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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I am relatively new to the forum after lurking for a month or so and this is my first attempt to give back in some way.

THE BACKGROUND

So first off, I’ll tell you a little bit about me, my vehicle and my needs.
I am a graduate student studying Biology with most of my research done in coastal areas, often in national parks and other places that don’t allow camping and have limited facilities. My field work involves early mornings, late nights, and long distances from my home. So having even earlier mornings and later nights to sleep in my own bed is often not a viable solution. Because of this I found myself sleeping in my car all too often, painful in my last car, bearable in the passenger seat of my new (to me) FJ. Camping was generally not viable as my tent took far too long to set up, took up a bunch of interior cargo space, and didn’t do so hot on the wet ground.

THE SHOPPING & PURCHASE

Thanks to the FJ cruiser forums I saw rooftop tents for the first time, being on a student’s budget I began researching obsessively to find something that would both be affordable and fully functional for my purposes. Relatively quickly and mostly for price reasons I began focusing in on the soft rooftop tents, and from looking at the rooftop tent thread I found several viable options. The most affordable of which is the one I really narrowed my focus too, the campinglabs tent.

So now is the part where the obsessive googling begins. I get tons of hits all positive about the tent. Unfortunately 80% of the hits are the exact same review that has just been posted on dozens of forums, that doesn’t make me feel so confident. However since I can’t find any negative reviews to speak of I contact Fernando the owner of the company to talk.

As others have mentioned Fernando at camping labs is nothing but helpful. We discussed the several possibilities and I decided that the “medium” 55”x 94” tent was the most realistic option for me. Occasionally I lucky enough to have an assistant on my research and when that’s possible it would be nice to share a tent without waking up spooning in the morning. If I was considering purchasing for myself and a spouse I would have simply opted for the smaller size.

I picked up the tent from Fernando in person since I am lucky enough to be a Floridian who occasionally travels through Miami anyway. Fernando helped me load the tent and lash it down on the roof so I could head home. Once again Fernando from camping labs was nothing but helpful and friendly.

THE SETUP & INSTALLATION


My FJ Cruiser has a factor roofrack, on top of the factory roof rack are two 78” Yakima crossbars anchored in place with four Yakima Railgrabs. The wide bars allow me to hold my kayak a 14-foot Wilderness Systems Tarpon I use for field work tied down to a Yakima Bow-down, as well as a multitude of other objects such as a rooftop tent.

The tent was boxed very well, and is as tough as nails, although I picked mine up in person I can only imagine it would survive shipping very well. I will say though that the box is massive, I would have it shipped to whatever place you want to do your installation. Moving it in the box makes it fit poorly on the roof rack, and it is impossible to fit in the cargo bay.
We unpacked the tent and found a bag of parts in matching tent material, a couple wrenches, and a set of rudimentary instructions. The instructions vary depending on whether or not you are mounting the tent to open over the rear or side of the vehicle. We opted for side opening so that the kayak and the tent would continue to fit side by side. This will work on 78” bars regardless of which size tent you use. If you opt for the “small” tent it would fit with the kayak in rear opening as well.

Quickly within the instructions we realized we were missing parts, BUT have no fear once you open up the tent on your own you will find the ladder and rails are contained within the tent itself. No need to panic! Once the rest of the parts were discovered the instructions sufficed to put together the tent, although I will list a few hints that can make your installation easier:
1. In the diagram of how all the parts fit together the image is unclear that you are looking for long rails, the ones contained within the tent.
2. If you want to cut the installation time to a quarter of what it will otherwise take, get out your ratchet set.
3. When bolting the rails onto the base of the tent for god sakes open up the tent and sit inside it while a friend holds it half folded. So much easier than trying to reach between the mattress and the floor.
4. When putting the cover on, slide the unzippered portion into the track first!
5. When zippering fold the material back on itself to go around the corners.
6. The awning supports slide into the metal frame of the tent through the brass grommets, this is not mentioned in the instructions.​
The tent attached very quickly and easily to the Yakima cross bars, it should immediately feel absolutely rigid when sitting in the tent. Bouncing around in the tent should result in the car rocking, not the tent flexing.

THE DISASTER

Well actually it turned out not to be a disaster at all. So the campus garage which we were exceptionally careful entering and driving around in fails to correctly mark the heights in the garage. Suddenly and without warning with any kind of sign the garage goes from 8’6” to 7’1”. This resulted in a loud crash as the tent slammed against the cement support. The Yakima bolts within the Yakima railgrab buckled the tent and Yakima crossbars ripped off the roof and fell about 7 feet to the ground. CRASH!

So it’s a really bad day, my friend comes and she rescues me, puts the tent and cross bars in her pickup, I go with her, load it into the garage and proceed to drink a lot of beer since I know there is no way I can afford another tent on my student income. And getting the school to be responsible for their lack of signs will be a long fight away if ever.

THE DAMAGE

The next day I go out and starts inspecting the tent, it took the full force of the crash both into the cement, and the 7 foot fall.

The damage was as follows: small dent where the ladder touches the tent floor, scuffed cover, crushed immovable zipper.

Well 30 minutes with needle nose pliers and the zipper is as good as ever. The dent is only on the outside, and the tent is in perfect condition.

THE VERDICT

The tent is comfortable, sturdy, and quick to set up (5 minutes to take the cover off, 2 minutes to open the tent) making it ideal for my needs. It fits next to my Kayak even while open. It stays dry, and fits nicely on the roof rack with a relatively quick and easy installation. The mosquito netting is holding up to field work at the aptly named “mosquito lagoon” in Florida. The tent stayed dry during what little rain we have had so far with the windows open and the awning up.

The tent is built like a tank! It took abuse that it should have never been dealt, and likely won’t experience under any normal conditions.

:bigthumb: I am happy with this purchase and just wanted to pass along this information and create another review so that the next person that is googling for information about this tent can find more than one full length review.

Pictures are coming soon to the thread, and thanks for reading.


Tent with me in it, kayak on roof as well.


Watching the neighbors watching me

Closing Sequence





 

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Great review! I love RTT's!!!

cheers,

dale
 

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thanks! great review! I wish i could use it:) i travel all the time, but mostly i spend time in NY, and im afraid to leave tent overnight :). Oh yeah! how hard is it to remove it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
thanks! great review! I wish i could use it:) i travel all the time, but mostly i spend time in NY, and im afraid to leave tent overnight :). Oh yeah! how hard is it to remove it?
To remove at minimum it would be about 8x 13mm bolts, they have a way to go as well. So someone could steel it I suppose, but they would have to spend a fair amount of time unbolting it.

If your prepared to do it with a ratchet probably like 10-15 minutes.

If your asking with regards to how easy it is to steal, then I suppose its not much worse than most other roof racks. Yakima locks, but everything in the bases is for the most part plastic so 15 minutes with a bolt cutter and I'm sure you could get that off too.

That being said between the size, the vehicle needed to move it, and the 8 bolts it wouldn't be convenient to steal.


I'm also having a friend who sews well make me a black nylon cover for it, just one large opening with a pull cord around the base to hide the logos when I'm not planning on using it, then it will look more like any other soft top roof storage not advertising what it is.

I'll certainly take a photo once it's made.
 

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That tent really folds up that easy? So when you set it up you just pull on the ladder and it is set up? Thats amazing I have never seen one set up or put awy before. I may have to look into this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
That tent really folds up that easy? So when you set it up you just pull on the ladder and it is set up? Thats amazing I have never seen one set up or put awy before. I may have to look into this.
Yea that easy!

You pull the cover off (by far the longest part of setup)
Pull on the ladder, the ladder extends and locks. You continue pulling down on the ladder which acts as a lever and opens the tent. The tent is now up.

The only other thing to do is to optionally put up the awnings with the poles which takes another 3-5 minutes. But the tent is set up and waterproof for sleeping in immediately upon opening. Thats half the excitement about it to me. The mosquitoes are really bad where I am, so you want to spend as little time as possible in setup.
 

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To remove at minimum it would be about 8x 13mm bolts, they have a way to go as well. So someone could steel it I suppose, but they would have to spend a fair amount of time unbolting it.

If your prepared to do it with a ratchet probably like 10-15 minutes.

If your asking with regards to how easy it is to steal, then I suppose its not much worse than most other roof racks. Yakima locks, but everything in the bases is for the most part plastic so 15 minutes with a bolt cutter and I'm sure you could get that off too.

That being said between the size, the vehicle needed to move it, and the 8 bolts it wouldn't be convenient to steal.


I'm also having a friend who sews well make me a black nylon cover for it, just one large opening with a pull cord around the base to hide the logos when I'm not planning on using it, then it will look more like any other soft top roof storage not advertising what it is.

I'll certainly take a photo once it's made.
Thanks, maybe i can come up with some lock... thanks again man!:bigthumb:
 

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I'm looking forward to using mine at the Summit in Ouray this year, to save hotel room costs.

I agree about the sturdiness and ease of setting up and folding up when ready to go. It's also very comfortable to sleep in, with lots of room. The 3" memory foam mattress is fantastic. If it didn't come with that there's still room enough for a queen size air mattress.

All in all, I'm very pleased with mine, too.
 

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Thanks Cheekymonkey! That is an awesome review. I've been scouring this site and others to find much of the information that you have very clearly laid out for us here. I've been considering an RTT but one of the main issues for me has been limiting the usefulness of the roof rack. Now that I see that I can still mount my kayak, I'm a happy man.
Well done!
 

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I thought I would take the time to comment on this tent as well. I got mine 2 years ago from Fernando as well. I will second that he was a pleasure to purchase from, and I would do it again in a heart beat.

When I bought my set up, my FJ did not have a rack. I went with the RTT Rack from Baja (bought from Fernando). It is flat, and the tent sits closer to the roof. Designed specificaly for the FJ.
Installation was fairly straight forword. The Rack Bolted together, then straight into the mounting points on the top of the FJ. I went with the Passenger side opening as well. The only area I ran into an issue mounting the tent to the rack was at the middle of the rack when looking from the side. The Baja Rack sits really close to the roof. I ended up having to shorten the bolts, then I had to get a wratcheting box end wrench to tighten it down.

The Tent has now been on the roof of the FJ for 2 years, I have never taken it off. It is amazing. Last summer I had the Month of July off, so the fiance and I went on a road trip. We went from SoCal to Washington State, all the way over to Chicago and back. 16 States in 24 days, including all the national parks we could hit. We were in all kinds of weather from georgous days, to thunderstorms in the midwest. The tent held up to it all. We have also gone on various weekend trips, and even used it for extra sleeping space at the house for family.

I too had an incident in a parking garage with mine. The clearence on the sign for the enterence was correct for the ceiling height, however it didn't account for the "Exit" sign. Needless to say it put a dent in my ladder, and tore the cover a little. But it is still working great without issues.
I love it, comfy, and the sleeping bags stay up there. I always have a place to stay wherever I am. That and Free camping at any rest stop is amazing.

Hope this adds to the review for others as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Just an update, I've spent nights in it a few times now. But this past weekend was the first time I needed to use it 3 days in a row. Way comfortable.

I was parked about 10 feet away from the water on the Florida Inter Coastal waterway. As anyone from Florida knows it was hot as hell this weekend. All three days were dominated by Oyster reef restoration, which for me meant 6-8 hours a day of pick axing and shoveling the natural cement that is dead oyster reefs. With the awnings up the tent stayed nice and cool, and even with all the work I had done the plush 3" mattress kept my back feeling great for the next day.

I can't wait to have an opportunity to do a week plus stay in the tent, I'll post how that goes when I do.
 

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Do you happen to know the weight limit for that particular RTT?
 

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So is it as easy to put back as it is to set up?

Can you fold it up with sleeping bags in it?

How hard is it to take on and off? I would need to leave it off unless I went camping otherwise it won't fit in the garage.
 
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