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Napier Sportz SUV tent review

April 09, 2013
 Napier Sportz SUV tent review

The Napier Sportz Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) tent fits over the tailgate of the GoSee Jeep GSA1 like a tight sock. To pitch it or pull it down is easy stuff and the shelter and high, over two metre, ceiling space it provides is exceptional.

In fact the whole arrangement is exactly what is needed by your correspondent for flexible accommodation on the move.

It is also particularly well thought through, although its American heritage shows when the Mopar/Napier “How to use your Tailgate Tent” talks to an Aussie audience. No big deal but instructions which advise - “Spread out the tent with one door (it has two) facing the same direction as the driver’s side door and the other door facing away from the vehicle”, need to be seen from a US left hand drive point of view.

The whole show uses two flexible tent poles which feed through sleeves on the sides and top of the tent to form the Cross of St Andrew. Scotland's is the cross to follow and like Scotsmen all over the world its canny. Metal pins on the four corners of the tent slot into the ends of the long flexible poles.

Bend them like a bow and up goes the tent. There are also two awning poles which use guys and pegs to extend the rain fly into a shady canopy. All four shock corded poles break down into easily managed lengths. Add four guys and their pegs on the tent corners and pegs around the sealed skirt and camps up.

The 'Bathtub' style floor aims at superior water protection. At this point the Tailgate Tent is stand alone. The rain fly is a clever idea which drops over the top of the tent once it is pitched. GoSee likes the ventilation the rain fly provides in combination with two 'skylights' which are part of the tents venting system.

People produce a lot of moisture when asleep. If it can't get out then it condenses on inner surfaces. Drops can rain on a sleeper's dreams and lead to the incorrect conclusion that the tent, caravan, RV or boat is leaking.

So partially open doors, windows and in the Tailgate Tents case, a rain fly which allows air in through insect mesh 'skylights' in the tent top looks good.

napier sportz 4x4 tent sock inside view

There are two big entrance doors and three windows in this tent. They all have storm flaps for extra protection and privacy. The tents material has been treated with water resistant chemicals. But under severe weather conditions the makers say some water may penetrate. They suggest using a seam sealer and an extra fly to ensure cool and dry camping.

There are gear pockets and a lantern strap which hangs from the centre of the high roof. For safety the lantern used should be battery powered. This is a tall tent. In the centre there is 2.1 metres available and it is 1.8 metres high in the corners.

With the tent up shorter people, like your correspondent, will find it a stretch to get the rainfly in place on the tent top. A solution which works it to use one of the awning poles with it tip through one of the two rain fly eyelets to provide essential elevation.

This Tailgate Tent is a testament to practical design. The rain fly hooks and clips into place. In fact the whole Tailgate Tent is tailored to fit. The tent slides onto and clips to its tent poles, four guys and pegs secure the tent corners.

The sock which slides easily over GSA1 the Jeep Laredo Grand Cherokee diesel 's tailgate deals brilliantly with a weatherproof connection to the roomy tent which is rated four (maybe five) persons.

We are fans of sleeping in our SUV's with many years experience, but we have never seen anything like this Mopar Jeep accessory before.

It first got our attention after a careful read of the Jeep Laredo Grand Cherokee brochure when we ordered the vehicle at Jeep Bayside Frankston on Melbourne's Port Phillip Bay.

Wind and weather are shut out by the sock which uses straps, hooks and snap-buckles to a variety of thought-through points on the big Jeep 4x4. This extends to hook points in the back of the Jeep Laredo Grand Cherokee which use the lower tent wall as a windbreak skirt.

Care is needed when fitting tent to Jeep. The tent is made with flame resistant fabric but this is no place for hot exhausts.

It is essential that the tent area involved be attached clear of the twin Grand Cherokee tailpipes. Your correspondent found that hot exhausts cool in about 20 minutes. Which is a little less than the time it takes to set the Tailgate Tent up as independent accommodation.

Obviously, once the Jeep is connected via the sock with the tent running the engine is not on. But until the Tailgate Tent is actually held down by its pegs and guys it can be moved easily into any desired position.

Apart from hot exhausts destroying the tent the other major concern is carbon monoxide poisoning. This is a nasty customer, which kills by stealth.

On the subject of common sense in living in tents here are some DONT 'S:

  • Don't attempt to fit the Tailgate Tent when the vehicle’s engine is running. Allow at least 20 minutes for exhausts/tailpipes to cool down.

  • Don't start the vehicle while it is attached to the tent.

  • Don't uses candles, matches or open flame of any kind in or near a tent.

  • Don't cook in a tent.

  • Don't smoke inside a tent.

  • Don't store flammable liquids inside a tent.

  • Don’t allow open flames in or near a tent.

  • Don't have a campfire close to a tent.

  • Don't forget to unzip the windows for proper ventilation.

  • Don't hook the vehicle up to the tent if it is wet and temperatures below freezing.

In automatic vehicles put the transmission in park. In manuals leave the vehicle in gear and engage the hand/foot brake.

Never roll up and pack away a wet tent. This will cause mildew which will destroy the cotton thread used in the tent seams.

Image credit: Napier Sportz Australia

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