One of the most annoying aspects of camping is setting up a tent, especially for those of us who are prone to forgetting important things like stakes and tent poles. Enter roof top tents, a growing trend in ‘car camping’ that comes with a host of benefits, not the least of which is ease of setup. As demand increases, products have become smarter, and now the “world’s first expandable hard-shell rooftop tent” has been unveiled. The iKamper Hardtop One, which we spotted over on Notcot, offers all the best things about having a pop-up trailer, without the need to tow a thing.
This rooftop camping tent is a bit different than many on the market in that it comes encased in a hard shell that protects it from the elements when not in use. In fact, it’s hardly recognizable as a tent when compacted for road travel, and looks similar to rooftop cargo carriers. When it’s expanded, the top portion of the hard shell becomes a sturdy tent roof. The tent expands both vertically and horizontally, and sports an integrated custom-sized mattress that is larger than a standard queen (but not quite the same size as a king mattress), and claims to offer enough sleeping space for four family members. At 74 inches by 83 inches compared to a queen’s 60 x 80, that might work if two of those family members are quite small.
Soon Park was inspired by Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, and by his own cross-country road trip in 2004, to create a simpler alternative to towing a pop-up trailer. So, Park essentially took the pop-up concept and placed it atop the roof of a car, rather than on its own chassis. The Hardtop One is the result of a design process that took nearly two years and evolved from at least 20 prototypes. Park sold the first Hardtop One in June 2014 and has been working ever since to share his road trip dreams with the world.
Because the whole rooftop tent contraption is, well, really huge, the company is gearing up to raise funds via Kickstarter to drum up pre-orders, secure better cargo rates, and cut shipping costs for buyers. The Hardtop One currently retails for $3,950, and the company offers two smaller models, the Junior and the Roadtrip, which have slightly lower price points. Wanna-be rooftop campers can add on extra features like a roomy vestibule, wind deflector, and interior LED light bar for an additional cost. Fortunately, the seven-and-a-half foot ladder you’ll need to climb into the tent is included.
Images via iKamper