.
It comes with an excellent sunroof plus extensions for your USB or cigarette lighter inside the vehicle for long trips. The LED strip is handy, but a bit too bright for general usage at night. You may still want a small lantern for night time use instead.
Ease of Use
Smittybilt boasts that this is a one-person operation, and that’s true. It’s easy to pop up and down, and straps go across the top to ensure that it doesn’t’ fill with air while you’re going down the road. Aside from the ladder (which can be improved with some extra pinholes and caution for cleanliness)
It may take some practice securing the ladder safely, but if you’re willing to drill your own pinholes carefully, that may not be an issue. Practice setting it up and taking it down before you ever go out on the road, so you’re confident in its operation.
Mounting is pretty straightforward if you have the right rack. It’s both off-the-side and off-the-back compatible, opening the door for both truck and jeep users. Both installation types are safe and secure and provide excellent usage.
Mounting directions are clear, and it includes full instructions for how to customize your pieces for either type of mount. You’ll need a bed rack if you’ve got a truck, but be sure to measure both your bed height and calculate the height of the tent plus the rack, so your folded tent sits level with your cab.
The Verdict – Good Entry Level Rooftop Tent
At half the cost of other, standard rooftop tents, this is an excellent entry into the world if this style of camping. It’s not quite as roomy or well built as some of the higher-end models, but I’m not sure (at half the price) that it’s half the value. It provides a highly durable camping experience with enough room for two.
Those on a budget won’t sacrifice comfort or capability by taking the plunge with this tent. If you’re willing to make a few adjustments on the ladder and are ok with only the one color scheme, it’s a good two-person and one-dog or three people if you have to type of tent