Direct 4×4 are a company fairly new to the roof tent market in the UK, doing most of their roof tent business through eBay and online. They have been ruffling feathers with their very competitively priced roof tents and accessories, as well as their on-point customer service. So, how does their gear measure up?
Direct 4×4 offer several different packages as regards roof tents, and tend to offer ‘bundle’ deals, including their standard 3 man roof tent and in some cases a roof rack included in the deal. These are tailored to individual vehicles such as Land Rover Defenders, Discoveries, and VW transporters.
Today, we’re going to focus on Direct4x4’s most common 3-man roof tent. These roof tents will cost you pretty much exactly £1000. The big plus is, in their standard roof tent package you get the Annex Skirt included in the price. That’s pretty good value. By comparison, a similar set up including the annex skirt from say, Hannibal roof tents would set you back around £1500. So how does the Direct 4×4 Roof tent compare? The short answer is: pretty well!
Firstly we will say, in comparison to a branded Hannibal or Howling Moon roof tent, the quality is noticeably lower; but you are saving a third or even as much as half off the price of one of the big name brands. It’s not that the Direct 4×4 roof tent is not good, it’s mostly a matter of trial and error experience – Hannibal and Howling moon are the heavyweights – They draw on years and years of expedition experience, and pretty much wrote the book on roof tent spec. Their expedition equipment is tailored beautifully in every detail, and you can really feel the quality and heritage in their designs. Direct 4×4 are the new kids on the block, but as the underdog, they are doing pretty well in our book. Let’s take a look at some specification on the direct 4×4 roof tent.
The roof tent’s open size is 240cm x 140cm x 130cm, and weighs in at 63kgs. This means it’s slightly wider than many regular roof tents. The base is 25mm ABS, aluminium and polyurethane construction. It feels sturdy enough, although we have seen thicker. The aluminium has an anodized finish, which is corrosion resistant.
So what about the roof tent itself? The tent is based around the ARB Simpson III roof tent style, with a covered entrance door. The main construct of the Direct 4×4 roof tent is made from oxford nylon canvas material. The flysheet is lightweight, waterproof 420D Oxford material. The canvas fabric itself feels good, durable quality. The tubular aluminium bows, which form the ‘ribs’ of the tent, are 16mm tubular aluminium. This is fairly old hat technology – most branded manufacturers have upgraded to 25mm thickness. That fact shouldn’t put you off the Direct 4×4 roof tent however – The construction is by no means flimsy. There are 3 zip up windows on the sides of the tent, and these come with integral mosquito netting that can zipped up or left fully open. The Direct 4×4 roof tent uses the classic rectangular flaps on its sides, which are propped open with stainless steel spring rods, which feel nice and sturdy. All the canvas is double stitched, and the zips decent enough quality.
The mattress in the tent is a 3-inch thick, high-density foam affair, pretty standard stuff, but it won’t win any mattress awards. On a long trip you might need to invest in a mattress topper of some kind. The outer travel cover is heavy-duty 600GSM PVC, with a right-around zip. The zip looks decent enough but it’s unbranded. We’ve seen these kinds of zips break over time. Not the end of the world, but you may end up bungee strapping the cover down at some point in the roof tent’s life. Other than that, the cover is very good build quality with UV resistant securing straps thick Velcro.
As mentioned, one of the benefits as this direct 4×4 roof tent bundle is the Annex Skirt. This feels like a bit of a free of charge ‘draw you in’ item, as we’re not used to seeing these Skirts thrown in the bag for free. The Skirt is decent, and made from basically the same material as the roof tent. You can’t go too far wrong with these things – they don’t use any complicated technology. There is one entrance door and two windows on either side, and these all have mosquito netting integrated. The rear of the annex skirt has a single zipped exit/entrance into the vehicle, which gives the nice benefit of being able to create a fully ‘indoor’ space – access the vehicle and roof tent without ever having to leave the enclosed area, as the Ladder for the tent and sits within the annex. It has a PVC groundsheet on the floor which is zipped together with the to form an enclosed space. Some people think these annex skirts are unnecessary, and they are correct. You certainly don’t need one. On one-night stops it’s rare we would bother to unroll it and thread it up. However, they do make life on the road that bit more comfortable when you can be bothered to deploy them. One thing to mention is that if you have the Land Rover Defender or Discovery the annex skirt will not fit as standard. They are made for lower roofline vehicles, so you will need a taller annex base and the extension ladder. Direct 4×4 sell these ‘bolt on’ for an extra £100.
So all in, what’s the verdict? We think the guys at Direct 4×4 have done a really good job for what is essentially a budget roof tent. The price is mid range – There are budget roof tents out there for £600 – £700, but their quality will rarely match that of the Direct 4×4 roof tent.
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