Yakima SkyRise HD Tent & OutPost HD Rack Review
Words & Photos by ChiliDog
Earlier this year, we reviewed Yakima’s first entrance to the roof top tent (RTT) market, the SkyRise. Coming in at a very affordable price point, the Yakima SkyRise HD Tent offered higher-end features but with more attention to usability and user-friendliness than most other RTT offerings. Essentially, Yakima catered the tent to consumers looking for an entry-level tent that was lightweight and cost-effective. Offered at places like REI, it was an RTT marketed at the masses. It’s no surprise that after the impressive sales of the first tent, Yakima saw the need to up their presence in the RTT market with a professional-grade option, and new rack designs that are specifically designed for the camping and overland market. Enter the Yakima SkyRise HD and OutPost HD truck bed rack. We got an early sample of this RTT and have been testing it for almost a year to see if the SkyRise HD Tent really lives up to Yakima’s claims.
The SkyRise HD is the heavy-duty version of the original SkyRise aimed at users who are putting their tent through its paces in the elements and on long trips. Yakima uses 600D Ripstop polyester fabric with a 3000mm waterproof coating, so the tent itself is waterproof. It also comes with a 210D Ripstop polyester 3000mm PU waterproof rainfly, meaning you’ll never find yourself soggy in this tent. The fabric is both thicker and more durable than what’s on the original SkyRise. The weight on the HD is still plenty low, however, coming in at 95 pounds for the small and 115 pounds for the medium. One key area that Yakima separates itself from the competition is in the visibility from inside the tent. The roof has large skylights, and the sides also have large, mesh-covered openings. This makes the tent bright and airy during the day, and plenty ventilated on hot nights. Zip everything up, and you’re protected from the elements, but can still watch the rain through the clear plastic skylight.
The HD is offered in both a small and medium-size. The small is 84”x48” and sleeps two, while the medium is 96”x56” and sleeps three. While I will admit, fitting three people in this tent would be a tad cozy, sleeping two in the three-person medium is just right. There’s lots of space to stretch out and have gear inside. My 6’3” has plenty of room to sprawl about on the 2.5” thick foam mattress. While I have no quantitative way to measure this, I will say it’s an exceptionally comfortable pad. So comfortable in the fact that I prefer it to my own bed. The pad has a removable cover for easy cleaning too.
ASSEMBLY – Unlike most RTT’s, Yakima puts ease of use and installation at the forefront of design. Instructions and packaging are all very clear, and all the necessary tools (there’s only a few) are included in the box. If you can build Ikea furniture, you can put together one of these tents! One tip that I have learned, however, is to use Loctite on ALL of the bolts and hardware. These tents are subject to heavy vibration on a vehicle, and all of the bolts like to work their way loose over time. Save yourself the headache and put on some Loctite as you throw things together.
One of the best parts of the SkyRise tent line is the SKS locking system. Instead of the standard U-bolt mounting method that most tents use, the SkyRise relies on a simple and tool-free attachment clamp to securely mount the tent on the crossbars of the rack. Two of the clamps have built-in locks, which prevent someone from stealing your fancy new tent. It’s a far more graceful system than the tamper-proof covers other tents like CVT and Tepui use.
The included cover is made from a thick, durable polyester material with clip and velcro straps to secure it to the tent. There is also Velcro around the entire bottom edge to ensure the wind doesn’t catch the cover while driving. I’ve found that Yakima sizes their covers perfectly, making them much easier to take off and put on than the competition, and having room for the tent to expand a little if you choose to store your sleeping bags inside.
THE RACK – The OutPost HD bed rack system is also a new addition to the Yakima lineup, and signifies a real commitment to the overland and camping scene. The OutPost is at a fixed 13” height, but Yakima also offers an adjustable height rack called the OverHaul HD. They both have the same design, with the height adjustment being the only difference. For those carrying bikes on the tailgate of their truck, it is a MUST to get the OverHaul HD. With the Yakima OutPost HD rack currently on my truck, I am unable to carry bikes on my truck tailgate since the seats contact the tent and rack crossbar.
Both racks have a 500-pound on-road load rating and a 300-pound off-road rating. There is no drilling required as the racks have a very well designed clamping mechanism that grabs the truck bed rails and locks with integrated SKS locks. There’s also some trick integrated tie-down points that make securing gear a breeze. The crossbars have T-slot attachments for adding gear and accessories. You can also add the SideBar attachments, like seen in the photos above. They have the same integrated t-slots and work with Yakima’s ready to go mounts for RotoPax Traction pads and more. If you’re handy, you can also use these tracks to mount just about anything. It’s one of the cleanest and best-designed systems on the market. Before this, you had to get a dedicated, bulky overland rack to mount accessories. Now it’s clean and straightforward. The best part is that the rack can be removed from your truck by one person in a matter of minutes with just a few hex keys! I can have the entire set up off my truck in about 15 minutes if someone helps me carry the tent.
Aside from mountain biking, I’m a big diesel truck dork. That’s led me to spend a lot of time in the off-road truck community. I’ve got experience with many of the rack systems and tents on the market, giving me the ability to evaluate the Yakima rack and tent system against the competition. I can say with full certainty that it’s the best and most user-friendly design on the market at the moment and sales agreements. After talking to Yakima’s staff, they can’t keep these things on the shelves.
To start with the rack, Yakima’s full redesign on their racks to introduce the OutPost HD was much needed, and resulted in an elegant and featured filled product. Yakima has not only uprooted the Thule Transporter as the gold standard consumer bed rack but has gone a step further and cut into the overland and off-road camping market thanks to the modular accessory attachment system. This system quickly and securely mounts traction strips, Rotopax, and whatever else you need to the top or sidebars of the rack. It’s a feature-filled and highly functional design. The rack is also sturdy enough that I literally jump my truck with the tent and full Rotopax on the sidebars, and don’t worry about damaging my cargo.
The Yakima SkyRise HD tent is also a great step up from the normal SkyRise for those that need a heavier duty camping option. The tent especially shines in inclement weather. The thicker fabric is far more stable and quiet in heavy winds, and thanks to the improved waterproofing, it even stands up to sideways, pelting rain. On a trip to Utah this past spring, my girlfriend and I were subjected to an entire 12 hour night of raging thunderstorms. Howling wind and sideways rain battered our tent, yet we stayed perfectly dry and slept like babies. Our friends that brought their ground tent didn’t have the same story from their night…
The Wolf’s Last Word
Yakima’s effort to make the SkyRise HD tent user-friendly is a huge benefit. Whether it’s initial set up, every time use, or taking it off the truck for the winter, the SkyRise HD is easier to use than the competition. When it comes to softshell tents, you won’t find one that’s as simple and easy to set up as the SkyRise. Yakima’s line of accessories betters the deal, with integrated shoe holders, lights, and even bed sheets offered for their tents so you can camp in complete comfort.
While I have plenty of friends with CVT, Tepui, and James Baroud tents, I am very happy with my Yakima and think it’s a solid value for the $2,199 price tag even if you’re a hardcore user.
SkyRise Medium tent: $2,199
OutPost HD rack: $749
OverHaul HD: $949
Rotopax mounting kit: $29 Each
Recovery track mount: $109
Ease of Installation
Top Shelf Function
Having to Loctite Tent Bolts
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