Anyone who accompanies MaCamp knows that Blue Camping was the pioneer in bringing to Brazil the rigid “ Maggiolina ” tent called “HardTop”. You also know that MaCamp reviewed the first version in 2017/2018 . However, as is usual at Blue Camping, where the owners themselves are regular campers and users of their products, they always seek improvements with each batch of versions. Anyone who thinks that Blue Camping tents are mere “imports” is wrong. They are developed and improved according to technical analysis including users. It happened with Hard Top. A year after we tested the first edition, the 2.0 model arrived with several improvements, including many of them pointed out in our analysis. Shall we go to them?
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE HARDTOP: The Hard Top is a roof tent that is housed in a rigid fibre module, very similar to those box racks on the market. The first advantage is that there is no canvas cover and no need to remove it. The second characteristic is that the tent is entirely over the projection of the car when open, without using an attached area. The third is the speed and convenience of assembly and disassembly, which is even faster than traditional models.
The LIFTING SYSTEM is simple. There are four metallic joints covered by fabrics, and served by hydraulic pistons (same as those used in the trunk). They make the tent “set up” alone in just 2 seconds after releasing the external clips from the “luggage rack”. Ideally, open one side and then the other so that they rise smoothly. There is no need to fasten or fix anything after opening. As for the first question that arises, about its rigidity, we can say that it does not swing or move with the wind.
The ACCESS LADDER is independent and straightforward. Very resistant it is made of aluminium and in two pieces that slide together to regulate the total height and to collect with half the length. It is kept inside the tent, accommodated in a fabric envelope bag to protect the interior and the mattress and also not to carry any dirt that is stuck to the base. The height adjustment is made by sliding its two parts, and two pegs do the locking with springs. To create new positions, drill new holes in the ribbon. THE DIFFERENTIALThis type of ladder, even about the retractable tubular aluminium model, is the real and carefree possibility of resistance to torsion. It can be super tilted without danger of bending or even bursting with the weight in the middle of it.
The MATTRESS is already accommodated inside the tent and ready for use. It takes up virtually no space and this second edition of the hard top came in thicker. Besides having a waterproof and hygienic cover, it has a zipper for easy washing. It is already cut out to fit and stay on the tent floor.
UNBOXING: The packaging is neither small nor light. Arrived by carrier at our headquarters in São Paulo-SP. This is undoubtedly a very nice difference from Blue Camping, where it delivers throughout Brazil and does not doubt the user’s ability to install his tent in his car. There is obviously the option of installing at the company’s headquarters in Blumenau with the specialized service, but there is nothing like being able to enjoy this moment in peace at your home.
The cardboard box comes securely fastened with plastic tapes, where the tent is wrapped in an ultra thick bubble wrap. In addition to it, there is another thin plastic to protect the Hard Top fiberglass housing. Removing the accessories that come inside it, it comes ready with the fixing rails and closed with the cleats.
Inside it, in addition to a large piece of styrofoam for protection, comes accommodated: The mattress, the ladder, the rods, the side and front closings, the net and the stretchers in position. Fixing items and internal lighting accessories are also accommodated in a sachet.
FIXATION: Very simple and direct. The Hard Top tent already comes with the “pre-rails” arranged longitudinally. Therefore, for this type of roof tent, it will always be necessary for the luggage rack to have crossbars. These agreed, position the tent on them and adjust its position about the car. Remember to test the trunk opening if it opens upwards. Then it’s time to insert the socket set + 2 screws into the rails of the hard-top. The hex head of the screw fits and locks in the socket, and it runs freely along the fence to be able to be fixed in any position on the crossbar. After everything is in place, it is time to use the two-hole planks with the torque nuts. This is the moment that demands the most patience. The working position is not the best. We use a piece of carpet to “cover” and protect the roof of the car, and so we can freely use the spanner. If you have those ratchet star wrenches it will be the best option. The number of the nut is 13. The greater the distance from the crossbars of the car roof, the easier it will be to fix the nuts.
NEWS IN VERSION 2.0: For those who followed the review of Hard Top 1.0, we can point out some improvements that Blue Camping brought in this second version. First the ladder now it can be placed on either side (in the previous version, only the driver’s side as possible). The second improvement was the application of metal rods already known from the brand’s traditional tents to stretch the closing of the doors like an awning. Also, these entries now have two side flaps with Velcro fastening to protect this awning from the side rain and one more in the front. In this way, it is possible to keep the tent well open and ventilated, even under heavy rain. It even happened on our debut trip. (It is worth remembering that both the rods, as well as the side and front flaps, are optional.) Another improvement is due to the other four side plastic clips. Although it didn’t happen to us in the first version, there were reports that the metal clips at the ends came loose. Now, the other four side plastic tabs increase this security. In our use, they proved to be very useful when closing the tent, since we can use them to give a slight lift on each side to collect the leftover canvas that is left out at the closing. Metal clips also gained the possibility of applying a padlock. In addition to these changes, we felt that the mattress was higher and firmer and the tent canvas completely “black-out”. since we can use them to give a slight lift on each side to collect the leftover canvas that is left at the closing. Metal clips also gained the possibility of applying a padlock. In addition to these changes, we felt that the mattress was higher and firmer and the tent canvas completely “black-out”. since we can use them to give a slight lift on each side in order to collect the leftover canvas that is left at the closing. Metal clips also gained the possibility of applying a padlock. In addition to these changes, we felt that the mattress was higher and firmer and the tent canvas completely “black-out”.
THE TENT: Super comfortable, great internal ventilation ratio and totally “black-out” when everything is closed. This item makes it very dark inside even closed only on mosquito nets, but being its own overnight tent, it didn’t make much difference to us. The fabric lining on the ceiling gives a feeling of isolation from sound and heat, maintaining a comfortable environment.
OPENINGS: There are two windows (front and rear) that have permanent mosquito nets and closed with internal access zipper. Although they do not have overhang protection from rain, it can be partially opened and has a tent hat as a protection factor. Ideal for porthole, ventilation and lighting. The side doors / windows have a zipper closure also to mosquito nets and have sun and rain protections that help a lot in internal comfort. In case of heavy rains, the side and front porch protections permanently eliminate any chance of water entering. There are three elements
IN USE: We did both types of camping. More established with five days straight without leaving the place and other camps of daily commuting, just staying overnight in the tent that was open and closed every day. Finally, we made one last camp before the publication of this review in an exhibition of mountaineering festival. During the day we set up the hardtop tent at the show and night we went to a camping area for the night. As proposed by the product, the practicality was enormous. Except for the exhibition, we kept all the accessories inside the tent while closed (by the way, we leave the stove, utensils, sleeping bags, solar shower and other equipment “living in the tent.” So any need or change of plans, we will be well prepared to sleep anywhere.)
IN THE RAIN: We spent almost 4 days of rain without stopping at the carnival camp. The tent behaved very well in terms of tightness, but the space is reduced to stay “stuck” for days. What saved us was Blue Camping’s side awning that offered us coverage in the outdoor area, but its side closings were sorely missed. A good experience was to dismantle it wet, where little area of damp canvas was left to be collected in the hard top fiber box. The day after arrival we opened the tent for its total drying and we were happy to confirm that the inside was neither damp nor wet.
ACCESSORIES: Next to the tent are the two elastic straps that assist in closing the tent by pulling the side sheets inwards. Just connect them to the small handles made for this purpose right next to the entrance doors. It also comes with the upper hammock that can be permanently attached to the ceiling and helps guard various things: flashlight, clothes, junk and even the wet bath towel to dry. Finally, a beautiful case takes an LED strip accommodated in protective support with fasteners at the ends that can be fixed inside the tent and outside it. The kit comes with 12V extension, cigarette lighter plug, digital dimmer module and even a 12V socket adapter that can be plugged directly into the car battery, eliminating the ignition connection to release the car cigarette lighter.
ON THE ROAD: On the road, the tent behaved very well. It is not possible to say that it makes a difference in weight in the car, but it should. The aerodynamics are excellent and do not make any noise, noise or wind resistance. An irritating noise in the first days after installation came from the original Mitsubishi rack, which was soon resolved with a few rubber pads on site. A question that everyone asks us on the road is about tightness. This is because looking closely at the junction of fibre “shells”, it is possible to see some fabric from the tent. It is the small rip-stop “skirt” that is lowered after mounting the hardtop and which protects the “waist” against water. Only there is it possible to see a little dust (the rain does not even pass), but it is precisely the portion that is hidden and lowered at the time of assembly. The tent is entirely protected by the fibre shells when collected. In months of use travelling on asphalt and dirt roads, no clips were released with the aid of new and additional plastic clips.
CLOSING / DISASSEMBLY: Although the closing proposal is straightforward, we need to get the hang of it. If you have two people, each pulling the handles on one side, the process is more explicit. But it is possible to collect the Hard Top by yourself, having an extra job that will not take more than about 4 minutes. This is because, in a single person, it will have to be lowered one end at a time and pulling only one person tries to position itself farther back from the correct resting position. Then we must remove the handle and push the cover forward until it aligns with the lower shell. Then fix the clip to be able to pass to the opposite end. It is possible that when lowering the other side, the opposite fixation is released, which is resolved with the help of an elastic spider. After falling completely, a little fabric should undoubtedly be left on both sides.
FIXING THE SIDE SHEET: To illustrate and also make it clear what is or is not part of this equipment, we installed our Blue Camping side awning next to the Hard Top tent. Although it does not accompany the product, we made a point of adapting it to our luggage compartment. Since the Hard Top when open does not design any shelter for the side, the awning guarantees us a further advance in more structured camps. We fix the canopy directly on the car rack with the aid of metallic “L’s”. We didn’t fix anything in the tent. In this way, in addition to being able to increase the sheltered area in the camps, we can also make use of the awning regardless of whether or not to open the tent.
CONCLUSION: We were delighted with the result of the second version of Hard Top. We were able to test it under a great rain, which was not pleasant for those who took the carnival to rest by the sea, but it was possible to take the leak test. The improvement of the sides turning into awnings was simply categorical and positive. The side flaps worked optimally, as well as the front flap so that rainwater would not enter. The ventilation was satisfactory and even the front and rear windows could remain semi-open, since the fiber “hat” ends up protecting it from drops.
COMPARISON: Even though it is not necessary for this review, we are asked a lot about “which is the best roof tent: Traditional or Hard Top. Our answer is always short: It depends on the profile of the camper. The traditional tent, takes a few more minutes to assemble and disassemble and has more “wettable” canvas area, in addition to having to make use of the canvas cover that usually gets dirty and generates some discomfort in handling. However, it provides an environment more provided with shelters, protection and ambience. In addition to the covered area outside the car that it already forms at its opening, you can still receive the attachment creating a room or dormitory fully protected from mosquitoes and rain. Already Hard Topic is advisable for those who want to stop, sleep and continue their journey. The opening and closing process is faster, eliminates the use and handling of canvas cover and even has a smaller area of wet fabric. Therefore, the best type of roof tent will depend on the style of camping that the person will have and also on the time that they will be camping. In our case (MaCamp team), we also use a floor stand and trailer. So the roof tent is for quick overnight stays and less structured camps, although we too do it. That’s why we prefer Hard Top, even though we miss our Expedition model a lot.
FEATURES: – Support up to 300Kg; – They have a system of easy fitting and removal of the tent with the shell, facilitating its removal and cleaning; – They have a waterproof body, anti-mould and anti-mould, with treatment against UV rays; – Highly ventilated. 1.2M Tent External Dimension: Width 1.25m x Length 2.07m x Height 0.29m Internal Dimension: Width: 1.21m x Length 2.03m x Height 0.98m Weight: 72kg 1.4M Tent External Dimension : Width 1.41m x Length 2.07m x Height 0.29m
Internal Dimension: Width: 1.37m x Length 2.03m x Height 0.98m Weight: 82kg For rustic, economical adventures or in secluded places. It can be set up at campgrounds and in any terrain where the ladder can be firmly supported. Any car is suitable for proper installation of the Expedition model. Hull: Fiberglass reinforced, white colour;
External fabric: Rip-Stop Canvas in Poly-cotton 280g / m², brown colour; Inner fabric: Sponge and flannel; Ladder: anti-slip aluminium – maximum height of 2.0m; For Accommodation: 1 Collection with removable and washable cover 2 Double side pockets 1 Overhead net
2 Hooks for hanging 2 Windows
PRICE: At the time of this review, the product was sold for R $ 7,616.70 in cash at the official Blue Camping store.
WHERE TO BUY: At the OFFICIAL store of Blue Camping with delivery via carrier or pickup in Blumenau.
REVIEW – PRODUCT: This equipment was sent by BLUE CAMPING, which relied on MaCamp’s know-how to test its products in the Reviews section. Tests were performed in the states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.