The Smitty built rooftop tent. There’s not a lot to say that hasn’t already been covered pretty well by various bloggers and vloggers. In fact, I didn’t even bother doing a write up on the install.
Installation for me was quite painless. I rotated and re-drilled my crossbars so I didn’t have to buy any additional support brackets. I was able to bolt the tent directly to the Congo cage using just the two lengthwise bars.
Cappy from 410 Overland has a fantastic installation video that pretty much covers everything. I will link his video below. What I can do, is emphasize the positive’s that you’ll hear everyone else talk about.
Starting with the quality of construction. I was surprised at how durable the tent material was. This is also the first thing everyone seems to mention about the tent. This is definitely not your typical nylon pup tent material. The stitching is tight and backed with the sealing layer on the inside. All of the components, from framework to floor support and the letter are all well-built and assembled precisely. For the record I’m a very heavy guy. I never felt like I was going to fall through the floor. That was a concern. I definitely didn’t feel like I was too big to be climbing up into the tent.
Attention to detail. Again I’m going to differ a lot of the demonstration of detail to Cappy at 410 expedition. He has done a great job of nailing all the finer points of this tent. The first components that stood out to me the most were the LED light strip and included hardware. The placement of the LED strip is perfect for lighting up the entire tent. There is more than enough light to read by or work by. The included power cables give you a couple of nice options. There is a USB cord that’s about 10 feet as well as a standard 12 V plug. I tried out both the first couple nights I stayed out. Each option worked fine.
Both nights that I stayed out where in the high 40s Fahrenheit. There was a slight breeze but I didn’t feel overly chilly even though I had a lite sleeping bag. The window flaps zip tight and have extra material covering the zipper from the outside to help avoid leaks at the zipper. Each flap also has its own individual tiebacks. This includes both the screen as well as the cover.
Comfort. Most review were’s will mention the mattress that it comes with it’s a little bit thin. It might be OK for a couple of nights but after a while it’s going to get crushed down and not really provide a lot of support. We added 2 inches of memory foam and that made a world of difference. We purchased a queen size topper and it fit inside the tent very well and we didn’t have to cut anything down. The addition of the mattress did not impede folding and packing up the tent at all. I probably can’t keep my bedding on the tent but certainly don’t have a problem buckling down and putting on the cover.
One thing I found that I didn’t really care for where the holes that come drilled in the frame that you place your window awning supports in. The holes were not all drilled at the right angle. This meant getting a little heavy handed installing the rods. Pulling the rods out is a little tricky as well. They required a little wiggling back-and-forth. Because the rods are steel I believe they will eventually wear these holes out. For now they don’t seem to be a problem but I suspect they could later.
How does the TJ handle with the tent on the roof? I don’t feel like the Jeep is going to tip over. I do notice the added wind resistance both from head wind and cross wind. It’s not terrible. I can’t say I noticed any added noise either but keep in mind I’ve got a old worn out soft top as well. I’ve been driving now with it on for a week and often forget it’s up there. I’ll report back in fuel mileage but honestly if you care about that, buy a ground tent.
Closing thoughts. This tent likely can be found with other brand names on it for a similar price point. I have found at least three other manufacturers with identical tents. There may be basic changes with things like ladder style or material color but it is fundamentally the same tent. I would say it’s a fair assumption that these tents are all made by one company and simply packaged and branded for the purchaser. You can find this same tent for half the price on Alibaba today. They can even put your logo on it! (Subject to purchasing ten at a time.) I don’t think there’s any reason to be afraid of this at all. These tents have had plenty of nights out in the field. This is a quality product and I am confident it will provide years of reliable use.