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Old 07-10-2023, 01:27 PM #1
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Considering a rooftop tent - owner feedback please !

Considering a rooftop tent for my 2018 4runner.

This will be used almost daily for a continuous, extended period of time (at least 2-3 years) so I need something that will take abuse and inclement weather without problems.

My main concern is weight, as follows:

1 - weight during motion. I have the Nise rack (here on the forums) on the roof. If needed I can buy another roof rack that will fit the tent. My concern is whether the mounting on the rack will be solid.

I watched many YT videos about this and to me, the mounting on the roof seems a bit flimsy. I also saw a few videos showing how the tent simply fell off the roof.

Toyota recommends not to exceed 120 lbs on the roof rails. Most roof tents are over this weight. This will be weight in motion, which adds even more stress on the mounting points. Planning to do about 50-50 offroad and highway driving.

If I go this way, I might find a way to reinforce the mouting. Weight still remains an issue.

2 - weight when stationary. The weight on the roof rails will be my weight plus whatever the tent weighs. Expecting around 400 lbs (tent 150 + lbs. myself 200 lbs). Will this be an issue ?

I am looking to buy a hardshell, top of the line, I am ready to pay for a good quality tent.

Looking for owner feedback. Any thoughts appreciated.

Thanks.
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Old 07-10-2023, 01:35 PM #2
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Roof top tent

It seems like a terrible inconvience if you will use it for 2 or 3 years. You'll have to take it down every time you move your 4 runner. Why not consider a pop-up trailer or a small camper trailer and sell it when you no longer need it?
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Old 07-10-2023, 01:43 PM #3
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This will be permanently mounted, will not take it down.
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Old 07-10-2023, 02:45 PM #4
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Get nice ground tent. RTT are mostly for show.
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Old 07-10-2023, 03:24 PM #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skag1T View Post
Considering a rooftop tent for my 2018 4runner.

This will be used almost daily for a continuous, extended period of time (at least 2-3 years) so I need something that will take abuse and inclement weather without problems.

My main concern is weight, as follows:

1 - weight during motion. I have the Nise rack (here on the forums) on the roof. If needed I can buy another roof rack that will fit the tent. My concern is whether the mounting on the rack will be solid.

I watched many YT videos about this and to me, the mounting on the roof seems a bit flimsy. I also saw a few videos showing how the tent simply fell off the roof.

Toyota recommends not to exceed 120 lbs on the roof rails. Most roof tents are over this weight. This will be weight in motion, which adds even more stress on the mounting points. Planning to do about 50-50 offroad and highway driving.

If I go this way, I might find a way to reinforce the mouting. Weight still remains an issue.

2 - weight when stationary. The weight on the roof rails will be my weight plus whatever the tent weighs. Expecting around 400 lbs (tent 150 + lbs. myself 200 lbs). Will this be an issue ?

I am looking to buy a hardshell, top of the line, I am ready to pay for a good quality tent.

Looking for owner feedback. Any thoughts appreciated.

Thanks.
I lived out of my rig for 3 years and have owned both a James Baroud and a GFC SuperLite. Few notes on my experiences in no particular order:

James Baroud

Heavy. You know its up there for sure.

The gas struts are nice for setup, not so nice for taking down. Many unkind words were uttered while trying to pack that thing in bad weather. The tent fabric also tends to get caught up in the shell and good luck if there's any wind at all. The latch mechanism is absolutely one of the worst designs I've ever seen and will come apart after 2-3 months.

Their mattress is terrible, just a piece of low density foam.

Hard shell is great for mounting solar panels with VHB.

Warranty is practically useless. I had multiple issues with the tent fabric and zippers after about a year, while they were willing to ship replacement fabric... actually replacing it involved drilling and re-riveting. No thanks, I sold it to someone willing to deal with that hassle.

Overall impression: avoid, overpriced and not well manufactured.

GFC SuperLite

Very light. I was able to remove my front swaybar after switching to the SuperLite and the truck is still fine to drive around town and on the highway. I'm sure my full steel skids and sliders help with keeping COG low though. YMMV

Fabric shell means you can't directly mount solar very easily. I use a solar blanket clipped into the corner loops but levering the weight up without gas struts can be problematic (see next paragraph).

Bit more of a pain to set up but takedown is almost as fast - about 2-3 minutes each. My technique is shove one of the poles in so I can crawl inside then use my feet to prop up the tent and put the poles in correctly (particularly when my solar blanket is in use). Graceful? No. Easy and effective? Yes.

I've had some condensation/ventilation issues with 2 people in the tent.

Like the JB I also had some issues with the tent fabric and zippers. Replacing the fabric involves removing the rails and both composite panels and reinstalling both inside the new fabric. I was able to do so without too much difficulty and have had no issues with the replacement fabric. Really the only problem was getting everything aligned correctly as the panels fit very tightly.

First gen tent material isn't well manufactured. GFC recognized that, temporarily pulled the product in 2022 and fixed the issue with a new version 100% made in the USA. I think that says a lot about their business and I wouldn't hesitate to buy another.

Overall impression: great company, great support, great products.

Last edited by Skykomish; 07-10-2023 at 03:29 PM.
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Old 07-10-2023, 03:44 PM #6
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This is a good watch on RTT vs Ground tent vs sleeping in the back. Best Shelter For Overlanding/ How To Choose For Yourself - YouTube
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Old 07-10-2023, 03:52 PM #7
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I'll give you my two cents. I was gifted a RTT from my in laws, otherwise not sure if I would have bought one.

I have a Ikamper mini 3, Supposed to weigh 125lbish. I'm using the stock roof rails with LFD crossbars. Seems pretty stable, been on rough forest roads with no issues. I looked at the GFC super light but unfortunately if you're 5'11 or taller it's just not comfortable.
Sleeps 2 of us comfortable.


I take it on and off regularly since I park in a garage. Takes about 20 minute for my wife and I, what speeds that process up is the mounting hardware that comes with the tent (aftermarket stuff exists for almost all tents that also are quick detach), and I built a small hoist in my yard to lift it on and off since it's just my wife and I. 3 adults could do it manually IMO.

I'd rather use a nice teardrop but those are crazy expensive and a lot of places we go/park would be annoying with the tear drop.
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Old 07-10-2023, 05:38 PM #8
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Ground tent is not an option, I won't feel safe, I will be in the middle of nowhere, on top of mountains with wind and rain, or deep in forests. I prefer hard walls around me - or soft walls but elevated.

A trailer, like the runaway, would be good but it will stop me to go many places that i plan to go - up the mountains, tight trails, etc. I don't feel very good about driving a trailer, not even on regular roads.

I am not sold to RTTs but if I can make it work this would be a nice compact 4WD mobile that will get me anywhere I want to go. Plus give me a lot of storage space inside the 4runner, with rear seats removed.

What about weight ? This WILL exceed the manufacturer weight limit for the roof rails, and in case of accident, this will turn against me.
I don't see any weight concerns in the many videos I've watched ...

I am looking at RTTs like the Alu-Cab, the Bush Co. Alpha. I need a heavy duty (as in, durable and reliable), I don't want any tent drama in my travels. Both are around 200 lbs.

Last edited by skag1T; 07-10-2023 at 05:43 PM.
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Old 07-10-2023, 07:46 PM #9
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so youre gonna roadtrip for 2-3 years and live on the roof the entire time?
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Old 07-10-2023, 08:04 PM #10
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Roof Top Tents aren't all they're cracked up to be - YouTube
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Old 07-10-2023, 10:55 PM #11
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Great video.
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Old 07-11-2023, 07:02 AM #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skag1T View Post
Considering a rooftop tent for my 2018 4runner.

This will be used almost daily for a continuous, extended period of time (at least 2-3 years) so I need something that will take abuse and inclement weather without problems.

My main concern is weight, as follows:

1 - weight during motion. I have the Nise rack (here on the forums) on the roof. If needed I can buy another roof rack that will fit the tent. My concern is whether the mounting on the rack will be solid.

I watched many YT videos about this and to me, the mounting on the roof seems a bit flimsy. I also saw a few videos showing how the tent simply fell off the roof.

Toyota recommends not to exceed 120 lbs on the roof rails. Most roof tents are over this weight. This will be weight in motion, which adds even more stress on the mounting points. Planning to do about 50-50 offroad and highway driving.

If I go this way, I might find a way to reinforce the mouting. Weight still remains an issue.

2 - weight when stationary. The weight on the roof rails will be my weight plus whatever the tent weighs. Expecting around 400 lbs (tent 150 + lbs. myself 200 lbs). Will this be an issue ?

I am looking to buy a hardshell, top of the line, I am ready to pay for a good quality tent.

Looking for owner feedback. Any thoughts appreciated.

Thanks.

If you plan to get a RTT, get a full rack and don't use the oem crossbars, as there is no point cutting corners in a long term solution especially with that much weight for that amount of time.

I use a smittybilt XL RTT, but only if the wife and kid come camping and we stay posted up somewhere. It's inconvenient if you move around daily and if I am by myself I just sleep in the back. I have my gear packed nicely in a couple boxes and tuck them underneath when I sleep in the back.

I remove it when not in use because it does have a lot of wind resistance and you can feel it, and your MPG feels it too.

If it was always just me camping alone and moving around I wouldn't have got it as it is more of a hassle to deal with. It is only useful to me because of the family and using it to set up a base camp for a few days.
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Old 07-11-2023, 12:27 PM #13
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Quote:
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Great video.
Agree, covers a lot of the problems with RTTs. They're certainly not for everyone.

Quote:
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If you plan to get a RTT, get a full rack and don't use the oem crossbars, as there is no point cutting corners in a long term solution especially with that much weight for that amount of time.
Personally if I was going to start over with my rig I'd still go with the RTT and take a long look at this:

Platform RTT - Product Page - GoFastCampers

5th Gen 4runner RTT Mount Kit - GFC - GoFastCampers
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Old 07-11-2023, 02:09 PM #14
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I'd get a GFC - absolutely loved mine

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Old 07-11-2023, 04:16 PM #15
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Iíve never used a rooftop tent. Iíve researched the heck out of them though. Call me paranoid but I like 360į visibility at night. I like the hard shell concept, but the wedges are out because they leave me blind on one side. That includes the iKamper. I like the Maggiolina line. Hand crank up and down. Takes a few seconds longer than the gas strut type, but so easy. It comes much closer to fulfilling the quick-up quick-down roof top tent promise that the Tepui tent in the video fails at so spectacularly. If you are worried about animals it would be better to have a tent that doesnít require the ladder to support it. That way you can pull the ladder up into the tent with you if circumstances make you feel uncomfortable.

All tents have one thing in common. They all involve fabric (and zippers) under tension and exposed to wind, rain, and sun. You mentioned 2-3 years of continuous use. I donít care if it has giant YKK zippers or what kind of whiz-bang coatings and uv stabilizers are present. Your canvas, mesh, and seams will tear eventually. After potentially 1000 raisinigs and lowerings, you will have mechanical problems. This is a factor with all tents. Itís the nature of the beast. They occasionally require repairs. Itís such an expected thing that many new tents come with repair kits. If I were getting a hard shell tent, I would call and make sure I could get a replacement canvas for it. Iíd price that replacement into the budget for the trip.
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