Follow the rooftop tent market and you’ll soon find that replication is the driving philosophy of most brands. This is understandable given the appeal of existing designs, coupled with the ability to have an overseas factory produce variations on existing popular models. Conceived and patented in Italy at the end of the 1950s, the rooftop tent (RTT) emerged in both a flip open form – by Air-Camping – and a vertical lift form – later to become Autohome. Their benefits drew rapid interest from explorers, safaris, and overland travelers. Thus it was in the wilds of Africa and beyond that the elevated, vehicle-based tent platform was birthed in our imaginations.
While Italian design genius brought us the Ferrari, domed architecture and, yes, the rooftop tent, it is Kickstarter that often brings truly new designs to modern consumers. iKamper emerged from the online crowd-sourcing investment phenomenon when, in 2017, it promised investors a re-envisioned RTT.
Based in South Korea, iKamper is the brainchild of Soon Park. A self-declared creative and self-trained engineer, Park began a design mission after a 58,000-mile journey that crisscrossed America along with his family. Fueled by that monumental venture and the faltering equipment they relied on, Park’s trip-inspired motto of “love people, love nature” birthed iKamper. The Skycamp’s design came from asking what a better RTT would need, and what it should achieve.
Frequently, new rooftop tent manufacturers differentiate themselves through color schemes, skylights and unique opening strategies. In that sense, the Skycamp isn’t exactly unique, as it incorporates several of those same types of changes. For instance, its brown/black combination stands out from competitors, as does its distinct logo. That’s nice, but it won’t help you in the backcountry. Similarly, its integration of a moonroof allows users to escape tent claustrophobia, which some users will value, but it’s not one of a kind. Where the iKamper Skycamp scores performance wins is in its living space and ease of operation.