Roof-Top tents vs Stand alone Tents




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  1. #1
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    Default Roof-Top tents vs Stand alone Tents

    Any comments on which style is better in which circumstances and why?

    Man is like Steel - Useless if it looses its Temper.

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    Personally I prefer a normal tent, since you have more space, and it doesn't have a suspension that moves around when you turn over.

    The only times I'd use a rooftop tent would be:
    When travelling far, and packing up camp on a daily or almost daily basis (ease of use).
    Where there are many wild animals (e.g. lions).

    With my normal tent, I can stand, walk around and fit a double bed blow up matress, little fridge, etc, as well as sit in comfortably when the weather is bad.

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    Paul,

    More info Bud!

    Where do you go camping, how often, how many people, what do you drive, how energetic are you, how rich / poor are you (both tents can range from R100 to R15 000), what is level of experience, are you okay with sleeping on the ground, is your wife/girlfriend/life partner etc?

    Ther are soooooo many pros and cons.
    Gary
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    Quote Originally Posted by JayK View Post
    Personally I prefer a normal tent, since you have more space, and it doesn't have a suspension that moves around when you turn over.

    The only times I'd use a rooftop tent would be:
    When travelling far, and packing up camp on a daily or almost daily basis (ease of use).
    Where there are many wild animals (e.g. lions).

    With my normal tent, I can stand, walk around and fit a double bed blow up matress, little fridge, etc, as well as sit in comfortably when the weather is bad.
    Jay i agree wrt the weather thing. I have been wondering if a loose tend is not better as then you can use the vehicle etc as wind breaks while camping.

    Man is like Steel - Useless if it looses its Temper.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gazza1210 View Post
    Paul,

    More info Bud!

    Where do you go camping, how often, how many people, what do you drive, how energetic are you, how rich / poor are you (both tents can range from R100 to R15 000), what is level of experience, are you okay with sleeping on the ground, is your wife/girlfriend/life partner etc?

    Ther are soooooo many pros and cons.
    Hey Gary,

    I hear what you say and you are quite right in asking all those questions.
    At this stage we are not a huge camping family. When i say not huge - we camp perhaps once/ twice a year and then its not in rough conditions (somethign that i am hoping to change as the family gets more adventurous. i not mind rough, but as life is - there comes a wife and kids - lol

    Having said that, a loose tend can also be kitted out with camp cots for the lady's comfort.

    Man is like Steel - Useless if it looses its Temper.

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    Personally, the more I see conventional RTT's in action the less I like them. Just come back from the Pilanesberg.

    Of the three vehicles in our group, two had RTT's. The two couples that had RTT's only went on one game drive the whole weekend (I went at least twice a day, I had a normal tent). At least part of the reason IMO was the schelp of taking the tent down to go for a drive, especially in the early morning.

    I will concede that it is nice sleeping on top of your car when their are large animals/predators around and no fences. In every other circumstance a ground tent is far more practical and comfortable.

    As far as convenience is concerned I have to say I am completely unimpressed with RTT's. The two tents on the weekend (one was an Echo, the other a Howling Moon), took just as long to both completely erect and take down with two people working at it, as it took me to erect/take down my Turbo 250 Compact ground tent on my own.

    If its a one night stop-over (like bushcamping on the way to Vilancoulos for eg), I dont bother with the flysheet of my Turbo tent and then my tent's up in seconds compared to the faffing around of my mate with his Echo RTT (with his wife helping).

    So personally I think RTT's are only really useful for peace of mind in animal areas with no fences.

    Not to mention the massive weight issue! Nor aerodynamics either.

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    Alan, i am in your corner concerning mobility and practicality and comfort.

    This is one thing that i have wondered about with RTT's (as you call them).

    I agree, if one has set up camp for a day or two and just wants to pop out for game viewing or just a sunset drive its a huge schelp to strike tent.

    I hear your concern regarding animals, but are they really a threat when in a conventional tent? i guess here a heavy canvas unit will be more desirable than those nice nylon woven domes hey

    it may sound awful, but i like a clean neat camp set-up but am honestly not into faffing with all sorts.

    Man is like Steel - Useless if it looses its Temper.

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    As far as both tents are concerned I like the RTT better
    Because the bed is already made when you stop.
    Most of the sand and dirt falls of your feet climbing up the ladder.
    Ventilation always seems better ontop than below.
    I think it is a personal preference and if it is easy to setup and breakdown the other thing I believe is the space issue A RTT is all included a Stand alone there seems to be alot more luggage (ground sheet, stretcher, mattras bedding and the tent -which normaly does not fit into its original bag)
    I am all for RTT

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    What you say is true. I assume it does come down to personal preference.
    I still prefer the stand alone tent.
    perhaps another aspect to look at is if the RTT is fitted to a trailer or vehicle.

    Man is like Steel - Useless if it looses its Temper.

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    I would say that if you go for a ground tent such as Alan describes this should be best. Ease of use is in my opinion THE MAJOR factor that should be considered. I have a 3x3m canvas tent and use it for weekends away etc but would not consider it for travelling as it takes too much space and is a pain the "Mugabe" to erect and take down on a daily basis. Tents that are a pain tent to be left at home or people just don't go to the bush if it is a hassle.

    RTT are only really good for protection against wild animals (lion etc) but your vehicle then becomes an extention of the tent and the drawbacks as Alan describes. Normal ground tents (canvas or nylon) will not protect you from lions etc so don't be told that canvas is way better than nylon. (I have yet to see or hear of a starving lion be put off a meal due to the canvas wrapper!)

    I would caution though that with kids the one absolute rule that must be drummed into them from day one is to ALWAYS ALWAYS zip up the tent. I was in Kariba years ago and a night adder and my foot came into contact... no spank you very much not funny at all.

    In closing I would say go for the turbo tent as Alan suggested, just set the ground rules, make it fun and the wife and kids won't care where they sleep.
    Gary
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    Thanks.

    yes i like that idea - "just set the ground rules, make it fun and the wife and kids won't care where they sleep" -AN Dyes you are 100% correct about keepign a tent (no matter which type) zipped at all times - besides snakes those spiders an other crawlies do have a tendancy to spoil all attemtps to have fun.

    Personally i prefer the non RTT option, it just seems that one has more flexibility with them.

    As for the Lions - hmmm - point taken, however with the amount of meat on these bones i think any famished Lion would rather look at a fish diet - to nibble these bones would be an insult to injury - lol

    Man is like Steel - Useless if it looses its Temper.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Venter View Post
    I agree, if one has set up camp for a day or two and just wants to pop out for game viewing or just a sunset drive its a huge schelp to strike tent.
    Isn't this all about the design of the tent?

    I reckon that the commercially available tents are just utter rubbish (and why are they all so similar?).....and am in the process of making my 3rd home-made tent. The previous 2 have been 4-man tents, but the new one is a 2 man thing as my kids are heading off to Uni etc. I have seen 2 people struggle for 20 minutes to put a commercial rooftent away.....the one I am making will take 1 person about 15 to 20 seconds (both to put up and to put away).

    There would be no excuse then for missing a game drive because of the hassle of putting a tent away. I enjoy free camping, and to not have to find a flat bit of ground suitable for a tent is one of the big advantages of a rooftent.

    Mike
    Last edited by MikeAG; 2009/03/23 at 11:07 AM.

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    Mike, you're right about the fact that there should be an easier operating RTT... you design it, I'll market it and we split the profits.

    Paul, another consideration with RTT is age of kids, level of intoxication, etc... falling of the roof of a car is, I'm told, a certain way to put a downer on any trip. Also low branches can rip RTT, leaking RTT covers can result in wet bed.

    If you have the money get both... RTT for when desired and turbo tent for when required and for ease of use. The ground tent is small and light so taking it along won't cause too much hassle.

    A ground tent as mentioned costs about R6000 (don't quote me) but the whole RTT and roof rack etc could be in the region of about R8000 - R10 000 but the rack obviously has other uses. If your family are bush beginners then go for the ground tent unless SWAMBO directs otherwise.
    Gary
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    I hear your concern regarding animals, but are they really a threat when in a conventional tent? i guess here a heavy canvas unit will be more desirable than those nice nylon woven domes hey
    I had a little incident, which I am sure the big white hunter types would chuckle over, but which had my heart rate right up at the time. I woke to hear what I assume was a hyena growl and then snarl/howl (not that silly little whoop sound, a real nasty snarling howl) about a meter away and ABOVE me whilst sleeping on the ground in a small hiking tent in Botswana. I know its 100% psychological, but I feel a lot better hearing sounds like that below me at night!

    I dont think canvas or nylon would make one feel any better in a similar case!

    I have a 3x3m canvas tent and use it for weekends away etc but would not consider it for travelling as it takes too much space
    Agree 100% with this. You need something that packs small and is light weight, plus is easy to erect. The nylon Turbo tents are ideal IMO!

    Canvas is all very well if you plan on spending a month or more in the bush in one place (it will last much much longer in the sun etc). But the extra weight and space it takes up is not justified if you use it once or twice a year for a few days at a time IMO.

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    If you camp a lot and off the beaten track as well you might end up with both, and more than one of each.
    I have RTT's, canvas ground tents, 2 man and 1 man hiking tents, nylon gound tents and use these as required for each trip.
    Even though I have a RTT on the Cruiser, I always pack a very small and light 2 man tent, and sometimes use that in preference of the RTT, etc...

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    thanks Gary,

    yip i have gone that route - ground tent.

    lol - i really enjoyed your risk assessment strategy - the one in the beginning of the thread and now this one as well - lol

    Man is like Steel - Useless if it looses its Temper.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kola View Post
    If you camp a lot and off the beaten track as well you might end up with both, and more than one of each.
    I have RTT's, canvas ground tents, 2 man and 1 man hiking tents, nylon gound tents and use these as required for each trip.
    Even though I have a RTT on the Cruiser, I always pack a very small and light 2 man tent, and sometimes use that in preference of the RTT, etc...
    Kobus, i like your idea of taking alone a tent per trip requirement.
    i must remember to include a smaller one when i have invested in a RTT - those are wise words i think. - depending on how my preference changes with experience and activity type.
    Last edited by Paul Venter; 2009/03/23 at 11:32 AM.

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    We decided a RTT is not the way we want to camp.

    Granted if you're moving to a new camp site every night a RTT makes a fair bit more sense but we do not often camp like this, preferring to spend a minimum of 2-3 nights at a site.

    The reasons why a RTT put me off:

    • Any wind that comes up and the rapid onset of seasickness.
    • They are cramped
    • If your partner needs to go for a pee in the night, not only is it a schlep, but you are almost guaranteed to get woken up as the vehicle rocks around on it's suspension.
    • I see too many people struggle to get their RTT's up and even worse, down.
    • If swambo wants a nap in the afternoon and I want to do a game drive, one of us has to make a sacrifice


    To me a trailer top tent makes a great compromise, and would be the route I would follow if it ever becomes necessary for us to travel with a trailer.
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    Simon, the reasons you raise are excatly what were goignthrough my mind - juts nedeed confirmation that i was not just being full of nonsence.

    BTW what/ who is SWAMBO this is the second reference i have seen in this thread!!

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