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Which Is Better: Fold-Out Versus Wedge Versus Pop-Up Roof Top Tent?

Updated: Apr 12

Make the right decision when choosing your roof-top tent. Choose from the THREE types of RTT.

Roof top tents are the answer for many adventurers who prioritize comfort and versatility. Compared to ground tents, roof top tents offer warmth, security, and fast set-up in as little as one minute. Compared to camper trailers and larger truck campers, roof top tents provide a comfortable bed with universal application across a wide range of vehicles, the option of off-road travel (when mounted on a 4x4), and at a savings of thousands of dollars.

These advantages have spurred the development of many innovative styles of roof top tents. No longer are you limited to the traditional, fold-out fabric tents. The original RTT designs were just a step above a ground tent, essentially a fabric tent attached to a platform. The biggest complaint about these fabric tents was the laborious folding process, requiring you to go around and around the tent to tuck in the bulky tent fabric. Then, there was a second annoying process of installing and securing the clumsy tent cover.

Thankfully, engineering has now provided THREE alternatives to the old-fashioned fabric RTT.

The first option is an updated design that uses an integrated hard shell storage cover for the folded RTT. This hard shell also provides the “roof” for one side of the open tent. The biggest advantage of this fold-out design is that the tent opens into a shelter nearly double the size of the folded package. For example, the 4x4 Colorado Alto Mini shown below is 60” wide and 48” deep when closed but opens to 83” deep. (The mattress measures 52” x 79”). The larger Alto Elite is 74” wide and 55” deep when closed and opens to 92” deep. (The mattress measures 71” x 79”).

The Fold-Out design provides the most bed space. As described above, you can choose from a full-size or king-size mattress equivalent in these two RTT models. Because these tents fold outward (normally towards the passenger side) to extend the bed, the fold-out Mini and Elite RTTs install with the SHORTER dimension running the length of the truck bed or SUV roof or trailer. When installed on a pickup truck, the fold-out tent can be mounted lower compared to longer tents that mount above the roof of the vehicle. This allows a lower entry height and lower overall profile, which can add miles per gallon on the highway and may permit you to store your vehicle in the garage. If you are your partner (and children and/or pets?) DEMAND nothing smaller than a king-size bed, the Alto Elite is the best choice.

The hard-shell design is a huge improvement over the basic fabric roof-top tent. But not all hard-shell fold-out RTTs are created equal. ONLY the 4x4 Colorado Alto models have a raised, hinged top cover. This exclusive design provides maximum headroom of 47” at the highest point of the raised roof. The addition of a zippered window below the hard cover gives visibility on the “blind side” plus allows for cross ventilation.

See this video for a walk-around of the 4x4 Colorado Alto RTT:

The second option is the pop-up design. In this tent, the roof raises straight up and the RTT has four vertical walls. This is the configuration that provides the most cubic feet of space with a rectangular profile. The 4x4 Colorado Stratus shown below provides a 49” x 80” bed with 39” tall side walls. There are windows on the two short sides and doors on the two long sides protected by sun and rain awnings. The flat aluminum roof can accommodate solar panels. The sides of the roof structure include channels which allow for the attachment of roof racks or other overlanding accessories.

The 4x4 Colorado Stratus supplies a spacious and airy roof-top environment. The installation is universal: trucks, SUVs, and trailers. Two sets of gas struts effortlessly raise the top. When it’s time to move down the trail, the tent sides fold inward in less than one minute, with space for your bedding.

The third design option is the wedge shaped RTT. The 4x4 Colorado Nimbus shares the same 49” x 80” bed with the Stratus. But the raised wedge roof yields more vertical room at one end, making entry and exit somewhat easier through either the end door or side doors. (That is, three door options versus two for the pop-up design). The stored Nimbus wedge RTT has the same dimensions as the stored Stratus pop-up design. Some hard-core overlanders prefer the wedge shape for camping on exposed ridgetops or along the coasts where they can point the lower edge into the wind. Likewise, self-contained overlanders may prefer the slanted wedge design so that they can better orient solar panels to the sun.

You might recognize this design that dates back to the original VW minibus camper. Modern technology has updated the fabric, windows, mattress, and lift mechanism. But the concept remains one of the best innovations in comfortable camping. Pop-up roofs are still installed on modern camper vans, but at a cost of $10,000 or more! For a fraction of the cost, now you can turn a minivan or SUV into a “split level” camper with room inside for a kitchen and gear, and a comfortable bed on top.

Like the Alto models, the 4x4 Colorado Nimbus includes the exclusive raised, hinged top cover. With the added height on the hinged wall, you enjoy the “best in class” headroom of 58” at the highest point of the raised roof. This added height at the “head” of the RTT also allows for a fifth skylight window above the door. The added zippered window at the foot end gives visibility on the “blind side” plus allows for cross ventilation. The sides of the roof structure include channels which allow for the attachment of roof racks or other overlanding accessories.

See this video for a walk-around of the 4x4 Colorado Nimbus RTT:

It is great to have choices! Each camper and family will have different requirements, and one of these design options will “check” most of the boxes. The good news is that all of these 4x4 Colorado roof-top tents share many more premium features, adding to their competitive advantages. Regardless of the model that you choose you will receive:

• Premium breathable, water-resistant 600D oxford canvas sidewall.

• Heavy-duty, quality zippers.

• Windows with zippered doors, clear window covers, and zippered screens.

• Memory foam mattress over a standard condensation mat.

• Quilted lining on the roof to eliminate condensation on cold surfaces.

• Standard ceiling organizer pockets for convenient storage.

• Side storage pockets.

• Detachable shoe bag.

• LED light strip for USB battery (not included).

• Exterior ladder mounts that can be positioned to work around your vehicle doors.

• Roof lift struts that are positioned inside the folded RTT to avoid damage on the trail.

• Telescoping ladder with storage bag – stored in the RTT or your vehicle.

• Full warranty for two years, plus extended coverage for defects for up to five years.

• Fireproof access port for the addition of the optional 4x4 Colorado diesel heater.

To learn more about all three 4x4 Colorado roof-top tents, please contact them at (720) 695-4672. Ask for the special package discount price from The Great Out There!

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