Front Runner Roof Top Tent Review
Cons: May require drill to adjust ladder, thin mattress, only two pockets, poor durability
Manufacturer: Front Runner
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Front Runner Roof Top Tent
|Price||$1,169 List||Check Price at REI|
Compare at 2 sellers
Check Price at Amazon
|$1,575 List||$1,300 List|
$1,193 at Amazon
|Pros||Lightweight||Durable canopy, telescoping ladder, versatile, quick conversion||Light, more affordable, breathable||Compact, light, thick cover||Wide and sturdy ladder, boot bag, LED light strip, spacious|
|Cons||May require drill to adjust ladder, thin mattress, only two pockets, poor durability||No entrance awning, no added extras||Questionable durability, bulky for a two-person model||Lacking space, extra installation steps||Ladder may require drilling, velcro cover not the most efficient cover system, heavy|
|Bottom Line||If weight is the absolute deciding factor for which tent you want, this is the one for you||Our top soft-top recommendation for most people provides excellent quality and comfort across all four seasons||A decent two-person rooftop tent with a breathable canopy great for warmer nights||A light and compact rooftop tent that doesn’t have any special accolades to speak of||With a durable design and many handy features, this model competes with the top models while costing significantly less|
|Rating Categories||Front Runner Roof T...||Thule Tepui Kukenam 3||Thule Tepui Explore...||CVT Pioneer Series...||Smittybilt Overlander|
|Space and Comfort (30%)|
|Ease of Conversion (20%)|
|Ease of Assembly and Installation (15%)|
|Cover Convenience (10%)|
|Specs||Front Runner Roof T...||Thule Tepui Kukenam 3||Thule Tepui Explore...||CVT Pioneer Series...||Smittybilt Overlander|
|Weight||93 lbs||130 lbs||106 lbs||98 lbs||144 lbs|
|Max Inside Height||55 in||52 in||38 in||45 in||51 in|
|Windows||3 side, 2 roof||3 side, 2 roof||3 side, 2 roof||3 side 2 roof||3 side, 2 roof|
|Floor Dimensions||52 in x 98 in||56 in x 96 in||84 in x 48 in||96 in x 48 in||56 in x 96 in|
|Floor Area||35 sq ft||38 sq ft||28 sq ft||32 sq ft||38 sq ft|
|Vestibule Area Dimensions||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|Packed Size||12 in x 48 in x 53 in||12 in x 48 in x 56 in||11 in x 42 in x 48 in||48 in x 48 in x 15 in||12 in x 48 in x 56 in|
|Main Tent Materials||400 D PVC||420 D||260g polyester cotton||280G poly-cotton Rip-stop||420 D|
|Rainfly Materials||200 D||600 D||600 D||420D||600 D|
|Number of Poles||6||8||8||8||8|
|Pole Material||Aluminum/spring steel||Aluminum/spring steel||Aluminum/spring steel||Aluminum/spring steel||Aluminum/spring steel|
|Pole Diameter||1/4 in||1/4 in||1/4 in||1/4 in||1/4 in|
|Extras||Velcro loops on roof for hanging gear||n/a||n/a||n/a||Interior LED, extension cords, boot bag|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Front Runner is a nice tent, but unfortunately, it did not hold up to our testing standards. For this much money, you'd be better off buying a rooftop tent that is built to last in ways that this one just isn't.
Space and Comfort
One of the main ways that the Front Runner comes up short is in space and comfort. Although it has a generous highest maximum inside height of 55 inches, it doesn't offer the length and width in floor space of the other tents we tested. Also, most importantly, this tent comes with the thinnest, smallest, least comfortable mattress we've seen.
In the durability category, the Front Runner came up short in our tests. The floor dented and creased after only a few uses, which is a huge disappointment after investing this much money. The stitching on the corners of the cover also gave out after a dozen conversions; worst of all, the upper corners of the roof tore after one night of what we would consider moderate wind.
Ease of Conversion
The Front Runner is reasonably easy to convert from travel to camping mode. However, one way it fell short is that the sliding ladder has limited settings compared to a telescoping ladder. At one campsite, we ended up having to dig a small ditch underneath the ladder so that our tent would unfold to the proper, safe height.
Ease of Assembly and Installation
The Front Runner is pretty easy in this regard, though we did run into a speedbump — the ladder only came with one set of factory-drilled holes, which did not end up being a safe height for our test vehicle. We had to drill another set of holes into the ladder to get it to the right height. This isn't a problem as long as you have a drill, the right bit, and are comfortable drilling into metal, but no other model required us to do this. However, if you're on a long trip and you end up camping on a hill unexpectedly, you might end up with an unsafe or unstable ladder angle if you don't make this augmentation.
The cover on the Front Runner is fairly easy to deal with. It has a three-sided zipper and two D-ring strap system that we've come to love on other models. It lacks a system to keep it out of the way when not in use, though. We'd like to see a way to keep the cover out of the way while camping, a few extra ounces on the overall weight is worth the added convenience.
The Front Runner is not the most valuable tent. For less money, you can get a roomier, more comfortable, more durable tent that includes more features.
This tent performed poorly during our durability test and landed at the bottom of our score sheet for space and comfort. Based on our experience with this model, we cannot strongly recommend this rooftop tent to our readers. The best application for the Front Runner is to be used in situations that require the least amount of weight possible. It's very light, which truly is its only strength.
— Ross Patton
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