Hannibal Rooftop Tent Part I: A Family Tent That's Better Than a Ground Tent

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When you have a marriage founded on fun road trips, outdoor exploits, nights under the stars, back road travel, and (mainly) the memories molded and created along the way, invariably you will endure and address an increasing desire wisdom for more comfort.

In no particular order, here are a couple of dismal moments we've had that we look back on and laugh, but at the time . . . well, you know:

  1. A monsoon brought a torrent of rain over night, and the Swiss-cheesed floor of our well used Coleman ground tent let in gallons of water that soaked our sleeping bags, and therefore us, at about 2:00 in the morning
  2. While backpacking, I once tipped over the little stove cooking our meal, sending our eats into a puddle of mud
  3. Kicking softball-sized rocks to clear partially decent space for setting up that ground tent

Most miserable moments have something to do with precipitation, sleep, or a combination of the two.

Now that we're a family of three, the priorities have changed. It's not so much our daughter who demands comfort as much as it is us - hell, she has no issue whatsoever with sandy knots in her hair and eating granola bars and PB&J for every meal; and after a day of all that she crashes hard for 10 hours of sleep anywhere. Kids are just fine.

We parents want a solid night's sleep while camping.  We parents want a place to stand and change clothes without being exposed to the world. We parents want a way to wash our hands and face (and shower if we can).  We parents want a decent meal to eat, not a can-o-beans heated over coals.  If we're comfortable, we'll have more fun. So we believe.  And even better if we can get the child down to sleep by 8:00 or 8:30 at night so we can enjoy a few hours of being off duty from active parenting that's not in front of a television screen but perhaps with a few good friends and roasty campfire.

Which brings me to the Hannibal rooftop tent with a Jumbo Kit (the lower room). "Tent" is such a bad word for these things. Primarily because they're really a bed - there's a thick foam mattress inside - and all the bad connotations of a standard ground tent are practically eliminated with one of these.  Consider sleeping on the flannel sheets, comforter, and life-size pillows we bring from home.

Top 3 Things We Like About the Hannibal Roof Top Tent w/ Jumbo Kit:

  1. Comfortable sleep on a thick mattress
  2. Enjoying a place to stand, get naked, and change clothes inside the Jumbo Kit
  3. Painless attachment to the truck using a Yakima base rack

Hannibal Roof Top Tent with Jumbo Kit mounted to a Nissan Frontier pick up truck

Not that I still don't come with the potential for knocking over the stove because of this tent.  But we do have space in which to stand up and change clothes in private, cook dinner out of the wind, take a shower (or a poo...) in private, and sleep like babies with little set-up trouble.  We'll see how this works in the long term.

Disclosure: I did not receive any of this tent, nor payment of any kind (cash, credit, or other goods), from the manufacturer, distributor, or an outside firm for this review. The opinions are my own. The Hannibal tent is purchased from the U.S. distributor at www.hannibalsafari.com


Duncan Murray
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# Duncan Murray 2010-07-18 22:57
Mark, I've been keeping up with and your families adventures since I bought my own Frontier that I have started to outfit for some long range camping. (I have a 2005 extended cab Nismo). I Chose the extended cab because it had the longer bed allowing for enough room for sleeping early on in my plan. Well as you know that space becomes precious and as I learned from you the bed may be the only place for a 2nd battery if I am going to put that Engle fridge behind the drivers seat. Your rig used to have an eezi-awn on your own custom stand, and when I saw your review of the hanibal safari tent, it almost looks like you have put a cap on the back (you can't really tell from the video). My question is: I've been thinking about a "roof" top tent but have always been a bit hesitant to put it on my fiberglass ARE cap. Do you think it will hold the tent and a few hundred pounds?
Mark Stephens
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# Mark Stephens 2010-07-23 10:10
Duncan, yes that's an ARE fiberglass cap that we have now. I had the same concerns about the weight. So I spoke with a few other guys with roof tents on their camper shells. In general, it's no problem. At the place I bought the cap, the sales guy hopped on top of one and jumped up and down on it just to show me that they can take some weight.
Mike Tremann
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# Mike Tremann 2010-08-09 17:10
Hello Mark
Great website, my wife and I have an 11 month old, and we have been avid campers/explore rs for years before his arrival. This site gives me hope that we can continue. Thank you for all this wonderful info and making me realize that it is still possible to do what we love with a little one in tow.
Quick question about the RTT. I am leaning this way for our family set up so any info is much appreciated. What are the dimensions of your tent? For my self, wife, and baby son, how big is big enough? Thank you again for your time. Mike
Mark Stephens
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# Mark Stephens 2010-08-20 15:37
The tent we have is 63" wide and 94" long, Hannibal's 1.6: www.hannibalsafari.com/.../

The size that suits you will depend on how much space you want :-) We used a much smaller tent that was 48" wide instead of 63" until my daughter was almost 3 years old. My wife and I are about 5' 8".

What are you driving?
Mike Tremann
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# Mike Tremann 2010-08-20 19:32
Thanks for the reply. Wow that is amazing that the three of you were in a tent that was only 48" wide. I am 6'3" and my wife is 5'6". We would be installing this on a.......Subaru Outback. Not the best platform, but a car that I love. I have thought about building a small trailer to mount the RTT to as well.
Bert Navarrete
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# Bert Navarrete 2010-12-11 19:59

I'm in the market for a RTT for my family of 5 (11yrs, 4yrs, 20m) and was wondering why you switched from EEZi to Hannibal. Any particular reason? I'm also mounting it to a 4 Dr Jeep JK. Any tips/suggestion s here are welcome as my wife is addicted to your site :)
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# Mark 2010-12-14 08:40
We were really looking for a tent with the lower room portion. Eezi-Awn's is called the T-Top, Hannibal the Jumbo Kit. Since the Eezi-Awn and Hannibal are so close in quality, I just decided to give Hannibal a try.

I've owned both brands, and believe I have some authority to say that Eezi-Awn is the better tent with more robust materials all the way around. However, the Hannibal makes use of ripstop nylon for the rain fly and Jumbo Kit, which reduces the weight - but it's also much noisier in the wind. While Eezi-Awn has a better mounting system for the tent, Hannibal has a better ladder. There's some give and take between the two.

The zippers on the roof tent (not the lower part) entry doors are better on the Eezi-Awn. Hannibal's zippers curve, making a u-shape one-piece zipper -- zippers don't like curves and will wear out sooner than the straight zippers on the Eezi-Awn.

In the end, the Hannibal is a fine tent - but the Eezi-Awn is better.
Bert Navarrete
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# Bert Navarrete 2010-12-14 09:03
Awesome. Thanks for the feedback. Since we are only intending to use this short trips (nothing like your adventure), do you suggest weight to be the most important consideration? I'm worried about CG issues on my 3" lifted JK. We are really looking for a RTT solution that's comfortable but don't necessarily need bullet proof material since it will be in my garage those weeks we aren't camping since my jeep is my DD.
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# Mark 2010-12-15 18:06
Well, I wouldn't say weight is the most important consideration. It's just a thing to talk about. The tent, depending on the size you get, will weigh about 120 lbs.

That's as heavy as a petite woman in a bikini (grin).
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# Ben 2011-10-31 11:04
Hi Mark,

Yhis is the first time i've seen your site and looks great! I have had a my site running for a while now and whenever i mention roof tents to family and friends they still don't know what they are. I have bought a Hannibal since starting my site and love it! all the best to you and your family and i'll keep reading! Ben
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# Greg 2012-11-01 02:43
I had a German Autocamp Family 190, my guess is that is the largest roof tent on the market.http://w ww.camper-van-f un.com/roof-ten t.html There are many other types available, but the Italian Autohome Maggiolina pop up roof tent looks great!

Just my opinion...
Anshika Patel
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# Anshika Patel 2013-06-20 03:13
nice images.

Tent Supplier
# Guest 2013-08-08 00:34
This comment has been flagged
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# Karl 2013-09-05 04:18
Hey there, love the review! Just wondering how well the tent is sealed from insects and mosquitos? Some tents don't zip all the way round and have a gap or loose flap, this would be an important feature especially in Africa (good sealing). Just wondering how it is on the Hannibal RTT. Thanks! :)
Mark Stephens
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# Mark Stephens 2013-09-08 09:15
The doors zip around all the way, yes. Like all roof tents that flip open, there's a flap at the pivot in the hinge. On this tent in particular, it has hook and loop (Velcro) for you to seal it closed. The sealing is pretty good as far as that is concerned.
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# mark 2013-09-18 07:03
You make me laugh with all the camping mishaps. Reminds me of the time when I thought my wife closed our roof top cargo carrier. She was the one who usually closed it. Nobody closed it before we started our descent down Mt. Shasta. By the time that we arrived at the town of Mount Shasta City, we had lost half of our gear on the road.

Had we been using a roof top tent and forgot to fold it up, this would have been disastrous.

We plan on getting one of these. My wife wants a place to change and shower. We feel a little cramped when the 4 of us sleep in our van because we have to juggle things around for sleeping.

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