Gear Reviews

SWAG WITH A VIEW

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Long-term Howling Moon Stargazer rooftop tent review

We’ve normally done our big touring trips with a swag, and have had a good run out of swags over the years. In the stakes of sheer simplicity and effectiveness, it is hard to go past the good ol’ canvas pillowcase. And the modern-day swag does give you lots of features and room. But we were due for an upgrade (and we didn’t really want to tow)… so what do you do? Let’s give a rooftop tent a crack.

 

There’s only one real negative with a rooftop tent like this: The weight. And all of that weight being right on top of your car. When you’re trying to build a big touring 4X4 that isn’t grossly overweight, a rooftop tent needs to be justified. We’ve got a Howling Moon Stargazer rooftop tent. The prices start from $2,400; and in terms of weight, it comes in at 55kg.

 

IS IT COMFORTABLE?

Comfort-wise, the Howling Moon rooftop tent is awesome. Being up and off the ground is a natural advantage over a swag – especially when you’re looking at rough, wet or uneven country. Any decent campground will have enough flat ground to park the car evenly enough. We maybe aren’t as picky as others, but we haven’t had a problem with ‘evenness’ in our travels.

 

The ‘Stargazer’ bit means you’re able to open up the roof completely which is nice for staring out on a clear night… but the main advantage is definitely ventilation. Cracking the roof open on a hot night lets that warm air escape, which in turn creates a bit of a draft. And if it’s raining and hot, you can kind of have your cake and eat it too with the fly fitted.

 

SET-UP AND PACK-DOWN

After a few goes, you get it all down to a fine art. My set-up is probably more difficult because it’s so high up; but generally, you pull on some Velcro straps, unzip and pull off the cover, pop a couple more Velcro straps and flip the tent open. Then it’s just a case of setting the pole on the annexe over the ladder and pegging it down, and you’re sorted. One you’ve got a system down pat, you can knock it over in only a few minutes.

 

IS IT WORTH IT?

There’s no getting around the fact that the tent is expensive. We are living in an era of ultra-cheap accessories flooding the market from China. I can’t vouch for the quality of those units, or whether they will last the distance. But after a couple of years, I can 100% vouch for the Howling Moon. No troubles have reared their head, even after living out of it for weeks at a time. The canvas is top quality, and so are the big zips.

 

DOES IT KEEP YOU DRY?

Yes, yes it does. We have slept soundly in heavy rain a handful of times in the Howling Moon without any troubles. We weren’t doing it any favours either; keeping the additional fly off to take full advantage of the opening roof. Save for some condensation on the inside (which the fly helps with), the rooftop tent has been an awesome experience.

 

Specs:

Packaged Dimensions: 150 x 130 x 36cm

 

Set-up dimensions: L 240 x W 160 x H 120cm

 

Canvas: 380gsm/sqm poly cotton. Fluorocarbon impregnated, anti-fungal treated, double-stitched.

 

Base: Lightweight aluminium extrusion.

 

Ladder: Non-slip, 140kg rated.

 

Mattress: 75mm high-density.

 

For more info visit: howlingmoon.com.au

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