Proven Overland Gear Reviews
Hard Shell Rooftop Tents – A User Comparison of James Baroud Explorer and Autohome’s Maggiolina Extreme
By Overland The Americas
September 17, 2019
Whether at a national park, gas station, random parking lot or online we are often asked about our roof top tent. Is is comfortable? How long does it take to set it up and put away? Is it warm and what about condensation? What do you do with your dirty shoes and isn't it a pain to go up and down a ladder to go to the restroom in the middle of the night? These and other questions about quality and features in our roof top tents are quite common. These are the same questions we needed answers for 6 years ago before committing to spend a few thousands dollars in a little box made out of fiberglass, textiles and metal. After all this would be our home for the next several years while on our continental overland adventure.
After spending 4 years on the road traveling the Americas in our Toyota 4Runner with our roof top tent we can confidently say that we've learned a thing or two about what we look for in a roof top tent, what's important and why. This is a comprehensive comparative review between the James Baroud Explorer and the Maggiolina Extreme roof top tents both of which we've owned and used extensively.
Are you a sucker for scoping out prime real estate with loft views? Then maybe rooftop tent living is for you. We love the versatility, comfort and the view from above.
After careful research, we invested in a Maggiolina Extreme and owned it for six years total. For four of those years between 2015 and 2019, we lived in it full time. The tent survived 87,000 miles through 23 countries in North, Central and South America.
The plan was a one year overland trip through the Americas and somehow we ended up exploring for four which gave us a chance to really test the tent through tropical rainy seasons, high elevation extremes, and against the infamous Patagonian winds. Overall, we were very satisfied.
James Baroud Explorer Specs
Exterior: 55.5” x 78.5″x 13.5"
Mattress: 55 x 78″ x 3″
Roof stores up to 65 pounds
Weighs 150 pounds
Starting at $3,999
Custom built in Portugal
Maggiolina Extreme Specs
Exterior: 51″ x 83″ x 13″
Mattress: 48″ x 72″ x 3.2″
Roof stores up to 55 pounds
Weighs 143 pounds
Starting at $3,299
Custom built in Italy
After years of adventure in some pretty remote places, typical wear and tear caught up with us and it was time to consider another rooftop tent. We had been eyeing our friends’ James Baroud tent while camping together in Peru and Brazil. They loved their tent and apparently so do most overlanders online. The stars aligned for us and Adventure Ready, a trusted local gear and installation shop had just the tent we were looking for. Added bonus, no need to coordinate and pay for shipping like we had with our old Maggiolina. So far we have had the James Baroud tent for around three months and we are really impressed and excited to keep exploring in it in the US and Canada. See more of our thoughts on our new home below.
The Good and The Bad at a Glace
- Over a six year period, it withstood heavy rain, wind (up to 60 miles/hour) and extreme temperatures (from 115 degrees F to -10 degrees F).
- It’s breathable and waterproof. We experienced very little to no visible condensation on the interior canvas and only once experienced a leak during a torrential down pour in Uruguay.
- Set up is fairly fast and easy. The crank system required some elbow grease, sixty four cranks to be exact. Ernesto’s right arm got buff.
- It has more interior storage with a large attic mesh and two large dual hanging pockets.
- The mosquito netting in the windows and the doors cracked and ripped in year two.
- The door zippers ended up failing in years five and six.
- Losing the crank key and the plug wasn’t fun, although it made for some good stories.
- The warranty did not include replacing parts such as mosquito netting and zippers.
Warranty: 5 Year guarantee to repair or replace any material and manufacturing defects. This does not extend to normal wear and tear, or to damage or cosmetic blemishes sustained during use.
James Baroud Explorer
After only a few months of using and testing our James Baroud Explorer, we feel that we have made an excellent decision. It is comparable in quality, price, durability and it definitely surpasses our expectations of comfort and usability. We really sleep like babies in it and as mentioned above, the 360 degree views and the comprehensive warranty are icing on the cake.
There is no denying that inside living space for an extended trip is awesome, but we wouldn’t trade our rooftop tent living experience. Our little home on wheels allows us to enjoy epically remote spots with ease which brings us closer to nature and also enhances the magic of mingling with the locals. We hope that this comparison and personal experience is helpful in your exploration of rooftop tents. Feel free to reach out with any questions. See you on the road!
The Good and The Bad at a Glance
- We love the 360 degree views!
- Set up is faster and easier. The tent basically pops up by itself with the gas struts.
- Take down is comparable in terms of effort and time (2-3 minutes). This includes manual compression and tucking in the sides.
- For us, the mattress is much more comfortable.
- The interior of the tent is more spacious both in height and width and we appreciate every extra inch. The length feels the same and is sufficient for us. We are 5’7 and 5’10.
- The quiet built-in solar powered fan/ventilation system is a sweet upgrade. We are hopeful that it will help with mold prevention with both the tent material and the mattress.
- The ladder is light weight and easier to set up and take down.
- The warranty is more comprehensive. It covers parts such as zippers and netting for five years.
- We seem to be waking up to more condensation in the interior of the tent. It is remedied by cracking the windows and putting on the fan.
- The velcro door sometimes gets stuck on clothes when we are entering or exiting. It’s a pet peeve of Taisa’s but it isn’t a deal breaker.
- The ladder’s frame and slats are narrower which requires a bit more diligence.
Warranty: 5 Year guarantee on the fabric, fiberglass, the mechanism, the canvas, the lift supports, the ladder and its fixings, the zippers, the mosquito net, the mattress, the rail and fixings, the upholstery of the upper shell. 2 Year warranty includes the gel-coat, the color, the extractor, the flashlight, the tent locks.