So, after doing a lot of research on some different types of camping styles there are on offer, from camper trailers, off-road caravans and roof top tents, normal tents to the humble swag or “bushie” set-up, I decided I didn’t like the idea of towing anything but wanted something more than the simple tent I’d have to take forever setting up so I went with…
The Roof-Top Tent
There are actually a few manufacturers making roof top tents so even after deciding that’s what I wanted, I then had to research all of the different roof top tents available. I went with the ARB one as it doesn’t use guy ropes to peg out the entrance and uses a pole-locking system to hold the entrance in place which makes it even more quick and easy! Plus I hate guy ropes, they’re drunken tripping hazards 😉
I took these photos after the very first time I set it up at my home-away-from-home: Mambray Ck. As you can probably tell, it was almost xmas time and it was becoming a bit of rush job to make this set-up a reality before my planned trip along the Great Ocean Road to New South Wales to spend xmas with my family.
About The Tent
The tent uses quality canvas and has a full-length fly that folds out with it attached and ready to go. Comes with poles for propping up the head end of the fly and the side window awnings. Plenty of air circulates through once opened up properly and I haven’t noticed any stuffy feelings you can get with a normal tent in hot weather. It also stays warmer inside during Winter due to the canvas.
I like the style of the cover on the ARB roof-topper with its heavy-duty zip and velcro straps. So quick and easy to set up and pack away. I watched so many YouTube videos on how to set it up and pack it away including user tips and tricks which almost made me look like I knew what I was doing the first time I set it up 😉 I’ve since discovered my own tricks to make things easier. These things are a little hard to explain unless you’ve played around with a RTT.
That’s a standard size sleeping bag so you can see it’s pretty roomy inside. I’ve had a friend sleep in there with me a few times. I absolutely love being up so high off the ground. You get amazing sunrise & sunset views and I’ve laid up there while wildlife has walked around right near my car not knowing I’m up there watching them, it’s great!
Theoretically, you’re meant to slide the cover off but I’ve always just left it there hanging. I can still get in the door if I need to. If I was camping somewhere with people around I would still take my ensuite tent and put the toilet in there but out at that spot by the water I didn’t feel the need to set it up. Don’t judge but I was actually using the lid as a side table that trip 😉 I believe every 4WD should have an awning on the side but while I was waiting for mine to come in I just used the shade of the tent to sit under.
Leaving bedding in it makes set-up time even quicker. I have a mink blanket in there that I lay on top of and I have an opened up sleeping bag in there that I sleep under. When I pack up all I do is take out my pillow and fold the sleeping bag & blanket over neatly and flat so that the tent folds over nice and flat and so that I can get the cover back on easily.
So eventually I had the awning put on just in time for my trip.
I had some fun decorating it with xmassy lights 🙂
This photo is from Glenrowan, NSW, home of the Ned Kelly story, if you’re familiar with that one. I was a little cramped for space so I didn’t use the awning, just sat under the tent again. The ladder makes a great towel rack and clothesline 😉 Notice my giant, purple tub of everything? That had all of my kitchen and pantry stuff in it.
That photo is from the trip home. A one-nighter on an ensuite site at Broken Hill caravan park. I took the Waeco fridge out of my car and plugged it into power in the ensuite 🙂
Here are a couple more shots after my trip.
In the first photo, the tent looks really lop-sided because of where I parked but it didn’t feel that bad in the tent. You do need to be mindful of where you park while using a roof-topper. The second photo is at Marion Holiday Park, Adelaide, where I usually stay when my truck’s booked in for a service. Nice place.
After my Xmas/New Year’s trip, I started looking into getting the annex that zips onto the bottom of the tent to enclose the ladder and make another room. I was getting sick of showing everyone my arse as I climbed out of a morning before I had a chance to fix myself up lol. I wanted to be able to climb down the ladder in private and THEN climb out to say hello to the world.
I set it up if I need privacy for the toilet or if I’m camping there for a couple of nights or more, or just in a caravan park and like I said before, want privacy climbing down and to fix myself up BEFORE everyone sees me. When I’m bush camping that’s my bathroom.
These photos are from Douglas Pt, SA.
The Awning Room
This set-up is perfect for me. However, I’ve found that when I bring someone along with me I either have them in the tent with me (I’m not the best at sleeping next to people) or I put them up in one of my other tents on the ground or in my swag. Not ideal for everyone. I knew there was a room tent option for the awning so I decided to get it. That way I could pack the stretcher and blow-up mattress and put them in there just like a normal room with a normal bed. Much more comfortable for them.
I’ve tested it out a couple of times. This first time I set it up at Coffin Bay NP and I just used the stretcher without a mattress to see how that went for a super-quick set-up. Wasn’t too bad. Took me a couple of tries to work out which way it went and that not having the awning properly extended out makes it a lot easier to slide both ends along the track at the same time. Then you just attach all of the clips, peg it down and you’re done. It’s made out of the same material as the annex.
I would like to get a bigger stretcher & mattress but then there wouldn’t be room left to eat in there at a table if the flies or mozzies were getting too annoying. I would like to get the additional awning that extends from the room and that should be about it 🙂
In the third and final part to these posts, I’ll go through my other alternatives I have if I don’t feel like setting all of that up or if I plan to drive to the shops or do some 4WDing and all the little things I’ve learnt along the way that you might find helpful.