Hard shell rooftop tent - Practical question

Carnut

New Member
Hi all,

I am thinking of buying a hard shell rooftop tent for my Suzuki GV XL-7. The thing is, the standard roof rails have plastic feet which are probably not strong enough to carry the weight of a tent plus inhabitant(s). For that reason I am considering to remove the standard roof rails, and see if I can get a custom made solution using steel parts only.

The XL-7 is not used as a daily driver, so the tent can remain on the vehicle. Basically, all I need is two cross bars to fit the tent onto, what I am not sure about is this. The studs used to secure the roof rails to the vehicle - which I will need to use for mounting the custom made cross bars - are 140 cm (55 inches) apart front to rear. I've seen many rooftop tents fixed onto no more than just 2 cross bars, but usually the longitudinal distance is less than that. The question is whether the frame of a rooftop tent is rigid enough to bridge that distance without bending too much.

Obviously, hard shell tents come in different qualities, but hopefully some of you can comment on this from their experience. I would be very interested to learn about your observations on this issue.


Thanks and regards,
Frans
roofrails.png
 

mikehzz

Well-Known Member
Max roof load including the racks is only 45kgs on the Suzuki GV Xl-7. Just about any sort of roof tent will be over weight.
 

Carnut

New Member
The tent I currently have in mind weighs 38 kgs according to the company that sells it. Assuming this is correct, and adding some extra weight for steel cross bars replacing the aluminium/plastic standard rails, I would expect to have around 50 kgs up there when driving.

I am aware of the 45 kg limit for the XL-7, but I was thinking that this is more about the stability of the vehicle when driving than it is about the structure of the roof. Probably the construction and materials of the standard roof rails is a factor as well.

Do you think that 50 kgs when driving and - let’s say - 150 kgs when stationary (sleeping) is too much weight?
 

mikehzz

Well-Known Member
Weight when you're stationary isn't a problem, it's the moving weight that counts. There's a fair bit of force under extreme braking that can rip the tent off the roof over time. You can probably get away with 50kgs as there would be a safety margin in that figure. I'm interested in what brand hard shell only weighs 38 kgs. Most weigh more than that.
 

Carnut

New Member
I just watched Ronny Dahl’s video. Very useful, but it doesn’t distinguish between a moving and a stationary vehicle.

To be honest I too am somewhat suspicious about the 38 kgs, I would have it put on the scales before buying it. It’s the “Hardtop 125” model on this website. I haven’t been able to determine where it is manufactured, wouldn’t be surprised if it’s from China.

Assuming it really is 38 kgs, the rigidity question comes to mind again ...
 

Kippie

Well-Known Member
I think Ronnie's video is very clear about static vs dynamic weight.
Hardtop RTT are generally heavier than soft top ones. The seller is claiming otherwise. I'd definitely weigh it before buying. If its weight is correct, then with a 45 kg limit you may just get away with it if you stay on the bitumen. I wouldn't take it offroad - all bets are off.
 

Les PK Ranger

4x4 Earth Contributer
..
Although that section of roof / cant rail is very strong by design, it's simply not designed to carry more than a pod with luggage or similar the way it's set up.

I can't say it'll be ok or not, but IF you decided to do something anyway, the best thing would be like you say, get rid of the rack side frames, and make up a steel frame for each side cant rail that follows the shape of that panel (to spread the weight evenly right through), then add the upper frame section (as low as possible) to support the tent mounting, brace it a little here and there to strengthen, prep and paint it 2K paint or get powdercoated.

Mounting it, make it easily removable for cleaning the car.
I'd used a strip of rubber to cushion the frame from the cant rail / roof paint.
Hard to say where it would be best to mount it (over cant / roof join, or slightly either side), depends on the holes securing the current bars.
They need to be checked to ensure the actual bolt size is adequate for strength, dual at each point would be good, and at least 12mm thread I would think.

Some pods are pretty light, but I just had a google and found a general one that is between 90kg and 100kg (depending on mattress choice),.
Also googled lightest, and found this one coming in at ~ 36kg, so it COULD be done if $ aren't too much of an issue.


This is actually shown fitted to roof bars in the page above.
 

Albynsw

Well-Known Member
I would be surprised if you find a hard shell rtt that weighs only 38kg great if you can though
The standard soft too rtt’s weight 55 to 60 kg
Most hard shell ones are close to 80 to 100 kg
 

Les PK Ranger

4x4 Earth Contributer
I would be surprised if you find a hard shell rtt that weighs only 38kg great if you can though

Yes, the one in the link above claims lightest on the market (80lbs / 36kg), US based, probably out of $ range for practicality.

I would certainly avoid it as cost wise it's probably a project that will just cost $, and possibly damage the vehicle long term, or be some other sort of issue with fitting problems.
 
I’d be careful about going overweight on the roof. Or anywhere for that matter... Roll the vehicle while being overweight up top. Insurance company will bail out right quick.
 

Carnut

New Member
..
Although that section of roof / cant rail is very strong by design, it's simply not designed to carry more than a pod with luggage or similar the way it's set up.

I can't say it'll be ok or not, but IF you decided to do something anyway, the best thing would be like you say, get rid of the rack side frames, and make up a steel frame for each side cant rail that follows the shape of that panel (to spread the weight evenly right through), then add the upper frame section (as low as possible) to support the tent mounting, brace it a little here and there to strengthen, prep and paint it 2K paint or get powdercoated.

Mounting it, make it easily removable for cleaning the car.
I'd used a strip of rubber to cushion the frame from the cant rail / roof paint.
Hard to say where it would be best to mount it (over cant / roof join, or slightly either side), depends on the holes securing the current bars.
They need to be checked to ensure the actual bolt size is adequate for strength, dual at each point would be good, and at least 12mm thread I would think.

Some pods are pretty light, but I just had a google and found a general one that is between 90kg and 100kg (depending on mattress choice),.
Also googled lightest, and found this one coming in at ~ 36kg, so it COULD be done if $ aren't too much of an issue.


This is actually shown fitted to roof bars in the page above.
The GFC Superlight tent looks very interesting, but I suspect they don’t ship to Europe.
 

Les PK Ranger

4x4 Earth Contributer
The GFC Superlight tent looks very interesting, but I suspect they don’t ship to Europe.

Probably hard to get shipped (and expensive) anywhere outside the US continent.

Interesting it's built for racing mostly, it must be pretty tough.
 

Carnut

New Member
I've been watching some YouTube videos, it has some nice features.

In addition to the low weight it's extremely thin with no sleeping bags/pillows in it. And just for fun they stuffed it with a mattrass, several pillows, 7 sleeping bags and a ladder, and it could still be shut and zipped up

For a hard shell tent it's relatively cheap, USD 1295. But yes, shipping would be very expensive I guess. And what to do if something is wrong with your tent ...
 

Les PK Ranger

4x4 Earth Contributer
I've been watching some YouTube videos, it has some nice features.

In addition to the low weight it's extremely thin with no sleeping bags/pillows in it. And just for fun they stuffed it with a mattrass, several pillows, 7 sleeping bags and a ladder, and it could still be shut and zipped up

For a hard shell tent it's relatively cheap, USD 1295. But yes, shipping would be very expensive I guess. And what to do if something is wrong with your tent ...

Yes, it mentioned on the website it can expand to take the extras, I think that's needed, a RTT where you can just unpack it ready for sleep is the best thing about them.
At least for general touring . . . for long highway trips, maybe having an air mattress and sleeping bags stored in a vehicle might be worth it, but probably wouldn't make enough difference to the fuel economy.
 
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