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Post Info TOPIC: Roof top tent ?


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Roof top tent ?


Hi , I am considering what type of rig I would use in my travels in the near future. I have a Mazda BT50 and want to travel not only in the civilised world , but , also into the more remote areas travelling on dirt roads using the 4x4. I am single , retired and have for many years have dreamt of travelling our beautiful country.I am currently looking at roof top tents and associated products. Has anyone had experience with these tents long term ,would appreciate any advice . Thanks.

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Welcome to GN's tomars, Camping with a roof top tent or pod is a relatively inexpensive way of seeing the country. Dependent on age limitations getting up and down (particularly in the middle of the night) can at times be problematic. Your roof top abode needs to have a tent or such at ground level, for dressing, cooking in rain, etc. As in all tents they tend to be perfect accommodation in warmer weather but miserable when cold/wet weather.

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I have experience of remote and/or difficult area camping with everything from swag, tent and roof-top tent.

There are many facets to this issue not least is that of age and fitness: travelling in difficult terrain (eg Victorian High Country) is fraught with the possibility of getting stuck - and getting un-stuck can be a major issue, I have spent many an unhappy hour knee deep in cold mud exhausting myself as I tried to winch/dig the vehicle out. Ensure you are fully prepared for such situations. 

Roof-top tents - as you may expect they have positives and negatives:

I used one for about five years and spent probably 150 nights in it. Most nights I need to get up for a pee and I was very aware that a single misstep on the ladder could result in serious injury and as I travel alone that is a serious issue deep in 4WD country - you're not driving out of such places with a broken leg.

Once the tent is set up the vehicle is not going anywhere so that affects fetching supplies, firewood collection, sight-seeing etc.

Putting the tent up is easy enough but, despite the Youtube videos, taking the sod down was my least favourite job when packing up and required a small stepladder and 20 minutes.

Getting off the ground is good both in croc country and in very wet weather.

You cannot do anything in a RTT except lie down ie. there is way to sit and read in bad weather.

A RTT will add 50kg to your load and degrade fuel consumption, it also puts that weight on top of the vehicle which affects stability both during corning at speed and on sloping tracks - I could *feel* the tent's weight shift the vehicle on difficult tracks.

I enjoyed my RTT ($700 canvas from e-bay) and it performed well in some terrible weather and in longevity but I don't think I would buy another.



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Thanks for the advice



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Mike Harding wrote:

I have experience of remote and/or difficult area camping with everything from swag, tent and roof-top tent.

There are many facets to this issue not least is that of age and fitness: travelling in difficult terrain (eg Victorian High Country) is fraught with the possibility of getting stuck - and getting un-stuck can be a major issue, I have spent many an unhappy hour knee deep in cold mud exhausting myself as I tried to winch/dig the vehicle out. Ensure you are fully prepared for such situations. 

Roof-top tents - as you may expect they have positives and negatives:

I used one for about five years and spent probably 150 nights in it. Most nights I need to get up for a pee and I was very aware that a single misstep on the ladder could result in serious injury and as I travel alone that is a serious issue deep in 4WD country - you're not driving out of such places with a broken leg.

Once the tent is set up the vehicle is not going anywhere so that affects fetching supplies, firewood collection, sight-seeing etc.

Putting the tent up is easy enough but, despite the Youtube videos, taking the sod down was my least favourite job when packing up and required a small stepladder and 20 minutes.

Getting off the ground is good both in croc country and in very wet weather.

You cannot do anything in a RTT except lie down ie. there is way to sit and read in bad weather.

A RTT will add 50kg to your load and degrade fuel consumption, it also puts that weight on top of the vehicle which affects stability both during corning at speed and on sloping tracks - I could *feel* the tent's weight shift the vehicle on difficult tracks.

I enjoyed my RTT ($700 canvas from e-bay) and it performed well in some terrible weather and in longevity but I don't think I would buy another.





mike has pretty much summed it up in a nutshell

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We mostly sleep in the back of our car. 20 minutes rearranging the car each morning & evening. I have travelled by myself in the car & then there is no need to rearrange anything other than push one front seat forward for enough length. Just keep one side free to hop into bed on a Thermarest Luxury Map mattress!

The car is really well insulated so it's pretty comfortable in cold weather.



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Darche 180 Gen 2 (if you can get one), Darche Eclipse Retreat and a decent stretcher bed. I have a Wanderer Premium which can be used as a seat/lounge. A cheaper option is 4wd rollout awning and awning room but the Darche is almost a one hand setup and repack. Climbing a ladder isn't for old bones, at least not mine.

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Years ago I visited and fished the Finniss River in the NT.

Many of the campers there had roof top campers which were quite new at that time.
When talking to campers their reason for having a roof top tent was to sleep safer at night.
They apparently weren't comfortable with a large lizzard wanting to share their tent on the ground.

I was amazed how close to the water a lot of them were camped. At that time the crocks up there were *wall to wall*.
They probably are even worse now.

My son in law has a rooftop unit on a ute and those steps are a worry for an old fella like me with *wobbly pins*


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We have an ARB 2.0m awning & fully enclosed room which has very fine mesh. The ceiling becomes a double layer so absolutely great to stop heat from above.

Overall really well made, more solid extrusion than cheaper brands. I have compared a few. So no complaints with quality.

 

Disadvantages. Firstly with any awning with only one person, fix a guy rope to the centre of the outer rail so you can lightly peg the rail to the ground for packing up. You have to go through this process to understand this without a centre guy rope.

This sort of enclosure in even modest winds is a bit irritating as side blow in.

You can't drive off anywhere once you have claimed a camping spot.

Mosquitoes hang around the side up against the car. Better to have a completely separate screen enclosure.

 

Our awning we have barely used, the enclosure even less. But the few times we have used them they served their purpose really well. So very happy.

 

If buying again, maybe the awning, just maybe. But we would buy a completely separate enclosure, which has the option of screen on every side. Double ceiling. Awning options on all side for shade from the sun for the main enclosure. Maybe I have to work out how to add 2 more poles to our current setup to be able to remove the car!

 

We have seen quite a few people with roof top tents & thought there is no way we would want one at our age & we are reasonably fit.

 

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Most nights too lazy to put the tent up! We have widow wind/rain shields on the windows & use window socks as flyscreens for warmer weather, & all weather for that matter for ventilation, just the windows not open as much. If it is really hot you simply have to use a screen enclosure for maximum ventilation.

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I'll share some of my experiences with the Kings Kwicky Mk 2 roof top tent......., I like to get out into remote desert and/or goldfields and also transition through country without too much setting up/packing up. My only requirement is a reasonably level site, and that's pretty easily sorted. When transmitting country, I like to travel fairly light(but with some modern cons) and be able to set up and pack down quickly. After many years of swagging and/or sleeping in the back of the ute while out bush, I now have the RTT, for these reasons - (1) I wanted to free up the rear tray of my 4X4 Extra Cab for lots of other important stuff thats very easy to reach. (2) While transitting country, I want to be able to set up and/or pack down reasonably quickly..., make a coffee and move on..., a more permanent set up can also easily be achieved as I carry HD tarps, ropes, pegs and poles. (3) I didn't want too much canvas flapping if the wind, should get up a bit - the Kings Kwicky does not have loads of 'flappable canvas' that might stick out like a spinnaker...., this can often happen with other RTT's or canvas set-ups, that have lots of canvas and awnings up..., and here on the west coast we can get lots of wind. I've modified my RTT a bit in that I replaced the woosy little foam mattress of 50 mm 'soft' foam with 75 mm high density foam - it squeezed perfectly into the existing cover. Plus, inside the pod(wether up or down) I can leave all my bedding set up and there's also plenty of room for other bits and pieces. I'm reasonably tall at 184 cm but bed is 202cm and size is about equivalent to a small double bed. The set up time after finding a level piece of ground, is literally 3 minutes. I takes longer to make my espresso. One other thing..., sometimes the inside upper surface of the hard plastic pod can attract a thin veneer of condensation if I close any one of the 4 window flaps, so I glued some mould resistant boat carpet to the upper inside of the roof..., this stopped condensation and actually increased the warmth inside the RTT. When I'm down on WA's south coast I stretch out a large tarp over the whole vehicle..., this it tensioned off of any available peppy tree trunks(using appropriate slings around tree trunks. This allows me to come and go while leaving the tarp in place above. We call this a Kimberly Kitchen.., great for up north, while down on WA's south west or south coast, it adds extra warmth as it stops dew from settling on top of the actual hard plastic pod, thereby also adding another degree of warmth..., although it's always nice and warm up in the pod. There is a very sturdy telescopic ladder provided with this RTT. We don't get extremes of cold here in the West so the cold factor is rarely an issue.



-- Edited by Sandyfreckle on Thursday 22nd of July 2021 09:34:20 AM



-- Edited by Sandyfreckle on Thursday 22nd of July 2021 09:38:12 AM

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2 - 3mm thick flexible packing sheet foam used to wrap TVs etc works suprisingly well for insulation to stop condensation. We use it around a small tent & as a second layer with the windscreen sun shade. When there is ice outside it works well.

If you need spray glue, 3M Super77 spray glue is so much better than other makes, can goes a very long way. You can easily get it from arts supplies. Also good for gluing on boat carpet.

 

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One point I forgot to mention is:

Ensure your vehicle roof is capable of supporting the weight of:

1 - the tent

2 - the tent with two occupants

The tent and roof rack alone will weight about 70kg to 80kg; most vehicles have a maximum roof rack loading around 100kg so, generally, should be OK.

The tent, roof rack and two people will weigh (say) 80kg + 100kg + 70kg = 250kg. Although this greatly exceeds the usual roof loading limit it may well be OK because that roof loading limit is calculated to take into account shock loading ie. you have 100kg on the roof rack and hit a pothole.

Nevertheless, I did break one of the sturdy plastic roof rack support brackets on my Jackaroo some years back.

I also suggest couples minimise nighttime activities to, say, reading - seriously :)



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The formulas are a bit down this page 

 

https://outbackjoe.com/macho-divertissement/macho-articles/corrugations-fast-or-slow/

 

 

We have broken two roof rack bolts on different trips. We were able to fix on the run & we have an easy roof rack load setup to remove for repairs. I can think of better things to do!

 

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A Land Rover Defender 110 current model with roof platform 168kg gross mass (including roof rack) or 300kg gross mass for static weight. Obviously with the emphasis on static.

 

Or you could have an all night active mass on a Toyota roof as they are indestructible!

IMG_20190920_151537728~2.jpg



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Whenarewethere wrote:

A Land Rover Defender 110 current model with roof platform 168kg gross mass (including roof rack) or 300kg gross mass for static weight.


That's interesting, I haven't seen a manufacturer give a spec. for static loads previously - I suspect they fear it will be misunderstood.

I have it in mind, but may well be wrong, that it is a requirement of the ADRs that a vehicle must be able to support its own weight by its roof - the idea being the occupants are not crushed in a roll-over. If this is the case then pretty much all vehicles should be able to handle 250kg... should....



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They have a rating for Defender 90 & 110 with Land Rover roof racks & platform. A 110 with platform has the highest capacity.

 

My Freelander only has a gross capacity of 75kg. No mention of static capacity. I stumbled across Thule heavy duty cross bars which said 100kg on Freelander rails. There was no indication of whether this was net or gross. So I can only assume net, so all up 112kg.

 

So the roof rails have a higher capacity than a pair of cross bars. Land Rover only say 63kg net on the cross bars, so if I use 4 cross bars as they are the weak point, but spread across 4 cross bars 112kg is the mathematical conclusion based on Thule heavy duty cross bars.

 

We are very careful, let tyres down to reduce stress on the car & more importantly us, are also very aware, keeping ears open for potential issues, which we have had a couple of times & fixed on the run. But quiet frankly due to cost cutting of initial manufacturing of roof rack design. Which if designed properly originally would have cost about $1.00 extra.

 

If you can concentrate the mass to the centre of the roof it will be better the very long sea kayaks where there is more mass at the extremities.

 

I have put a lot of thought into the layout of our roof loading to keep weight as concentrated as centred as possible. If the roads are corrugated we pull mass off the roof.



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I believe the actual issue is stress cracking over time on the roof. If you have a poorly & overloaded roof it will create a situation for more roof stress.

If you keep weight under control, keep it as tight as possible, let tyres down, get weight off the roof for crap roads, you have a better outcome.

 

The main reason we have our solar panels stored on the roof is because we have no room in the car sleeping at night.

 

So we pop the panels up top & sometimes with some extra 10L containers of water. In the morning they go back in the car.



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gidday, yeah I have had an Alu-Cab a couple of years now and love it. I have done a longterm review on it and have more info over on my page if it helps. https://4wheelsontheroad.com/index.html



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