The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Smittybilt Overlander Review

An outstanding rooftop tent at a reasonable price.
Best Buy Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $900 List
Pros:  Wide/Sturdy ladder, boot bag, LED light strip, spacious
Cons:  Ladder may require drilling, Velcro cover not the most efficient cover system, heavy
Manufacturer:   Smittybilt
By Ross Patton ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 3, 2019
  • Share this article:
67
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 5
  • Space and Comfort - 30% 8
  • Durability - 25% 7
  • Ease of Conversion - 20% 6
  • Ease of Assembly and Installation - 15% 5
  • Cover Convenience - 10% 6

Our Verdict

The Smittybilt Overlander is a great rooftop tent. This tent is on par with all of the other tents in our review, and even excels ahead in some aspects. With included extra features like a hanging boot bag for your muddy footwear and an innovative LED light strip, Smittybilt has considered every tiny detail while designing this product. The mattress offers top-notch comfort, and the canopy is built to withstand the gnarliest of storms. If you're looking for a durable rooftop tent and you aren't trying to break the bank, this Best Buy winner is the one.

One area that may cause some frustration for you is the cover system. The Velcro on all four sides of the cover is bit awkward to put back on as it sticks unevenly as you're trying to stuff the canopy inside of it. Also, because the cover is completely removed instead of hanging from one side, it is a bit more awkward to put back on. Not deal breakers, but worth mentioning.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award  
Price $900 List$1,999.95 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$1,499.95 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$1,499.00 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$1,263.85 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
100
0
67
100
0
80
100
0
76
100
0
71
100
0
43
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
Pros Wide/Sturdy ladder, boot bag, LED light strip, spaciousVery comfortable, durable, has entrance awning, weather protection, included annexDurable canopy, telescoping ladderTool-free mounting system, locks to rack, lightLightweight
Cons Ladder may require drilling, Velcro cover not the most efficient cover system, heavyLongest conversion time (though not by much), side window awnings don't roll up, priceNo entrance awning, no added extrasMounting system limited, large gap between tent and rackMay require drill to adjust ladder, thin mattress, only two pockets, poor durability
Bottom Line An outstanding rooftop tent at a reasonable price.A versatile rooftop tent that offers maximum comfort no matter what Mother Nature decides to do.The Kukenam 3 is the standard of which all other rooftop tents are measured.A quailty rooftop tent that doesn't require a handyman to install.If weight is the absolute deciding factor for which tent you want, this is the one for you.
Rating Categories Smittybilt Overlander Tepui Autana 3 Tepui Kukenam 3 Yakima SkyRise Medium Front Runner Roof Top Tent
Space And Comfort (30%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
5
Durability (25%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
3
Ease Of Conversion (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
4
Ease Of Assembly And Installation (15%)
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
4
Cover Convenience (10%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
6
Specs Smittybilt... Tepui Autana 3 Tepui Kukenam 3 Yakima SkyRise... Front Runner Roof...
Seasons 3 4 4 3 3
Weight (in lbs) 144 lbs 130 lbs 130 lbs 115 lbs 93 lbs
Windows 2 side, 2 roof 2 side, 2 roof 2 side, 2 roof 2 side, 2 roof 2 side, 1 roof
Pockets 5 4 4 4 2
Number of Doors 2 2 2 2 2
Max Inside Height 51in 52in 52in 48in 55in
Floor Dimension 56in x 96in 56in x 96in 56in x 96in 56in x 96in 52in x 98in
Floor Area 38 sq ft 38 sq ft 38 sq ft 38 sq ft 35 sq ft
Room Divider No No No No No
Vestibules No Yes No No No
Vestibule Area n/a 26in x 56in n/a n/a n/a
Packed Size 12in x 48in x 56in 12in x 48in x 56in 12in x 48in x 56in 12in x 48in x 56in 12in x 48in x 53in
Floor Materials Aluminum Aluminum Aluminum Aluminum Aluminum
Main Tent Materials 600 D poly 600 D ripstop 600 D ripstop 210 D nylon 400 D PVC
Rainfly Materials 420 D 420 D 420 D 210 D 200 D
Number of Poles 8 6 8 8 6
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
Extras Interior LED, extension cords, boot bag Awning over ladder n/a Locks, quick release, clear sky windows in rain fly Velcro loops on roof for hanging gear

Our Analysis and Test Results

Smittybilt has always been a straightforward, blue-collar company. They offer well-designed products that the average person can afford, and their rooftop tent reflects this. The Overlander is durable, it includes features that other manufacturers make you pay extra for, and best of all, it's priced much lower. For someone that doesn't mind a bit of extra setup time or a little customization, the Overlander is a great choice.

Performance Comparison


The Overlander competes well with the top-tier of rooftop tents  despite costing significantly less.
The Overlander competes well with the top-tier of rooftop tents, despite costing significantly less.

Space and Comfort


The Overlander is one of the most spacious, most comfortable tents that we've tested. With a maximum inside height of 51", you're going to easily be able to sit up and enjoy the view and have plenty of room to change clothes. The floor space is the same (38 sq ft) as the top-shelf competitors, and there are two side windows and two roof windows.


One of the best features of the Overlander is the included LED light strip, which illuminates the tent to make setting up your bedding in the dark a simple task. Also, the included external rubber boot bag makes it so that you'll never have to bring muddy footwear inside, and the wide, sturdy ladder takes a lot of the danger out of climbing in and out of the tent.

An LED light strip attaches to the inside of the tent using Velcro and can be powered by the 12 volt outlet on your vehicle or a USB battery pack.
An LED light strip attaches to the inside of the tent using Velcro and can be powered by the 12 volt outlet on your vehicle or a USB battery pack.

Durability


In the durability department, the Overlander is one of the strongest. Smittybilt is not known to put its name on weak products. The 600 D polyurethane canopy will withstand just about anything the weather can throw at it. The Overlander ladder is the widest of any that we tested. At 17", it makes bringing gear, children, or pets up to your sleeping zone a much safer, easier task when compared to other ladders. You never know when or why you're going to need to get down in the middle of the night, so having the extra ladder width really does help.


One feature that boosts the Overlander's durability is the included boot bag. With your boots staying outside, you'll minimize the risk of damaging the floor or the mattress.

The included rubber boot bag gives you a place to stow footwear outside of the tent.
The included rubber boot bag gives you a place to stow footwear outside of the tent.

Ease of Conversion


Converting the Overlander to camping mode is relatively easy. It only takes undoing two straps, and then you can just completely remove the cover by tearing off the Velcro that holds the cover around all four sides of the tent. Once the cover is off, the ladder easily extends to length because it is a sliding ladder rather than a telescoping ladder.


What is time-consuming and laborious is setting up the awning. There are four poles to install if you want your side window awning out, and four more if you want the awnings on each door. Once the LED light strip is installed it can live inside the tent while in travel mode, but the Overlander does require you to spend an extra few seconds to hang or remove the boot bag.

The internal bungee system helps make converting from camping mode to travel mode a piece of cake.
The internal bungee system helps make converting from camping mode to travel mode a piece of cake.

Smittybilt also uses an internal bungee system to help the canopy collapse, making getaway times from campsite to home (or your next destination) pretty quick.

Ease of Assembly and Installation


The Overlander is not the easiest tent to assemble or install. It's the heaviest tent that we tested, so every little move or adjustment requires more effort. The installation kit only came with the most basic tools, so unless you have a ratchet set on hand, it's going to take some extra time. Also, the sliding ladder comes pre-drilled with two sets of holes, but unless your rack height matches one of these sets you're going to end up drilling additional holes. Even if you have the right tools drilling into metal is no easy task, especially when the holes need to be drilled with the utmost of precision. The LED strip does take a few extra minutes to set up but is worth the trouble in the long run.


If you're looking for a rooftop tent that's easier to assemble and install, the Yakima Skyrise Medium uses mostly Allen wrenches, which take the frustration out of the assembly. Also, the Skyrise mounting system is tool-free, so once you properly align the clamps with your crossbars, it only takes seconds to mount or remove the tent from your vehicle.

The LED kit comes with a long extension cord so that you can use your 12 volt outlet in your vehicle. It takes a little longer to install  but having power in your tent is worth the trouble.
The LED kit comes with a long extension cord so that you can use your 12 volt outlet in your vehicle. It takes a little longer to install, but having power in your tent is worth the trouble.

Cover Convenience


When converting from travel to camping mode, you completely remove the Overlander cover. It's nice to have the cover out of the way, but then you're left with a big rubber cover that needs stowing. On all of the other tents that we tested the cover stays attached on one side which makes it easy to roll up, stow, and put back on when it's time to hit the road. We found that it's harder to orient the cover if it's not attached to the tent when it comes time to pack up camp.


The Yakima Skyrise has a similar cover system to the Overlander, but it only has Velcro on three sides so that the fourth side stays attached and can be rolled up. We found that the Tepui covers are the easiest to deal with.

The Overlander cover has straps with double stitching and high quality Velcro.
The Overlander cover has straps with double stitching and high quality Velcro.

Best Applications


The best application for the Overlander is to be used by somebody who wants to get in the rooftop tent game but doesn't want to empty their bank account to do so. It offers almost everything that the other tents in our review offer, but at a smaller price and more elbow juice. If you don't mind that it's a few pounds heavier, might take a little more time to install, might require a little customization, and takes a few more minutes to convert, then this is a solid rooftop tent for you.

Value


The Overlander offers a lot of value. It is the cheapest rooftop tent on the market, but offers a similar amount of space, comfort, and convenience to products that cost twice as much. Not only does it compare to the more expensive tents, in some ways it offers more. The innovative LED light strip illuminates the tent like the lights in your living room, and the rubber boot bag makes it so that you'll never be bringing wet shoes inside the tent.

The Smittybilt model is more laborious to install and convert  but for many folks  the cost savings are well worth a little extra effort. Don't let the price fool you -- this is a high-quality rooftop tent.
The Smittybilt model is more laborious to install and convert, but for many folks, the cost savings are well worth a little extra effort. Don't let the price fool you -- this is a high-quality rooftop tent.

Conclusion


When you're investing this much money, value is important. The Smittybilt Overlander is a great rooftop tent that won't leave your wallet empty, which is why it is the winner of our Best Buy Award. It isn't the lightest, and it isn't the most convenient, but if you're looking to get a rooftop tent without spending thousands of dollars, the Overlander is the one.


Ross Patton