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Review of the Inspired Overland Lightweight Rooftop Tent – 2nd Edition!

Updated: Jun 5, 2023

The “IO RTT” was awarded the Global Media Award for the best new product at the 2022 SEMA show.


The Second Edition of the Inspired Overland rooftop tent was recently released and The Great Out There obtained a model for a thorough review.

This new rooftop tent design sports unique construction features to deliver the lightest wedge-style tent on the market at only 87 pounds.


I am a big fan of the wedge-style rooftop tent. It bucks the wind and offers some major advantages for overlanding. (See the related article: CLICK HERE.) The “lightweight” tents in this category are all in the 150-pound and over class. This is an obvious problem when vehicle roof-racks typically have limitations of 150-pounds or less. I wouldn’t trust most factory racks at highway speeds with a heavy rooftop tent that also presents a huge air dam. Rooftop tents are totally different than lighter and narrower skis, kayaks, or paddleboards. The effects of a heavy weight on the roof of your vehicle are only magnified in rough conditions and uneven mountain roads.


Inspired Overland engineered the new design to be suitable for all 4x4's AND small and midsize SUV's


The award-winning Inspired Overland RTT is not just light but built to be a durable camping shelter. Lightweight doesn’t mean cheap materials!

To open the IO RTT, you unzip the heavy zipper around three sides. There is not a separate cloth cover, unlike other “soft” tents. The tent opens automatically with two gas struts. In addition, each IO rooftop tent also includes two locking poles for more tension in high winds or heavy rain and snow.


The Inspired Overland RTT features top-quality, strong YKK zippers for durability. The tent fabric is waterproof 2000D Polyester Oxford ripstop fabric with UV protection. All the sewn seams are heat-sealed for waterproof protection in driving rain. The three windows are sewn with strong, high-density, bug-proof netting. Most notably, the rear door and side windows are all designed with zippered waterproof flaps on the outside of the screens – where they belong! For some reason, other brands insist on placing the screens on the outside of the windows?

The biggest departure from other rooftop tents is the top cover which is constructed from the same weatherproof PVC-coated fabric used in commercial pickup truck tonneau covers. Instead of a plastic or aluminum shell, the IO RTT uses the heavy tonneau cover material as the outer layer. Life expectancy is estimated at 10 years – or more with proper care which consists of periodic cleaning, then treatment with a vinyl preservative with UV inhibitors.


When closed, the IO RTT is secured with a heavy zipper with a flap to repel water. Unlike many brands, the gas struts are protected inside the closed RTT. This saves them from exposure to the elements and trail hazards.

One huge advantage of this design is the CLOSED dimensions. The Inspired Overland rooftop tent measures ONLY 4-inches high when closed. This means that you may be able to park in your garage (or most parking ramps) for the first time! The lower height and streamlined profile also mean that the IO RTT has the LOWEST wind resistance of any rooftop tent on the market with HALF or less frontal surface area of the competition. It forms a tight and tidy package, unlike many soft RTT’s that have an added, floppy cover to snag the wind, dust, and rain.


The new second-edition IO RTT is the result of a year of research and development, input from owners, and refining the manufacturing process. The Inspired Overland lightweight rooftop tent includes a telescoping ladder (with storage bag) that attaches to all three sides of the tent frame. Each IO RTT includes an anti-condensation mat and 1-inch memory foam mattress. There are two small pockets for storage above the rear door plus a multiple pocket system attached to the underside of the roof. Two waterproof shoe pouches are included at the rear door entrance.


To wrap up the package, the Inspired Overland rooftop tent won’t break the bank! The IO RTT is innovative AND affordable. You not only get the lightest, full-featured rooftop tent but the price is also unmatched – starting at only $1,500.00 – including shipping. This is in a market with most wedge RTTs selling for $3,000 or more! These savings are ADDED to the savings on your roof rack and gas mileage!


Inspired Overland Rooftop Tent Review Summary:


I really liked the design of the Inspired Overland rooftop tent. The weight and price are the two big selling features. If I was into overlanding with a Subaru, I would choose this tent for the low profile and light weight. If I was a solo overlander, I would also choose this RTT.

If I was a hard-core rock crawler that wanted a RTT for camping in the most remote destinations I would choose the ultralight IO RTT. Or if I was building a camping trailer to tow behind my subcompact I would definitely go with the lightest, lowest profile rooftop tent.

But I drive a Nissan Frontier truck and travel with my wife. I’m 6 feet tall and this model is just too small for me. The mattress measures only 76-inches long, but at least 6-inches of this length is unusable due to the steep slope of the roof and walls. Unless you are a solo camper or sleep curled up on your side, this tent may not suit you if you are over 5’10”. Inspired Overland is aware of the space limitations and is introducing a new “XL” model later this summer that adds 8-inches in length and 2-inches in width.


I also have some criticisms of the IO RTT design:


While the IO RTT includes a quality anti-condensation mat, the mattress is wholly inadequate. I don’t know anyone over 40-pounds that can get a good night’s sleep on a thin foam pad. You have a few options: add a foam topper or your individual camping self-inflating pads. The best choice might be replacing the stock pad with a 3-inch or thicker inflatable mattress. Expect to spend $200 to over $300 for a good quality mattress.

There is a light fiber rod inside the lower hem of the rear flap to add some stiffness. Unfortunately, the steel support rods extend straight out from the bed frame, resulting is a sagging awning. These supports should be more than just a hole in the frame but angled brackets to support the spring tension. (I fabricated some angled and extended brackets on my version. Similar brackets are available as parts from many RTT brands.) The rods also seem to lack any spring tension and retained the bend when packed.

The tent has three hooded vents for added air circulation. There are also two lower zippered access flaps to run extension cords inside the RTT. But there is no accommodation for a diesel heater hose – but this is something very few brands have yet to engineer into their RTTs.


Finally, like many campers, I need to be able to take toys along on my adventures. The enclosed PVC fabric cover does not allow for the addition of a set of roof racks for bikes, solar panels, or traction mats. Some owners have attached flexible solar panels with magnets or Velcro, but the soft fabric roof has definite limitations.


Conclusion:


There are PLENTY of overlanders and weekend campers that will not be deterred by my criticisms of the IO RTT design. If you are a solo traveler that drives an SUV this may be the absolute perfect option. If you have a budget of $1500, there are many advantages over the old-fashioned, soft, fold-out designs.


I look forward to seeing the new Inspired Overland XL model this Fall. I hope they have time to add a few more features and correct a few of the issues that I’ve noted.


Stay tuned to The Great Out There blog for more reviews of rooftop tents and other adventure gear.

Inspired Overland rooftop tent

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