Yakima SkyRise Roof Top Tent
Words & Photos by Chili Dog
One of the best things about mountain biking is the places it takes you. As mountain bikers we get to travel to remote places, and see parts of the world most people don’t even know exist, and that’s pretty awesome. For us at The Loam Wolf, camping is a huge part of the mountain bike lifestyle. We don’t have the cash for fancy hotel rooms, and we’ll gladly trade a hot shower for a private view of the world. If you’re looking to step up your camping game and stay comfortable for multiple days in the dirt, few things will make as big of a difference as a roof top tent. Call us spoiled, but we’re never sleeping on the ground again.
Yakima is a familiar name in our world as they’ve made bike racks for decades. Recently, Yakima has been working hard to expand their offerings, entering the red-hot roof top tent world. The Yakima SkyRise tent represents a more consumer grade tent that places user-friendly operation as a primary goal. The SkyRise comes in two sizes: a two person Small tent, and a three person Medium. The small measures 84”x48” (95 pounds) and the medium comes in at 96”x56” (115 pounds). We opted for the medium so that we had some extra space for our gear inside the tent.
Construction: Coming in at just 115 pounds, the Medium SkyRise is one of the lightest three person RTTs on the market. The light weight makes a massive difference when you have to lift it onto the roof of a van, SUV or even truck bed rack. With two people, you can comfortably lift this tent on and off a vehicle on a matter of minutes. A 2.5-inch thick mold resistant foam cushion goes end to end in the tent, and has a removable, washable cover.
The tent’s low weight comes thanks to the lightweight aluminum frame, PVC base, and 210D rip stop nylon tent exterior. The nylon tent itself isn’t waterproof, so Yakima relies on a 210D rip stop nylon rainfly that’s PU coated to make it waterproof. Inside, the aluminum frame under the canopy is well made, but lacks the condensation wrapping found on other higher end tents.
When folded on the roof of the vehicle, the tent is protected by a thick, durable cover. Yakima’s cover design relies on velcro strips around the edges of the cover, zippers on each corner, and snap straps to secure and tighten the cover. It sounds complex, but it’s probably one of the easiest tent covers to use, and makes putting the tent away much faster than covers like the one on the ARB tent system. Thanks to the redundant attachment methods, you also decrease your changes of losing the tent cover on the highway after forgetting to secure a section of it.
Assembly: Yakima provides detailed, printed instructions with the tent and includes all the tools needed to make the installation happen. Even for someone with limited mechanical experience or access to tools, the process is really simple. If the instructions leave any questions, Yakima has a detailed instructional video here. Don’t be shy, I watched it just to make sure I wasn’t making a mistake, which is easy when you’re mounting the tracks with the tent upside down.
After unboxing the tent, the first step is to mount the tracks for the clamps. This is an important step because you need to decide what side of your vehicle you want to exit the tent from. I chose the driver’s side. The tent has pre-drilled holes for the different track configurations with stickers covering them when not in use. It helps to have an extra person to thread the hardware through the tent base. Once that’s done, you mount the ladder and cover, and you’re ready to put it on your vehicle. The tent even comes with the rainfly pre-installed.
Another feature that helps the Yakima SkyRise excel in a crowded market is the mounting system. Yakima designed four simple locking clamps that tighten without the use of tools and four slide in tracks mounted on the bottom of the tent. We can’t say enough how much easier the tool free clamps are to use than the U bolts employed by other other roof top tents. Everyone else take note.
The track can be configured in two orientations, meaning you can have your tent exit from the rear or on either side of the vehicle. The tool free mounting system is one of the simplest on the market, aiding in installation and removal. The built in locks are also a huge benefit for peace of mind when you’re parked in a less than ideal neighborhood. After all, these tents aren’t cheap!
The Ladder is a quality aluminum unit, with plastic release latches on each step to let you dial in the length regardless of vehicle height or terrain. If you’re familiar with the RTT world, you’ll recognize the same ladder being used on several other offerings. Each step has textured grippers, and the ladder legs have wide rubber feet so they stay secure.
Mounting: When it comes to mounting, options depend entirely on your vehicle. Yakima has a full catalog of rack systems, so most trucks, SUV’s and even cars are covered. Just remember that this tent has a weight rating of 600 pounds, plus the 115 pound tent itself, so make sure your vehicle and rack can take that weight. If you aren’t sure, Yakima has a list of compatible vehicles and racks. The two person SkyRise is a mere 95 pounds, so if the medium we tested is too big, the small should do the trick. It’s perfect to put on a small sedan like the Subaru Forester or Outback.
I chose the Outdoorsman 300 Rack for my truck. Yakima has two truck rack options, the BedRock and Outdoorsman 300. Neither is height adjustable, so consumers have to make a choice between having the tent at the same height as the bed rails with the BedRock, or well over the cab height with the 300. I made a hybrid by taking my Outdoorsman 300 and cutting, sectioning, and re-welding right above the support bar so the racks are as short as possible. While that threw my warranty out the window, it got my tent lower. Sadly it’s still over the height of the cab, and I’m not a fan of the attachment clamps that pinch the bed rails as they move and don’t look good. I wish Yakima had a height adjustable option. For what it’s worth, I saw something from them at the LA auto show that may address my complaints above, but it isn’t officially released yet.