Roof tent and rack

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We were recommended to take a Maggiolina rooftent by some friends but we had used, and seen other, fold out roof tents during our trip in Namibia so this took some thinking about.

We went and had a look at the Maggiolina's at BOAB, near Gloucester, and were tempted. They have solid top and bottom which provides good insulation and have plenty of room inside to leave bedding etc. in place. They are quick to erect and lower only need three sturdy roof bars. They do not have any sort of rain protection over the doors and windows and due to there size they take up a lot of roof rack space, not totally a bad thing as it keeps things (weight) of the roof.

We finally chose the Hannibal 1.4m fold out tent, supplied by APB Trading. Hannibal have a good reputation and we were lucky enough to look around their factory in Cape Town whilst visiting Ally's family. The tent has a removable fly sheet which gives doors rain protection. The small area the tent takes up on the roof rack allows plenty of storage for light weight bulky items.

APB Trading sell Big Country roof racks, these are South African made aluminium racks. As standard they come with four legs per side, we have fitted and extra pair of legs on each side just to spread the weight around a bit more, rather than thinking the rack was not up to it. The rack comes with removable side railings and a rear mounted ladder. This is the one things that lets the rack down, the ladders just is not very good, it will certainly do the job in getting you up there, but there are bare edges to the steps which are not quite horizontal and the bottom one covers the reversing light.

Roof rack Big Country 110 inc. rear ladder and removable rail APB Trading
Rack extra legs Big Country, 2 pairs, just looks a lot stronger. APB Trading
Roof tent Hannibal 1.4m APB Trading


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We decided that a full side awning was an important addition to the equipment list. The top provides shade and shelter from sun and rain, the sides are just as important, providing protection from all the evil creepy crawlies and nasty flying creatures. The Hannibal version in particular looked good, the simplicity of being unattached to the ground attracted us.

After looking at the price lists, we realised we would have only been able to afford the top so decided to have a go at making our own. Having Attwools, our local tent/marquee/awning manufacturer and large camping shop, just down the road we went to them and found they sold PVC sheeting. This material is normally used for the side panels on lorry trailers so its tough and completely maintenance free, even when wet.

After breaking a few sewing machine needles in trying to sew the PVC we looked at other methods of constructing the awning. We came across PVC glue, used for PVC plumbing pipe work connections. This proved to be an effective way of making the awning and appears to be strong. We will have to wait as see how it performs in 40°C temperatures and 30mph winds, we will let you know.

Due to the PVC material being so heavy duty, probably overly so, storage has turned out to be a problem. When the panels are rolled up the resulting sausages are larger than we had thought, they take up quite a bit of room in the rear of the car. The poles, top and front panel roll up on the side of roof rack, again a bit larger than we had hoped but still pretty easy to erect and roll away.

Awning rolled away top only Complete

Many people mount their fold out roof tents to open over the rear door thus providing some shelter there. We came to the conclusion that at lunch time when we need the shade from the hot overhead sun we would not be wanting to go to the all effort of opening the tent just for some shade. We decided to mount the tent over the bonnet, good for weight distribution, and make a small awning that covers the rear door.


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The kitchen is based at the rear door with the fold down shelf and the water tap.


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We have each chosen a fold away camping chair that we find comfortable and we also have two fold away stools for foot rests or "guest" seating. Ally's still hoping to squeeze in some chill-out cushions, hammocks, lanterns.................


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