So You Found Yourself an RTT (Roof Top Tent)?

So You Found Yourself an RTT (Roof Top Tent)?

Chinns Lake Roof Top Tent - Tacoma Magazine December 2013So you’re in the market for a rooftop tent.  Have you figured out where you will mount it yet?  There is no disputing that rooftop tents, or RTT, have been growing in popularity among off-road enthusiasts.  For weekend excursions to international expeditions, wherever your travels may lead you, you can be assured that if your vehicle can make it there, you can set up camp there.

Over the past year, I have been able to test out two popular RTT mounting locations, utilizing an off-road trailer and mounting on a bed rack.  During a recent trip to Ouray, CO for the 2013 FJ Summit, I was able to camp and explore the San Juan Mountains with a Manley ORV (MORV) trailer mounted with a tent by Cascadia Vehicle Tent (CVT).  More recently I’ve taken the CVT on more rugged terrain and over many more miles utilizing a bed rack made custom by Addicted Off-Road out of Ft. Collins, CO.  Both options have their benefits and their drawbacks.

In the September issue of Tacoma Magazine, we explored many of the benefits of the Manley ORV and utilizing its features for overlanding purposes.   Some of the benefits that we found were the added storage, ease of transferability and the ability to disconnect easily, allowing you to leave camp set up while exploring the area.  We also discussed the downfalls relating to the trailer’s ability to handle rugged terrain and expensive price tags.

The other popular mounting option is a rooftop or bed rack mounting system.  An immediate benefit can be seen when comparing the two setups side by side.  Having the RTT attached to the truck reduces the size of your setup making traveling through rough and/or tight terrain more manageable.  This eliminates the hassle of backing up on the trail and the need for additional space to setup camp.  Through my recent journeys I found this to be a great benefit.  Traversing through the heart of the Rockies over mountain passes and up to old mining cities was not hindered by towing a trailer through the rugged terrain.  Setting up camp along the narrow ridge line at Gooseneck State Park was a breeze with the compact setup of the CVT on the Addicted Off-Road bed.

As the on and off road benefits of the truck mounted RTT start to overcome the trailer, the downfalls can quickly be seen while at camp.  If you have ever been to a multi-day event where a base camp is established, you will see how the trailer RTT will outshine the truck mounts.  In general, the RTT allows for a quick setup and tear down.  However, the truck mount does not give you the option to leave camp setup while you go out exploring.  Every morning you will have to pack up the tent before heading out to the trails while your neighbors with the trailer are sitting down to coffee watching you pack up knowing they can leave their camp setup while they are using their trucks.

While we’re on the topic of trail runs, trail stability and capability will be a battle between the two options.  If you are able to leave the trailer at camp while you are out exploring, the trailer can win the battle as the added weight to the top of your truck will cause a much higher center of gravity making those off-camber sections more difficult.  However, if you are on a long journey where rugged terrain is being traversed on your way from campsite to campsite, the truck mount will give you better capabilities on the trail.  Having the truck mounted RTT will allow you to maintain higher speeds over the washboard roads and allow you to tackle harder obstacles where dragging a trailer would make it impassable.

Other things to consider when deciding between your different options to mount your new RTT are: Do you have a secure area to store the trailer when not in use?  Do you normally park in a garage where running the RTT on the top of your vehicle will limit your access?  Something to keep in mind, you may be able to work out sharing costs and splitting the use to make this option more economically feasible.  Anyone with a capable hitch can share the system with you which could alleviate your storage limitations.  Either way, make sure to have proper storage for the setup as you do not want unwanted users to take advantage of your new addition.

As you can see, there are many things to consider when looking into a trailer mounting system for your RTT.  And remember, research, research, research.   Hopefully the setup you choose will suit you well for all of your upcoming adventures, so make sure you are prepared to make the right decision for your needs.


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