Smittybilt Overlander Review
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|Pros||Wide and sturdy ladder, boot bag, LED light strip, spacious||Durable canopy, telescoping ladder, versatile, quick conversion||Light, more affordable, breathable||Compact, light, thick cover||Lightweight|
|Cons||Ladder may require drilling, velcro cover not the most efficient cover system, heavy||No entrance awning, no added extras||Questionable durability, bulky for a two-person model||Lacking space, extra installation steps||May require drill to adjust ladder, thin mattress, only two pockets, poor durability|
|Bottom Line||With a durable design and many handy features, this model competes with the top models while costing significantly less||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||If weight is the absolute deciding factor for which tent you want, this is the one for you|
|Rating Categories||Smittybilt Overlander||Thule Tepui Kukenam 3||Thule Tepui Explore...||CVT Pioneer Series...||Front Runner Roof T...|
|Space and Comfort (30%)|
|Ease of Conversion (20%)|
|Ease of Assembly and Installation (15%)|
|Cover Convenience (10%)|
|Specs||Smittybilt Overlander||Thule Tepui Kukenam 3||Thule Tepui Explore...||CVT Pioneer Series...||Front Runner Roof T...|
|Weight||144 lbs||130 lbs||106 lbs||98 lbs||93 lbs|
|Max Inside Height||51 in||52 in||38 in||45 in||55 in|
|Windows||3 side, 2 roof||3 side, 2 roof||3 side, 2 roof||3 side 2 roof||3 side, 2 roof|
|Floor Dimensions||56 in x 96 in||56 in x 96 in||84 in x 48 in||96 in x 48 in||52 in x 98 in|
|Floor Area||38 sq ft||38 sq ft||28 sq ft||32 sq ft||35 sq ft|
|Vestibule Area Dimensions||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|Packed Size||12 in x 48 in x 56 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 53 in|
|Main Tent Materials||420 D||420 D||260g polyester cotton||280G poly-cotton Rip-stop||400 D PVC|
|Rainfly Materials||600 D||600 D||600 D||420D||200 D|
|Number of Poles||8||8||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|
|Extras||Interior LED, extension cords, boot bag||Memory foam mattress||Memory foam mattress||n/a||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.
Space and Comfort
The Overlander is one of the most spacious and comfortable tents we've tested. With a maximum inside height of 51 inches, you can easily 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.
To test durability, we thoroughly combed through each manufacturer's tech spec pages to note any differences in materials or waterproof ratings. We then took each tent camping for at least five nights per model, during which time we converted them from travel to camping mode 25 times. To check the zippers, we opened and closed every window and door a minimum of 25 times as well. The Smittybilt Overlander did well during this assessment.
Smittybilt is not known to put its name on weak products. The 600D polyurethane canopy will withstand just about anything the weather can throw at it. The ladder is the widest of any that we tested. At 17 inches, it makes bringing gear, children, or pets up to your sleeping zone a much safer, easier task than other ladders. You never know when or why you'll need to get down in the middle of the night, so having the extra ladder width really does help.
One feature that also boosts durability on the Overlander is the included boot bag. With your boots staying outside, you'll minimize the risk of damaging the floor or the mattress. We noticed that the zippers on this model aren't quite as beefy as some of the competition — we didn't find any problems with this during our wear tests, but it's something to consider.
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. After the cover is removed, the ladder easily extends thanks to its sliding design.
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. 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 one of the heaviest tents 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 will 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 precision. The LED strip also takes 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 process. 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. If you want a tent that doesn't require any assembly at all, we recommend checking out one of the hardshell models in our comprehensive review of the best rooftop tents.
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 softshell models we tested, the cover stays attached on one side, making 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 Overlander offers a lot of value and is ideal for someone who wants to get in the rooftop tent game but doesn't want to empty their bank account to do so. It is one of the cheapest rooftop tents 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. 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.
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, earning it a coveted award in our review. It isn't the lightest or most convenient, but if you're looking to get a rooftop tent without spending thousands of dollars, the Overlander is the one.
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