Campers and RVs may be fun, but for overlanding, you need something a bit more compact. If you’ve got a pickup truck, you can get a bed-mounted camper. For other vehicles, there are foldable rooftop tents. However, to make them stow-able, these tents are usually made of special fabrics, even if they have a hardtop. They may be waterproof and durable, but they’re not exactly animal-proof. As a backpacker myself, I can say it is a valid concern. But it’s a concern Colorado-based Redtail Overland’s new hard-sided rooftop tent is tackling.
Redtail Overland’s hard-sided rooftop tent
Bear attacks weren’t exactly Redtail Overland’s original inspiration for its hard-sided rooftop tent, Autoblog reports. In fact, founders Ty and Annie Tatro initially were more concerned about exposure to the weather and temperature extremes. Fortunately, some of the same things that make the Redtail Rooftop Camper weather-proof also make it claw-resistant.
Both the Tatros previously worked at Earthroamer, Overland Expo reports, which makes extensive carbon-fiber-bodied truck-based campers. And, just like Earthroamer’s campers, the RTC rooftop tent is made of light-weight insulated carbon-fiber. That includes the top, base, and folding side panels. These are attached to aluminum brackets, Gear Patrol reports, which can also hold tools, such as shovels. The whole tent opens and closes via gas struts.
Carbon fiber’s weight advantage means Redtail Overland was able to add more features to its rooftop tent. The RTC has built-in solar panels with a lithium-ion battery pack, dimmable LED lighting, a variable-speed fan, as well as several USB-C and 110-volt outlets. The interior LEDs can even swap from white light to red light, to preserve night vision.
To keep the elements at bay, it has several dual-pane polycarbonate windows, as well as a diesel heater. Those windows are removable, as well as impact-resistant, Automobile reports. Also, both the windows and doors are lockable, and all the hinges and seals are water-proof.
As the RTC is indeed a tent, it comes with a 3”-thick reconfigurable foam mattress. Plus, if your overlander has a moonroof, you can get into the Redtail roof tent without going outside.
Finally, there’s another benefit to the RTC’s carbon-fiber-heavy construction: strength. It’s reportedly so strong, it can hold 3 gear crossbars without needing additional support racks.
Pricing and availability
Redtail Overland makes each RTC roof tent by hand. There are 2 versions available, both on pre-order. Construction is expected to start in August 2020, Motor1 reports.
The $20,000 RTC 90 is 90” long and 56” wide, sized for passenger cars and small-to-midsize SUVs. It comes with 2 solar panels, rated at a combined 210 watts, and a 40-Ah pack. It weighs 190 pounds, and can reportedly comfortably fit 2 adults and a dog.
The $25,000 RTC 110 is designed for larger SUVs. It’s 110” long and 60” wide, weighing in at 250 pounds. The RTC 110’s 3 solar panels deliver 330 watts and are linked to a 60-Ah battery pack.
Other roof tents to consider
Before you order the RTC or another rooftop tent, it’s important to know your overlander’s roof weight limits. That’s because, in addition to the tent, your roof will also be supporting you and your gear, REI explains.
Understandably, $20,000-$25,000 is quite a lot of money for a roof tent. You could get a well-maintained Mitsubishi Delica for that money. But, if you don’t mind fabric sides, there are some alternative choices.
One of the best, from a weather-resistance standpoint, is the Thule Tepui Hybox, Popular Mechanics reports. It doesn’t have the RTC 90’s solar panels, lights, or outlets. But it’s waterproof and insulated and has a removable 3”-thick mattress. And it only costs $3000.
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