In recent years our tents of choice have been rooftop tents,these tents are attached to the roof rack on your vehicle and have been growing in popularity over the years with a number of new manufacturing companies producing them and as a result they have become more affordable.
There are a number of reasons why we love using roof top tent, the main ones being that you can set it up in a couple of minutes, they keep you off the ground,and they can be folded up with all your sleeping gear inside i.e. sleeping bag and pillow.
So if you are considering purchasing a roof top tent,the first question that should be asked is what model and size is right for your needs.Roof top tents can be either canvas of a hard shell with the main difference between both often coming down to price with the hard shells usually more expensive but they can be more durable and hence last longer.
More and more people outside of Africa and Australia are discovering the benefits of using a roof top tents. They can be permanently attached to your vehicle and provide you with quick solutions to setting up camp and as a result giving us more time to enjoy an outdoor lifestyle.
So what are the other advantages of having a permanently fixed tent on your roof rack;
The main benefits include; You will always have your tent attached to your vehicle and this can be the difference between going away for an adventurous weekend at the drop of a hat or not.
You can have more space in your vehicle by having all of your sleeping gear permanently located in the roof top tent and this also saves time when setting up camp.
You don’t need a place to pitch a tent and this saves time after a longs days driving. Being off the ground means that you are away from all of the creepy crawlies and the damp ground.
On the down side depending on the model they can be expensive, and can also take up most of the room on your roof rack, they can also reduce your vehicle’s fuel efficiency. Other than that if you don’t mind having to climb up and down the ladder to get into bed they are hard to beat and can bring a total different vibe to your camping experience.
Over the years we have mostly used canvas roof top tents but recently have been testing the well known James Baroud hard shell tent ‘’The Discovery Space’’.
The Discovery Space is a hard shell roof top tent that features a fiberglass fortified polyester shell. This product comes with a generous five year warranty, so you can tell that the company is confident with this tents quality. We used the extra large tent over the summer months and we were comfortably able to fit my wife and two small children in the sleeping space.
One of the real attractions of this tent is how easy it is to open and close the tent.The tent has built in AL-KO struts that automatically open when the 4 clips are unhinged with the tent pretty much deployed in just a couple of seconds.Every time I used the tent it always amazed me how quickly it was to set up, this is a real advantage particularly when you arrive into camp late or when it is raining and the last thing you want to do is spend time getting your camp set up.
Closing the tent is equally effortless with the struts allowing you to close the tent very quickly.And when the tent is closed flat it’s just a matter of tucking in the canvas that is sticking out on the sides, securing the four latches and your done and back on the road.
The well made access ladder to tent is stored in the fibre glass tent when closed. The interior of the tent when deployed provides plenty of headroom with large windows and doors also providing great views of your surrounding environment.
Another interesting feature within the tent is a solar powered roof fan. This is an automatic and silent MCV (motorized controlled ventilation) which is powered by a 24 hour life battery which can be recharged by an integrated solar panel kit.This fan provided ventilation for those hot nights too, cleverly the solar powered vent can also be reversed to function an extractor, which helps to avoid any condensation build up and increasing the life of your tent.
The tent also comes with battery operated flashlight that neatly attaches to the roof. The 15 high intensity LED indoor light doubles as a removable rechargeable flashlight with wiring supplied with the tent.
A very useful bit of gear when you need some light when heading to the toilet in the middle of the night. As regards comfort the tents mattress is top notch made with a high density foam and an easily removed cover.
Durability & Weatherproof
This James Baroud Discovery roof tent is completely waterproof and wind tested to 74 mph (120Km/hr).Over the summer months I have slept in this tent in some pretty wet conditions over the summer which included a trip to France where they had three consecutive days of the heaviest rain in nearly twenty years,during these downpours the tent did not leak once. The tent has also been tested in the extreme Paris to Dakar 4WD Rallies where its durability was put to the test.
Verdict The real appeal for us when using the James Baroud Discovery Space was the ease of erecting and taking down the tent. There is nothing more welcoming than pulling into camp after a long days touring and knowing that you will have your tent set up in a fraction of the time in comparison to other tents on the market.
This coupled with the aerodynamic design,superior comfort, space, ventilation and overall quality of the tents components made it hard to find a flaw with this roof top tent. On the downside, as a owner of a short wheelbase 4WD the XXL Discovery Space will take up all of the space on the roof rack but given that you can comfortably fit a small family in it that’s a small price to pay.
From a cost perspective the tent is also more expensive than your standard roof top tent, but given the superior quality (5 year warranty), comfort and more importantly the ease of setting up this is an investment that will more than pay for itself over time. Overall we were very impressed with the James Baroud Discovery Space.