As you've read over the last year, my goal with our 2015 Tundra CrewMax TCT Explorer has been to uncover that most delicate balance of utility vs. convenience vs. performance. Our initial goal to build an amazing family explorer has been met, so since we finished our first round of modifications last year Ive been thinking....outside the box.
Upon further inspection of the truck tent + link tent in the Napier booth, I realized that this one-size-fits-most approach to truck tents could have major advantages over our current trailer/flip out tent setup.
The two bags containing the Sportz 57 & 51000 occupy very little real estate in the short CrewMax bed. We wouldnt have to drag the big trailer setup for shorter trips.
The addition of a truck-bed mattress (we chose the Airbedz Truck Bed Mattress) could make the setup quite comfortable.
The ability to sleep in a comfortable, elevated truck bed with room for the kids on their cots is certainly appealing.
Still, some questions needed to be answered:
Would the truck tent fit on our short CrewMax bed with the Truck Covers USA rolltop cover?
Since the 57 Series Truck tent would need to be disassembled prior to leaving camp, would this be useful for basecamp->exploring adventures were used to?
How will this equipment hold up over the long term?
After the show, I contacted the great folks at Napier Outdoors (theyre Canadian – of course theyre super friendly) to find out if we could answer these questions.
The Fedex truck arrived in short order, dropping off 50lbs worth of truck tents. However, as luck would have it, our spring in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains lasted a bit longer than usual this year. Getting out to test this setup has proven...difficult.
Finally, last week I seized a few hours of almost sunshine to setup the entire system. My main comparison for this review has been our full Manley ORV trailer with CVT Family-12 tent, which provides a similar amount of space, albeit at a much higher price in terms of cost and complication. Still, would the Napier system be suitable for similar families?
Comparing a multi-pole tent setup to an open & sleep roof top tent style system really isnt fair. The RTT simply folds out & is ready in minutes. Any standard nylon tent system large enough to sleep 4 will always take a little more time. Unlike many traditional nylon tents, I found the Sportz instructions well written, concise, and easy to follow. Color-coded poles with corresponding color-coded sleeves made it easy to get everything in its proper place. The wind on our little plot of land however, did NOT make it easy to get the tent fully deployed.
After less than 30 minutes (the first time), I had the 57890 Truck Tent installed on the Tundra and the AirBedz mattress was inflating. The fit is about 90% perfect on our truck due to the roll-top cover, certainly suitable for a restful nights sleep. Installing the 5100 Link tent took another 15 minutes or so, but I expect that the entire setup time will shrink as I become more familiar with the system.
At this point I feel like Ive answered our initial questions:
The tent does in fact fit with our rolltop cover, at least close enough for moderate use.
For using this in a basecamp scenario, its simple enough to remove the truck side of the tent and put it back on after exploring. I do not think it would be worth it to disassemble the entire setup & pack it up during a multi-day overland adventure.
The material is of high quality, but it will likely take several more trips before I truly get a feel for how it holds up.
For a first look, I really like the option of <50lbs of tent and <$600 investment for both parts of this system. While it may not be suitable for multi-day, multi-location adventures, it would certainly be perfect for a hunting trip or basecamp adventure. Its certainly a great option for a family on a budget thats searching for maximum flexibility with their Toyota Truck.
In an effort to fully serve our various readers, Napier also sent a SUV Tent system to our Editor in Chief, Beau Johnston, for his initial evaluation:
The Sportz SUV 82000 from Napier Outdoors is an interesting option for Toyota 4Runner & SUV owners interested in an inexpensive way to camp with their vehicle. A step above standard tent camping, the 82000 is built to attach to any vehicle via a universal sleeve, so its suitable for virtually all 4Runners, Land Cruisers, or FJ Cruisers. For us, the ability to access all of our gear in the back of June without leaving the tent is very useful.
The tent & built in awning are a great size for the two of us. With our lifted 4Runner the sleeve was a tight fit and a bit problematic to mate perfectly. My lift-gate managed to make up the difference, so the system still works well. Trucks with more than a minor lift may have more trouble.
With 81 square feet of internal area, plus the ability to leave most gear in the 4Runner, Im a fan of this option for the cost-conscious overland traveler. The system retails for $349.99, putting it line with similar high-quality ground tents. While rated for three season use, as always, your mileage may vary.
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