Smittybilt Overlander (2783) Roof Top Tent Review
After about a year and a half of telling all my friends about how I was going to buy a Roof Top tent (RRT) and talking about the pros and cons of each tent endlessly with my wife (who didn’t really care), I finally pulled the trigger and bought a Smittybilt Overlander roof top tent! We took it out on a one-night campout to test drive the day we got it and I’m going to review the tent and highlight what I liked and what could have been better.
If you remember from my review of the Coleman Sundome Tent a while back, I had previously been in a standard ground tent (I reviewed my favorite 5 person tents here). An upgrade to a roof top tent has been a long time coming. We most commonly camp with my wife’s family, who all have trailers. We usually just crash on a spare bed with my in-laws, but without fail, that means we wake up at 6 AM when they do. Needless to say, it was long overdue for us to get our “own place” when camping.
I never liked the idea of buying a trailer, it always sounded like to much cost, and headache to own and maintain, but we were also sick of sleeping on a rock in our Coleman or crashing with someone else. A roof top tent paired with my Chevy Colorado felt like the perfect solution!View on Amazon
Cost of the Smittybilt
In all honesty, I’m cheap so this was probably the biggest decision to why I choose the Smitybilt over the many options for RTT’s out there. At the time of this writing, the 2-3 person (Model #2783) Smittybilt Overlander is going for $899 on Amazon with free shipping. While I won’t spend my time reviewing it, Smittybilt also sells a slightly larger tent in the Overlander XL (Model #2883) that sleeps 3-4 and is selling for $1,009. For comparison the brand that most people associate with starting the RTT fad is Tepui, their comparable tent sells for $1,499. While I do believe the Tepui is a nicer tent, to me it wasn’t twice as nice.View on Amazon
Mounting/Installation of the Smittybilt Tent
I had a vision for how my tent would ride on my truck, floating slightly over the bed with the top of the Overlander about level with the cab when it was collapsed. I ordered the Overlander Tent and a bed rack at the same time, while on vacation off my phone. That turned out being a mistake because I didn’t measure my truck bed height or do the math of tent + rack height. I bought the Yakima Overhaul HD rack (for $700?!). I liked the idea of this rack because it was adjustable, and I thought it looked pretty cool.
That ended up being a mistake, the minimum height of rack was taller than my cab, without even putting the tent on :(. I also found out that unlike the photo shown above that I got straight from Amazon the Yakima HD crossbars were not included and would be an extra $250. That was more money than I wanted to put into this rack setup so I ended up returning it and getting a much simpler setup with the Yakima Bedrock HD mount that basically sits right on top of your bed rails and only cost about $250.
Once I got the BedRock in place, I was pretty happy with how the tent sat on my truck although 1-2 more inches of height would have been nice.
It was pretty straight forward to get both the rack and the tent mounted to the truck. The tent comes basically all assembled, all you need to do is mount the bottom rails, then hook the rails to your rack with 8 nuts and bolts in four locations.
I’ll review the Yakima racks I used another time.
Oh man, did I love being in this thing! The Overlander comes with a 2″ foam mattress which both my wife and I found to be perfect. We are both pretty small/light and were happy with it. I have seen other reviews that some people like to add a little more foam in the hip and shoulder areas, I don’t think that’s necessary.
Overall there was a good amount of space in the tent for us and our small pup, Karl. We each had a small bag in the bottom corner and didn’t find it to be in the way. Karl also liked it and started nesting right away.
Getting In and Out of the Overlander
Inside you have a couple of red straps to use as handles as you get in and out of the tent. It was a good idea but I didn’t find them needed, we both got in and out pretty easy. Getting the ladder set to the right angle will have a lot to do with how easy it is to get in (I’ll cover more on the ladder in the setup section).
Windows and Ventilation
There is a ton of window configuration options! There is a large window on the front and back, a medium window on either side of the tent and two small sunroofs. Each window has a super heavy duty zipper and a two-layer design with a window flap and a mesh screen. The mesh screen is surprisingly tough, Karl scratched at it a bunch and it held up just fine. You can open and close the windows from inside or outside the tent which is nice. Each window also has little clasps at the top and bottom so you can roll up the window flap and secure it to the bottom of the window opening. Overall I was impressed with the windows and can’t wait to take “waking up in a RTT” photos for Instagram!
Storage and Other Features
A quick rundown of interior features:
- There are many pouches on the inside of the tent for phone and flashlights that are handy. Some are on the side and some are up high.
- LED light bar that velcros to the roof, I thought this was cool, but it’s actually too bright. If you were trapped in the tent on a rainy day playing games it might be nice, but most the time its too much.
- Cigarette lighter and USB extensions – They give you cords long enough to run a cord form your cigarette or USB outlets in your vehicle. This will be handy for long trips. I’ll run mine through the sliding back window.
- There is an optional annex extension which creates a room under the ladder, my setup isn’t tall enough to make this usefully but if you mount it on the the roof instead of truck bed it seems like a sweet option.
My review of the material is very positive. I already mentioned how beefy the window screens and zippers are. The material is super thick (like 4X a typical ground tent) and all the seems are double stitched and sealed. The tent is held up by 3 U shaped half inch aluminum bars that are always in place. I don’t have any concerns with the durability of this bad boy which was a relief since its a cheaper tent.
We were both very warm and comfortable on a mid-spring camping trip in Utah. I actually slept till 9AM, I can’t remember the last time I did that camping in a tent.View on Amazon
Setting up the Overlander
Setup is a piece of cake! it takes about 5 minutes and can be done solo.
Pro-Tip: Bring a shovel and a level to level the wheels of your vehicle if needed.
The cover is super thick and water resistant. It has a combo of straps and a velcro strip that runs all the way around the base of the deck and the cover. Two straps run over the top of the cover next to the ladder to keep it from filling with air while driving.
I’ll be honest, the ladder sucks. This is my biggest knock on this thing. It’s not the telescoping tube design like the higher end tents. It’s a two-piece design that slides to extend. The slide track is probably going to get sand and grit in it which will make it hard to use. It also locks in place with pins that feel flimsy. The pins need to lock into pre-drilled holes. Unfortunately, there are only a couple hole lengths and none were close to where I needed them to be, so I’ll have to drill my own. You can see in the image below, the ladder is on to flat of an angle.
Window Pop Out Shades
I mentioned each window has a pop-up shade, these shades have little spring bars that hold the shade out. It’s a pretty basic design with some angled holes drilled in the platform base. I haven’t had any issues with the design yet, but I’m slightly worried they might wear out and get loose.View on Amazon
Summary of the Smittybilt Overlander Review
If you are thinking about a rooftop tent, I can not recommend this Smittybilt Overlander enough. People on Amazon appear to agree with me, this tent has 4.5 stars out of 99 reviews! It’s not as nice as a Tepui, but it costs about half as much and I feel like its 80% as nice. If you need to sleep 2 adults (and a dog or child) the regular size should be good if you have tried the 3-4 person XL please let me know what you think!
GearTrend makes just enough money to keep this website running from Amazon kickbacks, so if you are in the market for a tent, and found value in this review, please purchase with this link.View on Amazon