The rooftop tent market is booming as more people enjoy exploring or the nomadic lifestyle. It has become one of the favorite types of camping for many people. There are a couple particular brands that we have been watching closely, and iKamper is coming on strong in the North American market.
When it burst onto the RTT scene, iKamper’s original Skycamp four-person model raised an impressive $2.3 million, which made it the most successful project of its kind in Kickstarter history. Impressive, right? Let’s take a close look and see what is this hard shell tent all about. When it comes to roof top tents available in America today, we think it really comes down to iKamper vs. Tegui vs. 23 Zero.
The History and Basics of iKamper
The South Korean brand was very clever with its approach. They created a product that caters to people who want to go on road trips and camp, but they either can’t find a tent that’s large enough for their family or the RTTs available have a heavy weight that makes it impossible to use. As for price point, the iKamper is definitely more expensive than buying a tent, but is a fraction of the price of buying a nice travel trailer. Plus the maintenance is much less. You aren’t going to have a flat tire or bearing failure with a rooftop camper.
With the Skycamp, iKamper took both the vehicle load restrictions and the desire of families or groups of friends to enjoy a camping road trip into consideration and created an easy-pop tent for four that doesn’t add much more weight than a two-person one.
iKamper: The Pros
Safe and Lightweight
Skycamp’s most standout feature is, without doubt, its weight. iKamper has managed to build a canvas tent in a hardtop shell that also includes a king-size, lightweight mattress at the industry target weight of 160 pounds. That is the rooftop load limit for the vast majority of cars and trucks while going at highway speeds.
The foldout hardtop four-person RTT has a lightweight, sleek design which is touted by the brand as an exception in its industry. Moreover, it’s pretty important to mention that iKamper is manufactured in a South Korean facility, unlike other RTTs, which are made in Chinese factories. Plus, the Skycamp features a universal mounting system that fits most vehicles.
Easy and Quick to Set Up
iKamper’s quick pop-ability is really cool. Here’s how it’s done:
- Start by unlocking two hardshell latches – this feature was added after early urban adopters have requested it, being worried that vagrants would make the RTT home. This shows not only that the brand listens to the customers’ opinions, but also values what they have to say and puts their advice and recommendations into practice in order to improve the product according to the clients’ needs. Way to go!
- Next, open the hard shell, so that the tent pops up with it.
- Go ahead and fold down the collapsible ladder, which is 83 inches at its standard size and 105 inches at its XL one. This ladder is very sturdy, being able to hold up to 330 pounds.
- Climb up carefully and hook two metal rods (fully detachable) into the small holes on the tent’s platform. This will prop the awning.
Putting the RTT away is really simple, too, since there’s no excess of runaway fabric that you need to handle and put back into the shell before closing the tent. While you’ll need to make sure that the fabric is tidy at both ends, it is not difficult at all.
The plush king-size mattress is comfy, easily wipeable (just in case someone spills something on it), and 1.6 inches thick. This means that a sleeping bag and pad aren’t really necessary to sleep on it. The max cushion is excellent for all those who struggle sleeping in a ground tent, as the Skycamp feels more like a real bed.
Spacious, Sturdy, and Secure
The RTT’s angled, sturdy, hardshell wall makes it feel very secure against the weather conditions. In fact, iKamper is tested it to withstand 40-mph winds. Moreover, you’ll have plenty of headroom to do fun activities such as playing cards or a board game.
Allows for Awe-inspiring Views
iKamper’s center window at the top of the tent lets you enjoy spectacular views, especially on clear sky nights. Some might find it confusing that this window doesn’t fully unzip (which makes sense, since it’s built into the RTT’s outer), but that’s not something that most reviewers have mentioned.
The front portal features zip-around, dark-brown canvas blackouts, which can help you sleep better and longer. Additionally, the tent has two side windows and its famous Skyview. Skycamp has a front-door awning which is awesome for sitting inside and still feel connected to nature.
Its two-layer system definitely sets Skycamp apart from other RTTs. The dual design adds great insulation, strength, as well as a key condensation drip blocker that will help you never feel damp.
On top of that, the tent’s platform is offset, which extends the Skycamp to one side of the car. This configuration is ideal for creating a covered, staged area underneath. You can use this area to stash things that require easy access, such as shoes and food. Not to mention that the platform is lightweight, yet strong enough to hold a heavy Jeep Wrangler (that, as a matter of fact, weighs about 1.8 tons).
Durable and Functional
iKamper’s construction is really well thought and executed. The manufacturer had paid close attention to every single detail and created a product that’s robust enough for several years of intense use. Those who prefer simplicity and closeness to nature will fall in love with Skycamper, as it doesn’t have any whiz-bang gadgetry such as ceiling fans, lighting outlets, ice makers or power outlets. Everything is chosen based on basic functionality and purpose.
The Skycamp can be mounted in numerous ways and you can attach it to almost any car, SUV, or truck. From a truck bed to a mount pushed over the windshield to a truck bed to a pull-along trailer, there is a plethora of configurations you can try.
iKamper: The Cons
Serious Storage Space Required
As the iKamper is pretty bulky even when folded, you can’t simply keep it on a random shelf in your garage. If you don’t have a super spacious garage or a large storage space, it’s pretty challenging to store it. You can invest in a conveyance system in order to remove and store the tent above the vehicle, although this can be pretty expensive. This is not an issue unique to iKamper though. Even if you are comparing Tepui vs. iKamper vs. other makes, storage space will be a factor.
The Space Can Be Tight for Some Groups
While the Skycamp offers plenty of space for two adults and two kids, four grownups may feel like they need more space. This shouldn’t be much of an issue for a short road trip, but if we’re talking about a couple of weeks long adventure, space can be a problem.
Can Be Expensive
Those on a budget can see the iKamper’s price as an obvious concern. Thus, the people who consider purchasing Skycamp, have to consider if they’ll use it enough to justify their investment. For example, if you’re a family that goes on camping road trips all the time, the RTT is great for you, despite its cost.
Eliminates the Option of a Roof Top Carrier
OK, this one doesn’t apply just to the iKamper — it applies to pretty much every RTT on the market. But if you go the route of an RTT, you are committing your roof rack and will not have space for a rooftop cargo box like a Yakima Skybox or Thule carrier. Hopefully, though, the fact that your housing is up on your roof opens up some of the interior vehicle space that otherwise would have been devoted to tents.
Final Thoughts on iKamper
In short, while the iKamper hardshell tent is kind of pricey, it’s a premium product that mainly delivers what it promises. It has sleek, lightweight aerodynamics that nicely go hand in hand with the spacious design and simple setup. Hence, the Skycamp’s RTT is an excellent evolution of roof top tents and a solid investment for families of four and groups of friends.
If you will make use of it, it might turn out to be a great investment for you.