Updated: Oct 7
I can’t help but reflect on the progression that our camping adventures have taken over the years. From our initial camping trip in a small tent, sleeping on the ground in borrowed sleeping bags and cooking all our meals over a campfire in 40-degree weather; to a larger tent with room to stand and fit the added comfort of an air mattress, and enjoy the ease of a cooking on a portable camp stove; to the arrangements we have now.
It has been a little over one year since we upgraded our camping accommodations and after months of camping retreats and weekend getaways, as we head into a new season, I feel it’s about time to share a complete review of the iKamper Skycamp setup.
When we first started discussing upgrading our camping setup, we had a few specifications we wanted to ensure were met:
1. Easy Setup -- The first was that we wanted to make sure the setup provided an easy and preferably quick setup and tear-down option.
2. Long-Term Use -- Next, we wanted to make sure that if we were investing in a new setup that it would be something that would last long-term and be an option for multi-season use. The ultimate goal of the upgrade: opportunity for more camping!
3. Portability -- In addition to an easy setup, we wanted to make sure that whatever the setup, it was easily portable. This was something that needed to be considered because going into our upgrade search, we knew we wanted to get our sleeping arrangements off the ground…which brings us to the fourth requirement;
4. Elevated Sleeping Arrangements -- as welcoming as our air mattress looked, our mission was to get off the ground when it came to sleeping accommodations.
5. Lastly, as much as we would absolutely love a campervan, and we did look into a few, we wanted to make sure we weren’t spending a ton of money to upgrade.
The Gear Selection:
After a lot of research (and full disclosure; Jason did most of the research) on tent setups, rooftop setups, trailers, campervans, and truck bed options, we decided on the rooftop tents from iKamper. There were a number of options that iKamper offered in regards to size. Since this was our first major camping upgrade investment, and the fact that we are not big people, we opted for the iKamper Skycamp mini. Since our initial purchase, the iKamper brand has rolled out a number of additional RTTs and accessories, but at the time, for our selection, we opted with the available 2.0 mini series.
While the iKamper came in at a higher price point than other rooftop tent options on the market, after a number of months spent researching all the competitors, we were swayed with some of the production details iKamper had to offer and decided that we’d rather spend more money upfront if it meant higher quality, more convenience, and greater reliability in the long run.
In addition to size options, iKamper also provides a selection of finishes for the hard shell of the tent and since I am not one for shiny finishes, the rugged Rocky Black option with a scratch-resistant, matte black finish was the preferred choice.
iKamper Skycamp Specs:
Floor dimensions/area: 83” x 51” / 29.4 sq. ft.
Height (Closed/Open): 13” / 48”
Weight: 125 lbs (57 kg)
Rainfly: Waterproof polyester 150D (PU 3000mm)
Tent Fabric: Breathable 300gsm poly-cotton canvas
Mattress: 1.6" high density polyfoam with an R-Value of 6.4
As a side note; When it came to deciding how to mount the iKamper on our Tacoma, a.k.a. Roxie, we looked into the mounting options that iKamper sold, as well as others on the market. After further research (on Jason’s part), we opted to go with BillieBars. This option provided the convenience of being able to continue to use the Tonneau cover on the bed of the truck for covered storage, while keeping the height of the RTT below the truck cab’s full height, for better aerodynamics when driving. In addition, we liked the quality and light weight option that BillieBars provided as well as the larger static load capability.
Delivery, Install and Setup:
Delivery and Install
When the iKamper was delivered, it was placed in our garage by pallet jack. This giant box was an exciting sight and to be quite honest I was terrified of how Jason and I were supposed to pick it up and place it onto the truck bed by ourselves. (When I say terrified, this is not an understatement, I had visions of myself dropping my side of it, the tent breaking before even one use and all the money down the drain.) Luckily, at only 125 pounds, the tent was relatively easy to lift. Weight-wise the iKamper is no issue to lift, the challenge merely presents itself due to its size and with just Jason and I lifting it we can get the job done…and with an extra third person, it’s not even a concern. Over the course of the year we’ve had it we have taken it on and off the truck a handful of times with no issues (unless of course I’m hangry when we try to lift it in which case all coordination goes out the window and I request a call for backup -- thank you Ryan).
When it comes to campsite setup, the process couldn’t get much simpler. After unlocking two exterior latches by key, the tent folds out toward the passenger side of the truck with ease and an attached telescoping ladder extends to provide access to the large canvas door. The front entrance to the tent includes rainfly protection that extends to the top of the ladder and both side windows have extended rainfly awnings as well, although in our case we only extend one window since the other is angled to the back of the truck. The mattress is a two-part polyfoam base, so after opening the tent you simply slide one piece toward the door and into place. That’s it - tent setup complete.
The ease of setup and tear down is so nice that we find mild entertainment in watching ourselves complete our entire camp setup and begin relaxing with a happy hour while watching other campers still juggling with their tent stakes or trying to get their RV connections complete.
Plus, it has a giant world map design on the inside of the hard shell, what better way to feel like an adventurer than falling asleep to the sight of a giant map!?
Comfort and Sleep Quality:
After switching from an air mattress on the ground, the 1.6” polyfoam mattress that comes with the iKamper felt amazing! It is just enough cushion that being in the Skycamp mini, whether just sitting and hanging out or sleeping, is comfortable. That being said, once we added our cold weather sleeping pads to the setup, when we did remove them and slept just on the mattress, it was night and day difference and felt really firm and was not at the comfort level we had been having with the added support of the extra sleeping pads. However, it’s still a huge improvement from the ground and from traditional air mattresses.
That being said, iKamper now offers the RTT Comfort sleep system which is a self-inflating mattress designed specifically to fit the footprint of the Skycamp to provide 4" of additional comfort and heat retention, so with that add-on as an option, it is one accessory we are discussing adding to our setup.
As far as space is concerned, at night our Skycamp typically holds us, two sleeping pads, a double sleeping bag, pillows, spare clothes, water bottles, a couple books and a medium 25-pound poodle. With the exception of our dog, Tahoe, feeling the need to initially take up all the leg space by stretching out in the middle of the tent, once we position him to the side of the tent or between us, there’s plenty of sleeping room for all three of us.
At the beginning of our iKamper outings, we’d typically bring our duffle bag of extra clothes and jackets up with us into the tent. With all that additional gear in the tent at night, the foot space became a bit cramped for my liking, so overtime we’ve found a perfect setup with what comes up and what stays in the truck.
When it comes to road trips and camping adventures, sleep quality is crucial, especially when it’s needed after a long drive, a strenuous hike, or in preparation for a long day ahead. An old routine with tent camping was rising with the sun, regardless of our agenda. The first thing we noticed with having an iKamper is that the canvas tent is such quality that it filters out most light when all zipped up, allowing us to sleep in whenever necessary. We even slept in too long on one camping trip due to the quality of sleep we are able to get...that and not taking Daylight Saving or a time difference into consideration.
Temperature and Weather Resistance:
After a year of use and 15 camping trips, we’ve experienced a variety of weather conditions and are happy to report that we’ve gotten a good night’s sleep in all of them. We’ve kept the rainfly on for all our trips, and have camped in nighttime temperatures that range from low 90-degree weather to low 30-degree weather.
Camping in the Heat
For the hotter camping trips, we were able to leave the two side canopy windows, the door and the skylight open with the mesh window screens and we did have a fan inside the tent for intermittent use when needed for increased airflow, but temperatures were never too hot to get some sleep. That being said, we will be looking to invest in one or two portable camping fans (as opposed to our Ryobi Hybrid fan) to take with us in the hotter months.
Camping in the Cold
During the colder nights, we keep all the windows and the door canvas zipped down for added insulation and the inside of the tent has never felt too cold to endure. That being said, we did sleep with additional cold-weather sleeping pads and sleeping bag liners which were very much needed for at night, but on cold mornings, after stepping outside the tent we’d climb back inside and comment that the interior of the tent was surprisingly comfortable. The only chill that I consistently have in colder weather is a slight draft below the window where the edge of the canvas fabric is, however I usually lay a sweatshirt along the edge and that does the trick with blocking the cold. In the heat, condensation did build up below the sleeping pad and on the inside of the rainfly but we were able to towel dry everything before folding it up and then as an extra precaution, opened the tent back up to let it air dry further once we got home.
One additional add on that iKamper offers is a double-layered RTT insulation, which attaches to the tent’s interior for added warmth in the cold weather. While we don’t feel this is quite a necessity for the locations we’ve currently camped at, I do feel that if we camped in night temperatures below 30-degrees, it is something that I would want to try out.
When it comes to wind, we have had a few windy nights, including a particularly windy night in Joshua Tree National Park where winds were steady at about 25 mph and gusts reached upwards of 55 mph. We were able to position the truck so the wind was hitting the back corner of the hard shell and, full disclosure, we did spend more than an hour anxiously staring at the shell, both inside and outside of the tent. Although the rainfly and canvas of the tent was loud, the shell never wavered and we felt protected by the wind and all the dust that came with it.
As far as precipitation goes, we’ve managed to plan camping trips at the peak of monsoon season, and have camped in light rain as well as strong downpours surrounded by lightning. While the lightning was a bit close for comfort at times, as far as the rain was concerned, the tent held up great. The rainfly kept the canvas and interior of the tent dry and we had no issues with moisture. The small areas of canvas that were exposed to the rain, even though it did get wet, didn’t leak or drip and the canvas dried relatively quickly once the sun came out.
Defaults, Wear and Tear Issues:
For a year of use in a variety of elements and temperatures, the iKamper has held up really well. There really isn’t much to complain about with the iKamper when it comes to functionality or build, but a couple things have come up over the past year in regards to wear and tear.
The first and probably most significant is with the straps used to close the tent. There are three straps (one on each side, and one on the top of the tent which are pulled when closing the hard shell of the tent that help pull the canvas and rainfly together to easily tuck into the shell for storage and transport. These straps are fed through small metal rings that are attached to the canvas and unfortunately the metal ring on the right-hand side of our tent is no longer attached, which means it no longer serves its function and pulls the canvas into the hard shell, and we have to spend a little bit more time climbing on the truck and hand tucking the fabric in.
Aside from that mildly significant issue, we’ve only noticed a few additional things that have worn out. First are the two rubber feet covers on the ladder, which have gotten pretty beat up and torn in some areas from pressure on the ground.
Second, there is a protective foam strip that rests between the ladder and the base of the foldout flooring when folded up and the glue for the foam piece refuses to stick anymore, so we end up taking the foam piece out when the tent is open (when it is not needed) and simply laying it in place when we fold the tent up -- not the end of the world, but something that didn’t hold.
The last bit of wear and tear and probably the most significant are little snags and tiny rips over a small section of the entrance on the rainfly from opening and closing the tent over time. While this is annoying, it is somewhat minor and currently does not affect protection from the elements inside the tent itself, so for the moment we are okay with it, although now that I know it’s there I find myself always noticing it.
In regards to issues with the RTT from the start, the only criticism is with the main door zipper, which puts up a fight every so often at one of the corners, but with two zipper options, we are able to relocate the zippers to the other side and have not had any issue with not being able to open or close the tent door.
UPDATE: After contacting iKamper's customer support team, our tent was still within the two year warranty and iKamper offered to send us new rubber feet for our ladder and a new tent skin and rainfly to solve all the issues, no questions asked. Which, goes to show that another benefit of iKamper, is the great customer service and warranty.
Downfalls and What We Wish Was Different:
As far as modifications, there aren’t a ton of changes we’re make to the iKamper, but we have found ourselves commenting on additions we think would add even more convenience, and that is more interior pockets. There is one decent sized mesh pocket below both side windows which is great, but perhaps two more mesh pockets or bungee pockets for storing fragile items, such as glasses or keys, where they won’t be accidently bumped during the night would be nice.
I’ve had some inquiries about the ladder process, especially with a dog, and while climbing a ladder doesn’t seem ideal, the ladder setup is designed with more angled steps than a traditional ladder which makes it feel much sturdier when stepping up and down. We also have our iKamper mounted to the bed of our truck instead of the roof, so it really isn’t that big of climb to feel like a task. Now, if the tent were mounted on the roof of the truck and we had a 75-pound Australian Shepard, that may be a different story, but with our experience so far, we’ve not had an issue.
It's difficult to say that space is a downfall, as an RTT offers much more pros than cons to a traditional tent, but the only step backward compared to our traditional tent is that you can’t stand up in it, which makes getting dressed in the morning a little bit of a chore…at least when it comes to yoga pants, but that’s definitely not a deal breaker when it comes to camping, and if we wanted to add some extra space, iKamper now offers the Annex Plus, which provides additional space and enclosed standing room, however with our tent mounted on the bed of the truck and not the roof, it may not be a viable option.
One of the biggest things we’ve loved about the simplicity of the iKamper setup is that it has allowed us to increase our camping trips from only one or two trips per year, to one to two trips almost every month, as we can easily do simple overnight trips without time concerns, and it allows us to enjoy more of our destinations.
All-in-all we are enjoying more restful and comfortable nights without the added work of laying a foundation, threading tent stakes through canvas or staking a rainfly, and the benefit of a better night’s sleep and feeling more protected from the elements has made a huge difference.
Additionally, there has not been a single camping trip that someone hasn’t walked by our setup and stopped to chat about the tent, its setup or just how cool it is; and honestly, I couldn’t agree more.
If you have any questions about the iKamper or our experience with the setup, feel free to leave a comment, I’d be happy to help. Now to continue to plan additional add-on options to our camping rig to make our adventures even better!