A Rooftop Tent to Soften the Blow of 2020

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So, we didn’t get to go to Africa, New Orleans Jazz Fest, or Durango for Ride the Rockies (bike ride). We had to miss out on the Zac Brown Band, the Steeldrivers, and VIP tickets to see Nathaniel Rateliff and the Nightsweats. We can’t hop on a plane headed for NYC or some other exotic place on a whim. I can’t visit a dear friend who is terminally ill.

2020 has been a bust in many ways. However, once we quit feeling sorry for ourselves, we pulled up our big girl/boy pants and moved forward with the same zest for life we have always had – one filled with a need/desire for adventure.

Several months ago, during many idle hours as a result of our friend Covid, I started to research rooftop tents (RTT’s). For those of you who don’t know what they are – they are essentially tents that attach to the roof of the car. They have always been big in Australia and Africa for obvious reasons, but finally have a big presence in the US. They cost less then a 5th wheel or camper-van, but each have their pros and cons – depends on what you are looking for.

I looked into RTT’s because Sean is not the biggest camper so I thought, hmmm, if I get a comfortable, luxurious set-up, he’ll be more into it. Even if he still doesn’t love it, I wanted something that would be more comfortable for me in the Pacific Northwest of the US. We will be relocating there in a couple of years and I’d like to explore every stinkin’ inch of it – rain or shine, particularly the back-country.

After a BUNCH of You-tube videos on various types of tents, we settled on an iKamper, Skycamp. It’s essentially a 160 lb tent with a king size bed in it – plenty of room for me, Sean and Yogi! It’s a hard-top, which theoretically makes these things more simple to put up or take down in the rain. This also means they are a little more expensive and heavy.

After a couple of weeks of owning it, we FINALLY took it out on it’s maiden voyage! Here’s what we learned:

  1. We had to air it out over night (in the driveway) before we used it – it had that new plastic smell that was pretty obnoxious. One night of airing out did the trick.
  2. It was super easy to put up and take down just like the videos – literally 60 seconds to unfold and set up. Even given the size of the tent, it does not take more than one person for setup.
  3. The awning we bought to go with it, was a great investment. It just zipped on to the tent and kept the rain off of us, our friends and pups.
  4. The bed needs more cushion for Sean – I was fine with it, but he is a tad bit picky and needs more plush padding. The tossing and turning on his side of the tent was ridiculous. haha.
  5. We will need to buy levelers for the times when we cannot find flat ground. This will be tricky for a while until we get used to the process.
  6. Need to figure out a way to insulate the bottom of the sleeping pads better – I didn’t sleep in a sleeping bag so could feel some cold air on my bum. However, because this is literally ‘car’ camping, down comforters, flannel sheets and down Rumpl blankets, kept us cozy overall.
  7. It definitely weighs down the car! I can imagine it will impact gas mileage but no worse then an air-stream.
  8. We LOVED the window on the roof of the tent – on a clear night, we’ll be able to see the moon and stars (it rained on this trip). In fact, all of the windows were great. You can make the tent as dark or light as you’d like.
  9. If you have a pup, you will have to load him/her into the tent. Yogi is a 30 pounder, so it wasn’t that big of a deal.
  10. Finding a good campsite, may be the hardest part of this endeavor. We’d rather stay in primitive, dispersed campsites, which are seemingly hard to find these days given all Americans are all of a sudden becoming nature lovers.
  11. I have heard people being challenged by not being able to use the car because of the tent. We intend to be in the back country with ours and don’t see this as being an issue for us. Bikes are also with us wherever we go. Also, it really is super easy to put away if you wanted to move camp. If you have the awning attached, that may make things a little tougher.
  12. It is staying on my car for most of the year. The profile is pretty thin, so we will be able to lean it against the garage wall when not in use. However, it will take a few extra hands to take it off the car.
  13. Because of the weight of the tent, we did have to purchase new bars to mount the beast, so that was an additional cost we incurred.

Overall, I am super happy with the investment! Pretty sure we are going to have MANY MANY fun adventures in this thing.

HAPPY RTT CAMPING!!!

….i choose this….

Pam

63 comments

            1. It’s actually a king sized bed! There is enough room for us to sit and play cards comfortably. I just couldnt get a good shot of the inside. The risk is minimal because of the Yakima bars we had to buy to hold the tent and us. The standard rails in the car could only hold 175 lbs. definitely not enough.

              Liked by 1 person

  1. Well, I did not know there was such a thing! I’m just not a big camper, so I’ll be sleeping in a hotel. But we also decided we will head out in the fall. Just packing up the car and and heading out. As long as hotels will take us, we will make it work. I will admit, your adventures do sound fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So good to hear from you.
    Great buy of yours. I’ve been considering something similar too.

    I’m off to a Parisian suburb this Sunday for a couple of weeks. My budget is “forcing” me to camp. As it is just me, I’ll sleep in the car but I’ve bought a small “lounge tent” in which I can stand up and I’ll use it as my kitchen/living space. I’m expecting the days to be fine but the nights to be a little fresh!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve never heard of such a thing. I can understand the advantage of having one. It sounds like you’ve adapted to it enough to want to keep on tweaking it for you two. Love the idea of a window in the roof of the tent. That’d be cool.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now that you have seen ours, you will notice them a lot more now. The window is my favorite thing about it! Now I just need to figure out how to keep it clean. That is one more thing I should have added to the list. lol

      Liked by 1 person

  4. We would absolutely love one of these but wouldn’t be able to lift our 5 1/2 stone dog up the ladder (never mind his mid-night wee break…)! More space in the boot to carry more gear and you camp wherever your wheels will go, perfect!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have a silly question -do you actually sleep on top of your car? Whatever the case is, I admire your love of adventure and the way you are living your life! I have two sons who love to camp with their families but I have a hubby who likes his creature comforts. The roughest outing he and I have endured all these many years together is a cabin without tv or wifi but hubby was happy having his own private bathroom. Thank you for sharing your adventures and great discoveries such as this new car top “Kamper”.

    All the best,
    Susan Grace

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good question! You sleep on essentially a platform (floor) -The base of the tent. There is a 2 inch mattress that comes with it, but it’s not quite cushie enough! Creature comforts are wonderful too 😊😊

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  6. What a great option. It looks so compact/thin when it’s all stored away. I like the fact that it’s King size. I think I could sell Mike on this after numerous weeks this summer in our tiny (but extremely light-weight) tent. Thanks for all the info.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great choice, these are popular in Australia better for keeping away from the creepy crawlies than in a tent. We have the same issue in Australia at the moment too in that everyone is suddenly caravan and camping – no other choice!

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  8. That looks like a nice way to get in some camping. We have an outdoor festival (a festival that encourages people to go outdoors, hence its name GoFest) here each year (although this year it will look different) and I’ve seen some pretty cool versions of these. I like how it appears to pack down so neatly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a fun idea for a festival! I may have to make it out for that one some day. I bet there is all kinds of cool stuff to see there. It does pack down neatly…that is a really nice thing about it…kind of remarkable if you think about it. The sucker is HEAVY!! Looking forward to getting out and using it more. So far, only 2 times, but going for a 3rd this weekend. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Rooftop tents are BIG in South Africa! We recently went on a 10 day camping trip and had to put our tents up almost every day at a new spot … and that’s when a rooftop tents works great! We don’t have one (our little Suzuki Jimny is much too small), but our friends have one and as you say, it literally takes a couple of minutes to set up. We have a three man tent (just the two of us) and is very easy and quick to put up – we travel light 😄.
    May you have many happy campings with your rooftop tent (and glad little Yogi also fits in 🐾)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!!! I am looking forward to exploring more next summer. We’d like to get out and do some winter camping, but waiting for fire restrictions to lift!! They are starting to make smaller versions to accommodate smaller cars! IKamper mini fits on a Mini Cooper – might be an option some day ;-).

      Like

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