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Friday, June 21, 2024

SMRT Tent Summit Suite First Impressions

I recently swapped out the rooftop tent on my Turtleback Expedition Trailer to an SMRT Summit Suite.

Now that I’ve had a chance to take a few trips and get to know this tent, it’s time to share my first impressions with you.

I’ll say this right off the bat – the SMRT Summit Suite is an impressive tent. It’s easy to set up, impeccably built, and well-designed, as you can see in my video below.

There’s more details to share, of course, so let’s dive right in and discuss this incredible SMRT tent!

Table of Contents

SMRT Tent Specs and Features: What Does the Summit Suite Offer?

Before I get to the nitty-gritty of my personal impressions of the Summit Suite, let’s do an overview of what this tent has in terms of specs and features.

Basic Specs

smrt tent in wilderness

  • Sleeps 1-3 people
  • The 2.5-inch high-density foam mattress measures 59” wide and 81.5” long (the mattress also has a quick-dry polyester coating that’s durable and offers ease of cleaning)
  • Highest point inside is 54 inches
  • The outside shell measures W: 60” x L: 84.5” x H: 6.3” (including mounting rails)
  • Open height is 56 inches
  • Mounting track is W: 29.5” x L: 79”
  • Maximum tent roof carrying capacity is 80 pounds while open and 175 pounds when closed
  • Weighs160 pounds

Primary Features of the SMRT Tent

Closed SMRT tent

The SMRT Summit Suite offers loads of features that speak to how well designed and built it is.

When the tent is closed, it has a profile of just 6.3 inches. This helps reduce drag and improve fuel economy, which, if you’re like me and you drive a Jeep, you can use all the fuel economy help you can get!

When the tent is closed, the high-quality weatherstripping provides an excellent seal between the upper and lower shells. While I haven’t had a chance to drive my rig through a monsoon yet, just looking at this weatherstripping gives me confidence that when it rains, the tent will be bone dry when I crack it open.

smrt tent flat roofThe roof of the tent is flat, which is ideal for adding additional gear. You can mount solar panels on the roof, and you can also get a variety of racks to put on the roof, that way you can take advantage of its 175-pound load capacity when the tent is closed.

As you might recall, I love mountain biking, so I’m thinking seriously about getting an SMRT rack so I can put my bike on top of the tent. Doing so would keep it up and out of the way and allow me to carry other gear in the bed of my truck and on my truck bed rack. I’ll let you guys know if I decide to go in that direction!

smrt mounting channelsYet another impressive feature of this SMRT tent is that the aluminum shell has 360-degree upper and lower mounting channels that allow you to add accessories to the tent to expand its functionality even further.

SMRT offers a shower room kit, cross rails, and an awning and associated hardware that can really turn the Summit Suite into your overlanding palace!

This tent also includes goodies like:

  • 7.5-foot telescopic ladder (with two ladder mounts)
  • Two shoe storage bags
  • Two window poles (and bases)
  • 0.4” Anti Condensation Mat
  • Two latches
  • One handle
  • All installation hardware

So, in other words, this SMRT tent is ready to party right out of the box!

The Summit Suite is Sweet to Set Up

SMRT summit suite set upMy previous rooftop tent took about two minutes to set up, which in the grand scheme of things is pretty darn fast.

But that tent doesn’t hold a candle to this SMRT tent…

It takes all of 30 seconds for me to deploy this tent. All I have to do is unhook the latches, push the tent up from the middle, and the struts take over the process from there.

smrt setup with strutsWhen you get into camp late or when the weather isn’t all that fantastic, having a tent that can be set up this fast is such an awesome feature. I’m never on time and get to camp after dark more often than not, so I’ll take a 30-second setup time any day of the week! 

Packing the tent up is equally speedy. There’s an elastic cord that pulls the fabric of the tent together. This results in a seamless, easy process for packing up and hitting the road. 

How is the SMRT Tent Build Quality?

smrt tent build quality

You certainly want to take build quality into account when looking for a rooftop tent (or any tent, for that matter). So one of the first things I wanted to evaluate is how well this tent is made.

In short, the Summit Suite is a beautifully crafted tent. And I don’t just mean that in an “it looks awesome” kind of way, either. SMRT has focused on the details that matter, and as a result, this tent is built like something that will last for years and years to come.

For starters, the outer shell is made from powder-coated heavy-duty honeycomb and extruded aluminum. These materials are tough and durable and offer excellent resistance to punctures in case you decide to get a little too close to overhanging branches.

SMRT tent body

Meanwhile, the body of the SMRT tent is 280gsm ripstop polyester cotton canvas. The canvas has a PU coating of 2000mm, and there’s an additional layer of UPF 40+ to give the material superb breathability and weather resistance.

On a related note, I appreciate that the fabric of the tent is dark. In other tents I’ve used in the past, the fabric was very light and allowed all that early morning sunlight to wake me up.

That’s not the case in this tent…

On my recent trip to Big Bear, I slept until 7:30 am, which is VERY late for me. But it was so dark in the tent that I wasn’t jarred awake by the rising sun. Nice!

Back to the construction of the SMRT tent…

construction of the tentSMRT uses high-quality SPS zippers that zip and unzip super smoothly. Not only that, but these zippers are designed for longevity, so I fully expect to get lots of snag-free performance from these things in the years to come.

So, obviously, the mad scientists at SMRT really put their heads together to ensure the Summit Suite is a tent that is built to handle the rigors of camping in all sorts of conditions.

I can speak to that durability, too.

The Big Bear trip I mentioned a moment ago involved some beefy winds at night. And as you know, in many cases, a tent will flap around in the wind and cause quite a ruckus that can keep you up all night.

Now, the SMRT Summit Suite wasn’t whisper-quiet in the wind. However, I was blown away (pun definitely intended!) by how well the tent reacted to the wind. There was minimal flapping around, little noise, and I didn’t spend the entire night worried if I would wake up in a tent that had collapsed around me.

I’m not sure how hard the wind was blowing, and I’m not sure what the Summit Suite’s wind rating is, but I can tell you this – I felt safe and secure in the SMRT tent and was able to sleep without the annoying tent flapping sound that is so common. I attribute that positive experience to the design and engineering of this tent.

Is the SMRT Tent Comfortable?

is the smrt tent comfortable

The 2.5-inch high-density foam mattress is very comfortable, though, full disclosure, I added my Exped Megamat on top of it for a little extra cushioning (it fits perfectly, by the way).

The mattress is a perfect size for my son and I. He’s 6 ½ years old and doesn’t take up much room, which is good since I’m a big guy and like to spread out. 

I will say that this tent is a bit cozy with my wife, my son, and I all inside. It’s doable, but having the three of us in there for an extended trip would not be ideal.

If your goal is having more folks in the tent, the SMRT “The” Softshell is a great option, with a sleeping capacity of up to four people.

gear attic

The peak of the SMRT tent roof is nearly five feet high, so you have plenty of room to sit up and crawl around as you get situated for bed. Of course, movement inside the tent is aided by the storage pockets and big mesh storage attic (shown above), which help keep all your gear neatly organized and out of the way so you can move around more freely.

While I haven’t yet used this tent in warmer weather, when I do, I’m sure the mesh panels on the entrances will be a welcome feature for getting fresh air into the tent and keeping it cool.

tent mesh panelsI can, however, speak to the performance of this SMRT tent in cold weather conditions. The tent never came close to having condensation in it, which is due in part to the included anti-condensation mat.

Getting into the tent is a comfortable experience, too. The telescoping ladder can be adjusted to fit the specific height requirements of each setting. And with multiple mounting points, you can attach the ladder in a spot that works best for the current situation.

I’ll also say that the ladder – just like the SMRT tent – is very well designed and built. I’m about 225 pounds, so sometimes rooftop tent ladders can feel a tad inadequate in terms of their stability. The Summit Suite ladder, though, has never given me pause as I climb up or down it.

First Impressions of the SMRT Tent: This Thing is Fantastic!

SMRT Tent first impressions

So, clearly, I’ve been nothing but impressed with this tent thus far. From build quality and design to ease of setup and take down to sizing and available options, this SMRT tent is proving to be a very smart addition to my overlanding rig.

I’ll take more trips in the coming weeks and months and will put the SMRT Summit Suite through its paces. If my experiences with it thus far are any indication, I think my upcoming trips will provide further evidence that this is one hell of a tent.

Remember that the SMRT Summit Suite (and other SMRT products) are available at REI, so if you want to learn a little more about this tent, check it out on the REI website.

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