With a pair of different rooftop tents in our rental lineup, we have some insight on the different features various brands have to offer and what their strengths and weakness tend to be. So let’s take a look at the heavy hitters in the RTT game in 2018.
The perennial all-star, CVT is the company that is virtually synonymous with rooftop tents in the overlanding community and even to casual campers. CVT offers a wide range of models starting with the two-person Mt. Bachelor all the way up to the Mt. Denali, which can accommodate more than four campers. Within the past year, CVT has also included hardtop offerings with the introduction of the Mt. St Helen. Cascadia’s reputation for quality is well-deserved as our Mt. Hood tent is well made and holds up to the punishment that renters dole out. This quality and reputation come with a price, as CVT tents range from $1000 to just over $4000. If you have the cash, the CVT is certainly worth every penny.
Another common roof top tent brand you’ll find both on the trail and The ‘Gram is Tepui. This California-based company offers a wide selection of tents in both soft and hard in a price range comparable to CVT. One major difference from CVT is that only Tepui’s high end tents include the annex room, which will set you back a cool $265 on their accessories page. This may or may not be a deal breaker for you, as we never actually use the annex with our CVT.
For the Overlander on a budget, Smittybilt may have the tent for you! There’s more than a few benefits to the Smittybilt brand tents that you don’t get in some of the other brands. First and foremost the cost, the two models Smittybilt offers the Overlander and Overlander XL are only $899 and $1099, respectively. Another big benefit to these tents is that they can be shipped directly to your local 4 Wheel Parts store! A $500 shipping and a liftgate fee can be hard to swallow after dropping thousands on a new tent so this is a huge bonus. Smittlybilt simply offers a lot of bang for your buck. Standard options on the Overlander model include a rain fly (extra on the Tepui) and star gazer roof panels (extra on the CVT). Now to be fair, the annex is an add-on with this tent but again for us, this isn’t a deal breaker. Finally, the Smittybilt’s cover is attached with velcro which we appreciate as it eliminates the annoyance and frustration of the zippers on our CVT.
As a brand that makes about everything off-road related, it’s no surprise ARB jumped into the RTT world. Only offering one model, the Series III Simpson RTT seems to include everything you would want in a tent (including annex) at a resonable $1499 price tag. Coming in a little heavier than other tents of its size at 154 lbs, it may be a little hefty for smaller vehicles. The Series III also employs a bungee tie down system for packing up instead of the buckles and velcro that is used on other tents. All and all, the ARB seems to offer everything you would want in a roof top tent backed by the ARB name!
A relative newcomer to the world of rooftop camping is Yakima with their Skyrise series tents. Known for their roof racks and vehicle accessories, it’s a natural progression for the company to make the jump in to the RTT market. With only two models (small and medium) ranging from $1099 – $1499, Yakima is dipping its toe into the water to see if it can hang with the big dogs in this saturated market. One thing Yakima has done that no one else has yet to replicate is the tool-less installation of the tent. This is especially interesting to us as we are constantly taking tents on and off for renters. For the weekend warrior who can’t fit in the parking garage with their tent attached, this is a cool feature that will save time both before and after their weekend expedition. There is currently no annex available for these tents but stargazer roofs and locking nuts are standard on both models. Finally, just like the Smittybilt, the Skyrise can be picked up locally from REI, which is helpful.
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