DIY Trailer / Roof Top Tent


Here is a product idea I've been kicking around for some time now and was hoping to get some feedback from the Expo community.

What if? There was a DIY Trailer / Roof top tent available? If it had an expedition / outfitter quality, canvas tent body but, you had to put in some “sweat equity” by building the folding based?

How does putting in some “sweat equity” appeal to folks?
Feedback, input, thoughts would all be greatly appreciated.

Also for folks with trailers, how tall are they? For gauging the range of height a changing room floor would need to deal with.

Some thoughts:
- Plans / guide available for building a base which includes hinge set.
- Plans / guide for DIY bows and bows sets available.
“Standard” folding, instant up design, with a few awning poles but no stakes or guide wires.
- Fabric would be highly water resistant, breathable marine quality canvas.
- Floor dimensions around 56” wide x 84” long.
- Design optimizations for trailer top applications, such as a taller door than standard RTTs so you can have an integrated awning over the door that is setup for a zip on changing room.
- In some trailer top applications, half of the folding floor could be the trailers top / lid.
- A retail price of $700-$900 for tent body, hinge set, and bow set.
- Notably less to ship that a standard RTT.
- Changing room, with full floor would retail for $225-$300
- Not sure what to do about a mattress, it's hard to have a “one size fits all” solution.
- I know a ladder would be needed for Rooftop applications, but have not looked at this detail yet.

Here are working prototype pictures of the tent body

What do folks think?

** Update Info 11/08/09 **
For a while now I've been working on an innovative, new twist to the folding rooftop style tent unit. A design optimized for Tent Topped Camping Trailer usage with an add-on room, outfitter grade materials and made here in the USA.


Well I'm happy that it's almost a reality, sewing should start on the first batch in a few weeks!

I'm planning on calling it a M.O.A.B. (Mobile Outdoor Adventure Bedroom) tent unit.

As I discussed, there is a twist, it's designed as a DIY project. They will come as a kit and you build your own folding platform. The kit will included tent body, bows, bow hardware, base hinges and misc hardware. In many trailer applications, half of the folding floor can be the top of your trailer.

To ensure the highest quality and craftsmanship I've partnered with Kirkham's Outdoor Products, the award winning maker of Springbar Tents on this project. MOABs will be sewn right here in the USA.
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I think it is a good idea. I personally build much of my own stuff because it keeps cost down. A build your own set up would also allow for versatility and would let people modify the tent to fit their own personal needs. I like it.


I think it is a good idea. I personally build much of my own stuff because it keeps cost down. A build your own set up would also allow for versatility and would let people modify the tent to fit their own personal needs. I like it.

I do too. Personally, I think it would be a good idea. While I understand why RTT's cost what they do,LOL, that doesnt mean I have to like it.


Glad to hear some positive response.

One item people can easily modify is were the platform hinges, in trailer top applications this would allow you to make one half of the platform your trailer top or lid.

What do you think about the proposed pricing? Would people put in "sweat equity" and be will to purchase at these prices?


good idea

I think it could work. It kinda reminds me of those DIY aircraft kits. If people can do that, most should be able to put together a RTT platform. And the cost savings on the shipping alone would be signifiant as well as not having to import from overseas -- which has to be significant part of cost.


Expedition Leader
Sounds great!!! I could use something a little like this in a different way... I am gonna try to make my own pop up roof and don't have a clue on canvas build!


Great idea, I am always building things and looking for new projects something a little different than most have so next question is

where do we sign up????:Wow1:
This is a very cool idea. I think the effectiveness of the price point (which looks good so far) depends on how DIY the kit is. For example; is it just a set of paper instructions, is it just the hardware and canvas or does it include all of the materials??


Wow, that's cool, people in line for one :wings:

My idea is to offer the plans, tent body, hinges set, bow set, then you buy the platform materials locally and build it.

The reduced shipping is a definite advantage, on a Mombasa / Camping Lab unit it costs an additional 14-22% for shipping.

Right now I have a another month of testing / prototyping / collecting data to finish for confirming the design is solid and making sure we can hit our cost estimates.

Are people interested in it for Trailer or Roof top usage?
Also some height numbers on peoples trailers would be helpful.

Thanks for the feedback
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I like the basic idea of a more trailer oriented RTT. Here are my random thoughts. I'm not in the market for one, so I don't really need an answer to any of these questions.

You will need to offer an estimate of time and materials to complete the kit. You might even offer a price for a completed unit so that people can estimate the value of their time.

You'll have to keep the price low enough so that there is a clear savings for DIY.

I noticed in the photos that the support bows are outside the fabric. Don't most RTT have the supports inside? Is there a benefit to the end user to either design?

If this is a true commercial venture, do you have a real business plan?

What sorts of spare/replacement parts will be available and at what cost?

Even "kits" need to be fairly complete, especially WRT to small pieces. That sort of completeness can be a big factor in customer satisfaction. I once bought a light kit for my motorcycle that included a drill bill to ensure that you had the right size.

As far as trailer height goes, focus on the trailers that are based on the common DIY trailers. Most people buying an Adventure Trailer as probably less likely to buy a DIY RTT.

You'll need a good solution to the ladder question. That's the sort of part that might turn out for the DIY to have a problem sourcing and mounting effectively.

When it comes time to market it, a video of the setup/take down process would be useful.


ThomD, thanks for the feedback.

Yes, this would be a "real product" and I'm using the business planning / product lifecycle methodologies that my previous employer went to great expense to teach me, before giving me a membership to the "cast off employee society". You'd get the same quality, sevice and supported expected if purchasing one of the currently available RTTs.

My idea would be to offer all component parts necessary in a "complete kit" and a detailed parts list of items readily available if you'd rather purchase them locally.

On internal vs. external bows, I'm still testing trade-offs. External bows give more flexibility for the DIY approach but you trade-off high wind performance. Right now I'm leaning towards the foot end bow being internal and the peak bow being external.


Expedition Leader
here's my input...........

The idea to me is sound, shipping a small bag of material rather than a full
setup at 120lbs and 'oversize"

A simple wooden base and some screw on aluminum angle is pretty much within most peoples reach, especially when your local Home depot will cut it nice and square for you

The design- I have a few points as I have a couple of designs of my own

As my tents fabric is disolving at the stress points and I'm just in the planning stages of not just replacing the existing
but trying to improve over the classic......I have a whole summer with 110+ no camping weather coming

Most classic RTT's open both ends, not only a room with a view but a good cross flow of air.

The better RTT's have extending covers over the windows-----rain does not only fall verticly

Its not always cold when it rains---------ie if you batten down the hatches your going to be as sweaty inside as you would be wet with the windows open

Good protective covering whilst still allowing good air flow is important

Room, why make the foot end so much smaller, as this is usually where the baby or dog sleeps in a typical 1600 x 2200mm RTT

I like the side protection on the hanibal, I like the large square covered side vents/windows now available

With the classic style I think poles are inside to increase the space available

I've also been juggling with the idea of a curved canopy using standard tent poles rather than being limited to solid bars that need to fold inside the base.

The extra size, better weather proofing / prevents pooling
V's a couple of mins more of setup time, The hoops can extend out from the base rather than being inside..

I'll see If I can post a couple of sketches

More technitop type not sure if their bars hinge from outside or inside

Rather more extravagant with curved hoops a bit more like an old cart, obviously poles would need fitting after folding out


mmmmm maybe I ought to start a design thread- rather than post on yours
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One of the fun parts of a project like this is testing "what-ifs" against your design requirements and coming up with something that works.

Yes good ventilation is very important and living in Oregon, I know all about "sideways rain".

The fabric I would use is highly water resistant so a fly isn't required for rain protection. Although looking at a fly from an awning perceptive is a good idea, something smaller like a MyWay design verses the traditional fully window cover on most.

I've played with a few tunnel/hoop design idea. Good rain runoff and wind performance, with proper hoop positioning. Downside for me was "some assembly required" for getting it to pack into a small footprint.
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