I recently received the Napier Backroadz SUV tent for review. I was very excited about this project as I had donated my last tent to a local organization and have been looking at tents or campers that I could use I conjunction with my vehicle (Honda CRV, 2009). When the tent arrived I unpacked it and checked it out. The first thing that I liked is that it is a grey color; I prefer subdued colors for tents. One of the reasons I got rid of my last one was that it was a bright red color. The tent is dome style made in China and comes in its own bag containing the tent, rain fly, tent pins, and shock-corded fiberglass poles the standard setup for a dome style tent.
The setup instructions are stitched into the inside of the tent bag and are printed on what appears to be a waterproof material, ensuring that the instructions won’t get lost or destroyed, but makes it a little bit of a hassle to use for reference. Honestly, I’d have to say that once you had set the tent up once there should be little to no need to reference the instructions as it’s not overly complex or different from a regular dome tent.
Setup of the tent is pretty easy to run the shock poles through the sleeves into the set pins at the corners, line up the connection sleeve to the rear of the vehicle for ease of attachment or back the vehicle up to the connection sleeve. Once the tent and vehicle are lined up set the tent pins in place so that the tent does not move.
As my vehicle does not have a roof rack the top straps from the connection sleeve have to be hooked inside the engine compartment of the vehicle, once hooked in you can close the hood. The side straps hook into the rear wheel wells of the vehicle. The vehicle sleeve does not completely seal around the vehicle, thus leaving a gap that can potentially allow bugs or rainwater to enter the tent and vehicle. The exhaust does not enter the tent but does touch the material of the tent, this can probably be avoided if you add a bungee cord to move the excess material up and away from the exhaust.
The instructions say that it takes ten minutes to set up the tent, my first attempt to set it up with the help of my girlfriend took around an hour; the second try on my own took approximately thirty to forty minutes (No reflection on my girlfriend’s assistance). With practice and an additional set of hands, the time I’m sure could be reduced to fifteen to twenty minutes.
The toughest part of the setup, when done solo, is the rain fly it keeps sliding off until you can get two sides secure; having a second person eliminates this issue. There is a rain fly shock cord pole support brace that holds the rain fly open and supported by the entrance. All windows and entryways have both screen coverings and solid flaps to aid in either airflow or keeping rain, and cool air from entering. With regards to the gap at the top of the vehicle at the connection sleeve there are also screens and a solid flap at the connection point that can prevent bugs or rain from getting in, but then require the screen/flap to be opened every time you wish to make entry to the storage compartment of the vehicle. Take down and storage is simple and easy, taking no more than fifteen minutes to have the tent down, folded, and back in the storage bag. A little tip is to leave the solid flaps down and the screens up, this let the trapped air to exit quickly and easily otherwise it becomes a big balloon.
All in all, I think that the Napier Outdoors SUV Tent is a good quality tent and provides more than enough space for two people to be comfortable and to be able to utilize the things like cots/air mattresses, chairs, and camp furniture that will allow them to enjoy the outdoors. The height of the center of the tent is seven feet tall and will allow a majority of people to stand upright without touching their head. There is a strap with a clip on it at the center of the tent that allows a lantern to be hung there which is nice.
I’m not sure of what I think with regards to the tent/vehicle connection, it does allow you to access equipment stored in the back of the vehicle from inside the tent, in my experience, I never spent much time in the tent while camping for it to be an issue. Having it connected means having to go through a process to disconnect them if and when I need to move my vehicle slowing me down. Where I see this setup being of value is on a road trip where I was going to camp for the night and not be moving my vehicle until the morning when I was getting back on the road. If I’m camping and going to be using my vehicle for day trips, I would not use the vehicle connection sleeve, and use it as a standard dome tent. The Napier Backroadz SUV Tent gives you options that a standard tent doesn’t in a sturdy, spacious, easy to setup and take down package. I’m looking forward to giving it a test during the summer on a road trip.
Art Dorst is the owner of A. Dorst Consulting & Training Services and is a Senior Consultant for LaSorsa & Associates. He served in the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard, and is a retired municipal Police Officer, NRA Instructor, and is currently a security provider/trainer.