Reviews You Can Rely On

Front Runner Roof Top Tent Review

If weight is the absolute deciding factor for which tent you want, this is the one for you
gearlab tested logo
Front Runner Roof Top Tent Review
Credit: Front Runner
Price:  $1,209 List
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Manufacturer:   Front Runner
By Ross Patton ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 28, 2022
43
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#12 of 12
  • Space and Comfort - 30% 5.0
  • Durability - 25% 3.0
  • Ease of Conversion - 20% 4.0
  • Ease of Assembly and Installation - 15% 4.0
  • Cover Convenience - 10% 6.0

Our Verdict

The Front Runner Roof Top Tent is the lightest rooftop tent that we've tested. At a mere 93 pounds, it's one of the easiest tents to move around and install. However, where the designers shaved weight, they also shaved functionality and durability. Ultimately, we think there are better options on the market to consider unless weight is a more important factor than anything else.
REASONS TO BUY
Lightweight
REASONS TO AVOID
May require drill to adjust ladder
Thin mattress
Only two pockets
Poor durability

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Best Buy Award    
Price $1,209 List
$1,209 at Amazon
$1,632 List
$1,130 at Amazon
Check Price at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$1,326 List
$939.99 at Amazon
$1,575 List
Overall Score Sort Icon
43
78
76
67
66
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Bottom Line The lightest tent out there, but at a sacrifice in durabilityA high-performance model that doesn't injure your bank accountIn the world of rooftop tents, this durable and versatile model is the standardA reasonably priced rooftop tent that offers excellent performance in almost every aspectA two-person model with mostly standard features and some added assembly steps
Rating Categories Front Runner Roof T... Smittybilt GEN2 Ove... Thule Tepui Kukenam 3 Smittybilt Overlander CVT Pioneer Series...
Space and Comfort (30%)
5.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
5.5
Durability (25%)
3.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
Ease of Conversion (20%)
4.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
8.0
Ease of Assembly and Installation (15%)
4.0
7.0
7.0
5.0
7.0
Cover Convenience (10%)
6.0
7.0
8.0
6.0
8.0
Specs Front Runner Roof T... Smittybilt GEN2 Ove... Thule Tepui Kukenam 3 Smittybilt Overlander CVT Pioneer Series...
Seasons 3 3 4 3 3
Weight 93 lbs 154 lbs 130 lbs 144 lbs 98 lbs
Max Inside Height 55 in 51 in 52 in 51 in 45 in
Pockets 2 5 4 5 2
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 56 in x 96 in 56 in x 96 in 96 in x 48 in
Floor Area 35 sq ft 38 sq ft 38 sq ft 38 sq ft 32 sq ft
Room Divider No No No No No
Vestibules No No No No No
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 12 in x 48 in x 56 in 12 in x 48 in x 56 in 48 in x 48 in x 15 in
Floor Materials Aluminum Aluminum Aluminum Aluminum Aluminum
Main Tent Materials 400 D PVC 600 D 420 D 420 D 280g poly-cotton Rip-stop
Rainfly Materials 200 D 420D Oxford 600 D 600 D 420D
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
Design Type Fold-out Fold-out Fold-out Fold-out Fold-out
Capacity 2-3 Person 2-3 Person 2-3 Person 2-3 Person 2 Person
Extras Velcro loops on roof for hanging gear Interior LED, extension cords, boot bag Memory foam mattress Interior LED, extension cords, boot bag n/a

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.

Performance Comparison


front runner roof top tent - after thorough testing, our experts deemed the front runner a step...
After thorough testing, our experts deemed the Front Runner a step below the other models in our review.
Credit: Ross Patton

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.

Durability


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.

The floor on the Front Runner became dented and bent from normal use.
The floor on the Front Runner became dented and bent from normal use.
The stitching on the cover began to tear after only a handful of uses.
The stitching on the cover began to tear after only a handful of uses.
The Front Runner canopy tore two corners after a night of light to...
The Front Runner canopy tore two corners after a night of light to 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.

front runner roof top tent - because the front runner ladder lacks adjustability, we ended up...
Because the Front Runner ladder lacks adjustability, we ended up having to dig a hole in the hillside for the feet at one campsite so that it would be at a safe angle.
Credit: Ross Patton

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.

Before drilling new holes, the ladder wasn't quite steep enough to...
Before drilling new holes, the ladder wasn't quite steep enough to be safe. With too low of an angle the ladder can bend or fold with enough weight.
After modifying the ladder it was at an angle that was safe to use...
After modifying the ladder it was at an angle that was safe to use, provided that the vehicle is on level ground.

Cover Convenience


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.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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