My wife doesn’t snuggle at night. She doesn’t want me to sleep close to her; and if I do, she wakes me up to get me to move over. If we didn’t live in a small apartment, we’d have a king mattress. And so, with that in mind, you’d think we would’ve opted for a larger roof top tent (RTT) rather than the smallest of Cascadia Vehicle Tents’ models.
I’d like to say I did it on purpose: small tent means she has to sleep close to me! But, it was all about footprint. On our 100 Series, we run an African Outback full-length roof rack which has plenty of room, but after dragging the spare tire across some obstacles on an off road run, I moved it to the rack. This made weight and footprint two of the most important factors when buying a RTT.
At 48″W x 48″L x 11″ Ht when closed and weighing only 96lbs, the Mt. Bailey was a perfect fit. We drove to Bend, OR to pick one up at CVT. They installed it and I was happy that my measurements were right. The clearance between the tire and the tent is close but it works.
We’ve now used it a few times and in different conditions.
First off, it is tight. The length is good (I think most tents are the same open length: the open dimensions are 48″W x 96″L x 45″Ht); we can sleep comfortably with our bags at the bottom of the mattress. But the width… it doesn’t leave a lot of room for two people if one or both aren’t close sleepers. Although, we did put a flannel sheet on it, a queen size duvet, and two pillows and that has helped a bunch. It is far more comfortable with real bedding and it means I can sleep on the edge comfortably. If you do sleep close together, I don’t think it’s too small; for a single person, it would be quite spacious.The height is great. I can sit up in it comfortably (I’m 6ft); changing clothes while in it is easy. In the future, when I find a solution to the spare tire mount, we’d love to upgrade to a wider tent.
Weather performance is solid. Our first trip with it was to Deception Pass. It rained. And rained. Rained some more. It was definitely fall camping in the PNW. The tent preformed great. We had the side windows and rainfly closed, and the front and back rainfly up. It didn’t leak, get condensation, or give me any reason to worry. It was a good first trip to test the tent.
In the spring we did a run up Colockum Pass Road. It was slightly windy and cold-below freezing cold. It did stand up well slight winds we had, but I also has parked us behind a knoll giving us a nice windbreak. There are a few places where air can come into the tent on the bottom, and we could feel it. This type of RTT is not a four season tent by any means. When setting up and taking down, the tent material didn’t get stiff or feel brittle at those low temps; the zippers, flaps, and even the tent cover were perfectly fine and it went up and down with ease.
Our last trip out was really warm. and we finally got to open all the windows. In the heat of the afternoon the tent had enough airflow to be comfortable enough for Natasha to sleep in. You can see in the photo above, we can only open half the rainfly on the side with the spare tire.
Is a RTT easy to use? Yes. Set up is the easiest: unzip the tent cover, pull it off, pull the ladder out and get it to lock, pull the tent open, and your done. It’s just a few minutes and it’s ready use, even your bedding (because it’s best to leave it in). The poles for the rainfly can be a bit fiddly, but their easy enough. We have take down to about 10minutes: put your pillows next to the seam so they’ll be squished down by the clamshell, close the rainfly, doors, windows, push the tent closed, recover and zip up. Natasha does stand on the driver’s door sill and pushes the tent material in; I then climb up on the rack and tuck the other side; this makes getting the cover on easy. Also, during both opening and closing, I’ve found it easier and faster if I don’t get off the rack. I actually lie across the top of the tent as I unzip/zip. CVT has a few videos of set up here that will make visualizing our process easier.
We did purchase an annex for it too. And, well…. that thing is a pain in the ass. Our first trip with it we fought and fought it. Then, when we figured it out it was like… oh, that was easy-ish. The problem is that the Mt. Bailey is small and the annex fits several tents; this means it isn’t exactly a tight fit… there is some excess material. It did work well on that rainy trip; there was three of us camping and we kept all our bags in there and used it as a changing room. But, we haven’t used it since because it’s so easy to change in the tent. It would come in handy if you were camped in one spot for more than a couple of nights, but I’m not sure if I would go that route again.
Overall, we think it’s a great tent. CVT has made sure they have a really solid product. It’s well constructed and you can tell it will last a long time. We haven’t really found any major or minor faults in its construction or design. We do love this tent.
*Disclaimer: I do not work for or with CVT, nor am I sponsored by them.