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Hard shell rooftop tent

Deepblue

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Hi all, interested in your experience with rooftop tents (RTT as I learned).
I have an older Maggiolina hard shell rooftop tent. Used that in the past on my VW bus and like the concept of a hard shell design that opens parallel.
My tent has entries on both sides but not at the rear. And you already guess it: that just does not match with the ordered Trialmaster having the cool ladder at the back… 🫢
So tent with separate ladder at the side can only be a compromise for some time.
Has anybody experience with RTT with entry at the back? Which model would work well with the grenadier setup?
Does it work to step from ladder directly into RTT without stepping onto roof edge? Or do I need to forsee something there?
I plan to use crossbars, maybe 3 for offroading. When aftermarkets provide an option for crossbars fixed to IG side rail I might go for that instead of rain gutter mounting.
Thanks for your views.
 

explorersoverland

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Hi @Deepblue, nice that you are also interested in mounting a roof tent on your Grenadier.

I don't have much experience with a roof top tent, only slept in a RTT once. But I have already bought one for my Grenadier.

After some online research I came across the Bush Company AX27 as it is a durable and strong quality dual layer tent. I will attach the tent to the roof with 3 or 4 cross bars and attach a awning and shower of the brand Quick Pitch to the RTT.

As for the ladder I expect to use the grenadier's ladder and in addition I can use a ladder on the side for when the awning is open.

Installed a solar panel on it a few weeks ago.

Good luck finding a suitable RTT!
 

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Hi all, interested in your experience with rooftop tents (RTT as I learned).
I have an older Maggiolina hard shell rooftop tent. Used that in the past on my VW bus and like the concept of a hard shell design that opens parallel.
My tent has entries on both sides but not at the rear. And you already guess it: that just does not match with the ordered Trialmaster having the cool ladder at the back… 🫢
So tent with separate ladder at the side can only be a compromise for some time.
Has anybody experience with RTT with entry at the back? Which model would work well with the grenadier setup?
Does it work to step from ladder directly into RTT without stepping onto roof edge? Or do I need to forsee something there?
I plan to use crossbars, maybe 3 for offroading. When aftermarkets provide an option for crossbars fixed to IG side rail I might go for that instead of rain gutter mounting.
Thanks for your views.

I had a paint-matched Autohome Columbus (fiberglass model w/ entries on both sides and rear) on my G, and proceeded to use the same RTT on another rig after I sold my G as I enjoyed that RTT so much. Ended up selling the RTT to a D110 client with same gunmetal color, and he/kids are loving it too!
Anyways, I had a ladder on the back of my G, would climb up the ladder, foot onto spare tire (or later the quad Rotopax fuel jerry rack), then push myself up into the RTT since the RTT/FrontRunner rack sat back far enough on the roof. It worked well.
There are LOTS more RTT options out there now, 10yrs later. If I were to do a RTT again, I think the Autohome is still a proven winner, plus the slightly rounded edges of it will match the contours of the IG very well, better than a square "sandwich" EeziAwn or one of the new scalloped aluminum housing RTT's. That's just my opinion. Would I go for an Autohome Columbus Carbon to save weight? I'd have to run the numbers to see if there's enough weight savings for the extra coin.

DSCN0714_modcrop-640x549.jpg

More pics from different angles here; https://expeditionportal.com/featured-vehicle-jeremy-williams-g500/

Note; I did notice in the direct sun my Tectite Grey RTT got quite hot inside. Having kept it White in color as it came might have reflected some solar infiltration, but it wouldn't have looked so cohesive with the G.
 

DenisM

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@jeremy_matrix Marvellous work and great write up! Thnx for sharing(y).... even if it has now unsettled me in realising even more possibilities! ;)
One of my deep regrets was not being able to organise time to visit other parts of the PNW despite numerous "whirlwind" work-related trips to Seattle... A weekend train trip from Seattle to LA was a highlight...
 

Deepblue

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I had a paint-matched Autohome Columbus (fiberglass model w/ entries on both sides and rear) on my G, and proceeded to use the same RTT on another rig after I sold my G as I enjoyed that RTT so much. Ended up selling the RTT to a D110 client with same gunmetal color, and he/kids are loving it too!
Anyways, I had a ladder on the back of my G, would climb up the ladder, foot onto spare tire (or later the quad Rotopax fuel jerry rack), then push myself up into the RTT since the RTT/FrontRunner rack sat back far enough on the roof. It worked well.
There are LOTS more RTT options out there now, 10yrs later. If I were to do a RTT again, I think the Autohome is still a proven winner, plus the slightly rounded edges of it will match the contours of the IG very well, better than a square "sandwich" EeziAwn or one of the new scalloped aluminum housing RTT's. That's just my opinion. Would I go for an Autohome Columbus Carbon to save weight? I'd have to run the numbers to see if there's enough weight savings for the extra coin.

DSCN0714_modcrop-640x549.jpg

More pics from different angles here; https://expeditionportal.com/featured-vehicle-jeremy-williams-g500/

Note; I did notice in the direct sun my Tectite Grey RTT got quite hot inside. Having kept it White in color as it came might have reflected some solar infiltration, but it wouldn't have looked so cohesive with the G.
Hi @jeremy_matrix many thanks for sharing. Your experience with back ladder makes me confident. Very nicely integrated your tent with your G.
 

emax

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I had a paint-matched Autohome Columbus (fiberglass model w/ entries on both sides and rear) on my G, and proceeded to use the same RTT on another rig after I sold my G as I enjoyed that RTT so much. Ended up selling the RTT to a D110 client with same gunmetal color, and he/kids are loving it too!
Anyways, I had a ladder on the back of my G, would climb up the ladder, foot onto spare tire (or later the quad Rotopax fuel jerry rack), then push myself up into the RTT since the RTT/FrontRunner rack sat back far enough on the roof. It worked well.
There are LOTS more RTT options out there now, 10yrs later. If I were to do a RTT again, I think the Autohome is still a proven winner, plus the slightly rounded edges of it will match the contours of the IG very well, better than a square "sandwich" EeziAwn or one of the new scalloped aluminum housing RTT's. That's just my opinion. Would I go for an Autohome Columbus Carbon to save weight? I'd have to run the numbers to see if there's enough weight savings for the extra coin.

DSCN0714_modcrop-640x549.jpg

More pics from different angles here; https://expeditionportal.com/featured-vehicle-jeremy-williams-g500/

Note; I did notice in the direct sun my Tectite Grey RTT got quite hot inside. Having kept it White in color as it came might have reflected some solar infiltration, but it wouldn't have looked so cohesive with the G.
That looks like a well integrated solution. I guess the side bar is an awning? In terms of aerodynamics, this looks very good!

Since it is a 'G' solution, it is certainly not a bargain. Can you tell us what price range it is/was in?
 
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That custom Rotopax rack is a beautiful thing!
Thank. I still have it(probably will try to sell it), and the 4qty black(special limited run they did) 4gal Rotopax(I'll keep these as I can't buy them again). However, the rack/holder was fab'd with slightly too thick of aluminum, so it's heavier than it should be. As well, not enough extra room was given for allowing the 4 Rotopax to expand enough in hot desert sun (which would be cooler than all of you Aussie's have), so the Rotopax themselves deformed a bit before the holder were to break.

@jeremy_matrix Marvellous work and great write up! Thnx for sharing(y).... even if it has now unsettled me in realising even more possibilities! ;)
One of my deep regrets was not being able to organise time to visit other parts of the PNW despite numerous "whirlwind" work-related trips to Seattle... A weekend train trip from Seattle to LA was a highlight...
Certainly Denis, thanks for having a look. A lot of thought went into that rig; still hard to believe it was almost 10yrs ago now.
We're all here to learn from each other and share, right?
Ahh, the Amtrak train from Seattle to LA would be gorgeous. Make sure to visit the HighDesert of central Oregon next time. I think you'll really enjoy it. Just don't move here, eh? ;)

Hi @jeremy_matrix many thanks for sharing. Your experience with back ladder makes me confident. Very nicely integrated your tent with your G.
You're welcome. It was a system that worked well, and will work well on the IG too. If I don't go with a roof conversion, my plan is to emulate what I did on my G, on an IG!

That looks like a well integrated solution. I guess the side bar is an awning? In terms of aerodynamics, this looks very good!

Since it is a 'G' solution, it is certainly not a bargain. Can you tell us what price range it is/was in?
Thank you. Black tube on the right side is a Fiamma F35S 2.2M imported from Italy, completely disassembled by moi, powdercoated satin black with the rest of the bits on the G, then re-assembled. Goal was for it to blend in to the FrontRunner rack. Aero was pretty good for a mobile refrigerator! :LOL:
What wasn't a bargin, and the price range of what are you interested in? I'm happy to help answer any questions.

PS--that picture brings back SO many good memories. It was the first big expedition trip I did in the G, and my 70yr old adventurous mother was with me. We had just passed a herd of cows being stampeded up this muddy (Utah mud is like nothing else I've come across yet; snotty/sticky) route, yet we were slipping/sliding all over the place and had just slid into a ditch on the ride side (G at a 45deg angle--mom wasn't too enthused) as we approached a slope--the mud and momentum just sloooooowly led me off the road. So I had backed down the hill, the cow herd was approaching, I didn't have time to air the BFG K0's anymore, so I was in 4Lo, all 3 diff locks engaged, and we barely made it up before "the cows came home." BTW, my friend ahead of me in his FZJ80 on M/T's made it up without too much trouble. This is really one of the only places where I needed an M/T vs A/T.
But this memory is what the IG will be about too; creating special memories out in the natural world with special people!!
 
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Nguni

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Hi @Deepblue, nice that you are also interested in mounting a roof tent on your Grenadier.

I myself have little experience with a roof top tent, only slept in a RTT once. But I have already bought one for my Grenadier.

After some online research I came across the Bush Company AX27 as it is a durable and strong quality dual layer tent. I will attach the tent to the roof with 3 or 4 cross bars and attach a awning and shower of the brand Quick Pitch to the RTT.

As for the ladder I expect to use the grenadier's ladder and in addition I can use a ladder on the side for when the awning is open.

Installed a solar panel on it a few weeks ago.

Good luck finding a suitable RTT!
One option is to ask The Bush Company to make up some mounting brackets from the tent to the gutters that way you can put the tent AX27 directly on the roof mount rubber ( plastic ? ) and save the weight of the roof rack ( about 43kg 3/4 slimline Front Runner 1964mm ) The AX27 ( https://www.thebushcompany.com.au/product/ax27-clamshell-roof-top-tent/ ) still has roof rack rails and can handle 50kg on top ( open position ) but its 2250 long so it may impede the Safari windows if you spec them ( i have not ) . Another weight saving is the ladder on the small door is wider at the top and could be used to access the tent from the rear saving the complexity and weight of the ladder that comes with the tent . Maybe even get The Bush Company to put a Velcro flap on the awning at the point where the Grenadier ladder comes up ( needs more thought )
 

explorersoverland

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One option is to ask The Bush Company to make up some mounting brackets from the tent to the gutters that way you can put the tent AX27 directly on the roof mount rubber ( plastic ? ) and save the weight of the roof rack ( about 43kg 3/4 slimline Front Runner 1964mm ) The AX27 ( https://www.thebushcompany.com.au/product/ax27-clamshell-roof-top-tent/ ) still has roof rack rails and can handle 50kg on top ( open position ) but its 2250 long so it may impede the Safari windows if you spec them ( i have not ) . Another weight saving is the ladder on the small door is wider at the top and could be used to access the tent from the rear saving the complexity and weight of the ladder that comes with the tent . Maybe even get The Bush Company to put a Velcro flap on the awning at the point where the Grenadier ladder comes up ( needs more thought )

Thank you for thinking along and your advice.

Good idea, but i don’t think The Bush Company can deliver custom Grendier mounting brackets on time. We want to transport the car to NA asap when the car is delivered to start our trip.

Cancelled the roof rack and ordered 4 cross bars to mount the RTT.

Ordered the safari windows but when the roof tent is mounted I doubt whether it can still be opened.

Very curious if we can use the grenadier's ladder for easy access.
 
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Nguni

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Thank you for thinking along and your advice.

Good idea, but i don’t think The Bush Company can deliver custom Grendier mounting brackets on time. We want to transport the car to NA asap when the car is delivered to start our trip.

Cancelled the roof rack and ordered 4 cross bars to mount the RTT.

Ordered the safari windows but when the roof tent is mounted I doubt whether it can still be opened.

Very curious if we can use the grenadier's ladder for easy access.
Remember you can step from the ladder to the top of the spare wheel before you go into the tent and makes it quite safe when coming back out
 

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I am also interested in an RTT but have no experience at all..
alu-cab seems to be popular around this part of the world, but I can’t tell the difference between it and it’s competitor such as the bush company
I am personally more interested in a family sized RTT such as the ikamper sky3.0 and the roofnest condor xl, as iv seen online, if anyone has any past experience with those brands?
Another option some friends have are the bundetec electric Rtt but that seems too expensive and heavy ..

what I’d like to do is be able to mount the Rtt onto the roof of the truck when needed and also be able to un mount it to by attaching something to the ceiling of the garage like a pulley system.
This would make it more practical for me for daily road driving, and attaching the Rtt when needed.
 

MrMike

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I am also interested in an RTT but have no experience at all..
alu-cab seems to be popular around this part of the world, but I can’t tell the difference between it and it’s competitor such as the bush company
I am personally more interested in a family sized RTT such as the ikamper sky3.0 and the roofnest condor xl, as iv seen online, if anyone has any past experience with those brands?
Another option some friends have are the bundetec electric Rtt but that seems too expensive and heavy ..

what I’d like to do is be able to mount the Rtt onto the roof of the truck when needed and also be able to un mount it to by attaching something to the ceiling of the garage like a pulley system.
This would make it more practical for me for daily road driving, and attaching the Rtt when needed.
I Kamper is great, plenty of room and easy to put up and down, also relatively light for the size. I'd buy one again, we added an inflatable mattress as we didn't find the factory unit comfortable enough for us.
 
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Pfk

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I Kamper is great, plenty of room and easy to put up and down, also relatively light for the size. I'd buy one again, we added an inflatable mattress as we didn't find the factory unit comfortable enough for us.
thanks for sharing! Appreciate the feedback
 

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I am also interested in an RTT but have no experience at all..
alu-cab seems to be popular around this part of the world, but I can’t tell the difference between it and it’s competitor such as the bush company
I am personally more interested in a family sized RTT such as the ikamper sky3.0 and the roofnest condor xl, as iv seen online, if anyone has any past experience with those brands?
Another option some friends have are the bundetec electric Rtt but that seems too expensive and heavy ..

what I’d like to do is be able to mount the Rtt onto the roof of the truck when needed and also be able to un mount it to by attaching something to the ceiling of the garage like a pulley system.
This would make it more practical for me for daily road driving, and attaching the Rtt when needed.
I had a bundutop roof top tent and yes heavy. With the roof loading on the Grenadier at 150kg dynamic load. 60kg for Rhinorack roof rack leaving 90kg loading. The Bundutop at 80 kg inc ladder + ostrich wing awning at 28kg plus spare wheel and tyre, alloy sand ladders, hilift jack, 30l washing drum plus often firewood or a sack of charcoal , all on top of my defender. Way too heavy for the Grenadier and probably too heavy for the Defender if I had bothered to check. Ive also had a Tembo roof top tent that was very good quality. Dutch I think.
 
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Pfk

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Ive also had a Tembo roof top tent that was very good quality. Dutch I think.
Thank you for the feedback and for the info on the bundetec, iv heard the same from my friends who love it but is heavy. It is a nice tent though, must admit nothing is easier than clicking a button and it’s done..
will look into the tembo
 

DenisM

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I have had the Oasis (l) model for over 10 yrs. Weighs 17 kg and can be set up either on the roof or on the ground ...which I do these days under a large tarp.. (saves falls in the middle of the night !!)
It has survived torrential rain in 40kt wind with no leaks!

EDIT: I bought mine in Aus. from an outdoors place which was importing them at the time. They later closed the business. However it might be an option for UK/European consideration. I did a fair bit of research at the time and the Oasis roof top seemed to be popular amongst the British/European overland community...
When not in use it's able to be stored in a wardrobe!
The "rails" in the third photo fold inwards so that the travelling height of the wrapped tent on a roof rack is only about 150mm...
 

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One thing you guys want to bear in mind when purchasing a RTT is the climate you intend to use it in. What I found after trying out different models and using them over several years was, that the ZA manufactured tents don't stand up to moisture very well, in particular when packed wet, which you can't always avoid.

They are made of a so called "ripstop canvas" as opposed to the EU manufactured ones, using a more "cotton type" material similar to what is commonly used in heavy duty ground tents.

After some time mould started to appear on the inside of the tents made of ripstop canvas.

Given the conditions in South Africa, the material is probably a very suitable one over there and it seems to be somewhat more solid then the conventional tent cloth. None of those with the lighter material have ever failed or got damaged though.

For use in the "North", I found Autohome, Maggiolina (now one company) and Autocamp (now discontinued) to be the most suitable ones with a hard cover. The Maggiolinas used to have a worm gear mechanism running along both sides in the tent for tilting / putting it up. That was prone to sand sticking to it when used in the desert, thus making it very heavy to put the tent up and eventually breaking one or both of the "sliders" - which was not such a big problem since spare parts were readily available.

An Autohome would be my first choice, expensive, yes, but you get what you pay for, I suppose.

For those of you looking at a mounting solution without bars / roof rack, those HD legs are suitable:


Similar ones are available from an Italian manufacturer, LaPreAlpina:


The Atera ones are rated at 100kgs/pair, come without a crossbar and can be attached to tents that have a built-in tracking by drilling a hole into the top bit. On La PreAlpine you'd have to work your way through their catalogue via the link, am too lazy for that now. Their powder coating was / is? not of the same quality as the Guurman.

However, I don't think such a mounting is a good idea when using the truck off-road. I'd say the tracking will disintegrate from the tent sooner or later when just sitting on feet.

One way or the other, it is essential to keep an eye on all attachments and fixtures and re-tighten them regularly, i.e. daily when off-roading until everything sits properly. Use only self-locking nuts and don't re-use them once taken off.
 
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das mo

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I Kamper is great, plenty of room and easy to put up and down, also relatively light for the size. I'd buy one again, we added an inflatable mattress as we didn't find the factory unit comfortable enough for us.
Same.

I actually used my inflatable Exped matress on top of the iKamper mattress. Wife and kids, being less than half my weight each, were comfortable without it.

We use the Skycamp 2.0, as the window setup of the 3.0 felt like a downgrade for our use in Northern Europe.

3B794279-665F-46D8-B397-D2F50D3AC10F.jpeg

We spend 3 weeks in Scotland with it last year and we been very happy with the heavy cotton material and overall usage.

I have no comparison to other RTTs though.
 
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