Inflatable roof-top tent camps on your car or in the water
One of the more interesting novelties from last year's Düsseldorf Caravan Salon, the GT Roof from GentleTent is billed as the world's first inflatable roof-top tent (RTT). It combines the convenience of a car-top tent with the ease and lightness of inflatable design. It also doubles as a sheltered raft similar to the SmithFly Shoal. Escape the trials of nature by sleeping on top of your vehicle or dive right into nature and sleep on the lake – both are possible with the GT Roof.
We're not 100 percent sure why, but inflatable watercraft shelters have established themselves into a small but lively subcategory in recent years. Beyond the SmithFly, we've looked at others like the Le Tunnel paddleboard bivy and the Traft packraft tent, and there are a few more floating around.
What we haven't previously seen is an inflatable watercraft tent that can also camp on the roof of your car. And that's very much because, up until the GT Roof, we hadn't seen an inflatable roof-top tent, period.
As with its B-Turtle inflatable bike camper, GentleTent crafts the GT Roof floor out of drop-stitch, the same tough material used in inflatable stand-up paddleboard construction. So why wouldn't it throw it on the water and let it float?
GentleTent has done just that, and it seems to work quite swimmingly. If water camping isn't your speed, you can just leave the GT Roof on the car roof and camp up there. Or, if you want to go more traditional, you can even pitch it on the ground. One tent, three styles of camping.
Unlike the Le Tunnel or Traft, but similar to the Shoal, both the GT Roof's base and body rely on inflation, and it's this fully inflatable construction that makes the tent an intriguing addition to the RTT market. It weighs just 55 lb (25 kg), about half the weight you might be staring at with a hard-framed RTT.
The GT Roof's low weight means it can mount on vehicles and racks that can't carry heavier tents. It also makes it easier to lift the tent up onto the roof and get it secured. Lower weight will also limit the adverse effects the tent has on driving dynamics and fuel economy.
At camp, you simply remove the GT Roof's protective cover and inflate the tent with the included 12V electric pump – set-up takes about five to 10 minutes. The inflated tent provides an 87 x 55-in (220 x 140-cm) lying area. As with the B-Turtle bike trailer, the sleeping platform inflates to be quite rigid, and GentleTent recommends using a separate camping mattress on top.
The GT Roof takes about 10 minutes to deflate and pack back up, so it won't hold you up too long when it's time to break camp. The 39 x 39 x 6-in (100 x 100 x 15-cm) package is compact during the ride and easy to store if and when you want to remove it from the vehicle.
The GT Roof includes an aluminum base frame that mounts to the car's roof rack. The tent can open at the rear of the vehicle or off the side, and its structural inflation beams are made from Cordura while its fabric body relies on an all-season Tencate material.
The GT Roof costs €2,190 (approx. US$2,565) before shipping. Watch the three-minute clip below for a closer look at mounting and GT Roof living on the vehicle, on the ground and in the water.