The Front Runner roof tent arrived and I quickly booked my favourite local camping spot, Brockwell Woods. The cool thing about Brockwell woods is you’re free to light campfires as long as you’re responsible. It’s an awesome place to go and rough it, but this time I’m glamping! My better half was at a friends birthday party, so it was a solo trip for the new roof tent’s maiden voyage.
I’ll not lie I was anxious to put a roof tent on the new Jimny. Is the dynamic weight, stability, roof bar strength all going to hold?
It’s a 40 minute drive to the campsite and you hit a motorway and dual carriageway with UK speed limits of 60 and 70 respectively. I’m not a speed demon (or an idiot) and more than happy limiting speed to 65 mph for safety.
Acceleration didn’t feel slower and reaching 60 mph (~97 kph) was easy going. I revved along at 65 mph (105 kph) most of the way and everything felt great. The only thing I did differently was to increase my usual stopping distance considerably, better safe than sorry.
There’s a short reasonably steep drive over a muddy field and some deep muddy ruts to navigate. Nothing worrying for the Jimny under normal circumstances for sure. Once again, everything worked out and the Jimny didn’t feel top heavy at all, it felt solid and grippy. I honestly forgot I had a root tent up there.
The best thing about the Jimny for camping is you can go places other off-roaders can’t or at least find positions at camp that others may struggle to line up. I had a lovely spot at the far end of the woods with a small clearing over the fields that was a tight squeeze to reach. Perfect!
Upon arriving setup was fast enough for my liking. It was only the 3rd time I’d popped the tent having done a few practice runs at home and it took less than 5 minutes. This included laying out the bedding. I did rush it, as I wanted to test how fast I could do it. So maybe plan for 8 minutes if you’re taking your time.
The side tarp shelter was a pain in the arse to rig up so I’ll not bother with with that next time. It’s a temporary solution anyway until I decide on an awning.
My favourite bit was even quicker to setup. Converting the inside of the Jimny into the lounge area with front and rear back rests was a breeze. Super happy with this simple set up. It’s perfect for sitting reading in when it rains (when the bugs are going crazy) and having a cuppa. Above all it feels like spacious and luxurious when out in the woods.
After messing around way too long with flint and steel I tucked into steak, sweet potato, red peppers and asparagus, washed down with a few brew dog beers.
It wasn’t long before it was time to test if the roof can hold my now stuffed lard arse for the night. I don’t know why but I’m always ready for bed before 10pm when out camping and tonight was no exception.
I found 2 awesome mini lights that are super cool for camping if you don’t want to ruin the night sky. These mount perfectly in the Jimny either via the clip mounts or magnetically to the vehicle itself if you’re using them inside.
The comfort verdict
Seriously, I slept better than I ever have camping. I’m not just saying that to justify buying the tent. This is going to completely change how we get out exploring the UK. If not for being too lazy to get my ear plugs out of the car I don’t think I’d have woken up at all during the night.
It’s not perfect yet though. One upgrade needed is some sort of axle stabilisers as it can get quite wobbly up there with the soft Jimny suspension. I imagine it’ll be worse when there’s two people sleeping.
The morning views are cracking when you’re elevated in your tent.
I’ve ordered this mattress to add on top of the front runner mattress or to completely replace it. It’s the correct width of 120cm. Both will give us a combined thickness of 12 cm. That’ll do the job nicely for my aching bones, I’m a side sleeper so it’s a must.
Another thing I want to try is to make the ladder quick release. Alternatively replace it with a telescopic, quick release ladder. Reason being I’d like to keep the ladder in the car to reduce the height of the tent when driving. With some modification to the straps I believe we can make the whole thing more streamline to help with fuel economy.
To further increase how streamline the tent is during transit, if the inflatable mattress if comfortable enough on its own I may be able to remove the front runner mattress completely. Without the standard mattress in the tent I’ve noticed when folded that the front of the tent has a 2 inch slope, front to back. Due to the way I’ve mounted it off the rear of the car if I add a wind deflector I think there could be a decent amount of aerodynamic gain.