Napier Sportz SUV Tent

Napier Sportz SUV Tent 1

While we are a club of RVing enthusiasts, there are among us members who are either still tent camping (pre-first RV!) or enjoy tent camping as a way to explore more remote areas that their RVs cannot safely access. This is why, when Napier Outdoors reached out to us about trying their SUV tents, I eagerly agreed to be the guinea pig! I’ve shopped around for SUV tents before, but hadn’t yet found one I loved enough to splurge on and that fit my vehicle while meeting my needs. First things first, it is a bit heavy. Their website says it’s 39 pounds fully packed, and I believe it! Even so, I’m confident that I can set up this tent by myself if needed.

My first adventure with it was while camping with a friend, so I haven’t yet tried setting it up solo. The instructions were clear (and attached to the inside of the bag) and all parts accounted for. While I’d like to say we took the logical approach of laying everything out ahead of time and ensuring we knew what was what, the reality was we did the exact opposite. We also didn’t watch any of the how-to videos they offer or read the instructions in full before beginning. (We wanted to go for an authentic experience…) And we still successfully set up the tent!

There were some minor hiccups along the way that had us scratching our heads. For example, the hard plastic corner joints are designed to face a certain way when you insert the poles, with one end being narrower than the other. If not faced correctly, only one pole fits instead of the necessary two. Once we realized our mistake, the fix was quick and easy. We also misplaced the small bag of pole caps and extra guy lines and thought maybe we were just misunderstanding the directions for the awning until we later found the plastic bag. Those pieces are now in a much more visible pouch, by the way.

We set up the main tent in about 20 minutes, even with our hiccups, then backed up the Xterra to attach the hatch sleeve. Connecting the two was easy, especially with a roof rack. Within a minute or two, we had the tent attached securely to the SUV hatch and started setting up our campsite. Walking around inside the main tent was a new experience for my 5’10” self. I had plenty of room to stand up straight and stretch in the seven-foot headspace! Given how short most tents (and RVs) are, this made me exceedingly happy. No more shimmying into hiking pants while hunched over and off-balance!

Thanks to an unexpected downpour, we got to test the tent’s waterproofness that afternoon. The rainfly, tent and hatch portion all held up well, even when the wind picked up! The only “leak” we saw was that once the rain passed about an hour later, there were small puddles in the bottom wall of the sleeve. Reading others’ reviews of this tent, I learned the vehicle sleeve is not as waterproof as the tent, and the rainfly is not designed to extend over the sleeve. While all our belongings and the interiors of both the SUV and the tent remained dry, a puddle formed in the bottom of the sleeve. Grommeted holes allowed for drainage once the rain let up. For future trips, I’ll likely pack an extra tarp to cover the vehicle sleeve, just in case. (Sidenote: Napier advises users to take down the vehicle sleeve during inclement weather, which I didn’t see before this camping trip.)

That night, we got to test the privacy of the tent. I headed off to the bathhouse while my friend got dressed for bed by flashlight. When I returned, I presumed they’d already gone to sleep because I couldn’t see any light or shadows. Turns out, the tent walls and rain fly are thick enough to block most light from being seen outside the tent! Even with Reflectix panels in the SUV windows, I could see more light coming through the Xterra than through the tent.

The next day, we detached the Xterra to drive to a hiking trail and run a few errands in town. Separating from the main tent was easy, as was the reconnecting when we returned. This also gave us a chance to fully air out the bottom wall of the sleeve, which still had a small puddle from the prior day’s rain.

The SUV opening in the main wall is easily zipped shut to protect the interior and give privacy when the vehicle is no longer connected. The hardest part of reconnect­ing was lining up the hatch to the now-established tent, but my vehicle also doesn’t have a backing camera. Even so, we were reconnected in less than five minutes.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been able to get a tent as neat and compact as it was when it was first unpacked. The same was true for this Napier tent, but they built in some help for campers like us: the tent bag has a compression zipper! You can add an extra inch or two of depth to the tent bag by pulling the zipper one way, then once you have it all packed in there, you can pull it back the other way to compress the bag back to its original dimensions (if needed). Knowing I’d have to open the tent back up at home to finish drying out after the rain, we didn’t try very hard to pack it away neatly and that extra space was much appreciated.

Given how much research I did six years ago when we first got our Xterra and explored the world of SUV tents, this tent from Napier far exceeded my expecta­tions. From ease of use and reliable structure to privacy and comfort, this was well worth the dedicated trip to test it out! It’s a great alternative for SUV campers who don’t want a rooftop tent. It’s a temporary structure that is easily assembled alone or with help, roomy both in footprint and interior height, and a great way to extend your living space when car camping. If you anticipate camping in rainy weather, take the time to waterproof the sleeve yourself ahead of time or grab an extra tarp, if you’re unable to remove the sleeve as suggested by Napier.


Complete Product Name: Napier Sportz SUV Tent—MODEL #82000

Company Name and Info: Napier Outdoors, 22 Export Avenue, St. Catherines, ON, Canada, http://www.napieroutdoors.com, 800-567-2434

Online Shopping Links: https://www.napieroutdoors.com/us/product/sportz-suv-tent-model-82000/, https://amzn.to/3W2VjsP

Average Street Price: MSRP: $409

Original Publication Date: SO/23

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