Like most I started in a ground tent. The ground tents have had several variations. The older tents with the half inch tent poles, 2 man back packing tents, and a few large family size ground tents.
These tents always felt like a bother to setup.Keeping the poles and pieces together always seemed like a chore, especially with the always helpful friends. You know the ones. They help but the don’t put the gear away. It was sat down for you and they walked away from it. Then the part was left at camp.
The other problem is they were always filthy from being on the ground. It didn’t matter if it was rain or condensation. The ground cover would always be muddy and keeping the dirt off the tent in the bag was always a challenge.
When I moved away from backpacking I wanted something that setup quickly, was relatively self contained, and wasn’t filthy when I put away.
The best option at the time was roof top tents. I started with an ARB Simpson I found on craigslist. The tent was a great starting point to know I wanted to stay with roof top tents going forward. The tent was good and fit my wife and I well.
As time past we had our first child and we quickly realized the ARB was getting smaller. With a sale over holidays I purchased a CVT Rainer. The tent was big. It felt spacious. This setup worked even through us having a second child and a pregnant wife.
Kudos to CVT. The tent allowed my 7 month pregnant wife to camp for 9 nights as we circumnavigated Colorado with our 3 year and 1 year old. After the trip, we knew adding the third child our tent would not have the space we needed.
As an ambassador for Adventure Motors they were working with FSR at the time. I obtained a FSR High Country. We used it a couple times but we were recognizing it was time for something different with the kids.
What is the Habitat? It’s basically a giant truck fort. The tent is affixed to the bed of a pickup. When closed it appears to look much like your normal truck cap/camper shell. When it opens though, you have a giant sleeping platform and the bed of your truck enclosed to build as you need or see fit.
The Habitat is made from aluminum, has a built in mattress, sleeps 2 standard but up to 4 adults, quick setup, and has built in awning.
It was pretty quickly Expedition Overland snagged one up and took on their next trip. They produced a short video walk around.
Between their video and a couple of write ups on Tacoma World, I was left to try and determine if the product would work for us with what is normally very little information to me.
We took a leap of faith after several calls and looking at photographs we could find on the internet and decided we would purchase one.
The next thing to do was wait. The wait time for all custom 4×4 items varies but I think we had to wait approximately 12 weeks. That’s quite a while when you spend $8900 base.
The time was good as it allowed me to sell my camper shell and make some minor modifications before I could install the Habitat. One particular modification was cutting down the Prinsu Roof Rack to allow for enough room for the overhang on the Habitat.
Once I got the call it was in we were ready to go. The plan was made to make the trip on a Thursday night from KC to CO. Then, Friday the boys at the shop would work straight away at getting the Habitat installed.
Juniper Overland did a great job. They were very professional and took care of us while we waited. Off Grid Engineering even did a little electrical for me while it was being installed.
After it was installed it was time to test it properly. My bride and I stayed in it that night.
Having not deployed the Habitat before I was concerned it would take a little bit to get it deployed and setup. With previous RTT’s we had a system between my bride and I to make it as fast as possible.
The Habitat took less than 3 minutes to deploy with me and the wife on the first time. We had the bedding rolled out and ready to go in less than 5 minutes.
Mind you this was in the dark. INCREDIBLE!
So how is the build quality of the Habitat?
The quality of the tent material is great. It is a cotton poly material. The material has to be treated to provide best water proofing. From the factory it is soaked with water then dried and then repeated to allow the material to swell to create the moisture barrier. This should be done yearly. The material bucks wind well. I have slept in the tent with winds up to 20 mph and found it to be quieter than ground tents or other RTT’s I have had. The structural design I believe keeps the material from being too loose.
When opened the Habitat has an integrated rear awning. This design helps with setup time. With my previous RTT’s I had a rear awning I would deploy to provide cover while I cooked or got items out of the truck bed with out being exposed to the elements.
The aluminum exterior is rugged. I have taken the truck down narrow two track in the Ozark National Forest with trees limbs banging along the side for hours and had no visible marks. The truck has been driven down long corrugated forest roads and boulder ridden tracks and been no worse for wear.
The tent allows for more than 2 adults if you add the drop in panels. The drop in panels cover over the top of the truck bed. You essentially sleep on the overhang off the back section normally. When you add the drop in panels you double your sleeping area. There’s a storage area over the cab of the truck. (This is a perfect spot for toddlers and babies!) I have slept myself, my bride, my three sons (5,3,1), and my 10 year old nephew and still had room.
We also purchased the Goose Gear chairs. They stow away neatly against the wall and fold down to allow two people to sit and use the drop in panels as a desk or table.
This was a great addition and allowed me to keep the recovery boards where I could quickly and easily get to them without moving other items. They also store well even when covered in mud and are out of the way.
Overall the Habitat is one of the best purchases I have ever made to make camping more comfortable and convenient.