RTT on full size truck, lifted Jeeps, etc...how are you handling deployment and covers? Carry second ladder? Only buy a hard shell?

urbex

Observer
About a month ago I picked up my first RTT as part of what I believe to be a mid life crisis, lol. Some guys buy a Corvette and a 21 year old with daddy issues..I bought a tent and camped my way across the country for a few weeks. While it certainly won't be replacing my RV, I did love the experience. Now I'm at a bit of a cross roads though...

Tent is a Smittybilt gen 1 Overlander, largely because I found a cheap deal on a brand new one, and I didn't want to be several thousand deep in this if it turned out I hated it on the first night out. I had originally mounted it on the bed of my '96 Chevy K2500, and built a rack system that put the base at the same height as the bed rails - about 4 feet off the ground. Made deploying/repacking and getting the cover on/off super simple.

That truck developed major issues about 1,000 miles from home on the return trip, and I ultimately decided to swap it out for a 2017 Ram 2500 which sits MUCH higher.

I found pros and cons to having the tent sitting lower in the bed, but I think on this truck I'm going to put it on a taller bed rack, which puts the tent base roughly 7 feet off the ground. I've seen pictures of these things on lifted trucks and Jeeps, but I'm sitting here pondering just how in the world are people getting these things opened/closed, and travel covers put back on when they're that high.

Do I carry a small step ladder? Go without the travel cover while on the road? "should have bought a hardshell pop up"?
 

Airmapper

Inactive Member
You crawl around like a monkey standing on your wheels and bed rails to reach and you'll make about 20 trips around the truck to climb, tuck, and tug on it from all sides if things don't fold up just right the first try.

Nothing about the setup will be easier with it higher.

I have the same tent and was so happy when I got that off my truck and down low on a small trailer.
 

urbex

Observer
You crawl around like a monkey standing on your wheels and bed rails to reach and you'll make about 20 trips around the truck to climb, tuck, and tug on it from all sides if things don't fold up just right the first try.

Nothing about the setup will be easier with it higher.

I have the same tent and was so happy when I got that off my truck and down low on a small trailer.
Ok, so leaning more towards either low rack again, or ditching the idea of a RTT altogether. Starting to understand more why there's so many "only used once" RTTs in the classifieds 😅

I get why people go the trailer route, but I'm thinking it's going to be hard enough to maneuver a crew cab long bed in enough areas that I really don't want to add a trailer to the mix too... Plus that means I can't take the other toys with me as well. There were a couple stops I made on that trip that made me wish I had taken the boat with me too...
 

Lemsteraak

Adventurer
Folding tents are designed to expand and have more room but are a pain on tall vehicles. They were originally designed when off road trucks went really slow, about as aerodynamic as a church, not a good choice for roadtrips. Hardshell tents were pretty much the same but have been redesigned to be quite aerodynamic so they can handle high speeds without much of a fuel penalty.

Some of the new ones, in the past 15 years come with internal bungie cords. All you have to do is hook them up on your way out and lower the top and they suck the fabric in. Your fuel savings will pay for the added cost
 

Airmapper

Inactive Member
Well don't take me wrong RTTs have their place, it's still my primary camping setup so while they can be a pain in the rear I still like them. I mean I've been using mine for oh I forget, like 7 years now, maybe more...and I've replaced bits, patched bits, sewed rips back together and waterproofed it every few years, I've probably gotten more nights out of an RTT than anyone I know who has one. I've gotten my money out of it that's for sure. I still shop for it's replacement and never find anything I can quite say is better.

But no setup is perfect so it's a trade off between pros and cons. For me sleeping up off the ground in comfort that rivals my bed at home is a pretty big pro. And I've had to make adjustments to get it where I like it, but that doesn't come without drawbacks. I'd really like to use an annex room but mounted low it just won't work out. Sometimes I'd rather not tow my trailer.

Ultimately you think about it really hard, what you actually do and want, then pull the trigger and buy something. I have so many camping setups it's not funny, but for each trip I may pick something different depending on where I'm going, what kind of camp it is, what else I'm taking, etc. I've got everything from a hammock to a Coleman Pop-up trailer. And to you may come up with different ways to use the same gear.

It can work 7ft off the ground, I did it for a few years. But, I'm over 6ft tall and I found it to be annoying. To secure some parts for travel I ended up climbing on top my tires and opening doors and stepping up. Putting the travel cover on was the worst bit.
 

urbex

Observer
I'm kicking around the idea now of setting up something to sleep in the bed inside the cap...chunk of thick foam, cot...something, not sure yet.

I figure I can slap something basic together for a couple hundred bucks, and give that a go for a weekend to see how I like it. I can see myself missing the "open sky" feeling of the tent with the roof windows, but then something that needs zero setup and is stealthy on long road trips could be handy too.

But it should be able to give me a good idea if I like it enough to go full in to that, or figure out how to make the tent work for me.
 

SDDiver5

Expedition Leader
I'm kicking around the idea now of setting up something to sleep in the bed inside the cap...chunk of thick foam, cot...something, not sure yet.

I figure I can slap something basic together for a couple hundred bucks, and give that a go for a weekend to see how I like it. I can see myself missing the "open sky" feeling of the tent with the roof windows, but then something that needs zero setup and is stealthy on long road trips could be handy too.

But it should be able to give me a good idea if I like it enough to go full in to that, or figure out how to make the tent work for me.
There's a long thread on here somewhere about built out truck beds. I had a nice little truck bed build out when I had a shell on my old F150. Had storage, electrical, bed with foam mattress, carpeted etc.

It's a decent way to go, especially if you camp in the cold or questionable areas. I slept in that thing in the mountains for a few years and loved every minute of it, now that I'm older, I want to sleep comfortably so Now I have a RTT and I have mixed feelings on it. Like it but don't for the reasons you stated. For height, I have my rack set so when the tent is open, I can walk under it. So it sits about 6 feet 2 inches off the ground. Doesn't act like a sail being high up. It's maybe 6 inches above the cab, but also allows me to crawl under it in the bed with some extra space when needed. But it does take some monkeying around to get it all zipped up and put away.

I really want to go with a pop top of some kind, GFC is too small for me, FWC is too expensive and I dont really like the look. IF I do get one, it will likely be a topo topper. More expensive up front but I feel the benefits and ease make up for it in comparison to a RTT.
 

urbex

Observer
Part of the "do it on the cheap" is more about just wanting to try it before going all out on it, and partly that it wouldn't be my primary set up. I also have a class B on an E350 chassis that's in the middle of a full rebuild - typical story...bought what I _thought_ was going to be "minor repairs", and before I knew it the whole thing was gutted and I was working on pulling the fiberglass roof cap off...ironically because I got tired of repairing stapled together balsa wood truck campers, lol.

Summer here in Phoenix hit, I didn't want to be working on it when it was 100+ outside, and it's going to be a while before it's back together. But I also know that while it will ultimately be my primary for camping, a full blown RV won't be able to get to all the places I'd want to go camping, plus I frequently have a trailer queen rock crawler with me, so that precludes relying on a camping trailer set up.

I then had a need to visit Michigan for a wedding, I HATE flying, and the little light bulb in the head clicked on - "You're about 30 years over due for a vacation...buy a RTT and make an adventure of the drive!" :LOL:

While there were points I didn't like, and a couple "oops...never thought about this little issue...", such as needing to find hidden places to stop for the night because a tent folded out is pretty obvious on the side of the road or in a rest stop, overall I really did enjoy the experience.

As for the rack on the Chevy, it was more about a quick, dirty and cheap way of getting the tent on the truck, as my impulse buy happened only a few days before I needed to leave. I simply laid a pair of unistrut sections across the bed rails, bolted them to the bed rails, and bolted the tent to the strut. Quickly realized it was FAR too flexy, and then added 4 more pieces to tie the cross bars to the bed floor. Drilling a bunch of holes for this in a 30 year old beat up Chevy didn't bother me, but I'm not wild about doing the same to my Ram. It just so happened that doing it this way kept the tent low, and then the rest of the pros and cons were learned mid-trip.

So now I'm at that "lets look at some other options" point....which admittedly has gone as far as to think about the "crawler hauler" gooseneck trailers, and building out a large enclosed trailer toyhauler style, and sleeping in the back of the truck began to seem like a logical one to at least try first.
 

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