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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.