Rooftop Tent

The overland expedition vehicle should provide the comfortable sleeping opportunity for all the travelers. Among many important functions of the car during the trip, this is one of the most important. Before heading into the unknown, you have to be prepared to spend the night in almost any circumstances.

Morning in the Mountains::La Laguna, Baja California, Mexico::
Morning in the Mountains

We started with a simple solution, the SUV Tent. It sounded promising and the possibility of attachment the tent to the rear of the car giving an easy access to the luggage directly from the inside of the tent was promising. In order to set up a tent you always need a large flat surface. Any irregularities like rocks, roots, twigs could ruin your night. After a while, we stopped setting up a tent next to the car and connecting it mainly for two reasons, the dust on the car body and often the lack of space to park a car in the right place in order to be possible to connect it with the tent. During our expeditions, we are constantly on the move and we quickly realized that even with some practice, it takes a lot of time and effort to set up a big tent and beds. Daily morning routine was even more annoying, especially when the tent is wet after the rainy night.

Sleeping in the car seemed to be a better option. This is how I traveled through Newfoundland and Labrador. I was alone and it was easy for me to sleep in the back of the vehicle. Without any modifications, it sounded almost impossible to sleep comfortably inside for two or three travelers. Rooftop tent idea was slowly maturing in my mind.

Parts used:
(changes in Hardtop Ursa Minor J30 Pop Up Camper)

  1. 11 oz. Black Spray Rust-Oleum FlexiDip x 4
  2. Two 46 LED Dome Round Roof Lamps
  3. Deutsch Electrical Connectors
  4. Mini Round Rocker Switches
  5. Electrical Wires
  6. 10 x Stainless Steel Oblong Padeyes
  7. Stainless Steel Screws and Nuts
Morning in Hotel San Jose::La Piedad, Michoacán, Mexico::
Morning in Hotel San Jose
Playa El Tecolote::La Paz, Baja California, Mexico::
Playa El Tecolote
Hardtop in the box::I picked up Ursa Minor J30 Pop Up Camper packed in the box::
Hardtop in the box

Weight added: new hardtop 265 lb - old hardtop 125 lb - SUV Tent 53lb = 87 lb / 39 kg

Out of many different options for rooftop tents, I decided to replace the original JK hardtop for Ursa Minor J30. The new shell has a large bed for two adults, and when not in use, J30 is only 6 inches / 15 cm taller. In the evening, the bed can be ready in less than two minutes, the same when closing the tent. In a new configuration, we managed to recover a large cargo space. We no longer need to carry large and heavy tent, we do not need sleeping mats. Sleeping bags and pillows are always in bed upstairs. The convenience of pop up tent is incomparable.

A new hardtop comes with white roof::After opening the box::
A new hardtop comes with white roof
The roof painted black::Steel bracket is used to attach heat exchanger to the dual battery tray::
The roof painted black, front
The roof painted black, rear::The first unsuccessful mounting attempt, finally I used a steel bracket::
The roof painted black, rear

J30 Camper hardtop is a good product, but I did not like a few details. Therefore, I made some small improvements and modifications. For example, I hid electrical wires that go from the third stop light, I changed the rear window to privacy tinted glass, mounted dome LED lights in the front and the back, installed additional four rocker round switches above the windshield. We painted a black strip around the white roof of the camper. The upper center part of the roof remains white to reflect sunrays better, but from the street level, the whole hardtop looks black. As the paint we used Rust-Oleum FlexiDip, rubberized coating. The benefit is that when FlexiDip is dry, you can be removed it by hand when you change your mind. Probably the most desired were the custom-made covers for all four pieces of the mattress. This is like a bed sheet, which provides a comfortable feeling while in bed. I also mounted padeyes above the doors; they may be helpful to secure the awning.

The center part of the roof is white::After opening the box::
The center part of the roof is white
LED Lamp on the rear window::Steel bracket is used to attach heat exchanger to the dual battery tray::
LED Lamp on the rear window
Padeyes::The first unsuccessful mounting attempt, finally I used a steel bracket::
Five switches above the windshield::I added four additional rocker round switches::
Five switches above the windshield
On the beach::San Fellipe, Baja California, Mexico::
On the beach

© 2015 Maciej Swulinski