Family E. from Braunfels (06/2023)

Our path to the roof tent – ​​an experience report

This is how our camper career began - with the “simple” bus experience

We started out as camping newbies in my father-in-law's self-built Opel Vivaro. That was 2017. Our oldest was just nine months old, we didn't feel like going on a package holiday and thought we'd try camping in Sardinia.  

The Vivaro's benches could be folded down and a fold-out mattress placed on top, creating a lying area of ​​approx. 1.40x2.00m. In the trunk, my father-in-law had made a pull-out kitchen platform out of plywood with a gas stove and a few drawers. This meant you could cook while standing at the trunk. We need an awning for this, as the bus didn't have an awning yet, so we took a pop-up tent with us to store our luggage. 


The Opel Vivaro with temporary extension and awningt


That was enough for the three of us to spend two weeks in Sardinia, but it soon became clear that our little family needed to grow larger. On our first camping holiday we did what all campers do: take a closer look at the other campers' equipment. 

Does a caravan offer more?

Since most campers back then were still traveling with caravans or motorhomes and “van life” was just becoming popular, we decided to compare the two classic variants in favor of an old Knaus “Sport” caravan from the 90s, nice< span class="Apple-converted-space">  Grandma style, but in contrast to a motorhome, still affordable. 

You can also take EVERYTHING with you in the caravan. 

Our Knaus “Sport” in Sardinia


We then had some great holidays in Sardinia with our caravan, because we were drawn there every year. 

And as the campers like to say: 

The journey is the destination

However, we found that with 2 whining children in the back seat, the goal is actually the goal ;-)

So we looked for an alternative that would allow us to travel faster than just chugging along the highway at 80 km/h. We also discovered that the caravan is not ideal for weekend trips in the region. We wanted more maneuverable, faster, more adventurous, wilder. camp.

And since vans with pop-up roofs became more and more common on campsites over time, this concept initially seemed attractive to us. 

Pop-up roof – practical, but too small

Since my father-in-law had now exchanged his old Vivaro for a Citroen Campster with a pop-up roof, we were able to test it for a weekend.

And we were hit by a disadvantage: 

For four people, 1.20x2.00m of lying space in the pop-up roof is not enough. So the benches had to be folded down again and mattresses inserted for a second bed in the interior of the bus. To do this, however, all luggage must be cleared out and stowed somewhere. To prevent it from getting wet when it rains, you need an awning. 

And then we were busy setting up and dismantling again. 

So a larger on-top bed would have been great, we thought. But there wasn't a ready-made solution. However, a new trend has just emerged among campers:

The roof tent

And so we ultimately decided to combine something: the spacious luxury of a bus with a large bed on top in the form of a roof tent. Our good old Knaus Sport was then allowed to stay in Sardinia, where it still serves us well once a year.

When deciding which roof tent to choose, we found the Treeline models to be the most robust. At the same time, the reports about the comfort when lying down were convincing and that you could even leave bed linen (depending on their thickness) or sleeping bags in the tent when folding it up was the icing on the cake for us.

Our first roof tent set-up looked like this in spring 2022: 

The Treeline “Ponderosa” in Croatia


The lying area of ​​1.80x2.00m was enough for four people, even though my son is a very active sleeper :-)

Our concern that setting up and dismantling (as one imagines with a “tent”) might take longer and, in the long run, perform worse than with a pop-up roof, was quickly forgotten after the first set-up: We It took us about 15 minutes as newbies to open the roof tent. And after setting it up and taking it down a few times, we are now completely experienced and can do it in just 10 minutes. If things have to be done quickly, for example because it's raining outside and you want to get dry quickly, you can open it up in 5 minutes, sleep in it and put the bars for the windows in later.

And all of this without having to get your luggage out of the car.  

Our first set-up exercises (today a 3-step step is completely sufficient for us)


As far as the comfort is concerned, we are very satisfied. The built-in mattress has a comfortable degree of hardness, the mesh underneath provides additional cushioning and the matching fitted sheets make it comfortable to lie down on. 

The ventilation is also great. We never had any problems with moisture due to condensation in the tent and even on hot nights the indoor climate was pleasant thanks to the large windows with built-in mosquito nets. 

Practical side effect of the roof tent: The platform gives you even more storage space. And you can hang additional camping utensils or organizers from below using various straps and rubber bands. There are also matching ones from Treeline, e.g. the shoe organizer:

You first realize that you need it when you slip into the damp shoes that you left in front of the ladder in the morning after the rain.

The trunk remains freely accessible


We were simply thrilled with the roof tent (and the children even more so!) and would have kept the Treeline Ponderosa, but there were new children on the way again, so we exchanged it for the luxury size “Redwood”. 

With 2.40mx2.20m of sleeping space, we drove again to Piedmont in the fall and then to Sardinia.  

The Treeline “Redwood” in Piedmont (Northern Italy) with a 2.40x2.20 m lying areae



Our self-made “cooking station” in the trunk 



When the sun is shining, the matching awning from Treeline is absolutely sufficient for four people


As we are planning a longer tour through Europe this year, our beloved Treeline awning has to give way to a new variant: a 270° batwing from Rhino Rack, which offers enough space for playing, cooking and relaxing even in bad weather. You can now see what it all looks like on our travel blog: