Purchasing a Roof Top Tent. What ARE We Thinking?

Purchasing a Roof Top Tent. What ARE We Thinking?
Our New RTT and home from 23 Zero. © James Dalman

We have always lived unconventional lives. Sometimes so much that I question if we truly have any ounce of sanity in our brains at all.

Like promising our eternal love for each other at the ages of 18 and 16 and making plans for marriage before high school ended or homeschooling our children when it wasn’t so widely accepted or even thought of as being anywhere near normal. LOL!

Donetta and I just approach life differently.

So when we recently purchased a 23 Zero Armadillo Roof Top Tent (RTT) in order for us to experience adventure in a new and exciting way, while trying to keep the asinine costs of traveling down, it made perfect sense.

But the first night we actually stayed in our new “home” I wondered what in the hell were we thinking??? 🤔

Why We Bought a Roof Top Tent

Over the last four years I’ve watched the increase and interest in RTTs.

Everywhere we go, we see plenty of Tacomas, Jeeps, Chevys, and Fords equipped with all the amazing tacticool gear I could ever dream of, especially in all our favorite places located in Colorado or Arizona.

Like a moth drawn to a flame, I too wanted to experience that rugged lifestyle and being off the grid in the wilderness. On endless drives across the country I would often fantasize about it.

One year later after doing tons of research it’s now a reality!

In my mind it was a no-brainer and easy decision because owning a RTT would benefit us in the following ways:

  • Providing more opportunities and options for exploring new places.
  • Reducing our travel expenses and the challenges we’ve experienced.
  • Creating new friendships in the off-road or adventurist communities.

Being able to stay in National Parks, State Parks, and on BLM land allows us to be fully present in nature, and gives us a fresh perspective on life.

Sounds romantic and exciting right?

Of course we considered a tear drop trailer and some other options, but I still don’t want to pull something behind me, creating more stress for either of us or increasing potential maintenance issues.

Plus the Armadillo X2 and Billie Bars set up were more cost effective too. I’ll write a review about each of those next.

How Has it Been So Far?

I think doing a video would sum it up better than writing about it and be a hell of a lot more entertaining, but overall it’s been mixed feelings.

We left Oklahoma on March 10th for our new maiden voyage and so far our route has taking us through the following:

  • Lubbock, Texas
  • White Sands, New Mexico
  • Tucson, Arizona
  • Parker, Arizona
  • Summerline, Nevada
  • Death Valley, California
  • Lake Tahoe, California

In this entire ten days of travel, we’ve only been able to camp a total of two nights — White Sands, NM and Beatty, NV.

The RV park we chose in White Sands was a decent place other than being next to a highway and having to listen to trucks all night long AND the resident maintenance guy being a complete asshole to us — but that’s an entire post itself.

Overall we survived but the experience was not good for our first night out.

Next we wanted to stay in Quartzite, Arizona, and I booked a recommended RV park there so we could have electrical hookups. Unfortunately it was super windy and we were turned away by two places because of our RTT.

We could’ve stayed on BLM land for free but since we’re new to the rooftop tent lifestyle, we weren’t sure if we’d be blown off the back of the truck while trying to get our happy on. 😘

So we overpaid for a Quality Inn located in Parker, AZ instead.

After an epic day of driving through Death Valley National Park, we stopped at an RV park called The Space Station in Beatty, Nevada. While this RV park is a no frills place, the owner is super awesome and it was very peaceful. The colder mountain air was not as fun but our sleeping bags kept us warm. Overall it was a way better experience.

Gas mileage hasn’t been bad either.

We’ve been getting between 19–21 mpg without the high winds and roller coaster roads, while averaging 17–19 mpg in the mountains.

All that being said we’re still learning the set up of our gear, adjusting to weather patterns, and trying not to fall down the ladder to pee at night, which happens to be the most asked question so far!

As we make our way back from Lake Tahoe the goal is to spend more time camping and exploring so we’ll have to write a follow up about this new experience.

But I will wrap up by saying this …

Watching all those young people getting in and out of expensive Class A Motorhomes or Mercedes travel vans does make us a wee bit jealous. I can’t lie about that.

However I do think we, as slightly broken 50 somethings, provide some real entertainment value to others as we crawl into our RTT for the night. Plus I’m proud we’ve chose to take a road less traveled by being the old people living like the youngsters.

Our backs might not love it but pain is temporary and pride is forever!

The backside of our rooftop tent. © James Dalman