There are a few different styles of roof top tents. I’ve even seen a Kmart A-frame tent set up on the top of a small box trailer. Although this is the polar opposite to the quality Camp King setup, it could still be called a RTT as a roof is not mandatory.
There are RTTs that fold in the middle to make a small roof rack footprint and have been very popular over the years, while the next style of the RTT becoming particularly popular with single and dual cab ute owners is the clam shell.
At first glance, it would seem that there aren't many differences between them. The seemingly small design and build details however can mean the difference between a great trip and a disaster.
WHO IS CAMP KING?
Knowing that Camp King has grown out of the award-winning sheet metal fabrication Ausmetal, it is easy to understand how the quality of the Camp King products are backed by a great pedigree. Lucas Schubring and Sarah Wilson are the hands-on directors of both Camp King and Ausmetal, and have been into camping since they were kids — so they understand what camping means in both good and bad weather. Firsthand knowledge of what a product needs to be feeds into the design of the Camp King RTTs and canopies. They use their own products as they continue to camp with their kids in remote regions.
These days, Camp King products are used across five continents and custom orders keep streaming in from overseas. Australian-made products are highly regarded both here and in many other countries where people pursue overlanding and 4wding lifestyles.
THE ART OF THE BUILD
Before you even open the Camp King RTT, you get a hint of the quality by checking out the TIG welds on the outside of the aluminium casing. If you are someone who deems certain welds 'beautiful,' then these certainly earn that descriptor, being more artful than industrial.
The 2mm 5005 grade — read: really tough — aluminium casing is powder-coated, providing an incredibly strong shell that is also light and looks good. On top of the lid are two extrusion rails allowing for easy fitting of solar panels and roof racks.
Under the case there are two support rails and two mounting rails running the length of the RTT. This allows for solid fitting and installation to most canopy or roof bars. Four high quality hinges connect the top and base with heavy duty pressure rated struts, allowing self-opening. It also closes with little effort. Two over centre latches combined with high quality seals ensure that the inside of the tent remains dust and water free while travelling.
When the RTT is opened, the Australilan-made Wax Convertor canvas — Coolabah tear stop for those in the know — provides protection from the elements. Two large fully opening side windows with both insect proof mesh and canvas allows you to manage both light and breeze. The main door/window has the same mesh/canvas combination and rolls up to allow access through the huge door.
Over the main door/window is a well constructed awning that is easily set up, with combination of vertical poles and cross poles at the roof height making for a very solid awning in any weather. The door can be open without water getting in, even in heavy rain as can be attested to those at the very wet Brisbane 4x4 show recently. Once inside the door can be zipped closed and the canvas window flap zipped down for the prevailing conditions to allow excellent ventilation.
The tent is manufactured in Brisbane by a team with over 30 years of experience, so they know how to make good gear.
CAN WE LIVE TOGETHER?
When I am out taking photos of 4WD rigs, sometimes the time gets away as it did this day. The RTT was a pleasure to pack away and was such a quick process that I questioned my own 4WD/camper combination. Should I sell it to get a rig like this? Single or dual cab utes with an RTT are very popular, and I can see why.
The Camp King RTT suits the ute market perfectly, but would also complement many camper trailers that don’t come with tents as standard. The ideal entry point for this RTT is from the rear as the full door is covered well by the solid awning. Entry via either side is also easy enough as the door/windows are very large, although you don’t get the protection from an awning. The supplied collapsable ladder can mount easily and solidly via the provided bracket to all three openings. Some ute canopies already have ladders mounted to the rear so the supplied ladder may not even be required.
Tall blokes rejoice — the internal length is over 7ft so you will be able to get a good nights sleep without your feet hanging out. For those of us not as tall as a basketball player, there is a bonus too; we can get a standard double mattress and then have room for small bags at the end of the bed.
The inside height is high enough for me to stand up with a bit of a lean — I’m just shy of 6ft tall — and the advantage of being able to stand up is that it makes getting dressed easier. It also helps with keeping it cool, as hot air rises to the apex of the tent. With the side windows open this is going to create airflow with cooler air coming in at the sides and the hot air flowing out at the top of the door screen.
Both the top and base of the shell are insulated with closed cell foam. There are 12v outlets next to the mattress, so a fan could be added on those really hot nights. RTTs are often cooler than swags or tents as the air is often a little cooler 2m off the ground. If you are in Africa, they also make it more difficult for lions or crocs to crawl in and cuddle up or eat you. Makes sense.
Storage is surprisingly good, with six pouches on the ceiling and small pockets either side of the door and at the foot of the bed. You could leave sleeping bags/doona in the RTT and possibly pillows — although I forgot to bring one to test it out.
Tapered at the front to make it more aerodynamic, it looks pretty good too. An awning can be attached directly to the RTT using some brackets available from Camp King. A 180-degree awning would be perfect to give lots of cover but still allow access from to the main door of the RTT.
With a weight of around 90kg, it will be too heavy for roof racks on the current crop of single and dual cab utes. Older vehicles make be able to take the weight, so certainly check your own vehicle’s specs. Utes with canopies, station wagons with gutter mounts, and camper trailers will be the majority of vehicles the Camp King RTT will end up on. I must say, the specced-out Ranger and Camp King RTT looked particularly sweet.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Everything about the Camp King exudes quality. It is likely to outlast your vehicle and, being a RTT, you can transfer it to your next 4WD. The shell and tent will last for many years, so resale will be very good. The Camp King RTT is one of the more costly units on the market and so are aspirational for many. Some might say it is expensive — but due to the quality of the build and the design features, I would say it’s good value if you can afford it.