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||$1,999 at Amazon|
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|Pros||Lightweight||Very comfortable, durable, has entrance awning, weather protection, included annex||Durable canopy, telescoping ladder, versatility, quick conversion||Light, affordable, breathable||Wide and sturdy ladder, boot bag, LED light strip, spacious|
|Cons||May require drill to adjust ladder, thin mattress, only two pockets, poor durability||Longest conversion time (though not by much), side window awnings don't roll up, price||No entrance awning, no added extras||Questionable durability, bulky for a two-person model||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||A versatile rooftop tent that offers maximum comfort no matter what Mother Nature decides to do||Our 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||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 Autana 3||Thule Tepui Kukenam 3||Thule Tepui Explore...||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 Autana 3||Thule Tepui Kukenam 3||Thule Tepui Explore...||Smittybilt Overlander|
|Weight (in lbs)||93 lbs||130 lbs||130 lbs||106 lbs||144 lbs|
|Max Inside Height||55 in||52 in||52 in||38 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 Dimension||52 in x 98 in||56 in x 96 in||56 in x 96 in||84 in x 48 in||56 in x 96 in|
|Floor Area||35 sq ft||38 sq ft||38 sq ft||28 sq ft||38 sq ft|
|Vestibule Area||n/a||26 in x 56 in||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||11 in x 42 in x 48 in||12 in x 48 in x 56 in|
|Main Tent Materials||400 D PVC||420 D||420 D||260g polyester cotton||420 D|
|Rainfly Materials||200 D||600 D||600 D||600 D||600 D|
|Number of Poles||6||6||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||Awning over ladder||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 the OutdoorGearLab testing standards. For this much money, you'd be better off buying a rooftop tent that is built to last, based on our experience with several models in this category.
Space and Comfort
One of the main ways that the Front Runner comes up short is in space and comfort. Although it does have the highest maximum inside height at 55", it doesn't offer the length and width in floor space of the other tents that we tested. Also, most importantly, this tent comes with the thinnest, smallest, least comfortable mattress that 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 gave out after a dozen conversions, and 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. One way where it fell short is that the sliding ladder has limited settings as opposed 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
As far as assembly and installation, the Front Runner is pretty easy. We did run into a speedbump — the ladder only came with one set of holes drilled from the factory, which did not end up being a safe height for our test vehicle. We ended up having 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.
The cover on the Front Runner is fairly easy to deal with. It has the 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 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.
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.
— Ross Patton
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