The archetypal "great journey" has its modern counterpart in the road trip, where adventure-seekers hit the road in the search of something else. Of course, there's more than one way to go on a road trip -- some do it only with their feet, others with a car or a van, while others may go whole-hog with a big RV, a custom-made teardrop, or a renovated vintage camper.
But for those who like the simplicity of travelling only by car, it can get rough sleeping in the back. South Korean company iKamper is offering a versatile pop-up tent camper with an extendable floor that mounts to the roof of the car, featuring a hard top for extra durability.
iKamper founder Soon Park was inspired to create the Hardtop One from his road trip across North America back in 2004, which had its genesis in Jack Kerouac’s On The Road. Park relates his life-transforming journey:
With our shabby trailer, we drove 58,000 miles around North America. The trip was not always filled with wonder and excitement, not to mention having to change flat tires three times on the road where cars passed by every hour or so. However, we saw the kind smile that came from the poorest people in the richest country and we danced under the pouring light of galaxies in the desert. Imagination became reality, freedom was understood, and mutual understanding between human and nature all gathered in a single place during our trip.
I wanted people to feel the same way I did during my journey. It is the feeling that one can never forget and struggles to experience again in one’s lifetime. [..] With these innovative and high quality roof top tents, the campers are guaranteed to experience camping in the best and most comfortable way.
Park began prototyping the Hardtop line back in 2012 and arrived at the final model after 20 versions. The company says that Hardtop One is the world's first expandable, hard-shell roof top tent, that is easy to set up and to dismantle -- all that is required is a standard roof rack.
The Hardtop One's extendable floor creates more usable space, enough to sleep a family of four. There is even an integrated 6 by 7-foot mattress; the skin is made from 3,000 millimetre waterproof and breathable fabrics, while the top shell is made from fibreglass, and the floor is reinforced with aluminum.
After installation, the tent can be opened by unbuckling four binders, allowing the integrated gas struts to lift the fiberglass roof automatically. A lever is then unlocked to release the floor extension, which is supported by two interior stabilizers and propped up with a ladder that hooks into the floor. An extra annex can be added to create even more space.
For those who don't need the extra space, the Hardtop also comes in a Junior version, without the extendable floor, seen below.
Versatile and lightweight, the iKamper Hardtops seem to offer an excellent balance between simplicity, functionality and comfort for those who like to camp out with their car while on the road, without having to tow a heavy trailer. The Hardtop One retails for USD $3,950 in South Korea only for now, but the company has plans to bring it to the United States soon. More over at iKamper.