Once UK COVID-19 restrictions lift, so too will our horizons. The thought of a weekend in the Yorkshire Dales or a trans-continental road trip to the Carpathian mountains is more appealing than ever. And for adventurers who love to drive, we want to be able to enjoy the superb roads on offer and spend as little time faffing around at the campsite as possible.
If this style of travel allures you, accommodation can cause headaches. You wish to sleep in the wilderness, have the efficiency and easy setup of a motorhome, but the lightness of a tent. Sweeping tarmac and ribbons of country lanes are fully appreciated in a car rather than a bulky motorhome, and the last thing you want to be doing every morning of your road trip or time-precious weekend is clear and dismantle an increasingly dirty tent.
Roof tents for vehicles are a terrific embrace of the light yet practical approach. However, the drawback of a roof tent is that many are frightfully expensive, and can and cost several thousand pounds. Yet there are those which are beautifully made and don’t cost the earth. Our pick is the TentBox Classic, featured here.
In terms of lightness, the Classic weighs under 65kgs and is designed to fit most cars, so whether you wish to take your Hyundai i30N for a continental blast or your new Land Rover Defender for an alpine expedition, the TentBox Classic should fit your vehicle no worries. All you need is a set of roof bars and check the weight limit of your car’s roof. That being said, while you could technically fit it to your Volkswagen Up or Fiat 500, you might want to consider that a two-metre-long 65kg box on the roof of a supermini will have a more physical effect than on a larger car, such as a Skoda Octavia.
What impresses with the lightness is that TentBox has managed to keep comfortable, two-person dimensions when erected (W:125cm, L:210cm, H:100cm) and a strong ABS, UV-treated hard shell.
That hard shell is a very crucial aspect of this particular design. Firstly, it protects the tent when collapsed on the roof – one doesn’t have to worry about wind damage and loose stones on the road, or overhanging branches if roving off-road. Secondly, it makes a massive difference to aerodynamics and cutting down wind noise at speed. For drivers trying to savour a switchback road, that is an invaluable asset.
When collapsed, the TentBox Classic is fairly flat at 27cm, and another time-saving feature is that you can store your bedding inside. Therefore, when you arrive at the lake (or car park if navigation has let the side down), all you need to do is unclip and up it pops on air-assisted struts, even in winds up to 38mph. Only in a hurricane during a night in Orkney could you possibly wake up in Kristiansand.
The TentBox Classic costs £1,995 which may seem pricey compared with regular tents but it is wonderfully convenient and considerably cheaper than most of its roof rivals. And don’t forget what's included, such as a memory foam mattress and telescopic ladder. Furthermore, it doesn’t take many nights in hotels to add up to the price of a TentBox Classic. However, if you really don’t wish to spend this much, TentBox also does a smaller, lighter, albeit less elegant version called the Lite. It only costs £995 - but it also sounds like a yoghurt.
For the adventurers who relish the pleasure of driving as much as freedom of adventure, TentBox provides a sterling solution with the hard shell Classic. Sturdy but light; comfortable yet practical.