The rooftop car tent is among the easiest, least expensive ways of turning your car, van or SUV into a makeshift RV or overland vehicle. The Wild Land Pathfinder tent from Chinese outdoor gear company Q-Yield should prove one of the most convenient options out there. Its remote-controlled pop-up system pitches in seconds.
Roof tents in general offer fast, straightforward set-up, a nice alternative to the lengthy pitching processes involved with some of the more complicated ground tents on the market. Roof tent designs include fold-outs, clamshell pop-ups and rectangular pop-tops.
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One of the latest products from Q-Yield Outdoor Gear, a fast-pitch tent company from Xiamen, China, the Wild Land Pathfinder roof tent streamlines the set-up process one step further. It includes a remote-control auto-pitch system that expands the aluminum frame into shape in a matter of seconds. A simple push of the remote control also packs the tent down when it's time to leave.
At first we thought the introduction of a remote control was a small but rather brilliant improvement on roof tent design. We recently spent a few days battling mud, rain and snow at the Overland Expo, and the idea of pitching a roof tent from within the warm, cozy confines of the car cabin sounded much better than sinking in mud while battling wind and snow to pitch the tent from outside the car.
Upon closer inspection, we realized it doesn't work that smoothly. You still have to get out of the car, and depending upon which Pathfinder model you're using, you need to remove the cover (soft top) or open up a latch (hard top) before activating the electric-pitch system via remote control. And considering that there are already some pretty quick electric and gas-strut roof tent pitch systems, we're not really sure if a remote control is all that much of an improvement.
If Q-Yield could figure out a way to include the hard-top latch into the automatic system so that the entire thing sets up without the user having to get out of the car, we could see it being a nice advantage for those late or inclement nights when all you want to do is go straight from driver seat to sleeping bag as quickly as possible. As is, though, it almost feels like an electric push button located on the tent base would be easier and more logical than a separate remote control.
Beyond its innovative remote opening system, the Pathfinder is a basic two-person roof tent. It includes a ripstop polycotton inner shell and a 210D PU fly and floor. It also has a built-in 3-in (7.6-cm) foam mattress, an above-entry awning, window and door ventilation, and interior storage pockets. The fold-out ladder holds up to 330 lb (150 kg).
Q-Yield started trials in the US last year, and it plans to bring the soft-top Pathfinder tent to next month's Outdoor Retailer Summer Market Show as part of a larger market launch. It isn't ready to release US pricing information just yet, but the tent sells for around £2,000 (approx. US$3,000) in the UK.
Q-Yield markets the Pathfinder as a solution for off-road camping, but we can't see why it couldn't also prove useful for more pavement-focused camping and road tripping.
The video below shows the hard-top Pathfinder tent in action.