Tacos Front Runner RTT mod experiment.

Well I'm on my 4th RTT. Having owned the old school, rooftoptent.com soft sided tent and two CVT Mt St Helens tents I thought I had finally sworn them off. Well after last summer's 10 day trip that moved every other day with the hassle of packing up the Oztent and and hoisting nearly 7' onto the roof rack got old.

Don't get me wrong I love the Oztent for base camping it can't be beat for space and poor weather camping. I spent a week in Tularosa NM last fall and had heavy rain, hail then about 6" of snow, it performed well! But its the wrong tool for day in day out move and camp.

A basic ground tent is great for short weekend two day quick and fast trips with two people light easy set up but not comfy over a longer period of time as you have no space to get dressed and the constant setting up sleeping pads and bags is a PITA.

When solo camping, sleeping on the drawer platform can't be beat. This is 50% of my trips and why my GX is built the way it is.

My other lightweight option was the Autohome Columbus Carbon Fiber RTT at 92 lbs its slightly lighter than the Front Runner but at $5400 bucks its cost prohibitive.

Front Runner is know to build quality products and at a price slightly higher then the very low end china models I decided to go this direction.

First and foremost, it weighs in at 94 lbs this is the advertised weight by Front Runner. I will be verifying the claim of weight.

Second, price @ 1100.00 bucks it's on the lower end of cost for a RTT.

Third, the ability to lower the weight. I found a few web pages and YouTube channels that have done a few things to lower the weight significantly. One guy claims to have reduced his down to 37 kilos or 81.4 lbs. if I can reduce the weight that low I am fairly confident I can install this by myself with assistance from Stacey helping to balance it. If I can reduce the weight to 80ish lbs it will be similar to the Oztent all bagged up and strapped to the roof rack.

Fourth, Stacey really likes the RTTs. If momma is happy everyone is happy.

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It does, figure that’s 20min of staking lines. Why can’t they make stuff light and convenient? Running about 60lbs of awning and mounting hardware right now so weight is a real consideration. Traded a 140lb RTT for a 30lb ground tent (Gazelle). It was much easier when I just didn’t worry about the weight impact.
Base line weight of the tent fully assembled with cover, rain fly, mattress, and ladder came in at 104 lbs. Yes we compensated for tare weight of the rigging. FR advertises a 94 lbs tent weight. That being stated either they don’t count the ladder or the mattress. Both of those items come in at around 10 lbs.

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The devil is in the details. The metal d ring and straps on my old soft side RTT use to erk me to no end as they were difficult to undo and if the weather was bad it made the situation worse. When I ordered the tent I knew immediately I’d be replacing them and the side compression straps. The side compression strap run through a single d ring and Velcro in place. Well we all know what happens to Velcro over time when it gets dirty.

I ordered 2” YKK buckles and 2” polypropylene webbing. I read the buckles are rated to 300 lbs (working on confirmation from YKK on this) and the webbing is 1800 lbs. Part of the reason for this is its my primary way to lift the RTT. Unsure what the strap from Front Runner was rated for and the relief of frustration level of loosening the the Front Runner D buckles.
I stitched up the fixed side of the buckles with my Speedy Stitcher and simple tensioned the other side.
The side compression straps are 1” and were deployed similarly. Weight gain or loss will be negligible.
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One of the items with a soft side RTT is that the ladder is bolted to the exterior, causes a larger profile and more wind resistance. Another issue is the type of ladder the lower cost models have is a slide type extruded aluminum. They jamb are uncomfortable to the bare or sock foot. I needed to purchase the extension for the ladder that came with the tent due to it being at the standard ladder limits. The extension alone was 80 bucks and another 4.5 lbs.

With a little fab work I’ll be mounting a $80 telescoping Amazon ladder that will quick disconnect and stow in the GX. Thus removing 15 lbs from the roof and lowering the profile.

Rated push button pins, remove before flight streamers on the way.

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Being a aviation professional for my entire adult life I just had to get the “remove before flight” streamers for the ladder pins!

We picked up a Exped Megamatt single for Stacey for last years ground tent camping. I was very impressed with its comfort and ease of set up. The Megamatt Duo (twin) will fit perfectly at 52” wide and 77.6” long and at 10 lbs is slightly lighter than the 2 1/2” foam mattress that came from Front Runner.

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About time for an update and final conclusion.

The tent with no mattress or ladder weighs 76 lbs, I added two 24”x24” gym floor mats at the entry point to cushion our knees. Those weight in @ 1.7 lbs with the double back tape that holds them in place. The weight I’m going to hoist will be 78 lbs. A weight that is manageable, the size on the other hand is awkward and still may require assistance.

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As you can see in the pictures I have swapped out the 2 1/2” Front Runner mattress for the Exped Mega Mat mattress @4” thick and firmness adjustable by topping of with air it is far superior in comfort with a slight weight advantage of a pound.

The mattress and our Big Agnes sleeping bag will be in the tent at all times during use. Weight penalty of course of the 10 lbs mattress and 10 lbs (estimated) sleeping bag brings the total to 98 lbs. With that being stated what’s the convenience of a RTT if you schlep those two items back and forth to the vehicle?

If you know in advance you could remove those two items from the tent going into technical terrain and help mitigate the elevated center of gravity, but obviously still have the weight penalty in the cabin.
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I built this LZ for my past RTTs. It’s a knock off of some fancy overlander item that was once available for around 200 bills. It’s cedar stained in Koa held together with a couple old Home Depot cargo straps and staples. Works great for knocking crud off the boots prior to climbing the ladder or in a shower tent to stay elevated above the mud. Of course weight penalty of 5 lbs in the cab of the vehicle. 0A33D689-42AF-4353-8D32-A494BC7398A1.jpeg 525518CE-F95C-45AF-8C9C-A74B47264D71.jpeg 838ED5DE-0227-4DF8-A051-61FAD7236D84.jpeg
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