To “ruggedize” or not to “ruggedize” – that is the question. Whether ’tis nobler in the wild to suffer. The slings and arrows of outrageous weather. Seriously, though. Is it worth getting the “ruggedized” version of a roof top tent (RTT)? An $800 question (give or take) we’ll start to answer with a comparison of Cascadia Vehicle Tents’ (CVT) standard Mt Shasta (extended length) and Summit Series Mt Shasta (standard length). Besides looking at the sturdier version, we’ll have a look at what the extended version will give us. We’ll look at the spec sheets and side by side comparison of the tents.
We first heard of the word “ruggedized” through Tepui’s line up of RTTs. A version of their tents that was beefier with more protection and features than the standard series of tents – with a higher price tag, of course. CVT calls their version the Summit Series. While we’re using the CVT models for this comparison, the overall concept of choosing between a standard version or springing for a pricey heavy duty can be transferred to other brands and models.
So let’s get started by looking at the CVT specifications first (which can be found on their newly redesigned website here).
Mt. Shasta Extended
Mt. Shasta Standard Summit Series
|Size (Open)||56” wide x 132” long x 50” high||56” wide x 132” long x 50” high|
|Size (Closed)||56” wide x 48” long x 15.5” tall||56” wide x 48” long x 15.5” tall|
|Size (Sleeping)||56” wide x 96” long||56” wide x 96” long|
|Fabric||280g poly / cotton rip-stop canvas – breathable, mold resistant, UV protection, waterproof PU coating||380g poly / cotton rip-stop canvas – breathable, mold resistant, UV protection, waterproof PU coating|
|Mattress||2.5” thick high density foam with removable / washable cotton cover||2.5” thick high-density foam with waterproof cover|
|Ladder||Sliding adjustable aluminum ladder||Telescoping ladder|
|Internal Frame||1” aluminum||1” aluminum, material wrapped|
|Base||Aluminum frame, joists, sheets, and insulated foam||Diamond plate honeycomb aluminum floor|
|Floor||Removable PVC floor||Diamond plate|
|Rain Fly||420D polyester oxford with taped seams and PU coated||600D polyester oxford with taped seams and PU coated|
|Travel Cover||1000D PVC, heavy duty PVC||Heavy duty PVC|
|Other||Annex room included||56” anti-condensation mat|
*Note: In the side by side comparison pictures, all the ones on the left are of the Mt. Shasta Extended (tan coloured) and the ones on the right are of the Mt. Shasta Standard Summit series (green coloured).
Onwards! You can see that the size opened, closed, and for sleeping are the same. So let’s start with the obvious difference – the extended vestibule on the Mt. Shasta Extended
The Mt. Shasta Extended includes the walls to the extended vestibule as well. The walls first slide into the same channel as the cover (requiring you to remove the cover – but this only takes a few seconds to remove as well as replace) and zips into the tent’s extension. There is a annex channel available for purchase from CVT for $30-45 USD (depending on length) that you can install with self tapping screws to allow you to attach the annex without removing the cover. The annex provides an extra room around the ladder and the base of the tent for whatever you’d like. We will see if this feature is useful in the coming months. You can see the rain fly does not extend over the annex. On the Summit series, Matt has positioned the rods to push the fly up and over the entrance. The following pictures show the bar that holds up the annex. There are two long guy lines attached to the corners of the annex for stability in the wind.
Next up, let’s have a look at the fabric used for the majority of the tent. The Summit series is 100g heavier than the non-Summit series and this difference is palpable. Also it’s green. Bright. Hulk. Green.
Although the fabric is thicker, the zippers remain the same size and the toggles that hold up the flaps and mesh are also the same.
The mattress itself is the same in both versions but the Summit series mattress cover is waterproof whereas the non-Summit cover is not.
The Summit series includes an anticondensation mat whereas the non-Summit tents require you to purchase this extra – at $55 USD for the 56″ mat
It was also interesting to note that with a standard sized sleeping bag, there was still about 1 1/2 ft of space left.
Now let’s have a look at those ladders. Matt’s Summit series ladder is telescoping and is important to note that each rung only locks at full extension (ie. you can’t lock the rungs mid length). Kevin’s non-Summit series ladder is simply a sliding aluminum ladder that locks at one set length. Holes may be drilled to have it lock at shorter lengths but the manual does not recommend drilling holes to have the ladder longer as it will compromise the ladder’s integrity. Also, of note, the telescoping ladder bangs around the base more than the sliding ladder when the tent is folded closed – another reason for the sturdier base on the Summit series. The ladders are secured to the base with the same mounts.
The internal frame in both tents is 1″ aluminum with the only difference being that the Summit series frame is wrapped in cloth.
On the subject of frames, a dome light was built into the top crossmember of the Summit Series tent along with the switch and two USB charging ports on the right side.
Another very noticeable difference is the base and flooring of the tent. The standard Mt. Shasta comes with a removable PVC floor with some insulating foam in between whereas the Summit series comes with honeycomb aluminum base sandwiched by diamond plating – a MUCH more durable floor and base. Both are held at the sides with aluminum edging and a plastic cap at the corners.
Both tents have rain flies with the Summit series again sporting a much thicker and more durable cover and secured using quick disconnecting buckles.
Because of the bulkiness and rubbing that the telescoping ladder can dish out, the weather cover on the Summit series tent comes with an extra layer of PVC where it covers the ladder. Thumbs up for it being more durable, but it takes a little more care and attention when you’re replacing the cover.
You’ll notice a few more differences upon closing the tent up (or before you open it). The Summit series has 4 thicker straps to secure the tent under the cover vs the 2 straps on the standard series. After placing the cover, again, the Summit series sports thicker straps to tie it all down and a more robust buckling system. Because the Mt. Shasta extended has extra material, it ends up being a lot bulkier than the standard length Mt. Shasta making zipping up the cover slightly more interesting at times.
Of course there are few other accessories to make the tents different.
The Summit series tent comes with 2 shoe holders that slip into the front channel of the fold down base. A handy accessory to have to keep the inside of your tent nice and clean!
Again on the Summit (yes…it does come with all the goodies!), there are several D-rings attached to the aluminum edging for all your accessorizing needs!
In the standard Mt. Shasta, there are a series of strings that attach to both sides of the tent to pull it in and supposedly make folding the tent up easier. We have no idea if this is actually true yet but stay tuned! Kyle George at Cochrane Toyota has noted that a few customers have come back saying these strings actually pull away at the weather stripping over time. Again, something we’ll have to wait and see.
That just about sums it up! Matt’s had a chance to use the Summit Series once already and has provided some good feedback to CVT who is aware and showed us some solutions in the works. This includes reinforced grommets and a cleaner strap ends for the weather cover. Now that’s a quick response and solution!
We will get the chance to use these tents further in various environments (mostly enjoying ourselves) before embarking on our three-week expedition to Northern BC, Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Alaska where these tents will be our regular sleeping quarters. After the trip, we should have some more updates on the utility and differences of each tent’s features to help you decide… does my tent need to be built like a WWI tank? I’m a man…why do I need an extended vestibule?