RTT Hard Cover…Failure!

A few months ago I bought a Smittybilt Rooftop Tent (RTT) to be used on my RAM 2500 4WD pickup truck. The plan was to mount it on top of the hard campershell.

I fabricated a couple rails to easily load and unload the tent onto the truck. This worked out great to load and unload the tent. You can see videos of this here:



But a big issue was getting the soft cover that comes with the RTT on the tent when ready to transport. The tent sits at nearly 8′ high and trying to reach it to secure the Velcro edge was a challenge.

I decided that maybe a hard cover that could encapsulate the whole tent would work.

So…Version #1

This is a two piece , split case….

A series of aluminum flats are bolted to the bottom edge of the tent and the bottom sides are attached to this aluminum.

The top folds forward and the tent opens to the rear.

A video is worth a thousand words:

This version required a hard top of plywood or some other substrate to be added to cover the tent. But this added weight and the biggest issue was hot to store it when tent was open.

Sooooo. Version #2

This version does away with an actual “cover” and utilizes the tents platform for the “cover”

But now I see another issue…Being a split case, the tent is now sitting in some type of tub. When it rains or snows, this “tub” will have an issue shedding the water and I’m concerned that the tent material will get wet and bleed to the inside rather than shedding the water.

Sooo…Version #3

This is a one piece design that sits on the aluminum edge that was installed previously.

This version works great with the exception of one issue. The cover is huge and when in the open position would represent a huge “sail” . During wind it would really rock and roll the tent. I did incorporate removable hinge pins so the entire top could be removed, but then I’m back to handling this large cover 8′ in the air! And where to store while camping

Sorry, I never got around to doing a video showing deployment. Here are a few photos of construction and installation.

All edges were reinforced with fiberglass tape and epoxy.

So where does this leave us….A complete change of direction!

Installing the tent on top of the truck would have issue as once I’m set up camping, and I want to use the truck to sight see or run an errand, I’d need to close everything up. If my wife or other companions are with me, they would be left without shelter.

So I decided to build an Off Road trailer to mount the RTT to.

The trailer being only a few feet off the ground makes it very easy to install the soft cover.

I’ll use the RTT on the truck for extra sleeping space when I’m towing my Toy Hauler trailer and grand kids are accompanying me. Then I’ll have help to install the soft cover on the truck mounted RTT.

But…Now I have this nice hard cover. I’m going to conduct a few tests to see if the better aerodynamics of the hard cover affect my gas mileage while installed on the trailer.

Stay tuned for that report…..

Hope this article helps if others are thinking of fabricating a hard cover for their RTT.

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