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Review: James Baroud Explorer

I review the hard shell roof top tent, and suggest how one can begin their tent search. 

Part 1 - The Search For A New Roof Top Tent

The Search For A New Roof Top Tent

This all begin in the Spring of 2017, trying my best to decide on which roof top tent to purchase. The soft shell tent I had for numerous years served me well, but after uncomfortably camping during a rain storm- I knew I needed a different sleeping solution.

As many would, I jumped to forums, social media, and video reviews to try and make up my mind. After much research, I concluded there are many different factors that one must consider when purchasing a roof top tent.

The first that one must consider, is their need. One’s need can be determined by three factors.

·Size
·Budget
·Demand

For myself, I concluded the following:

·Size:
o   I needed to comfortably fit two individuals. At 6ft, and as a sleeper who likes my space, this was a concern. I also wanted to be able to sit up inside, change clothes, or even play cards during a late night or rainy day.

·Budget
o   I needed the tent to be within my budget, so that I could still afford to go on trips! I determined that I wanted to keep my cost per night to be less than $30.

o   To be conservative, I determined that I would camp a minimum of 30 nights per year. I then concluded that I wanted my new tent, and overland rig, to have at least another 5 years of planned use.

o   With the math shown below, I determined my budget.

-($30 budget) x (30 nights) x (5 years) = $4,500 budget.

o   Though a large up-front cost, I compared this to the cost of 5 years of Hotel and AirBnb travel.

-($120/Hotel Cost) x (30 nights) x (5 years) = $18,000.

o   That’s an impressive $13,500 in savings over the course of 5 years. I was sold, and luckily- so was my girlfriend.

·Demand
o   As a consumer, I wanted something that could withstand year round abuse, no matter the weather. This need for protection in high winds, snow, and torrential rain, had to be considered. I also wanted this to be a guarantee, so warranty was important for me as well.

I concluded that I needed a year round tent, that fit two people, and was the best quality I could afford. This is my need. Now that I determined my need, it was time for me to determine the best quality within my budget.

To determine quality, I considered the following factors

·Weight
·Durability
·User Friendliness
·Bonus Pros and Cons

For myself, I concluded the following:

·Weight
o   Because I wanted a tent that I could keep on my roof year long, this was less of a factor for me. This meant that I would not need to lift and move the tent too often. However, I still value the importance of maintaining a low center of gravity.

· Durability
o   This was key. My old tent began to mildew from the rain, its fabric was clearly worn from hundreds of nights or use. The outside vinyl cover had some holes in it from trail damage. This made me uncomfortable with leaving it on the rig full time, as I feared it would wear substantially over the next 5 years of use. My new tent needed to withstand the day to day elements, along with my continued use. In order to insure this, I wanted it to have a warranty that stood by the claimed quality.

·User Friendliness
o   This was the most important factor for me. The entire point of a roof top tent for me, in convenience. If it is no longer convenient, then why do I have it?! With my old tent, I dreaded the set up and tear down. In the Mojave Desert I burned my knees climbing on my roof, trying to close the damn fabric cover. On California’s Big Sur coast, I poured a couple of gallons of cold rainwater on my head as I tried to close the tent. Even when I wasn’t traveling, I was always trying to find time to open up the tent, air it out, clean it, re-condition the fabrics. This was not worth it.
o   Unfortunately, this lead to less quick weekend trips. Because if it wasn’t easy, I wasn’t going to do it. My next tent needed to be open or closed within seconds, and I didn’t want to worry about the weather during, before, or after! I’m there to travel, camp, and explore, not perform manual labor.
o   Comfort is everything. I wanted to be comfortable opening and closing the tent, I wanted to be comfortable sleeping in the tent, and I wanted to be comfortable standing on the ladder.

·Bonus Pros and Cons
o   This can be left up to personal opinion, but I believe there are many miscellaneous merits that work either for, or against a company’s product. I have listed below some examples of this, and I believe they are important to consider.

-Company Reputation
-Customer Service/Warranty
-Wind Noise
-Loss Of Space Due To Tent Size
-Appearance
-Miscellaneous Technological Features

 

Adam Klick