After months of reading reviews, watching YouTube videos, and scouring the roads and parking lots of campgrounds everywhere, I just bought my first rooftop tent this summer. How will that look on my car? Is it big enough? Too big? How did they mount it? These were some of the questions I asked myself and others. Finally, I committed to the iKamper Skycamp 3.0 Mini, and it was the right move.
The selling points of the iKamper Skycamp 3.0 Mini are that it’s designed to be easy to install, quick to set up, and made with the quality materials you need to have a good night’s sleep under the stars—as well as in the rain, the wind, or the heat of the desert. It would also fit the rack on my Subaru Outback and not push it over its max payload.
Bolting my rooftop tent into place was simple, thanks to the Subaru’s roof crossbars. Lifting the tent onto the car, however, was a two-person job. Once it’s on top, one person can center the tent, insert mounting brackets, and tighten the bolts with the provided Allen wrench. As soon as I had the tent atop my car, I knew I made the right decision. The hard top is compact and aerodynamic, and it looks way cooler than some of those soft-top tents I’d first considered.
iKamper advertises a one-minute setup, apart from installation, and it rings true. Without even reading instructions, I was able to set up this tent effortlessly. The process goes: Unlock the two exterior locks, push up the top of the “clamshell” and let the hydraulics pop up your tent, extend the telescoping ladder, and fold out the floor. Lastly, move your mattress into place on the floor, set up the tension poles in your doorway, and make your sleeping space comfy. Just like that, you’re camping.
Off in the wild.
iKamper clearly put a lot of thought into the details of the tent, both in terms of engineering and design. Details to make everything convenient have been very well thought out, including the ladder’s angled steps, the tension poles zippered pack, window blinds, and a rainfly. The Skyview portal on the roof of the tent lets in light during the day and allows you to enjoy the stars at night. The materials throughout feel very high quality, and it’s quiet even on windy nights—of which I’ve had a few.
There’s even a map of the world stitched to the inside, which I think is badass. It’s also the first thing people comment on.
Climbing inside the tent, there’s a distinct roominess to the space. The substantial head space allows you to sit up and move around, with more than enough room to sleep two adults—or in my case, myself and my 70-pound black Lab. I love that both the hard top and bottom are insulated as is the mattress liner, keeping you warm at night. And the tent fabric and rainfly are made of breathable material, so you won’t wake up in the morning to condensation.
I do have a few issues. The chief complaint is the provided mattress. It's OK. It does the trick and I sleep on it, but it’s far from what I’d consider comfortable. The company does make an aftermarket sleep system I’m very interested in, but it’s another $350. That’s a lot for an upgraded tent mattress.
Breaking down the tent is supposed to be just as quick and easy as setup, but there’s definitely a learning curve. You have to collapse the telescoping ladder first, then fold in the floor, and use three webbing straps along the sides and top to close the top. Then you have to cave in the sides, lock it up, and a few more odds and ends. It’s not quite the one-minute setup, but it also won’t cause you any real grief if you need to bolt from your campsite quickly.
As far as adding a touch of comfort to the iKamper Skycamp 3.0 Mini, I leave a couple small pillows and two sleeping bags in the tent. You do, however, have to be strategic in placing them inside when the rooftop tent is collapsed. You’ll have to pack everything toward the back of the tent to fit, but it’s nice to be able to keep some items up there.
I give the iKamper Skycamp 3.0 Mini top marks. I’m glad I chose it over other models. It’s quick to set up, somewhat easy to pull down, and features plenty of space inside. I can now camp as far out as my car can drive.