[iKamper] Skycamp vs BDV Silent Family Helps You Decide

[iKamper] Skycamp vs BDV Silent Family Helps You Decide

Rooftop camping has transcended mere convenience for me, offering a snug embrace of nature and safety from wildlife, all while allowing precious time with my loved ones. Just a few years back, finding a 4-person hardshell tent in the market was nearly impossible. Though many brands today emulate iKamper's original expandable design, iKamper has gone further, developing the new concept clamshell tent, the BDV Series (Duo & Solo), as well as the world's first hardshell 270-degree awning, the ExoShell270.

I respect brands like these, driven by originality. Choosing innovation over imitation is akin to blazing a trail on a rough off-road path – it could lead to breathtaking views but also to perilous cliffs. But without such trailblazers, would I have seen creations like the Skycamp Mini that brought me countless memories?

Being an obvious iKamper enthusiast, I often get asked, "Which iKamper model is the best?", "Can I still fit in underground parking?", "There are similar-looking tents, so why pay more?" All are answerable, but today, let's tackle the most recent frequent one: "Which is better for me, the Skycamp or BDV series?"

Choosing between Skycamp and BDV mirrors the decision between hardshell/expandable and clamshell/pop-up tents. Which style suits your needs? Simply put, Skycamp is often deemed more suitable for family/group camping scenarios, while BDV fits active setups. However, there are several key factors to consider, and understanding your situation and preferences will easily lead you to the right model.



Skycamp 3.0 - The Family Adventurer's Dream:

When first introduced, Skycamp revolutionized rooftop tent design. Its aerodynamic, sturdy, lightweight hardshell hides a surprisingly spacious (82 ¾" x 77 ¼") sleeping area, but when closed, it occupies only 85 ½" x 54 ¾" on your roof, similar to or smaller than two-person pop-up tents. Skycamp has evolved from 2.0 to 3.0, with each version witnessing numerous updates in quality, structure, and parts. The current Skycamp 3.0, influenced heavily by user feedback, boasts subtle touches, a dark color palette, matte-finished logos, an improved mattress, eco-friendly recycled fabrics, and various compatible accessories. However, its 13.5” high hardshell might seem bulky to some, and it doesn't allow mounting crossbars or other accessories on the roof.


BDV - The Explorer's Choice:

Developed for DIY enthusiasts, the BDV, when closed, is just 7” thick and allows mounting various accessories on the tent itself. While most manufacturers use aluminum shells for clamshell-type tents, making them sturdy but heavy, BDV uses a lightweight, scratch/UV resistant FRP shell, reducing weight without compromising accessory compatibility through its metal frame and unique mounting solutions. It feels more compact and sleek, and BDV’s 175 lbs is lighter than other aluminum shell tents in the market, but still heavier than Skycamp's 165 lbs. While it’s true that the BDV started off with fewer compatible accessories, its current range, including the Awning and Annex Plus, rivals that of Skycamp, making it an equally viable base camp option for explorers.



How They Compare:

If you’re pondering over which brand to choose, particularly if Rooftop Tents are your focus and not truck campers or canopy tents, I'd recommend iKamper without hesitation, given its quality, warranty policy, stable parts supply, vast dealer network, and strong resale value.

My journey with iKamper began with the Skycamp 2.0 Mini, which I used for two years, followed by testing the BDV Duo pre-production prototype for over a year. I also had a chance to try the X-Cover 2.0 Mini (still an underrated gem, in my opinion) and am currently settled with the Skycamp 3.0 Mini.

I mostly use Mini models due to my home’s 7’ parking height limit. Therefore, I had to keep the tent within a 5’ long truck bed, combining it with a mid-height bed rack to prevent increasing the overall height. Compact as a two-person tent, has a smaller size (57 ½" x 54 ¾", when folded) and lighter weight (125 lbs), but the sleeping space (29.4 sq ft) is not so different from BDV’s. If your overlanding vehicle doubles as your daily driver, like mine, a model that minimizes daily inconvenience could be your best match.

If you have a partner and a dog, or one or two kids? Are you a solo or duo traveler who prefers staying longer in one spot, enjoying lounging on a mattress in nature? Then, a full-size Skycamp 3.0 would be ideal. It occupies slightly less roof area (85 ½" x 54 ¾") compared to BDV (90" x 56"), is lighter (165 lbs compared to BDV’s 175 lbs), yet offers a more spacious sleeping area (44.3 sq ft compared to BDV's 31.3 sq ft).

But what if you still have about a handspan of extra clearance between the top of your roof rack and the limit of your parking spot, and you have to fit your car in a garage, how about the BDV Duo and combine it with the Annex Plus? The BDV's Annex Plus offers a surprisingly cozy and private space. Plus, buying BDV and its Annex is less expensive than Skycamp, allowing budget savings for accessories like the BDV Accessory Rack and Solar Panel, creating a pleasant base camp.



For a solo traveler frequently moving from point A to B, needing to open and close the tent daily, both BDV Duo and Skycamp 3.0 Mini are fundamentally good choices. However, choosing BDV Solo can save budget and roof space, allowing room for a bike or cargo box. If you can access the cargo box through BDV Solo's side window, storing a sleeping bag, extra jacket, or blanket can be convenient – if I were a solo traveler, this would be my pick.

If you don’t necessarily need a 3-4 person tent and don’t want to spend time deliberating, Skycamp 3.0 Mini is a solid choice. Unlike other models requiring extensive setup space, it fits almost any vehicle, is easy to handle due to its compact size, and yet remains comfortable inside. Despite being a smaller tent, it offers a whole lineup of compatible accessories, similar sized to Skycamp’s.

Finally, if all this feels like unnecessary overspending, and you're looking for a more affordable option, why not explore the local community for a used iKamper tent? The stable warranty policy applicable across models and Made in Korea quality helps most owners maintain their iKamper products above a certain standard. Since parts are easily replaceable, even if the warranty doesn't apply, repairs or upgrades are feasible. Therefore, iKamper tents enjoy relatively good treatment in the second-hand market, maintain their value over time, and are easy to resell.


How to Choose:

If you've read this far, close your eyes and imagine your future adventures. In the end, the choice between models boils down to your personal camping style and needs.

So, what kind of landscape are you in, who are you with, or the moments are you enjoying? Think about what makes you smile, and what brings you happiness.
Whether you’re imagining starlit nights with family in a spacious Skycamp or a series of advantages with the sleek BDV, each model promises its unique set of adventures. So, what’s your ideal rooftop tent? Picture it, and let the journey begin.



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