Have you been curious about what it is like to camp in a rooftop tent? I have been interested in this style of camping for a few years now as I notice more and more rooftop tents on the highways and at our local campgrounds. The investment in a rooftop tent is not insignificant though so I have held off on committing to purchasing one. Through a bit of serendipity I met Summer Brown while traveling on Cape Cod this past July and when I asked her about the rooftop tent on her vehicle I learned she is the owner of a new company in southern New Hampshire that rents rooftop tents, Rooftop Adventure Company.
At the end of September I drove down to her location in Merrimack, NH and was fitted with the iKamper 2.0 Rooftop Tent and headed back north for a four day three night camping trip. In this post I’d like to share our experience in relation to the service provided by Rooftop Adventure Company and our thoughts on the iKamper Skycamper 2.0 Rooftop Tent.
In order to reserve a tent you will first want to browse the available models. Rooftop Adventure Company currently has 5 different models:
Guana Equipment Kamuk, $75/day. This is a great choice for 1-2 people who also want to carry a kayak, bike, small roof box, etc as this tent only takes up about half of your roof rack!
Smittybilt Overlander, $75/day. A roomy 2 person option with an included LED light strip.
Thule Autana 3 + Annex, $85/day. Enough room for 4 people when using the attached annex!
iKamper Mini, $95/day. The perfect choice for 2 people who are constantly changing location as this one is a breeze to set up and breakdown to head to the next spot!
iKamper Skycamp 2.0, $105/day. The biggest tent in the fleet and the one we used! I’ll go into more details on this model below.
In addition to renting these rooftop tents Rooftop Adventure Company also rents an “Adventure Trailer”. If you have a towing package on your vehicle THIS is the way to go! The trailer is an additional $30/day and can be paired with either the Smittybilt Overlander, the Thule Autana 3, or the iKamper Mini. There are two great advantages to using the trailer. First, you have a ton of cargo space for transporting bikes, paddle sport equipment, camping gear, etc. Second you can set up the tent and camp and still drive your vehicle to town or the trailhead. This option really made me wish we had a vehicle with a towing package!
Once you have decided on the model and have some dates in mind you just fill out a short contact form and Summer is quick to get back to you to lock in the reservation. We did have some back and forth correspondence trying to determine which of my vehicles had a more suitable roof rack for the different models of tents available. Right now the only requirements listed for each model are:
“Vehicle raised side rails and Thule or Yakima crossbars (rental crossbars available upon request)”
Adding the weight of each model to the website might help customers narrow down their selection, though it isn’t too hard to look up the weight of any of these online. I would suggest to potential customers to check your vehicle’s user manual for the roof weight limit in addition to the weight limit of your factory or after-market roof rock.
Rooftop Adventure Company is located in Merrimack, NH, at Summer’s residence. To make installing this tent on the roof of your car Summer has an electric lift that does almost all the work. You simply back your vehicle up next to her garage and her lift does on the heavy lifting. After just a few minutes the tent is secured to your vehicle and it’s time for a quick clinic on how to set up and break down your tent. Once I felt comfortable with the operation (the iKamper Skycamp 2.0 is really super simple to set up and break down, literally both actions take less than 3 minutes) it was time to sign some paperwork. Typical liability waivers and what anyone would expect when renting equipment. A fully refundable deposit is made and you’re ready to head out on your trip!
Setting up the iKamper Skycamp 2.0
After arriving at our campsite, a great riverside site at Saco Family Camping, I got to work getting our campsite ready for the rest of the family (kids were still in school and wife was still at work). One consideration when roof top camping off of pavement is to try to park level. Once I had our vehicle on a flat spot with the front of the tent facing the campfire and river I opened it up was impressed with how fast the whole process went. I took the extra minute or two to extend the optional side awnings. With the tent fully deployed in less than 5 minutes I setup our new camp grill (not doing a full review on it right now but I will say we LOVED cooking on our new Royal Gourmet Griddle!) After that I had some free time so decided to go for a quick eBike ride on some adjoining trails!
Sleeping in the iKamper Skycamp 2.0
One of the first things that impressed me when I climbed up into the tent was how stable and sturdy the floor felt. Summer has added carpet to the floor of this model and that combined with the king sized mattress made for an excellent sleeping surface. We did not pack or use any of our other sleeping pads. The four of us had plenty of room and we found it best to sleep with our feet towards the door and our heads towards the cool quilted world map that is basically the inside of the hardshell cover. Despite nighttime temperatures forecasted in the lower 40s we opted to keep the two screened windows open to help with moisture control. Since we were car camping with brought a couple big puffy blankets in addition to my prized Western Mountaineering TerraLite Sleeping Bag. I bought this sleeping bag for a Cascades climbing trip I went on a few years ago and I love how it opens up into a huge blanket that almost the whole family can get under!
In the morning I checked in with everyone to see how well they slept and in was unanimous. Best night of sleep in a tent any of us had ever had! We had no noticeable moisture buildup despite there being four people in the tent on a cold clear night.
Packing Up The Tent/Returning the Tent
On the last day of our “stay-cation” style camping trip we emptied everything out of the tent and closed it up in less than 5 minutes. Since we were staying local we had a second car to use for our day adventures but I realized this tent was so quick and easy to set up and break down it wouldn’t have been much of a hassel to do so each day. The only downside would be removing and storing your blankets and pillows each day but that’s a very small drawback. The next day I drove back to Merrimack where Summer was ready to remove the tent, give it a quick look over to make sure there was no damage, and send me on my way.
I captured a lot of this process with video and have shared it to my YouTube. If you’d like to see the details on setup and breakdown check it out here!
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Renting a rooftop tent was an incredible experience for our family! The kids LOVED it. My wife has told me she might not sleep in a regular tent again (I think she’s being a bit dramatic). Rooftop Adventure Company is the first of its kind that I know of. Summer started the business in 2019 and I can’t wait to watch it grow! Her customer service is top-notch through out the process. She was available for any questions from the beginning to the end of our trip. She is located in an excellent spot to serve the greater New England area and points south. Owning a rooftop tent can be tricky for many of us. We don’t have a garage or place we would be able to store it when not using it. Given the quality of the tents and service she provides I feel her rental rates are very reasonable. We would definitely use this rental service again and if you’ve been thinking about trying a rooftop tent you don’t need to look much further than the Rooftop Adventure Company. I’ll finish this review with the journal entry my wife wrote the day I returned the tent.
See you in the mountains,
Northeast Alpine Start