Roof Top Tent (RTT)

After a lot of camping background I’m heading to the 40ties and now I’m seeking the same versatility of camping and sleeping in a tent with the added notion of comfort and speed in setting up and down the whole system… who is translated in more time on the water fly fishing. Another benefit of a RTT is that you don’t need to clear and/or clear the ground to set up the tent, this was clear a couple of weeks ago when I arrived later along the river I was planning to fish the following morning and I was forced to sleep in the car. So the quest begins and the research phase took over, not only I realized that I “need” (want) a RTT but also a roof rack to support it.

A lot of forums on the subject where analyzed and from Chinese RTT to Australian RTT I finally settled on the Autohome brand of RTT because of their time on the market doing this, the materials used, the field testing by its customers around the world and the fact that there was a local authorized seller in the country I live (SOLO Made in Italy). Of course they are not cheap, but it is worth it, imagine that you are in the middle of nowhere an the RTT fails on you… do yourself a favor and get the best you can.

Next I started looking at the different product lines they have to offer, and because I wanted a small RTT paired with a low profile and low overall weight I decided that the Columbus Carbon fiber was the right RTT for me, my needs and my car. As my car is a 4L one, the lighter and lower the better on the gas.

For the car I own (2013 FJ Cruiser) there are limited alternatives on the roof racks offered locally except for the original roof rack available from Toyota dealers, and judging from photos on the web and comments on the forums the original Toyota roof rack was not an option, it is taller and raise the gravity center of the whole system way to much, you also need to add aftermarket cross bars to it. So it was discarded, here is a picture of the FJ with the default roof rack.

Going deeply into research, I stepped upon the Baja Rack Utility Rack for the FJ Cruiser who is the lower roof rack on the market as of today for the FJ Cruiser and also has the dimensions to fit the Columbus Carbon Fiber RTT with little room to spare for some lights if I choose to put some up there. It also has a wind deflector… remember the search for something to be light on the gas? The big problem here was there are no Baja Rack dealers in Chile. I do find some dealers in Colombia and asked a friend to score one, but it wasn’t a good move because the dealer was very concerned about customs and shipping cost so I was in a dead end.

As the days go by I reached an on-line store (it also has a physical location in Santiago – Chile) that carries a lot of 4×4 accessories for Jeeps, FJ Cruisers and some others. They where dealers of ARB stuff…The store is Outland Expedition Equipment. I contacted them and asked if they can import the roof rack for me, it turns out that they would. I had to pay for it in advance and wait 60 days for it to arrive.

So the same day the deal was made with SOLO Made in Italy and with Outland Expedition Equipment for the RTT and the roof rack on February 2013, fast forward to April 2013 and the purchases needs to be installed.

First off, the Baja Rack utility rack was strait forward and easy to mount on with the provided nuts and bolts. As a tip, put some silicone on the holes in the car where the bolts go to prevent water coming into the roof before screwing them in:


Next was the Columbus Carbon Fiber RTT, it fits nicely over the Baja Rack Utility Rack for the FJ Cruiser. The difficult part was to tighten the nuts because of the low profile on the Baja Rack where I can barely introduce my fore arms to use a 10 mm wrench to tighten up the nuts.

It took me around 4 hours to mount both the roof rack and the RTT, as I say before the hardest part was to tighten the nuts of the RTT. The good thing is it doable with some patience and a helper to aid on some tasks like bringing the roof rack up or putting the RTT over the roof rack.

So a big thanks to my helper:

The end result is as follows

Note the low profile

And finally, enjoying a well done job:

Some notes:

  1. I’m not affiliated in any way with Autohome, Baja Rack, SOLO Made in Italy and Outland Expedition Equipment
  2. I’m not receiving any money to publish this from anyone
  3. I’m just sharing this to the web so someone can save some time on the research and where to get the things if he/she lives in Chile
  4. If the owner of a Columbus mounted over the default roof rack see this post, please upgrade to the Baja Rack if aesthetics have some meaning to you.

About zlachevsky

Fly Fishing enthusiast
This entry was posted in Camping, Hobbies, Travel and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Roof Top Tent (RTT)

  1. philip469 says:

    So glad I found this post , thank you!

  2. Chris Barclay says:

    Nicely done!

  3. Les Jackson says:

    Wow Simon -i just found this step by step on your “tent” solution. I like it, but if you’re short like me 5’4″ do you use a ladder to get in and out or is there another way to gain access?


  4. Will that make it easier to roll over, Simon????

  5. Joe C says:

    Did I hear someone saying turtle? 🙂
    If you ever need to remove the RTT would it be easier to unbolt the base rack from their brackets first to make it easier to unbolt the RTT from the rack? You could reinstall the RTT to the base first also when putting it back on the FJ.

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