Front Runner Roof Top Tents (Owner Review)

front runner roof top tents owner review

Front Runner released their first roof top tent nearly 15 years ago, and theirs continues to be one of the most weight-efficient and affordable models on the market. 

Originally nicknamed the Feather-Lite, Front Runner’s RTT (model number: TENT031) weighs only 93lbs, when most other RTTs weigh twice as much. The Feather-Lite is a minimalist’s dream, providing ample room for two people in a 4-season tent that’s easy to mount, and even easier to unfold for instant set up.

Front Runner is based in South Africa, and was born out of need for overlanding equipment that was more efficient, more durable, and more innovative than what had been available. Tested on off-road adventures across the wilds of Africa, their gear is built to perform. 

Mounting the Front Runner RTT

Front Runner’s specialty is durable, attractive roof racks and rack accessories. While it does require two people, Front Runner has made mounting and installation of its RTT incredibly easy with their mounting kits. It’s as simple as hoisting the 93 lb tent onto the roof rack, and sliding the tent bolts into the slots of the rack. From there, tighten the bolts with a wrench and you’re good to go.

When you’re ready to set up the tent, unzip the tent cover, undo the straps, and unfold the tent using the ladder as leverage. To attach the rain fly, throw it over the top, hook it onto the support bars, and attach the tent poles to both the fly as well as the tent.

Why Weight Makes the Difference

The Feather-Lite is different from other RTT models because of its weight efficiency. At only 93 lbs, your vehicle won’t suffer as much wear and tear, won’t lose as much gas mileage, and won’t be slowed with as much drag by this RTT as other, heavier models.

It also makes it more versatile for smaller vehicles to carry, such as the Subaru Crosstrek, widening the market to much more than just heavy-duty truck and 4×4 drivers.

via – @rondjeaarde

What You Get – Features and Specs

The Feather-Lite is one of the simpler RTTs available today, leaving behind unnecessary accessories, and without a need for anything more. The main details are:

  • 1.3M wide x 2.4M long tent weighing 93 lbs
  • low-profile 330 mm (12.9”) high when compacted for travel
  • Two zipper doors
  • Two side zipper windows
  • Skylight
  • 2.25” mattress
  • Aluminum Ladder
  • Rain fly
  • Tent Cover
  • 2 Hanging pockets
  • Mounting tracks, plates, and all necessary hardware

Of course, the tent body is made with water-repellent, durable 260g poly-cotton ripstop fabric, and the base is a durable aluminum frame, with sheeting, and dense foam core providing a sturdy insulated foundation to keep the coldest nights from penetrating the tent floor.

The mattress is 2.25” thick with washable moisture and mildew-resistant polyester oxford fabric cover, meaning it’s super comfortable to sleep on, easy to wash, and doesn’t stink. The tent cover is a heavy-duty, durable PVC-coated 650g nylon fabric that protects your tent in all weather during transit and in storage.

The rain fly is a full-coverage, waterproof, UV-resistant 400d polyester oxford fabric, and is easy to set up using the 6 poles that connect it to the mainframe of the tent.

What’s the Wait Time?

Front Runner guarantees that all RTT orders are shipped the same day via freight, and shipping starts around $200. U.S. Domestic Freight typically takes 4-6 days, but actual shipping times will be calculated at checkout.

However, if you are able to pick up directly from their U.S. headquarters in Agoura Hills, California, you can have your RTT the same day you place your order. Front Runner Roof Racks ship for free, and are shipped via Ground on the same day as your order. They also come with a 30 day money back guarantee. 

via – @seansoss

Must-Have Accessories

Front Runner thinks of everything when it comes to making convenient gear for overlanding adventures. The number one thing you must-have with your roof top tent is a roof rack.

  • Front Runner Roof Racks are the foundation for all your Front Runner overlanding gear, including your tent. All of Front Runner overlanding gear and accessories are customized to fit seamlessly with their Roof Racks. They are light-weight, attractive, and extremely durable
  • A necessary upgrade is the Quick Release Tent Mount for the easiest removal of the tent after camping. This allows you to quickly detach the tent from your rack without any tools. 
  • The Roof Top Tent Shower Skirt gives much-needed privacy for showering or changing clothes, as well as protection from the elements for your camp kitchen. It can even serve as additional sleeping space, although it does not have a floor. The Shower Skirt slides easily into the channel of the tent base, so it hangs from underneath the tent, and it comes with two screened windows and a screen door, all of which have roll-down flaps for privacy. 
  • Likewise, the 2.5m Easy-Out Awning has additional walls that can also serve as a privacy shelter, as well as sleeping space at night, or protection for your camp kitchen. The 3-panel wall cover attaches easily to the 2.5m Easy-Out Awning, which fixes directly to the roof rack. Just like the Roof Top Tent Shower Skirt, the walls also come with windows on each side panel that have roll-down flaps for privacy, and a door at the front panel. 

You can find all these accessories at frontrunneroutfitters.com.

 

Owner Q&A:

I asked four Front Runner RTT owners, Hannah (@hannahr.reyes), Kingston (@roaminglost), Leon (@rondjeaarde), and Brandon (@brandonsoutside) for feedback on their tents, and this is what they said:

Why did you choose the Front Runner roof top tent over all the other options on the market?

Hannah: “My husband and I were planning our two week honeymoon road trip to 5 national parks in his Toyota Tacoma, and we wanted a low-profile tent that was light-weight, and would be large enough to fit both of us. We’re tall (I’m nearly 6 feet, he’s about 6’4), so when we saw that Front Runner’s RTT had extra room for both of us, we were stoked.

We wanted low-profile because our garage was pretty small, and because at the time we lived in the city and were worried about drawing more attention to the truck.”

Kingston: “So currently only running the tent temporarily.”

Leon: “We mainly did it for the nice price/quality ratio. It’s really great quality at a pretty affordable price point. If you look at other brands that start at 2000€ for instance.”

Brandon: “Availability, price, and weight.”

How was the installation and mounting process?

Hannah: “My husband installed the roof rack himself, and together we lift the RTT onto the truck for mounting. Overall it’s a simple process, and even though I’m slight in build, I’m able to help him lift the tent up over our heads to the rack. It’s pretty simple from there, just tightening the bolts of the tent to the rack and we’re off on our next adventure!”

Kingston: “Super easy to install and works really well with the Front Runner Rack!”

Leon: “We did it ourselves and it was quite simple, if you have a nice versatile roof rack, I think a lot of overlanders should be able to do it themselves.”

Brandon: “Relatively straightforward and simple. It’s best to have a second person help you, but I’ve been able to mount the tent myself.”

What are your favorite features of Front Runner’s RTT?

Hannah: “There’s several. For one, just the novelty of having a tent off the ground has been wonderful when camping in bear country. Many times we have had bears roaming around our camp, and while our friends in a ground tent below us were inches from large black bears, we were up high and out of immediate reach from the wild animals.

Also, the mattress is very comfortable. I mentioned how roomy the tent is for both my husband and I. Recently we camped with our baby and there was still plenty of room for the 3 of us inside the tent. Lastly, I love the skylight on warm nights. Not only does it provide plenty of ventilation, keeping the temperature down, but we get to star gaze from our beds. That was wonderful on our honeymoon!”

Kingston: “It’s very comfy! And very slim for a folding RTT, plus it has this flat spot where the mattress ends and you can put your shoes there without putting them on the mattress, which I have never experienced in other RTTs.”

Leon: “The windows on all sides are really great!, Also I like the fact that there is a door on either side of the tent. The fabric feels very good. The zippers are high quality.”

Brandon: “Like mentioned earlier, price and having it lightweight were my biggest pluses.”

Is there anything you don’t like about Front Runner’s RTT?

Hannah: “We’ve had an issue with one of the hinges coming loose, which isn’t that big of a deal— we’re able to fix it each time— but it’s not great. My husband thinks it might have to do with the fact that he installed it himself. Also, the poles for the rainfly are pretty tricky. You have to have long, strong arms to flex them into place.”

Kingston: “There aren’t too many negatives, I think the only downside is putting the cover on, but that’s a trait of all folding RTTs.”

Leon: “We think the ladder is too short from the factory, the ladder extension is almost essential for almost every vehicle I can imagine in the overland community. Also the poles you have to install every time in order to get the top flaps up is kind of funky and sometimes a little hassle and i can imagine it wearing out quickly in the future.

The ladder can be a pain to fold sometimes, because the pins don’t always match perfectly and don’t slide in that easily in the holes when unfolding. I think Front Runner can really get some bonus points on improving the ladder system.”

Brandon: “The fasteners. I’ve had the nuts walk out upon closing the tent and it’s not fun finding out when you’re setting up camp in the middle of the night.”

via – @seansoss

How has your vehicle held up with the RTT on top?

Hannah: “Our Toyota Tacoma is frequently abused with off-road and overlanding adventures, but it takes the added weight of the RTT just fine. We get ___ fewer miles per gallon, but we also have large, all-weather tires and usually plenty of gear in the back weighing us down as well. But after 2 years of having the RTT almost always mounted, the truck is still in great shape.”

Kingston: “Great, no complaints at all.”

Leon: “Very well, because they are relatively lightweight and have a pretty narrow footprint we don’t even notice them that much on the roof rack.”

Brandon: “No complaints or issues to report. But being boxy, the jeep does get pushed around on strong crosswinds, haha. That’s more of a nuisance really.”

How long have you owned your Front Runner RTT, and how’s it performing long term?

Hannah: “After two years with lots of camping in between, we still love our tent. It has held up despite all kinds of weather. The zippers work just as easily today as they did on day 1. The screens have kept out mosquitoes, even when they’re swarming.”

Kingston: “I’ve only had it for about 1 month.”

Leon: “I can say after 1 year of use and some camping trips they hold up good. Let’s see for the coming trip of living inside the tents for 6 months straight! haha!”

Brandon: “So far its held up and haven’t had any major issues to report. I don’t let it live on the top of my vehicle, but if I did I’d be sure to clean and condition the vinyl cover.”

Any other relevant details or advice you’d like to share?

Hannah: “So far with our Front Runner RTT, we’ve camped in desert heat, major wind, cold rain, and even the snow. All of the elements have hit us and we stayed cozy in our RTT. Now, the severe winds that hit us our first night in Zion did keep us up all night, and during the extreme lightning storm in Joshua Tree we opted to sleep inside our friend’s cabin instead.

But for all other weather we’ve been super snug inside our tent, off the ground, warm and dry. Typically, while my husband builds our first campfire, I unpack and setup the tent. The process couldn’t be simpler!”

Kingston: “The price point for how lightweight and compact this tent is just awesome. I think the price is the best selling point.”

Leon: “The setup and breakup time is quick! Maybe some more space allowance in between the folded tent would be nice, to make it possible to leave some more stuff like blankets and pillows laying in the RTT. It is however possible to leave 1 blanket or sleeping bag (layed out) in the folded RTT. But this really can’t be more.”

Brandon: “I’d suggest swapping out the mattress that it comes with and replace it with a memory foam mattress. Complete game changer!”

(Photos with permission by Sean Reyes, @seansoss and by Leon, @rondjeaarde)

In conclusion…

A Roof Top Tent (RTT) is an awesome way to explore the outdoors. They allow you to turn almost any vehicle into an adventure-mobile! Ensuring a dry, flat floor no matter where you camp. Utilized for years among professional and amateur overlanders – roof top tents have become more popular than ever thanks to social media, and the rising trend of outdoor adventure-seeking. If you are considering a Front Runner or any other style of roof top camping product – I say… Go for it!

 

Up Next In Roof Top Tents:

Are Roof Top Tents Safe from Bears?

Best Hard Shell Roof Top Tents? (10 Crowd Favorites)

CVT Roof Top Tents: Review and Owner QnA

Where can I go Overlanding? 10 Epic North American Routes

Share this article!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*