Rev Tent Design Manifesto
For over 70 years if you were in the market for a vehicle mounted roof top tent you had a choice of one of two styles - a hard shell version or a soft shell version. When a new style of tent was introduced a few years ago, a hybrid of the hard shell and soft shell tent, it was the biggest (and only) design event in the roof top tent space in almost a century. Yet despite the stagnant innovation, the popularity of roof top tents has never been greater.
When my wife and I started importing roof top tents in 2010 for our last company you could count on one hand minus one finger the RTT (Roof Top Tent) brands for sale in America. I tooled around online today to do recon on the American companies currently importing/making roof top tents and I stopped counting at 44 legit brands.
The explosive growth of roof top tent camping in the last decade is incredible considering all these companies sell more or less the exact same roof top tent. Sure there are a variety colors, sizes, and levels of quality, but the design of today’s hard shell and soft shell tents has not evolved since they were first introduced in the 1950s.
The initial premise was a no brainer - “Design a better roof top tent using new technologies to meet the demands of a modern camper.”
Our research started by going back to the basics and surveying family, friends and potential future customers with a simple question - “What do you use a camping tent for?” All answered a version of “for privacy, protection from the elements and a place to sleep.” All camping tents nail the first two points. Only roof top tents have addressed the sleeping function sufficiently because they come standard with a foam mattress.
That led us to wonder why there has never been a ground tent designed with sleeping as a priority. Where a comfortable sleep is actually addressed and considered? Air mattresses and thin rolled foam pads are a sleight of hand that barely touch on the comfort of your bed at home. So why not use the best feature of a roof top tent, the real mattress, as a launch pad to design a better ground tent for better sleep? Which, when you drill down to the basics, is what a camping tent is primarily used for.
We took this revelation and ran with it: The new improved mission: Design one tent for sleep, privacy, and protection that could be set up at multiple elevations depending on the camp site, user needs, and user camping style.
We put a man on the moon… so why not? (*we didn’t. We weren’t born yet. But as the saying goes… )
The Rev Tent is the first ground tent with a real mattress that also works in a pick-up bed and on the roof of a vehicle. How did we do this? Lots of napkin drawings translated by a legit tent designer into CAD with 3D models (shout out to Tent Lab Mike!). Then a physical prototype, much testing and tweaking (camping and more camping!), 8 more iterations with much more testing and tweaking – then, finally, the Rev Tent, ready for the world.
1. Address the downsides of RTT camping.
After a decade of selling and sleeping in RTTs we were well aware of the downsides. Traditional Roof Top Tents are overbuilt for the performance needs. They are so heavy they have limited portability and end up fixed to your vehicle year round. They are expensive. They are not true 4 season tents.
The Rev Tent addresses each of these problems.
We are able to keep cost down by designing a tent that ships ground and is modular, which means you can get in the game at a much lower cost. If you already have an appropriate size flat deck roof rack, you can camp on your vehicle roof for well over half the cost of a similar sized traditional roof top tent. If you don’t have the proper size roof rack and still want to sleep on your vehicle roof, a fully tricked out Rev Roof Top Tent (the Rev Tent mounted to the Rev Platform) is still more affordable than 99% of similar sized RTTs on the market, yet you get all the advantages of single person carry with the added utility of being able to set up camp anywhere on the ground or in the bed of a pick-up.
By taking advantage of modern tent materials, we were able to dial in the perfect balance of strength and weight. And because the Rev Tent system is modular, you don’t have to carry what you don’t need. At its heaviest roof top use configuration - the tent, ladder and platform - weigh around 85 lbs (a third the weight of similar sized hard shell RTTs). Additionally, because it can be moved on and off a vehicle one piece at a time, any solo person can easily carry the components on and off the vehicle.
After many nights with sideways rainstorms soaking the single layer walls of our roof top tents and waking up to soggy tent walls and leaking windows, we made it a priority to batten down the hatches and make a true 4 season tent with a fully protective fly. Soft cover RTTs have a rain fly on the top of the tent – sort of like a hat – but nothing to further protect the sides. Hard shell RTTs, also, no additional protection for the sides of the tent. Weather Cover add-on products to cover the entire tent in storms are actually offered by the more established RTT companies to address this deficiency. The Rev Tent doesn’t have to play this game since the “weather cover” is standard and built in!
2. Fix some flaws of Ground Tents.
Most ground tents are notoriously difficult to enter, requiring commando crawling to get in and out. (By commando, we don’t mean without underwear… we mean on all fours!)
We designed extra tall side doors with a gentle angle of entry. It’s possible to enter a Rev Tent where the first time your knee touches the ground, it’s not the ground at all, but the soft top of the real mattress.
This mattress isn’t a normal roof top tent mattress. It’s thicker than the rest with the added bonus of a soft quilted topper. After a night in the Rev Tent the comfort and support will make you wonder how and why you ever camped before.
3. Prioritize Quality.
The disposable culture of burning through cheap manufactured goods can’t and shouldn’t be encouraged. Every C6 Outdoor product is designed and built with materials that can withstand the test of time to become permanent fixtures in your camp gear kit. We set out to make the Rev Tent the last tent you’ll ever want or need. If every Rev Tent becomes a hand me down, passed on to the next generation of campers in your family, we’ll have contributed our small part to sustaining our planet’s resources.
*For the exact material specifications of your particular Rev Tent, see the specs tab on the product page. We use a variety of polyesters and nylons with coatings. The exact specs are model and colorway dependent.
4. Stay far away from air.
We do not use air as a structural component. No air poles. No air mattresses. Air mattresses and air frames are not durable nor expedition tough. They are prone to leaks and difficult to repair. While you may save a few ounces by not carrying actual tent poles, you gain more in weight by having to travel with an air pump. Camping in an air tent in strong winds is about as fun as sleeping in a dancing air tube man found outside a used car dealership.
We’ll leave the air tent frames to birthday bouncy castles. Seriously, are we at a three year old’s party or are we camping!?
5. Keep it Simple.
Aligning with the mission of quality is simplicity. The less moving parts; the less mechanical components– the better. The goal is to only use components that if broken can be easily fixed in the field.
For better or worse, the Rev Tent is “gimmick-less”. Better from a quality and durability point of view, worse from a marketing point of view. We didn’t embrace the “instant set up” fad – so no plastic hinges or hydraulics. This tent does not come with a remote control or motor. Aluminum poles will need to be assembled. If you don’t have 3 minutes to spare for setting up, you’re not camping right!
Our simpler is better philosophy will also save relationships, because the last thing you want to do while camping is fight over who lost the remote. ; )
The Rev Tent is simple to purchase too. Available as the Rev Tent - ready to go for on the ground and in pick-up beds, the Rev Rack Tent - ready to go for roof top camping on most platform style roof racks 48” x 84” / 1220mm x 2134mm or larger, and the Rev Roof Top Tent - ready to go for cross bars and smaller roof racks. And you can always start with the Rev Tent and if you change your camping style, get a few add-ons for vehicle roof top camping later.
6. Embrace the tried and true.
We couldn’t justify a reason to invent a whole new tent look. Circling back to the ole’ if it ain’t broke don’t fix it approach, we decided to lean in to the classic old school Bedouin tent shapes. The dramatic peaks and slopes facilitate superior air flow, create ample head room, promote water/condensation run off, and reinforce structural integrity.
And because there are never enough storage options in a tent, we’ve added 4 roomy storage pockets, and offer an optional gear loft with device viewing holder.
Now. With the Rev Tent you can have it all. You can “rough it” without actually “roughing it.” You can camp exactly where you want at the camp site. Near the waterfall. Under the shade of an old Oak tree. At the lake. On the beach. On your Land Rover. In the bed of your Rivian. The Rev Tent offers a world of possibilities.
C6 Outdoor set the stage, but you’re the hero of the Rev Tent story. We look forward to hearing about your journey and the adventures, connections and memories you make with the Rev Tent. Sleeping with a Rev Tent is much more than a one night stand. It’ll be a partnership for life.