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Finding the right Roof Tent


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I want to take my wife and two children under 12 into the wilds camping.

I want a tent which can fix to a custom roofrack on a 90 or 110. It would be useful if it couyld piych on the ground too. My other half wants two sleeping compartments.

I do not like the standard Hannibal style foldout rooftents because

- they are very heavy (bad having weight high up)

- they are very very expensive (bad for wallet)

- they are said to be noisy in the wind (bad for kids sleep)

- I don't trust that the construction will stand up in some of the windier, more difficult areas I have in mind (northern Scotland, Scandinavia, Russia)

My tentative solution is therefore to buy a mountain tent (Vango Equinox 450 or similar) and build a fold-out roofrack to pitch it on, probably aluminium framed boarded with plastic board or thin marine ply as a stressed skin.

I spoke to Vango who said they had not had anyone ring up trying this.

Has anyone done it and succeeded ? Or tried and failed ?

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I tried this, bought a tent and got as far as pitching it on the ground. Since there are no animals to eat me in the UK or mainland Europe, and very little advantage in pitching the tent up high otherwise against several disadvantages (need a roofrack with hooks, need to stop the car swaying, need to prevent g/f falling off the roof as she stumbles round for the loo at 3am) I never got any further...

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By the time you've made a roof rack, boarded it, added a tent and mattresses, and then a ladder - you'll probably realise where all the weight comes from in a roof tent :P

I've been in some killer storms in mine in Slovenia or somewhere (Autohome tent, German made) and it's solid as a rock and completely waterproof - I certainly wouldn't want to be in a pop up tent on the roof of a car when it starts howling. Some of the African made tents are less weatherproof though but they are still very sturdy. The chinese made ones would probably fold like a paper lantern.

The only worthwhile use for a rooftent, other than stopping animals with a fear of heights getting you, is convenience. Stop where you like, flip it open and get in bed. Useful in the wilds, less so if you're stopping at campsites. If you have to faff with stuff too much it isn't worth the climb.

The annoying thing with rooftents, especially in Euro/UK camp sites is they sudenly make you the centre of focus and are like a magnet for children. :angry:

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RichardAllen, if I understand correctly, are you after some roof tent arrangement for 4 people in two separate compartments?

Yes. the nearest I have come up with is a Vango Equinox 450. But making a roofrack for it is not simple, and it will not be the instant put-up that Eightpot sees as being the main advantage.

I am more concerned about having the option not to sleep on the ground because the surface is so bad. For example , most US campsites I have seen cater mostly for RV's, so do not have the luxuriant grass we have so often in UK. We may need to ncamp by the roadside in transit. As for wilderness camping, who knows what surfaces may be available.

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how about a carnex tent easy to put up. only 3 poles sown in ground sheet. you can get a kit to leave it up when not fasten to your motor. you can sleep in it brats in back of motor. even fits my wranglar JEEP and my trailer.

swanny

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Yes. the nearest I have come up with is a Vango Equinox 450. But making a roofrack for it is not simple, and it will not be the instant put-up that Eightpot sees as being the main advantage.

....

This is the foorplan of a Vango Equinox 450:

equinox%20450%20pine.jpg

Those are the inside dimensions in cm.

You mean you fancy building something that would offer a 4.8 x 2.4 meters platform to be able to put that tent up on the roof?! You must be joking :)

My advice is to make a sleeping arrangement inside the 110 for 2 people and do something on the roof for the other 2.

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FWIW, my intention was to mount a roofrack and remove the upstands. I'd have a tube inside a tube under the rack which would slide out on each side - probably three or four along the length of the car. They'd slide out to take a plank lengthwise along each side of the car to extend the width of the platform - perhaps they could hinge 180 degrees to sit flat along each side of the roofrack when stowed. Some clever placement could put a hook at the end of each to take the corners of the groundsheet and you need to work out a ladder or orient the tent to open onto the bonnet. If I'd planned to keep the tent on the roof, it'd have a mattress in it permanently and half the baseboard would fold over to keep it from flapping in transit.

Mine was just to sleep two though - I think you're pushing it at 4.8 metres long! As I said, I'd done all the thinking and got as far as picking up a roofrack but, when it came to it, I haven't needed to camp anywhere that 5 mins messing with poles and pegs wasn't too much trouble.

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This is the foorplan of a Vango Equinox 450:

equinox%20450%20pine.jpg

Those are the inside dimensions in cm.

You mean you fancy building something that would offer a 4.8 x 2.4 meters platform to be able to put that tent up on the roof?! You must be joking :)

My advice is to make a sleeping arrangement inside the 110 for 2 people and do something on the roof for the other 2.

My thinking is that as a Defender is some 1.8m wide, the tent overlaps by 20cm each side, so fold down roof rack sides might be make to fit. A 110 is 4.6m long, so a 4.8m long tent does not overlap too much. Might thought was a platform might be made by having a double roofrack base with the top being fixed as normal and the underneath sliding forward and being attached to the rest above the windscreen and supported by a frame down onto the front bumper.

An Achilles heel to all this is that even if I can make a strong light platform (aluminium frame + stressed skin like an old race car might do), you would have to be able to unfold it and fix it in just a few minutes for the whole effort to be worthwhile. That is quite a design challenge.

And a major problem with the Equinox tent is that you have to have front and back guys at minimum. These pin down 1m or so forward and back of the main footprint shown above, so how do I pin the guys down on an impenetrable surface like tarmac. Heavy weights are obvious, but again lugging heavy enough weights about defeats the object, otherwise some kind of mast and stay arrangement as per a ship's bowsprit might be needed. At this point I started to think it was all just too difficult, so I consulted the "palace of all treasures" (thanks Fridgefreezer) - this forum.

But maybe I'll just go ahead and build the person I'm not that keen on. After all X-Eng make a living on building bright ideas; whether this idea can be called bright is, however, questionable.

Thanks guys, all further ideas welcome.

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FWIW, my intention was to mount a roofrack and remove the upstands. I'd have a tube inside a tube under the rack which would slide out on each side - probably three or four along the length of the car. They'd slide out to take a plank lengthwise along each side of the car to extend the width of the platform - perhaps they could hinge 180 degrees to sit flat along each side of the roofrack when stowed. Some clever placement could put a hook at the end of each to take the corners of the groundsheet and you need to work out a ladder or orient the tent to open onto the bonnet. If I'd planned to keep the tent on the roof, it'd have a mattress in it permanently and half the baseboard would fold over to keep it from flapping in transit.

Mine was just to sleep two though - I think you're pushing it at 4.8 metres long! As I said, I'd done all the thinking and got as far as picking up a roofrack but, when it came to it, I haven't needed to camp anywhere that 5 mins messing with poles and pegs wasn't too much trouble.

Thanks for the thoughts John. Please keep me posted if you take this any further.

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I think it's a bit ott to be honest. We've camped a lot and pitched a tent on most surfaces. Get a tent that requires minimum pegging out and you can tie it to water cans, bags of rocks etc. You don't need pegs. You can buy tent "carpets" for the inside of the tent (a thick mat with carpet on top), I'd pop this under the tent on rough ground for some protection to the ground sheet. Problem solved, and no need to try and get 4 people on the roof!

Just my 2p's worth anyway.

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I think it's a bit ott to be honest. We've camped a lot and pitched a tent on most surfaces. Get a tent that requires minimum pegging out and you can tie it to water cans, bags of rocks etc. You don't need pegs. You can buy tent "carpets" for the inside of the tent (a thick mat with carpet on top), I'd pop this under the tent on rough ground for some protection to the ground sheet. Problem solved, and no need to try and get 4 people on the roof!

Just my 2p's worth anyway.

I think you all may be quite right. And I am sure SWMBO would agree.

On the other hand working out and building a complex roofrack for the sheer hell of it might keep me out of trouble for a while . . .

On the other hand I could spend the time laning, and do need to do that recovery course at Whitecliff . . .

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It sounds to me like this whole project might cost you more time/money than its worth...

Yes, rooftents are heavy/expensive, but they are very good at the job they do..

You can get them large enough to sleep 4, or alternatively, you can fit two on the roof of a 110...

i'd go with the above advice, and put your ground tend on the ground, and use some sort of underlay below it...

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On the other hand working out and building a complex roofrack for the sheer hell of it might keep me out of trouble for a while . . .

Well why didn't you say? I have a whole list of things I need doing, I could send you it if you fancy. The missus has even said she'll make you cups of tea, and I'd splash out on biscuits :P

I know what you mean though. I spent 2 days last week boarding out the back of the Disco, only to decide it was a waste of time and that I didn't need to do it after all :huh: Kept me busy though :lol:

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