ARB vs. Smittybilt Tent: Which Is Better?

Both Smittybilt and ARB produce camping tents. Whether you are looking for a regular awning or for a rooftop tent so you can sleep on the top of your vehicle, both companies have many options. However, they are not equal, so which company is better? 

 

Both the Smittybilt Overlander Tent and the ARB Simpson Tent are great. However, the Smittybilt tent is usually a bit cheaper and gives you better value for money. On the other hand, the ARB tent is a little lighter, so if you are trying to travel light, it might be for you. 

 

Continue reading this article if you would like to learn more about these two companies. 

Why Get a Rooftop Tent?

If you are searching for a comparison between Smittybilt and ARB tents, you probably are looking for a rooftop tent. Both companies produce various accessories for off-road vehicles and have been in business for a long time. 

 

There are a number of reasons you might want to get a rooftop tent instead of a regular tent. Let’s go through the main reasons why you might want to do so. 

You Can Save Space

By storing your tent on your roof, you can save space. You can keep the tent on your roof the entire time while you are driving. Some tents will even double as storage compartments where you can leave your sleeping bags. 

You Can Stay Safe

There are a lot of dangers of sleeping in a tent that is camped on the ground. Sure, you are inside a tent, but you are still susceptible to attacks from bears and other wild animals. You will have to be careful not to leave garbage or anything that can attract a bear outside your tent. However, if you sleep on the roof of your car, you can sleep soundly without worrying. 

You Can Sleep Comfortably

Both the Smittybilt and the ARB tents come with built-in foam mattresses. You won’t have to spend extra on a mattress, although you certainly might want to if you don’t find the default mattress comfortable enough. These mattresses can usually fit a few people. 

You Can Stay Dry

Even if your regular tent is waterproof, that does not mean you won’t wake up wet after a heavy storm. Water can seep in under your tent when there is flooding. That is one of the main reasons for getting a rooftop tent: You will stay far away from the ground and not have to deal with flooding or puddles. 

 

You also won’t have to deal with bugs crawling around or muddy tent floors. Since the tents have mosquito netting on the windows, bugs won’t be able to enter from there either. If you camp in an area where there are snakes or scorpions, a rooftop tent will provide you with additional safety. 

It Is Harder to Steal

When camping on the ground, it’s pretty easy to fall victim to theft. Someone can steal your camping gear during the night or when you are not watching. This is much harder to do when the tent is on the roof of your car. 

You Can Get an Annex

In addition to your rooftop tent, you can get an annex to place under it, next to your car. This will give you even more room and perhaps an additional place to sleep. It also acts as another room (one that may be accessible directly from your vehicle), where you can change clothes and enjoy some privacy. 

Why Get a Smittybilt Tent? 

In this section, we will go over Smittybilt tents and the benefits of getting one. 

 

Smittybilt focuses primarily on Jeep Wranglers, but their tents can be fitted on other vehicles too. They have produced products for some other vehicle types as well, such as SUVs. Their products are known to be top-quality. 

 

Here are some reasons you might want to get a Smittybilt Overlander Tent: 

 

  • You own a Jeep Wrangler. As mentioned, Smittybilt has always placed a focus on Jeep Wranglers, and although their tents can often be fitted on other vehicles, you will benefit the most from a Smittybilt tent if you own a Jeep Wrangler. Their most well-known tent is the Smittybilt Overlander Tent, which is perfect for Jeeps and other vehicles. 
  • It can fit up to three people. Although the Smittybilt Overlander is ideal for two people, three people can fit in as well. So, if you are traveling with a child, a pet, or even an adult friend, you can certainly use the Smittybilt Overlander Tent. Since it is a rooftop tent, you can store your belongings in your vehicle and free up more space in the tent. 
  • It is easy to set up. It won’t take you long to get the Smittybilt Overlander Tent set up on your vehicle’s rooftop. 
  • You can set it up on both sides of your vehicle. This is an important factor for many people. Tents that can only be set up on one side, such as the driver’s side, limit you in how you can park your vehicle. However, the Smittybilt Overlander Tent can be set up on either side, so you can park close to a wall and still get into the tent easily. 
  • It has a max load of 661 lb (300 kg). This is enough for 2-3 people as well as any accessories you may be taking with you on the road. 
  • It has a comfortable mattress. The foam double/full mattress is comfortable and will allow you to sleep without any interruptions. Up to three people can sleep on this mattress. 
  • The tent is waterproof. The heavy-duty 600D waterproof top means that you can sleep soundly in your tent even when it is raining outside without worrying about waking up wet. The rain fly is tough and won’t tear easily. 
  • The windows have mosquito netting. Not only do the side windows allow you to let in light (if you want to wake up to sunlight) and fresh air, but they also keep mosquitos out due to their strong netting. You can forget about applying yourself with loads of DEET before going to sleep to avoid waking up with bites. These mosquito nets are CE-approved. 
  • In addition to these windows, there is a sunroof that allows you to chill in your tent during the day with ample sunlight. The sunroof has mosquito netting as well. 
  • It comes with a LED strip. This strip helps light up your tent at night, allowing you to see what you are doing and get your bed set up even if you are in a dark area where there are not many lights. 
  • The telescopic ladder is pretty strong. You won’t have to worry about it buckling under your weight. Being that it is also pretty wide, it allows you to climb into your tent safely and easily. Most ladders are a foot wide, while this ladder is around a foot and a half wide. 
  • In addition to the strong ladder, there is a safety strap that will aid you when climbing inside the tent. 
  • The boot bag that comes with the tent will surely come in handy when it is rainy and muddy outside. Instead of getting the entire floor of your tent wet and dirty, just keep your boots in this bag. 
  • There are also many storage pockets that you can use to store other items. 
  • The exterior of the tent has several bungee cords that help prevent the tent from expanding outward. This is important when it is windy outside. Along with the waterproof rainfly, they allow the tent to withstand heavy storms. 
  • The tent is pretty wide, but it is still pretty light. It only weighs around 48 pounds, so it will not bog down your truck. 
  • It is extremely durable and will last for a long time. It has been tested to hold up during strong storms. 
  • When you are not using the tent, you can pack it into the travel bag
  • If you need to charge your devices while in the tent, you can use the 12V cigarette lighter-power adapter
  • There is a one-year warranty that comes with the tent. 
  • When you use the Smittybilt Overlander Tent, you can also use the Standard Size Annex Tent to go along with it. The annex attaches to the tent with heavy-duty zippers so it won’t get detached. The annex is like an extra tent that you install next to your vehicle and under the rooftop tent. 
  • The annex is a great addition for extra privacy when you are traveling with your family or friends. You can change clothes in the annex or even sleep there. 
  • The windows and side doors of the annex roll up and have mosquito netting that you can open or close. You can enter the annex straight from your vehicle and vice versa. 
  • There is a removable floor that comes with the annex. This will help you keep you dry when it is raining and prevent insects from invading the annex. 
  • If you need more space and you have a larger vehicle (such as a trailer), you can get the larger Smittybilt Overlander Version (the 2883). This can handle 770 pounds or 350 kg (a little more than 100 pounds/50 kilograms more than the standard version) and fit up to four people inside. Again, this depends on how large you are; four large adults might have a difficult time fitting in. 
  • It is made with strong materials, such as stainless steel hinges, but it is not overly heavy. 

Why Get an ARB Tent? 

ARB tents are also pretty good. Let’s go through the reasons you might want to get an ARB tent: 

 

  • The tent is made out of strong polyester and cotton fabric. 
  • Like the Smittybilt Overlander Tent, it uses anodized aluminum poles, which are strong but light. 
  • Windows features screens to keep out mosquitos and other insects. 
  • There is a 2.5-inch (6.4-cm) foam mattress with a removable cover. 
  • The Simpson 3 tent comes with an annex, which can be attached to the main rooftop tent. You will get this annex whenever you get an ARB Simpson 3 tent. 
  • When you get the tent and annex combo, you will get two free elevated shoe pockets to keep your dirty and muddy boots. 
  • The aluminum ladder makes it easy to get into the tent. 
  • The internal bungee cords suck the tent inward. When it is windy, the tent will be prevented from flapping outward. 
  • The travel bag helps protect the tent from the sun when it is not being used. 
  • You can also keep your tent on your roof when not in use and simply keep your sleeping bags and other luggage in the tent while you drive. This will give you an additional storage room
  • There are convenient storage pockets for your water bottles, keys, and other items so you can easily find them whenever you need them. 
  • The ARB Simpson tests are well-known for being really easy to set up. Whenever you need to make a quick stop for the night, you will be able to quickly pitch your tent on your roof. 
  • You can set up your ARB tent on either side of your vehicle

Where Do They Fall Short? 

No tent is perfect, and while both the Smittybilt Overlander Tent and the ARB Simpson Tent are great, they have their disadvantages. Here are some of them: 

 

  • The Smittybilt Tent is a bit heavy for a rooftop tent. This is especially true of the heavier version. Yes, it is big and can carry a lot of weight, but this comes at a cost. If you are looking for a lighter tent, you would be better off getting an ARB Simpson tent. 
  • The Smittybilt tent has better storage features than the ARB Simpson Tent. Yes, there are storage pockets in the Simpson, but the Smittybilt Overlander simply has larger pockets (and more pockets)! If you are looking for a tent with additional storage, such as if you are traveling with a lot of small items, the Smittybilt might be for you. 
  • The Smittybilt has an LED light strip. This is not a deal breaker for most people, but it is still something to take into consideration when choosing your tent. If you regularly camp in areas that are very dark, this LED strip can really come in handy. 
  • The Smittybilt Overlander Tent is generally cheaper, even if you factor in the extra cost of buying the annex. On the other hand, the ARB tent is a bit more expensive. The price can vary, however, depending on where you buy the tent from. 

Which One Should You Choose? 

In general, the Smittybilt Overlander Tent will give you an extra bang for your buck, even if you do want to get the annex. There are other things to consider as well, however. If you own a Jeep Wrangler, for example, getting a Smittybilt tent is probably a better choice.

 

However, even if you own a different vehicle, you will probably be able to get your Smittybilt tent to fit (just make sure to check specifications beforehand). 

 

Another thing you might want to consider is the weight. As mentioned, the Smittybilt tent can be a bit heavy. Due to its weight, you may find it a bit more difficult to install and set up quickly compared to the ARB tent. On the other hand, if you need more storage pockets, the Smittybilt tent is a better choice. If you are looking for a wide ladder, the Smittybilt tent is also good. 

Should You Get an Annex? 

You may not need an annex, and if you buy a Smittybilt Overlander Tent, you will not necessarily have to get one. (On the other hand, if you buy an ARB Simpson 3 Tent, the annex comes included). 

 

An annex is useful if you would like additional privacy. Perhaps there is an extra person who does not fit into your main rooftop tent who can use the annex to sleep. Perhaps you are looking for a private place to change clothes, so you don’t have to do so in front of your friends, or perhaps you simply want a place to protect you from the sun without having to climb up the ladder. 

 

It is worth mentioning that the annex of the Smittybilt is not as waterproof as the actual tent. As such, it might not be the best place to sleep in. It also does not have all the advantages of an actual rooftop tent, although its floor does help protect you from the mud. 

 

Here is a video to help you decide whether you need an annex: 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvkFqeoWdsA 

Conclusion

Both tents are good, but if you are on a budget, consider getting the Smittybilt Overlander Tent, with or without the annex. The annex is not as good as the tent itself, so if you are just two people, you may not even need it. Regardless of which tent you choose, you will enjoy the stability and protection from the rain and other elements. 

Sources

 

Recent Posts