Roof Tent vs Ground Tent vs Wedge Camper vs Swag
Show Notes for Podcast Episode #16
Principles of Overlanding :: RTT vs. Ground Tent vs. Swag vs. Habitat vs. Sleeping in the vehicle
For this Principles of Overlanding, Matt and Scott discuss the best sleeping solutions for an overland camp. They review the options of a Roof Top Tent (RTT) vs. a Ground Tent vs. a Wedge Camper (Habitat) vs. Sleeping in the vehicle, and even the Australian Swag. With well over 1,000 nights camping between the two of them, they get deep into the lessons learned camping on all seven continents.
Scott in Kenya with the Autohome Roof Tent
Roof Top Tent
Comprehensive soft shell roof tent test: https://expeditionportal.com/above-the-fray-soft-shell-roof-tents/
Comprehensive hard shell roof tent test: https://expeditionportal.com/the-travelers-tree-house/
1. Know your vehicle's roof load rating
2. Buy a quality tent from a reputable manufacturer (for longterm service and support)
3. Soft shell for space
4. Hard shell for ease of use
Pros for the RTT
2. Light management
3. It is always with you, so a quick nap during a road trip is easy
4. Above the animals and (most) insects
5. Ease of set-up for the HARD SHELL
6. Ideal for mixed terrain, rocks, mud, snow
7. Most allow Stowing bedding inside
Cons for the RTT
1. Weight up high (COG)
2. Initial purchase expense for a quality unit
3. Reduction in trail performance and increased overall height
4. Difficulty of set-up and stowing for most SOFT SHELLs
Habitat or Wedge Camper
Our Testing of the Wedge Campers (Article) https://expeditionportal.com/the-off-road-wedge-camper-shootout/
Go Fast Camper:
Life on the Go in a Go Fast: https://expeditionportal.com/life-in-a-go-fast-camper/
Go Fast Campers: https://expeditionportal.com/go-fast-campers-ultra-light-off-road-camper-solutions/
TAV Tacoma with Habitat: https://expeditionportal.com/feature-vehicle-tav-toyota-tacoma/
AT Overland Summit: https://expeditionportal.com/at-overland-releases-atlas-camper-shell/
Tacoma with Habitat: https://expeditionportal.com/classifieds-2017-toyota-tacoma-trd-w-camper/
A closer look at the FiftyTen Camper: https://expeditionportal.com/fiftyten-camper-available-for-gladiator-in-usa/
The Goose Gear F-350 with FiftyTen Camper: https://expeditionportal.com/featured-vehicle-goose-gears-overland-f-350/
200 Night Review of the Ursa Minor J30https://expeditionportal.com/the-road-chose-me-a-200-night-review-of-the-ursa-minor-j30-pop-top/
Less comfortable than a roof tent, but less compromise towards a daily driver
Stowed bedding inside
Bulky and inefficient to store
Mattresses are often too thin or too soft
Terrible to put away when wet (unless you use a ground sheet)
Only the higher quality units have proper ventilation during warm rains
Scott's camp with Expeditions 7 on the northern slopes of the Greenland Ice Sheet
1. Wide range of options and costs
2. Ideal for the desert
3. Self supported options
4. Standing room options
5. Easy to move from vehicle to vehicle
1. Can be fragile
2. Less desirable in wet and muddy conditions
Nemo Tents: https://www.nemoequipment.com/
Nemo Fillo Pillow: https://www.nemoequipment.com/product-category/pillows/
Sleeping in the Vehicle
Scott's configuration inside the GWagen
1. Can be configured for little or no cost
2. Completely weatherproof
4. Benefits for the sound insulation of the vehicle
5. Permits stealth camping
1. Not all vehicles are long enough
2. Not feasible for more than two people
Scott is the publisher and co-founder of Expedition Portal and Overland Journal and is often credited with popularizing overlanding in North America. His travels by 4WD and adventure motorcycle span all seven continents and includes three circumnavigations of the globe. His polar expeditions include two vehicle crossings of Antarctica and the first long-axis crossing of Greenland. @scott.a.brady
Matthew is a leading expert in automotive adventure. He has extensively explored the world's most remote places by 4WD and is considered an industry authority on overland travel. He is the only American to ever become an editor of a major Australian 4WD publication and has over 15 years of competitive auto racing experience. @mattexplore
Scott Brady: Hello and welcome to the Overland Journal Podcast, I am your host Scott Brady and I am here with my co-host, Matt Scott whose called in because of the social separation we’re all dealing with right now. How’s it going Matt?
Matt Scott: Yeah it’s going pretty good, all things considered. You know, just taking some time to sit back, relax, and plan some adventures. Yeah, and just do the right thing, do the responsible thing, and just stay home and let this thing pass.
Scott Brady: Yeah, I’m in the same boat. I’ve moved the podcast system, all of my electronics I need for my job, I’ve moved it all home. We’re recording in this way because we think it’s important to produce content, we’re getting some great feedback from everyone and we appreciate that. We appreciate your support in listening to the topics we discuss. Of course, everybody that is in the Overland community is on Mind right now oh, many of us love being outside and exploring and traveling, and many of us are kept at home at the moment. We also have Overland travelers from Argentina for example who are locked in the borders, we know that there is a large group of them that have kind of huddled together to get through this as a group. We know that there are travelers throughout the world who were essentially stranded in those countries, myself personally was struggling to get out of South Africa after.
Matt Scott: Yeah you flew home what, two weeks early or something?
Scott Brady: Yeah I did. I was on my 6th travel itinerary by the time I finally got out of there. The day that I was supposed to fly out, South African airlines shut down all international flights. That was three and a half hours before my departure time oh, so while I was walking into the terminal and seeing all of the SAA customers, people were gone, it was completely abandoned. I hopped onto the Delta app and I secured one of the last remaining seats on the flight that went out that night. So I do feel very fortunate to have been able to make that happen, though it was pretty challenging and I think that for me, that does add to the experience of the traveler, but I recognize that many people are separated from their families right now, or they're in a difficult situation. So our hearts definitely go out to those folks.
Matt Scott: It's not an easy time, and we can't talk about overlanding.
Scott Brady: Yeah, we definitely don't want to talk about this for too much longer, but we are also a prepared through, that's one of the cool things that I've seen about overlanders is that we are prepared group, or used to being out in the field. And often times we have additional food and supplies and ways of gathering food and making water and camping remotely, so we are already have a mindset of being more minimalist and a little more self-prepared p long about mind we're actually going to talk about camping in general, with an emphasis on how do you sleep at night, how do you actually camp out and sleep at night. So we're going to talk about roof tents, we're going to talk about sleeping in the vehicle, we're going to talk about kind of a new class of pseudo camper, which is called a habitat oh, we're also going to talk about ground tense, and we're also going to discuss the swag which is something that came out of Australia.
Matt Scott: Let's start with what I'm stoked about.
Scott Brady: Yeah, let's start with the swag. Because I think that's an interesting thing to consider, so Matt take us off with that.
Matt Scott: Yeah, so basically a swag is a bear burrito, it's something that you crawl inside of and it's like this nice canvas wrapping for animals to eat you in, that's a joke but I guess that's what some people call them. *laughing* A swag oh, I always kind of described them as a roof tent for the ground. The swag has become popular are the swags that have tent poles oh, they're more tent-like than a traditional swag. But a traditional swag is literally a bedroll, and we're not talking about those, can I just spend a few nights in Africa, I don't like them. Now, the swags that are more tent like, I do like. Personally, that's my favorite back up, is a swag. I love them because, you roll them up, think of a roof dent. And instead of having that traditional roof tent, and instead of having that hardwood or metal base and folding over once, similar footprint in a way, but then they roll up. And usually there's some kind of rubber canvas bottom that runs up the sides maybe 6 in, but they're waterproof, they're great in the rain, they're just easy. The things that I really liked about swags is that they're kind of the most comfort you can get without having to many drawbacks on your vehicle. I always approach roof tents with the idea that, “ oh yeah, I'm going to take it off and use it so that the truck drives better around town, the center of gravity is better.” But you never end up doing that, they realistically take two or three people to get down. Where is swag, you have the similar level of comfort, you're on the ground, but I like them. When I had a Ford Raptor, it was our sleeping system until we got that go fast camper. We would just, when we were transporting it, throw it in the bed of the truck and when we were sleeping in it, we would throw it in the bed of the truck with the tailgate down and it worked pretty darn well. We had a 3D is what they call it, it's about the size of a double bed width wise.
Scott Brady: That's really smart Matt, to use it in a pickup and drop the tailgate. Because I've seen people set up traditional tents in beds and that always looks awkward. But I think a swag would actually work out pretty well, because then you end up with that he's have set up, but then you're also not on the rocks, and you're not in the mud, and you're not in the snow or whatever it is that's on the ground. And you're kind of getting the Best of Both Worlds, and it's an interesting idea.
Matt Scott: Yeah, it works out really well. it's meant for a very versatile vehicle oh, but it's also for a comfortable camping solution. Definitely better, it's a step above a ground tent, and it's a step below a roof tent. Some of the morn name-brand swags are actually are designed, you use poles and thing take seconds the setup. I know there are claims saying, “ where are the 10-second tents? Where are the 5 Second tents? Where is the 50 second tent?” They're all still campaigning, where this thing you literally throw on the ground, you put two poles in it oh, and it's good to go. Have you ever slept in one of those?
Scott Brady: I had a few back at the office, so I used them on occasion in Arizona.
Matt Scott: Oh yeah you had the air V swag!
Scott Brady: That's one of the things I've noticed about the swags is, I sleep on my side and most of them don't have a thick enough mattress to be comfortable for me on the ground.
Matt Scott: That can be an issue, I'm also a side sleeper.
Scott Brady: A Swagman that I've used had a little bit better mattress in it. It seems like it would lend itself really well to pulling out the foam mattresses that come with them, and putting in an air mattress would make a lot of sense to me.
Matt Scott: I've always thought that was a great idea.
Scott Brady: the other thing that I've noticed particularly on the less expensive ones, if you're talkin about the Chinese models, is that they never thought about the fact that you could be in the rain and need ventilation. So you've got to go to the higher-quality units to get the small little side Vents, and when the swag is all zipped up you still get some ventilation because reality is it rains in the desert, which means it could be a warm night, and you need some ventilation. So most of these swags are simply designed for the desert and they kind of expect you to have the top on zipped, and maybe the fly net or the bugnet zipped oh, so you're getting some ventilation that way. So I think that the swag wants to make sure that you get some ventilation if you have to zip it all up because of the rain. The other things that I noticed you is that you really are kind of inside this thing like a burrito, so if you want to be able to stand up or get on your knees to change, or if you're doing anything other than reading or sleeping, it doesn't really help itself towards a lot of activities that require more Headroom. So I think that's one thing that's worth noting as well. The other thing is, if you're in a camp ground or an area with more people, you don't have any privacy really. Normally I'm out in the middle of the-
Matt Scott:you just want a place to sleep.
Scott Brady: I'm in the middle of the Australian desert, and I don't really care if I'm changing my underwear out with the kangaroos, but if you're camping in groups or you're in groups, you have to recognize the fact that it's a little more difficult if someone is concerned about privacy. So that's another thing to consider as well. And they are a little bit bulkier than you'd expect, so it would be more bulky than a typical ground tent with a sleeping bag and Pad, a little more bulky than that. But they are very convenient, they are super easy to set up, you can leave your sleeping bag in them.
Matt Scott: Yeah, so I guess that's where we get into Roots tents. Your compromise is that it's essentially mounted to the vehicle, front runner makes those quick release mounts, and I have to say I don't know why more people don't use those. How do we transfer into roof tents? You're not actually a huge roof Tent Guy. Your ground Tent Guy.
Scott Brady: I think even my preference more than that is to sleep inside the vehicle, and we'll get to that in a little bit. There's some reasons why I have ended up with that but I think for the roof tent it, let's talk about the benefits initially is that you really have this comfortable place to sleep in the night. And they can be very dark so you can sleep in them in the morning, and that can be a downside with typical ground tents. You've always got it on the vehicle so you can decide that, “ hey, I'm doing a drive to California.” and you get a little tired, you can pull off onto a dirt road and it's really easy just to pop it up. I have found that in general, the hard shell tents are superior in almost every way to the soft shell tents. I'm the reason for that is ease of set up a nice of breakdown. I think people go into a roofed end of this misconception that they're going to have ease of setup and storing, and I've never experienced that with a soft-shell tent. Most of them today you was a zipper for the cover, and those zippers when they're brand new or a challenge, but once they've been dirtied and gummed up, and have got a little bit of use and abuse, they become very difficult to manage, lots of extra straps. So you could actually spend 10 minutes putting away a roof tent and if your vehicle is totaled and you don't have a ladder with you, and you're not tall enough, or you don't have a box slider to walk along, Jeeps are great for roof tents because it's easier to transition from a rock slider to a tire, to a rear bumper and all that. but not a lot of vehicles are that way, and these are way in the air. They can be very challenging. We have to remember that roof tents were originally designed four areas where maybe extremely Rocky terrain, muddy terrain where you don't want to set a ground pants on the ground. They're also very popular in Africa for lots of reasons because there's things that want to eat you there. So you can get up above the Black Mamba snakes, you can get above the Lions and the Tigers and the Bears and oh my, so that's one of the reasons why people really like roof tents. And I think people in general love this idea of a tree fort, and that is really cool, it is neat.
Matt Scott: It is a really cool tree fort. I'll take a different point of view on this, I've had a hard shells oh, I've had soft shells, I've had safety habits 10th, I've had the go camp oh, I've had a lot of different ones. We had a soft shell roof when we lived in Australia, we had it mounted on top of a rack on top of a lifted carrier. So it was very tall, so everything that Scott just said about being hard to put away, one hundred percent accurate. We ended up getting to the point where we would walk up on the hood and walk up on the roof and I'd actually have to be on top of the vehicle to put this thing away. And the bag that it goes in with the zipper oh, horrible. Imagine a muddy day, all of that mud and dust getting thrown everywhere on the vehicle. And you're literally trying to scramble around with Muddy dirty truck either to get ready to go to bed, or after you have slept in you're all cleaned up, now you're dirty again. But I actually like the longer trips, I think they do have more of a tree for it kind of feel to them for two people or more. There's days when you're traveling and you think, “ oh hey, this is a nice campsite! Let's hang out for a few days.” I found that it was a nice place to kind of get away from everything and especially with two people, you have to have some time to yourself. Laura would go up to read a book, or I will , you kind of had separate areas where I never felt that I wanted to be in the hard shell. It was a place to sleep, it was very convenient to put up or put down, with a soft shell tents have the benefit of most of them what I call a sefaria group. They have that second layer of canvas that kind of takes that initial heat out of the UV and some of that air flow out of the 10th body. They say cooler, you get a little bit of shelter underneath them, but they are a pain to put away. It depends how you travel, if you're traveling a really long turn, and you're driving really slow, and you don't care, it can take 10 to 15 minutes each morning to put the tent away. I think there's an advantage to the soft shell tent, I I would strongly consider one of the easy on soft shell tents, what are they called?
Scott Brady: Yeah, the Jazz is their lightest Tent, and they also happened to be their least expensive as well. They have their traditional line which is extremely popular as well, those are the tents that I have the most time in, and I probably have 200 nights in soft shells. I've been down to minus 57 degrees Fahrenheit.
Matt Scott: oh yeah, that was your trip up north.
Scott Brady: That's right, and it's amazing how much they endure. Those tents never gave me the smallest bits of problems oh, and they actually have a little bit of an advantage because the cover does not have a zipper, it has a ratchet strap which is way easier just do. And you make a really good point about, when you open up a soft shell roof tent, you end up with an improvised awning because of the way that it folds out, so that's a really good point and you end up with a lot more interior space. And there are more options that are very exclusive and ones that Easy On makes that you can actually pull out an extension and then drop down these walls that allows it to be a complete changing room, shower room. So people who are maybe a traveling a little more slower, or staying in campsites for more than a couple days or more than a day, I think you're right, I think that the soft-shell does add a lot more value to that particular Point. Again, this is really about understanding the pros and cons of each, for me the hard shell tent has a couple distinct advantages for how I like to travel. It is extremely easy to set up so, I for example did a trip a few years ago in the G Class all the way down to Cabo San Lucas and back and almost every single night, most of the nice camping on the beach. There was a couple latches that you kind of give a little bit of a push up on the upper shell.
Matt Scott: And then you're good to go.
Scott Brady: And it's set up immediately, and I didn't even bring a ladder because the G wagon had a lot of fix to the mirror. So it was less than 15 seconds to set this thing up, which was pretty amazing. The downside is that it doesn't have as much ventilation as the soft shell, it doesn't have quite as much room as the soft shell, it's a little bit more heavier than the soft shell as well, and quite a bit more expensive. And that regard I did really appreciate the fact that it was so easy to use when I was camping almost every single night and using it all of the time. I think that the hard shells also endure long term use a lot better because they're in a hard shell, so the sun exposure in the UV ray exposure when I see a lot of these soft shell tents these covers just get really beat up from the Sun, especially in Arizona.
Matt Scott: Yeah, real quick. And I think you brought up a point to with ventilation, if it rains in a hard shell tent you essentially have walls. And some of them again, like Easy On they have the little awning so you at least have one window open, but you are willing to lose a lot of air flow. And I like both, I say the advantages of the hard shell and the advantages of the soft shell, and I'm not trying to be an anti Hardshell guy oh, but there is the fact that they take up a lot of room on the roof rack oh, sometimes I see people putting an entire roof rack on a vehicle and then they put a hard shell tent on top, and then you have an extra hundred pounds on the roof. You really don't have much storage, now with the Alia cap I want to say they call it there gen 3 Expedition tent, they actually have some tracks on top which is like a diamond blade crosshatch. you can stand on it, you can put stuff on there, I think that's nice.
Scott Brady: Yeah, really nice 10th. And now there's the ikamper, skykamper mini.
Matt Scott: I don't have any experience with those, but I know you've messed around with that product once.
Scott Brady: I have, and I have a few of them for testing right now, in fact Overland Journal is right in the middle of wrapping up a hard shell roof-top tent test. And the ikamper skycamp mini takes up the same Footprints of a softshell, it's kind of a hybrid so you open up the lid and it pops up, and it pops up and then you pull out this panel that extends the over all length. So it's kind of a nice combination of the two oh, but you do end up with minor weight and less roof rack space, if you really want to have that sunroof and you really enjoy having a sunroof, it allows you to do that. The biggest thing about the roof tent in my mind is, you've got to know what your vehicles roof load rating is, and we've talked about this and the payload podcast, but you've got to know what your roof load rating is, and you got to know what your center of gravity is. So you have to be really mindful of that. A lot of these tents are heavier then the manufacturer's rating for roof loads, so that's what you have to start looking at. If I really want a heavy hard shell roof tent, you might want to buy 200 Land Cruiser, because that has 250 to 280 lb, I don't remember exactly the roof load rating. The new Defender has 370 lb Dynamic roof load rating. There are vehicles that have much higher roof load ratings that lend themselves well to these heavier roof tents, so you really have to be mindful of up top.
Matt Scott: You've got to be careful with how you're doing it.
Scott Brady: Yeah, just go with the lightest weight tent you can, and go with simple cross bars that keep the overall Maslow, just be really mindful of that. You'll notice it as soon as you get the tent up there. And the other thing to consider with roof tents is the impact of fuel economy, so you need to always be aware of the fact that it's going to affect the range, you may lose a mile and a half to two and a half miles per gallon with a roof tent ontop of your vehicle. So those are all things to be aware of.
Matt Scott: Yeah, I just looked into talking about the dynamic and static weight capacity, the 4Runner is a vehicle in the US that has a roof load capacity of a 120 lb from what I've pulled up. A standard roof tent is 190 lb, that's before you add things into it. People need to be a little more cognizant about, I see people with 500 pound rooves when they have a tent, a rack, lights, solar panels, water, fuel, all this kind of stuff. I would love to see that moose test done with all that stuff on the roof tent.
Scott Brady: *laughing* it would be a quick test. It's just something to beAware of, to be mindful of. The roof tents are very beneficial in a lot of ways, just the whole story has to be considered when you make that purchase decision. I was just in Africa oh, I was just in areas with the big 5, you could hear Lions waking me up in the morning when they roared. And I was really glad to be in a roof tent when that was happening.
Matt Scott: I was just in Africa too and Brad got to sleep in a roof tent and I had to sleep on the ground. It's nice to sleep under shelter. Or sleep inside. But something that I've never actually done, I've never built a vehicle to sleep inside of. I really don't know why, it's kind of the obvious solution. Well I do know why because I'm six foot three and I don't fit in those things. But if you do have the right people, like Chris Cornell for example, he has that thing set up with a heater and everything. He doesn't have to worry about a roof tent, I think it's a great option. I know why more people don't do it, it's the 4Runner Maybe just a little bit too short. A little too short to be comfortable long-term, or for two people. they're such great options.
Scott Brady: That can be the real challenge, even me being 6’1”, I have to be mindful of the length of the vehicle. But all of the vehicles that I have bought in recent years that I have done this with have all lend themselves well towards that. The G wagon you just got to roll XIV forward a little bit, I have a whole system that where the front runner drawers in the back match the height of the rear seats when they fold down. And then I just stuff a couple Red Ox bags full of Gears, or whatever down into that hole between the front seat and the drawer system and the seats. Then I just put up a quick air mattress and I'm sleeping easily, I probably have 200 nights were so in Expedition seven Vehicles where we high roofed troopies, So that made a huge difference, a lot more room. We could easily sleep two people inside those vehicles and I slept so many nights that way. One of the real advantages of it is everything can still stay set up. So the way that I had the troupis configured, all of the gear was down below the bed surface in AT Overland drawer systems and I had a sleeping pad setup and a sleeping bag, and I left it set up all the time. So that after a long day of driving I could simply shut off the vehicle and crawl into the back. We also integrated in some heaters into the vehicles, and we did some fancy wiring where we were able to- without the engine running the heaters would run. Then we would be able to turn on the vent fan through the heater core of the dash, and we were able to keep the vehicles very warm, even in conditions like Antarctica. Very very warm solution in any polar region, and it works out very well. So sleeping inside of the car for me, I think it's very efficient, it takes advantage of all the insulation that the car has. Think about modern vehicles and how much insulation they have, they're totally weatherproof. There are lots of challenges though, you have to deal with ventilation, so on the E7 trucks we had this magnetic set of nets that we would have put on the metal that would allow us to crack the windows, so you've got to have some solution like that with the vehicle.
Matt Scott: There's stuff for consideration but I think if you have the ability to do that, they all come at a lesser compromise to the vehicle, how it drives and way and everything that goes along with it, In a roof tent, or in a swag. Even if you don't have a heater you just turn the car on. I don't know how many times I've woken up shivering and it would just be nice to go to bed warm. That's easily done.
Scott Brady: You have access to all of your charging ports, and even when I was crossing Antarctica or crossing Greenland we slept in the vehicles. It wasn't ideal, we were literally sleeping in the passenger seats as the vehicles were bouncing along over the surface, but way more nights I've spent sleeping inside a vehicle than in any form of a tent. Just simply because it is a durable, completely weatherproof, much more insulated resistant, and much more secure location to sleep. If you are traveling through central America and it's getting midday and you have to walk up to a gas station, you can put over the screens over the windows so that nobody can see and, and next thing you know you're sleeping inside a locked vehicle. Then people have been doing this forever, it's just a different kind.
Matt Scott: Yeah, like the stealth camping thing has so many benefits. My buddy Brian Dorf from Exploring Elements is constantly ragging on about Stealth camping. He has very valid points oh, he's doing a lot of adventure sports that puts him in places where Maybe that is advantageous. I don't think there's a huge advantage to stealth camping, unless you're the kind of person who is actively avoiding people. But I think with Travelers that are going to be interacting and going to be in that situation, I think that stealth camping is essential. The ability to not have to set up camp or anything, like your trampoline or whatever you may be doing, that becomes one of the most ideal ways of being able to sleep.
Scott Brady: I think so, and I think those that are listening, take away this concept as make sure your vehicle is capable of being slept inside of, and then try it, test it out. And then if you have a failure of your roof tent, like if it hits a branch and it gets destroyed, or you find a hole in your ground tent, or something gets stolen, or you need to do an impromptu sleeping situation. I remember we were crossing Russia, the river Alden oh, it was this crazy Star Wars bar Confluence of individuals where there was bonfires and people were shooting guns and they were very drunk, and it was nice to just be able to- not that I was worried so much about personal security, I was more worried about actually getting some sleep. In this very cold and raining situation, it was nice to be able to lock myself up in the vehicle and then turn on the fan and have the heater running which give some white noise. So I think, to those who are listening, is it possible to set up your vehicle and can they cure it to sleep inside of? It's often less expensive than any of the other Solutions, and it does provide the greatest amount of protection from the weather and otherwise, from animals and Etc once you're inside the vehicle.
Matt Scott: Yeah it does. Should we move on to ground tents?
Scott Brady: yeah, let's talk about ground tents. Because I think that there way underrated, I think that people have dismissed unfortunately the ground tent, when you think about it it's the thing that has probably been around the longest. And it's had the most-
Matt Scott: there are some great ground tents out there.
Scott Brady: Really really good ones, and you can get them as durable and as canva C and Safari looking as you want, or you can go ultra-lightweight. One of the tents that I've Loved sleeping in the most was Nemo equipment for years, those air tents. It was the size of a cantaloupe, I always kept it in the vehicle, in fact I still have it in the Mercedes today. I always have it with me and I also motorcycle trips, it just stuffs easily into your lanyard, and it has these air beams, and I've slept more nights then I can count in that tent with no failures. It was very reasonable and it's lasted for a little over a decade.
Matt Scott: I have a Nemo tent that is your old Nemo tent that I probably have over a hundred nights in. You probably had a hundred nights in. I still have it to this day. It's actually really comfortable, it's a little bit of a pain in the rain or whatever, but that's when I started doing. When I first started out overlanding, I didn't have a lot of money, I was 18 years old. I didn't have this nice Nemo tent at the time, I had whatever probably Walmart or Sporting Goods special kind of things. The nice thing is it allowed me to spend the money on travel, and I think that's something that people fail to realize. They spend almost too much time and money on their sleep set up when they can just get a ground tent. They're going to be comfortable, the camping pads these days are multi-wear, they're insulated, they're really great. There's Nemo pillows, there's microfibers which are really nice. They still have a little bit of memory foam in them. And the thing with the Nemo gear is it's expensive, but it's one of the essential things to have. If you're going to do the ground tent thing, you have to get the right gear because, if you buy the cheap 20 or $30 pad, you'll have a hole in it Oh, it's useless. If you buy a cheap pole in the pole breaks, it's useless. If you buy the cheap fabric and it's Rip's, it's useless. You have to buy the good quality stuff. The best quality backpacking gear for a tent and a sleeping pad oh, what's the most you could spend on that Scott?
Scott Brady: Wayless then a hard shell roof tent. *laughing*
Matt Scott: Yeah, you get very high quality stuff, full sleeping items for 3 to $500. The REI Skycamper or whatever it is, just get that! Think about how much you're going to use this stuff, if you were on a budget, I know we all are if your budget maybe allows for it, I would say check it out. Go explore, go see the world, you can get a ground tent from Goodwill.
Scott Brady: Ground tents have a bunch of advantages, they have a lot of engineering behind them because they're sold at such a volume. There's a lot of options to choose from from the color, from most importantly you can stand up inside of them. Most people just want to be able to stand up inside of a tent, being able to Retreat inside a tent like that is a real advantage and you could easily move it from vehicle to vehicle, you don't have it on the vehicle all the time, you could grab it off of the shelf and easily stick it inside the car. They are less expensive, you can buy a premium Nemo or MSR, one of those premiums ground tents that you can use for backpacking, motorcycle trips, you can use it for vehicle-based overlanding, it can be used for all of that stuff and it's going to cost you less than $100. So there are ways to optimize your budget using traditional camping equipment. Part of the reason why traditional camping equipment is less expensive is because the volume, because of the hundreds, if not thousands of units that they produce of these things, so that distributes that RND cost over a larger area. The downside is they can often be fragile. Tents that are designed for backpacking or optimizing for weight, you don't need to optimize for wait in the vehicle. When you look for a tent, look for someone that is positioned to be a car camping tent. They'll oftentimes be thicker, they'll be better standing room, they will be a little heavier.
Matt Scott: I have a little, and I still have it to this day, I have a little Pelican case, and that was from when I was testing cars and things like that That had my stove, my tent, my sleeping bag, had everything I needed in it and it was maybe, it was a decent-sized case but it could be checked at an airline if I was flying somewhere. That's the great thing is I flew all over the world with this kit and I could just jump onto adventures with people, take a chance, go explore some stuff, and have Call of my own stuff. There are things like the oz tent which are more bulky, realistically you would need a roof rack or a truck bed to store them. you are mentioning the Pacific Northwest actually camped in one of them at the Northwest rally, I randomly flown in and ended up staying at- we already had a few tents set up,And I had a nice cot, and it was raining, and it was miserable but we were all hanging out inside of these Oz tents that were kind of attached to each other. That was really cool, I wouldn't want to set those up everyday. They're durable, they're made from a similar poly cotton canvas that you would get in a roof tent, they're pretty durable. I have actually broken one trying to put it away.
Scott Brady: Most of the people that have them that I know of have broken them, either by not setting it up right because of the hinges needing to be deployed, or you get a gust of wind and those plastic joins can fail. It's good to have an extra joint or two with you, not the joint that's become popular in recent years, but the joint that goes inside the oztent, that way you can replace it easily in the field. Those are great. Should we talk a little bit about the hybrid solution, the habitats?
Matt Scott: Yeah! I think we should start with wedge campers, which is the catch-all term for them now. I think that's a logical transition is the go-fast camper. The go-fast camper is like a roof tent, wrapped onto a truck bed that is still very practical, it gives you a little bit more space, there are panels that come out. They're relatively lightweight, they're made in Bozeman which is cool. there are some downsides like I consider the go-fast camper more of a roof tent, Dan I do a different version. if I was to make a little mini sailboat like I did out of my AP Summit, maybe I wouldn't have expected it to go fast. But I think they are really nice, they're a great starting point, and you can go crazy with the wedge campers. You can get the 5010 system from Goose tear oh, they're almost the price of a car.
Scott Brady: They're beautifully made but very expensive. There are a total replacement so you move the bed completely.
Matt Scott: You've slept in a few of these things?
Scott Brady: I have. I do like um, I think the ones that I like are the ones like the go fast or the AT habitat were there as simple as possible because then I think you're better off building a camper, you're actually better off using a camper system where you can have all of those luxuries that come along with it. I think the idea of letting it be the hybrid that it is and not over building it, like what you've done with the Gladiator is a great example, you have some systems in there that make it more comfortable like a heater Etc, but you kept the weight down, you didn't overrun the vehicle with a weight of- it's not designed to be a full camper, there are other solutions that I think are better for that. But if you do keep it lightweight and simple, I think it is really beneficial. And then if you look at a company like Ursa Minor that makes a habitat system for the Jeep Wrangler, what a cool solution! You end up with a very easy to set up, you can be inside the vehicle in bad weather, and also sleep in this elevated sleeping platform, we can see that one of the greatest Testaments to that product is Dan Geck who took it all the way around Africa. He really found it to be a good Solution, by the end of it I think he wanted some more space, and you could see the advantage of the van, but I think something like that where you can end up with a performance of a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon with that kind of a sleeping system, that's a very cool I think.
Matt Scott: That's really cool, yeah so that's the Ursa Minor J30 if anyone wants to take a look at those. and I want to say they just unveiled it for the JL as well, because the JK and JL have to be the unlimited, not for the two-door just for the four-door. There's a lot of these things starting to come up. I think we're getting a little bit of way from that, but if you're looking at the roof tent thing, I do think it warrants looking at one of these wedge campers. I think that's where the go-fast is so attractive is oh, let's look really quick at gofastcampers. I want to say they're 6 to $7,000, I know they do have a pretty big weight lift. Because they are really nice. by the time you buy your bed rack, and by the time you find your roof rack you're not going to step up into the habitat which is a man, and has ventilation. Maybe it's something that's worth putting in a heater but then we're getting away from roof tents And I think we should get off that tangent.
Scott Brady: I think they are a good Solution that's worth looking at. I think from my perspective in summary is, and we've talked about this so many times and it's only because I've screwed up so many times in my life by spending more money on something, or having more complexity than I needed that I can say this. But it starts with the most simple solution possible, and then go from there. I do think that if you're just doing a couple weekends a year, and you really want a roof tent because you got maybe a family that you want to have the sides in a shower enclosure and everything, there's nothing wrong with a soft-shelled because you don't mind the time that it takes to set it up and take it down. And they tend to stay in a lot better condition when they're not being heavily used. I think if you're setting up in your traveling every day, and you're doing setup and teardown of camp, and sleeping inside the vehicle or having a hard shell is a great solution. As if some of these habitat Solutions, I think if you don't know what vehicle you're going to be using, or you also like to go off of a motorcycle and you're trying to keep things as minimalist as possible, then a ground tent is a great solution as well. I think if you live in the desert Southwest, or if you're on Australia or if you're in South Africa, then a swag is really a great solution. I think the key is, and we'll have all the stuff in the show notes, I think the key is to go through all these attributes of each one and just be really clear with yourself with what you need, not necessarily what maybe looks the coolest or presents a certain lifestyle that is important, it's really what you need.
Matt Scott: Yeah, needs versus wants. I guess my summary is, figure out what your budget is, spend as much of it as the budget will allow. And what's left over I would say for your vehicle. I started with a ground tent, I started with a really cheap ground tent with a really janky Land Rover Discovery, and then had a nicer ground tent with a better Jeep. But it got me out there, and that's the important thing. Just do it allows you to travel, and what makes sense for you to travel. That's pretty much what Scott said, but there are many solutions, and just because one of them may be better, doesn't mean that the one that's in your budget doesn't work. So I break it down into cost per night, I'mstaying at the Amman right now even though I'm 60 nights in this thing. A roof tent is going to be the Ritz-Carlton, and you can go down there. You have to use this stuff for it to make it Financial sense. That's the way I like to make it down and it's just a funny weird thing but, just break it down. Figure out what your cost per night is to stay in that thing. If overlanding is going to be something that is a one trip goal that you want to drive to Alaska, figure out how many nights you're actually going to Camp because you might want to stay in the city, you might want to stay in some lodges or some campgrounds, just look at your trip and look at how you travel, and just look at a solution.
Scott Brady: And don't be afraid to borrow stuff, start off with a ground tent, ask somebody to borrow one and use it. Or ask for roof tent for a weekend and see how you like it. Those are great ways to determine what works best for you, set up a mock system of sleeping inside the vehicle and try it for a couple nights and see if you like that. Then you end up holding in on what is the best solution for you, and despite all the advice that Maya and I give and these podcast, everybody is different and they have different needs and expectations, these are just the things that we've learned either through sleepless nights or unnecessary expenses, or even worse mistakes. I think sometimes you end up on a motorcycle in the Only Solution on a motorcycle is a ground tent.
Matt Scott: I'm glad to provide you guys with some entertainment during the crisis we're having, Scott and I are going to try to record more of these. We do apologize for the slight decrease in production value with having to do these on the phone, but we do feel it is important to abide by what are countries leaders are telling us to do.
Scott Brady: We thank you all for listening, it is something that is all so enjoyable for Matt and I to do, we were talking before we started recording this, we want to break the monotony of the day and talk about things we are passionate about, and we appreciate everybody's support in listening and subscribing to the podcast and giving us feedback.
Matt Scott: At least I know myself and probably Scott as well reach out on Instagram. Scott, you have a new Instagram handle?
Scott Brady: yeah, I changed it, I have no idea why I decided on globaloverland, I think it was just something in my long list of URLs, but it's now just @scott.a.brady on Instagram so it's a little more personal.
Matt Scott: And mine is @mattexplore, see my random ramblings on that. And yeah, thanks for tuning in this week to the Overland Journal podcast, hopefully you guys are doing well, and hopefully soon everyone is out on the trail.
Scott Brady: And we will talk to you all next time.