iKamper makes vehicle adventure easier with coverless, gear-hauling roof tent
When Korean camping/overland outfitter iKamper ventured out onto the US market, it didn't just bring a "me too" roof-top tent (RTT) with it. Instead, it refined an expandable hardshell design, the likes of which the market had not seen. Now it's back innovating RTTs once again, this time with a soft-shell, fold-out RTT that looks to eliminate a big disadvantage of soft-shell, fold-out RTTs – the weatherproof cover. The new X-cover features an integrated hardtop cover with built-in roof bars, providing fast, simple overnight shelter and cargo hauling for your next big adventure.
Conventional roof-top tent wisdom dictates that soft-shell tents offer more room because they can fold out, essentially doubling sleeping space. Hardshell tents typically fit inside the width of the vehicle roof, popping straight up to sleep two, maybe three, people.
IKamper turned this conventional wisdom on its ear years ago, first with the Hardtop One and then with the Kickstarter-dominating Skycamp, two hardshell RTTs with expanding footprints. Each model rides to camp as a traditional hardshell roof box but, once there, expands its floor out over the vehicle to sleep up to four people, essentially mixing the driving and set-up advantages of the hardshell style with the size advantage of the soft-shell style.
Likewise, the new X-cover attempts to offer benefits of both hard and soft RTTs, but it uses an all-new format to do so. The X-cover is a soft-shell tent at heart, but instead of folding and storing inside a standalone waterproof cover, it folds and zips up unto itself.
More specifically, the floor panel that extends off the vehicle roof in tent mode folds over and serves as a hardtop cover, sandwiching the bulk of the tent with help from the floor panel mounted to the vehicle. A rugged, waterproof canvas midsection zips the two hard panels together to fully seal the weatherproof package.
It's a simple solution, but looking at the video, it should prove quicker and easier to deploy and put away than the traditional soft-shell configuration of folding tent and separate cover. Zipping the tight-fitting waterproof cover over a traditional soft-shell tent can be difficult to get right and is often listed as a disadvantage of the soft-shell style. The X-cover's integrated design simplifies the set-up/put-away process and also means there's no loose cover to worry about getting filthy, lost or damaged. IKamper says set-up will take about two or three minutes.
Of course, the X-cover requires some testing to verify that its zipper is indeed easier to operate than a cover and remains so over the course of time. But it seems promising upon first look.
At camp, the expanded X-cover sleeps up to three adults or two adults and two children, just like the Skycamp. It includes a transparent roof panel for looking at the stars or sky above.
IKamper also takes advantage of its hardtop lid in adding an included set of crossbars for carrying equipment like bicycles or skis, a features that's rare (though available) on hardshell RTTs and non-existent on soft-shell folders. So, assuming the X-cover works as advertised, you have an easy-to-use fold-out tent that sleeps a family of four and carries gear to and from camp – a versatile addition to your camping kit, if ever we've seen one. It weighs roughly 120 lb (55 kg).
IKamper showed the X-cover prototype at last month's Outdoor Retailer Summer Market and plans to get the model to market in late 2018/early 2019. It hasn't finalized pricing but tells us retail should fall in the US$2,600 to $2,900 range. Those interested can sign up for a pre-order notification at the bottom of the X-cover webpage.
It's also worth noting that since we last looked at iKamper, the company launched a smaller version of the Skycamp. The Skycamp 2X features a similar design to the original Skycamp but in a smaller, 120-lb (55-kg) package that sleeps two to three people. IKamper says the $2,999 Skycamp 2X takes just a minute to set up.
The video below provides a closer look at the X-cover.