The Ascent is available in two modifications. The Lite works like any other box-style RTT, so you’ll have to get up on the ladder and push it into place manually. The Ascent Pro is a remote control roof top tent, the one we took on a test drive through the Outback. All you have to do to set it up is press the button on a remote, and the tent will unfold, one side at a time. Press another button, and the tent folds away on its own.
So is the Backtrax roof top tent fully automated? Not by a long shot. For one, you still have to undo the four latches keeping it securely closed in transit, same as with any other hardshell RTT. Besides, if you go for an optional redwing awning, it takes extra time to put it together. There are four support poles to be inserted into the right brackets, and doing it from inside the tent is mostly impossible.
While the automated setup and pack-up are certainly nice, the RTT comes with an additional manual bypass system that lets you get the tent up or fold it down using a crank. We haven’t had to use it, but it’s certainly a worthy precaution if you run out of charge or the motor fails while you’re out in the wild.
The initial installation is easy thanks to four SS brackets that come with the RTT and fit perfectly on any roof rails. Check the user manual for detailed mounting instructions.
Size & Weight
Despite its humble weight of only 65 kilos, the Backtrax roof top tent is roomy enough to sleep two adults comfortably. The tent’s interior is 212 cm long by 140 cm wide with a respectable height of 108 cm. Though it’s nowhere near enough for standing, it provides enough headroom for sitting or reclining.
The outside dimensions are only slightly larger at 215 cm by 146 cm. But we all know it’s the closed height that matters most. For Backtrax, it’s 38 cm, which is certainly more than comparable models. However, the gel coating makes the cover more aerodynamic and reduces drag, so there should be no discernible effect on your 4x4’s fuel consumption.
|Size (close/open), cm||2150L x 1460W x1080H |
2120L x 1400W x 380H
|Weight, kg||65 kg|
|Ease of Installation||8/10|
|Delivery set||Internal LED light; two external LED lights; key fob remote control opening and closing with backup manual toggles and crank-handle manual overrides; external Anderson plug for vehicle battery power; Bluetooth surround-sound speaker; two cargo pockets and cup holder; telescopic access ladder; roof rack clamping system with four stainless steel brackets; solar fan kit and an optional external awning|
For the price you pay, you’d expect the Backtrax roof top tent to come in an aluminium body. But it’s made of vacuum-sealed fiberglass that’s gel-coated, and the walls are Speedline 1000D air-textured PU-coated nylon. The company promises the RTT is highly durable and abrasion-resistant, but we didn’t have a chance to test it. Hopefully, the fiberglass cover lasts long enough to justify the price tag, though we’d still feel better about metal parts.
It was also surprising to see different mesh panels covering the four large openings. The front and back windows are covered with midge screens, while the side windows use mosquito mesh. It’s possible the sides attract more mosquitos because of the outside LED lights, though we’re not sure about this distinction.
The one thing we couldn’t find fault with is the Backtrax roof top tent’s all-weather performance. In the heat of the high noon, the four huge windows provided plenty of airflow and a great 360-degree view to boot.
The RTT stayed nice and dry in the rain, though a larger wrap-around awning wouldn’t go amiss. We had to zip up the windows almost all the way to keep the water out, and the interior became stuffy very fast. The solar-powered fan was our only saving grace, as it kept the condensation manageable throughout the colder nights and humid conditions.
What blew us away was the seal between the bottom and the cover of the tent in transit mode. The top half goes over the bottom edge, and the rubber seal keeps water droplets and dust outside the RTT and off your bedding.
Once you get inside the Backtrax roof top tent, you start getting why it’s so pricey. For one, the 110 mm mattress is one of the best we’ve ever used among the RTTs. It’s plush enough to skip the topper.
The 18 Amp lithium battery with an Anderson plug and USB ports is also a keeper. It got us through a couple of rainy days when we were stuck inside the Backtrax camper trailer with nothing better to do than binge TV shows on an iPad. The same battery powers the three LED lights. The interior lamp is bright enough to read a paperback or an e-reader without a backlight, and the outside fixtures make getting in and out of the tent at night a breeze.
We wish the Ascension came with more accessories, as the $6,000+ price tag barely includes any. The awning is a nice touch, though supplementing the RTT with an annex or a changing room would be even better. Unfortunately, both add to the overall cost of the camping setup.
As you’ve gathered from this Backtrax roof top tent review, we love the RTT, though it’s not free of flaws. The price tag is justified if you plan on overlanding often (or full-time), and the added creature comforts make it one of the coziest roof top tents we’ve ever tested. You may need to invest in a couple of add-ons to make it extra homey (think an annex), but even out-of-the-box, it’s every overlander’s dream come true.