We've learned a lot during the first year of having our roof top tent. Now we want to share our experiences with you.
Check out the video below of our one year followup review of the Smittybilt Overlander roof top tent, model #2783.
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These the velcro on these two straps is showing the greatest wear of any item on the Smittybilt roof top tent. During travel in high winds, one of the straps blew loose several times and was flapping in the wind.
Our Solution: Two 12' lashing straps to wrap around the cover over the existing straps. Lashing straps were chosen instead of cargo straps because the lashing straps have much smaller buckles and are easier to use.
There are 4 compression straps that hold the tent folded; two on the hinge end and two on the end opposite the hinge. The velcro on these straps is showing less wear.
The amount of bedding stowed inside the tent has a direct impact on the velcro wear. If a lot of bedding is stored inside the tent then a lot of tension is needed to pull on the non-hinge side compression straps and fix them in place with the velcro. The greater the tension on the straps and their velcro the more quickly that velcro will wear out. With only the tent's 2" mattress in place when the tent is folded, the tent closes well - no strap stress. We've stowed light/summer sleeping bags inside the tent when it is folded which doesn't add much bulk either.
Our Solution: Stow no bedding or only thin amounts of bedding in the folded tent.
The cover is thick and has a woven material component to it. The cover is holding up well; no rips or tears. On the inside bottom of the cover, all the way around, is a wide strip of velcro. This connects to velcro that is all around the outside of the tent when folded. The assists keeping the cover in place during travel by preventing wind from getting under it and blowing it off. It also keeps out dust and rain water.
There are eight poles that support the side window awnings and the rainfly out over the doors. These bend a lot over time. None of ours have broken. They do develop quite a large bow in them over time.
Our Solution: To counter the bow in the pole, every so often we gently bend them the other way over our knee to straighten them out some.
There are four light bungee cords that go across the inside of the tent to help hold the sides in during folding. These are holding up well and showing no signs of wear.
Our Solution: To help keep moisture from accumulating/staying on the inside of the tent, we purchased two dehumidifying packs. One goes in the tent before folding. The second goes on top of the folded tent between the ladder rungs, underneath the travel cover. A nice thing about these packs is that they are reusable. After they absorb humidity they can be recharged in the microwave.
A 2" inch foam mattress comes with the tent. It has a brown cover that is removeable and washable.
To extend the life of the mattress and lessen the chance of stains, we cover the mattress with a 6' x 9' canvas dropcloth. We purchased two of them. They are oh so soft after they have been washed. When we return home after a trip, the canvas dropcloth is removed from the tent to be washed and the clean one is put in the tent, ready for the next trip. We take both canvas dropcloths with us when we travel, just in case one becomes wet or dirty during the trip.
Sometimes when we lay on our side, our shoulder and hip touch the floor of the tent and it isn't very comfortable. To remedy this we have purchased a couple of inflatable sleeping pads, specifically Klymit insulated Static V sleeping pads. They are pretty cool. Our initial trials prove this out to be a good solution for supporting our shoulders and hips.
We've made a video specifically about our experiences with the roof top tent in wind and rain, but at the time of that video we had experience STRONG wind and rain separately... not together in the same event. Since then we have experience a strong windy rainy thunderstorm that lasted about 3 hours. The night of the storm we had some clothes pushed against the inside of the tent where the hinge is, which was also on the upwind side during the storm. The next morning those clothes were wet (not dripping wet), the canvas drop cloth was wet and the mattress was a little damp.
It was dark when we arrived in camp that night and we put the tent up in a hurry. I don't know that we sealed the velcro well that's on either side of the exterior hinge flap. The clothes were pressed firmly against the floor and side of the tent so they may have wicked in some of the rain water too.
Since then we take an extra moment or two to well seat the velcro of external hinge flap.
We have sprayed the exterior of the tent, including the rainfly with Scotch Gard water shield and plan to do this at least once a year as long as we have the tent.
Di Pizzo, one of the commenters on our initial Smittybilt roof top tent walkthrough and review, voiced concerns about the lack of availability of purchasing replacement parts for the tent.
When we look on Smittybilt's website, we don't see mention of a way to purchase replacement parts. We sent an email to Smittybilt Customer Support letting them know we have had their #2783 tent for over a year and traveled over 10,000 miles with it and that we like it. In the email we asked if there is a way to purchase replacements for things like the exterior travel cover, the rainfly and the tent poles that hold out the window/door awnings.
Smittybilt's response email stated,
Yes, we have replacement parts for our Tents.
Smittybilt Customer Support Team"
We were glad to hear back from them fairly quickly, but their answer didn't instill a lot of confidence. We don't know how or where to purchase the replacement parts. We can only guess that it is necessary to contact a Smittybilt dealer or Smittybilt directly and work it out. No pricing information, no availability information and no process for purchasing replacement parts was provided by Smittybilt in their email reply.
The big question - Based on our experiences, would we buy the tent again?
The tent has done everything we ask it to do. Compared to other tents of the same type by different brands, this Smittybilt Overlander tent is a good value. It fit the rack of our Morris Mule Trail Grade Trailer without needing any modifications.
Smittybilt Overlander Roof Top Tent model #2783: https://amzn.to/2vCRv2O
12' Lashing Straps, 6 pack: https://amzn.to/2xpCTs4
Canvas dropcloth, 6'x9': https://amzn.to/2fQjIwF
Reusable Auto Dehumidifier XL, 2 pack: https://amzn.to/2yIBgC7
Klymit Insulated Static V Sleeping Pad: https://amzn.to/2ywGIMv
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