Feature Friday: 6 Soft Shell RTT Setups On The Toyota 4Runner

Soft Shell RTT With Annex On 5th Gen Toyota 4Runner

Soft Shell Roof Top Tents – We Asked 6 Toyota 4Runner Owners Why They Chose Soft Shell RTTs For Their Overland Builds

This Week’s Topic: Soft Shell Roof Top Tents

Welcome back to another Feature Friday! If you missed last week’s FF, we looked at 4Runner Rear Cargo Drawers/Storage Systems. This week we will be looking at 6 soft shell RTT options that owners chose for their overland-ready Toyota 4Runner builds.

As always, feel free to DM the owners on IG to ask any additional questions about their setup if needed.


Top Products Featured

  • Freespirit Recreation High Country Tri-Layer 80”
  • Freespirit Recreation High Country 63″
  • 23Zero Walkabout 87″
  • 23Zero Walkabout 72″
  • CVT Mt. Rainier
  • Roam Vagabond Lite

Why Choose A Soft Shell RTT?

Freespirit Recreation High Country Tri-Layer 80” Rooftop Tent On Toyota 4Runner

Soft shell rooftop tents are a great option for those getting into the RTT game. These tents offer a lot more interior space for their relatively tightly packed size versus their hard shell counterparts. Soft shell tents are also typically more affordable. The main advantage is all of the extra room inside thanks to either a bi-fold or pull-up folding style. Only soft shell RTTs can offer this kind of space.

Most soft shell tents consist of a hard floor with a mattress included. Mattress comfort ranges depending on the price and quality of the RTT purchased. Your surrounding shelter is made from a durable weather-resistant fabric material (soft shell). The frame of the tent and its folding structure design will dictate how much space the tent will have and how easy it is to set up.

The main way that soft shell RTTs are stored for travel is with a waterproof canvas or PVC-based material to keep the tent fabric safe from road conditions. A big downfall of a soft shell over a hard shell tent is its overall height. This added height on your roof rack causes more wind drag and an increased center of gravity, which is not the best for off-camber trials or your MPG.

Soft shell tents typically weigh less than a hard shell, but this also depends on the tent’s size.

One major negative to a soft shell tent is the setup and tear-down process. Manufacturers have tried their best to make setting up camp as simple as possible, however, a soft shell RTT still tends to be a tad bit more tricky to fully close up and secure than a hard shell. Think of it as cramming a tent back into a bag compared to folding up an umbrella.

If you are still on the fence about soft shell vs hard shell RTTs, then be sure to check out our full comparison post – hard shell or soft shell RTTs.

1. Britnie Pollard (@heradventurelife) – Freespirit Recreation

5th Gen Toyota 4Runner with Freespirit Recreation High Country RTT

RTT Details

  • Brand: Freespirit Recreation
  • Model: High Country Tri-Layer 80”
  • Price: $3500

What Made You Choose A Soft Shell RTT? What Do You Like About Your Setup?

I had chosen this RTT over a hard shell as it was able to fit me, my husband, and our 2 boys comfortably. The price point for such a large tent was another reason why I ended up choosing the Freespirit 80”. Its setup and takedown only take a few minutes and the comfort of it is top-notch!

Also, the tri-layer keeps it pitch black inside the tent, so there are no issues with the sun waking you up early in the morning.

2. Ben Rose (@bhen_rose) – 23Zero

23Zero Walkabout 87" RTT For 4th Gen Toyota 4Runner

RTT Details

  • Brand: 23Zero
  • Model: Walkabout 87″
  • Price: $2400

What Made You Choose A Soft Shell RTT? What Do You Like About Your Setup?

I specifically chose the walk about 87″ due to it being able to fit my whole family comfortably. It fits my baby’s pack-and-play (portable crib), my wife, and me. I’d say that it has at least a queen-size mattress worth of room, even with the pack and play inside.

The Light Suppression Technology (LST) fabric of 23Zero’s tent is phenomenal. My wife and I are able to finally sleep in while camping. It’s so dark that my baby can take a nap in the middle of the day inside the tent. The mattress is also very comfortable. I have never slept so well while camping!

3. Rich Ivey (@richivey82) – CVT

4th Gen 4Runner with CVT Mt. Rainier RTT

RTT Details

  • Brand: CVT
  • Model: Mt. Rainier
  • Price: $3600

What Made You Choose A Soft Shell RTT? What Do You Like About Your Setup?

When I purchased this RTT, I also had a hard shell. This tent by CVT though made more sense for the family due to the additional space that it allowed us to have. I mean, it’s a king-size bed! That being said, in a worst-case scenario, all four of us can sleep up there.

4. Jordan Weimer (@jordanweimer93) – Roam

ROAM Vagabond Lite RTT Mounted On Army Green 5th Gen 4Runner

RTT Details

  • Brand: Roam 
  • Model: Vagabond Lite
  • Price: $1500

What Made You Choose A Soft Shell RTT? What Do You Like About Your Setup?

I was introduced to this tent because we carry them at my work. You don’t see as many of them around as you do with other brands but I thought I’d give it a try. I love the tent and have spent 30 nights or so in it. It has a 3-inch mattress which is thicker than most other brands.

5. Zachary Diehl (@expedition.collective) – 23 Zero

23Zero Walkabout 72" Mounted On 5th Gen Toyota 4Runner

RTT Details

  • Brand: 23Zero
  • Model: Walkabout 72″
  • Price: $2150

What Made You Choose A Soft Shell RTT? What Do You Like About Your Setup?

No RTT is one-size-fits-all. We all have specific needs and wants from our tents and I found that the 23Zero Walkabout 72″ best matched what I wanted. I needed a tent that could comfortably house me and my three large breed dogs during winter camping months, provide adequate cooling during summer months, and have enough room for a 6’5” camper to spread out after a long journey.

The Walkabout 72″ did all of this and then some. I never felt cramped in the tent. During the winter months, the pups and I hid away in our rooftop bunker without feeling pressed for space. In the summer months, the superior window space allowed for cool breezes to blow through on a hot southern evening. As a bonus, I also got an optional annex that gave the dogs a place of their own to sleep when temperatures rose.

Finally, I got the LST (Light Suppression Technology), a major benefit of the 23Zero product line. It allows for pitch black conditions inside the tent, even at high noon. This is perfect if you want everyone to sleep in on Sunday morning.

6. Viscencio Di Stefano (@cimarunner) – Freespirit Recreation

GOFSR High Country 63" RTT Mounted On 5th Gen 4Runner

RTT Details

  • Brand: Freespirit Recreation
  • Model: High Country 63″
  • Price: $2550

What Made You Choose A Soft Shell RTT? What Do You Like About Your Setup?

One of the main reasons I went with the High Country Series was the space it provided for my family of 3 and a dog. The layout seemed like a perfect fit and provided the possibility of adding an annex room in the future. This tent also features their tri-layer technology which has worked wonders in both keeping us warm in the winter and cool in the summer (with the help of some breeze).

The downside of owning this type of tent is that it does create some wind drag because of its high profile and box-type shape, hindering fuel economy. It also does not have the capabilities of adding additional hardware or equipment to mount on top unlike GoFSR’s Odyssey or Aspen Hardshell RTTs.

Overall, I have loved my tent, and it has worked exactly like I imagined it would.

Final Thoughts

Overland RTT Setup On 5th Gen Toyota 4Runner

I feel if I was to pull the trigger on an RTT finally, it would be a soft shell. Yes, hard shells are nice and easier to set up and take down, but I love all the added space you can achieve with a soft shell tent. Specifically, with the bi-fold setup. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

We want readers to get inspired by a variety of rigs/products. Submit your build for Feature Friday here to get featured. Next week we will be showcasing Aftermarket Fog Light Options. If you would like to submit your build for next week, include your setup details and an awesome photo that shows it off.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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1 year ago

Great Content Jon & nice to see you here at Trail4runner, WOW. You have came a long way and I am amazed at the energy that you bring. I am enriched!! Great find!

Raphael Jube
Raphael Jube
1 year ago

nice article Jon, thanks for sharing

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