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Buyer’s Guide: Hard-shell rooftop tents

You have been travelling all day on a bumpy, dusty road and it’s time to set up camp – but the last thing you feel like doing is pitching a tent. Once or twice you must have wondered if it wouldn’t just be better to sleep in the car. Well, forget the hassle of poles and pegs; a hard-shell rooftop tent (RTT) is quick and easy to pitch, and stores your bedding; which means that you don’t have to roll up mattresses and stuff sleeping bags away on a daily basis. Erecting the tent is child’s play: unhook a latch or three and then open it – by lifting, by cranking a handle, or even just by pressing a button.

There are other advantages, apart from the sheer ease of pitching it. A hard-shell rooftop tent is also hard-wearing, dustproof, waterproof, and more durable than a canvas cover. It’s also aerodynamic, which means more fuel-efficient travel, according to Wildearth’s Niell Taylor. It may be a heavy attachment, but once firmly secured, it doesn’t need to be moved again – thus creating more room in your 4×4 for other necessary items.

PITCHING AND STRIKING


You barely need to touch the hard-shell to pack it away – this means that you don’t get dirty early in the morning. (The dust from yesterday’s travel turns into mud when a tent is wet from dew in the morning). Anybody who has ever closed a normal softshell rooftop tent knows that you will probably need a shower after packing your tent away in the morning. You’ve got to fold in the sides of the soft-shell (even top-of-the-range RTT’s sometimes need a bit of motivation), and refit the dust cover, which is generally very dirty and has a mind of its own. “Should you dare to be arrogant enough to leave your bedding inside, it will fight you tooth and nail not to close properly,” comments Bundutec’s Martin Rautenbach. Not to mention that you probably have a jerrycan, or firewood, on the roof, which leaves no space for a cold and clumsy hand to get in and properly fit the dust cover…

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