Sep 17 , 2020
Area BFE Roof Top Tent Review
Recently, I took a trip out to Yellowstone and took a Small Area BFE Tent out with me for a week. I personally have never slept in a roof top tent before and I was hesitant about them because I felt like it was unnecessary. I gave it a shot and honestly it was no different from sleeping in a regular tent on the ground to sleeping on top of my car except extremely more convenient and comfortable. I set up and broke down camp faster than ever before and slept like a baby, needless to say, I'm sold on Roof Top Tents.
So what are the pros and cons of the Area BFE Tent?
The first thing I realized was just how easy a roof top tent was to use. Unfamiliar with roof top tents, I was uncertain how this would go but was able to easily set up in just minutes, no directions, no YouTube videos, it was all very intuitive. It opened up easily with gas struts on both sides. It took me longer to set up my sleeping bag then it did the tent so I was immediately drawn to the time savings. Because I was using a rooftop tent, I didn't have to set up a sleeping pad or find a flat surface.
This brings me to my first con, it is very slim which is great for travel and gas mileage but when it comes to breaking it down you have to take everything out of the tent. It isn't a deal breaker for me but it is something to think about. While there aren't many tents on the market that allows you to keep your stuff in the tent there are some tents like James Baroud that allow you to store your pillow and bedding in the roof top tent.
One of my favorite things about the roof top tent is how easy it is to open and close the windows to cool it down. I get hot easily so it was nice to have ventilation. The ventilation is a pretty seamless operation and can close completely if needed just like a regular tent. It even has a small awning so you can sit in it and look outside during a rain storm.
With the Area BFE I did notice some condensation on the top part of the tent which never dripped on me due to the slant of the tent but it was something I noticed. Luckily, Area BFE includes a condensation pad underneath the mattress which helps eliminate moisture between the base and mattress.
There is a cargo net inside the tent so you can store some extra stuff in your tent when open and to keep gear out of the way. The mattress pad you sleep on is not bad, in fact it's better than what I've felt in other brands we carry but it's sleep, and sleep is important so there's always room for improvement. (Check out our after market premium mattress available exclusively from Spirit of 1876)
Sleeping overall was great but noticed I slept better on my sides then my back depending on what way I was facing. If I was sleeping with my head at the hinges of the clam shell my feet were fine from hitting the top. If I slept with my head toward the awning/front window then my feet would touch and it wasn't as comfortable (I am 6" for reference). The size overall was equivalent to a 2 man backpacking tent. The width of the tent allowed myself and a buddy to sleep side by side with plenty of room but there are larger width options in case you want a little more room. Overall, I did feel safer sleeping up higher on my truck vs on the ground.
Using the Bathroom
When it comes to going to the bathroom getting out of a tent isn't a pleasant experience but neither is getting out of any tent. Either way, unless you're a male and okay with hanging your willy out, the one downside was getting down the ladder and putting your shoes on to pee.
The roof top tent seems to hold more heat in than a standard tent I think mainly due to the higher quality materials used vs the ground tents I typically camp in. However, I did notice a sleeping pad is a little warmer (depending on the one you use) then a roof top tent mattress pad. I've been told a down blanket between you and the mattress can help act as an insulation layer. This is an easy solution and Area BFE actually sells one that fits the mattress perfectly.
So when it comes to a roof top tent I am sold. The Pros to me far out weigh the cons and it surpassed my expectations. Prior to giving the roof top tent a chance, I thought there was no way the luxuries a roof top tent provided justified the price tag, however I must say I was shockingly surprised. For one, time is money and there's no question it's more than just a convenience, it's a game changer. More time meant more fishing and for me that's priceless.