The hard-shell pop-top roof tent is a popular style of vehicle tent that features a cube-like fabric body below a hard-shell roof. Such designs offer a number of advantages but are usually limited in space because they're only about as wide as the car itself. The iKamper Hardtop One is billed as the world's first expandable hard-shell roof tent, offering an extra-large footprint that extends off the side of the car and sleeps a family of four.
Vehicle roof tents had a strong showing at this year's Outdoor Retailer Summer Market. A few of them even made a long, overseas journey to be there. We looked at the Chinese Wild Land Pathfinder ahead of the show, and we learned about the Korean Hardtop One while there.
In driving mode, the fiberglass Hardtop One looks much like other hard-shell roof tent boxes, such as the Autohome Air Top or the James Baroud Grand Raid XXL Evolution (shown here on the Xventure trailer). Upon set-up, though, the Hardtop One distinguishes itself from every current hard-shell pop-top we've seen. After unlatching and popping the roof up via the integrated gas struts (the point at which you'd be finished setting up other pop-top tents) you open another latch and drop the extension down, creating what looks like a vestibule jutting out off the edge of the roof.
IKamper essentially blends the standard hard-shell pop-top with the fold-out, another popular roof tent style seen in models like the Poler Le Tente. By doing so, it creates enough interior space to sleep three adults or two adults and two children. The Hardtop One measures 85.8 x 82.7 in (L x W, 218 x 210 cm) when set up, giving it just over 49 sq ft (4.55 sq m) of floor space and room for the integrated 73.6 x 82.7 in (187 x 210 cm) mattress.
By comparison, that Grand Raid XXL Evolution tent pictured on the Xventure trailer linked above happens to be James Baroud's largest composite pop-top and, like the Hardtop One, is advertised for up to three adults. Its listed L x W is 89 x 64 in (226 x 163 cm), giving it just under 40 sq ft (3.7 sq m) of floor space. Mattress size is listed at 78 x 55.1 in (198 x 140 cm), which seems like a mistake because those are the same dimensions listed for all James Baroud's smaller models. Even if you fill the entire floor with mattress, though, the Hardtop One has the bigger bed.
The Hardtop One is also well larger than range-topping models like the largest Maggiolina Grand Tour and the largest clamshell-style Columbus Variant. We're not saying the Hardtop One is superior to those designs, and there are plenty of other variables to compare when shopping a roof tent, but the expandable design does make the Hardtop One quite roomy for its class.
While you could get even more space from a traditional fabric fold-out roof tent (like this monster), the iKamper nicely combines a roomy interior with the advantages of a hard-shell package. When packed away, the hard-sided roof box adds durability and driving aerodynamics when compared to a folded fabric tent. It's also super-easy to set up and take down – iKamper estimates a minute for deploying and three minutes for packing it up.
IKamper manufactures its own 3,000-mm waterproof-breathable fabric for the Hardtop One's body panels. Those fabric walls are sandwiched between the fiberglass roof and an aluminum honeycomb floor.
After modifying the design over 20 different prototypes, iKamper completed the Hardtop One last year and began selling it in South Korea. It is now looking for a US distributor. The suggested retail price is US$3,900.