iKamper’s latest RTT, the Blue Dot Voyager, is the brand’s most versatile yet. It’s a veritable Lego set with impressive adaptability that you can even build yourself. Oh yeah, it’s comfortable, too — and strikingly affordable.
My truck looks good with a hat — for years I had a James Baroud Grand Raid RTT mounted on top. I loved it but grew tired of hauling 160 pounds off my roof any time I wanted to haul surfboards, lumber, etc. I was stoked to get back into the rooftop tent game with iKamper, as its new model solves this gear storage issue.
The iKamper Blue Dot Voyager (BDV) features a rugged aluminum exoskeleton. It’s a key selling point for me because you can mount equipment to any side and have the option for additional load bars on top. The BDV isn’t the first RTT to offer mounting rails on top, but it’s a compelling combination of versatility, comfort, and price — at least on paper.
We, of course, don’t believe the marketing hype without testing out the gear ourselves. We got early access to a review sample of the iKamper BDV, installed it on a Land Rover LR3, and took it out for some weekend camping in the Columbia River Gorge. Here’s how our first experience with this RTT worked out.
iKamper Blue Dot Voyager (BDV) DUO Review
Blue Dot Voyager: Specs
- Open size: 56″ x 106.25″ x 59″
- Closed size: 56″ x 90″ x 6.75″
- Max load: 600 lbs.
- Tent materials: Back-Out 300 gsm organic, recycled poly-cotton canvas tent with 75D ripstop polyester rainfly and aluminum extrusions holding an FRP shell with an insulated honeycomb aluminum panel floor
- Mattress: 2.75-in.-thick insulated polyfoam, 7 ft. long x 50 in. wide
- Weight: 150 lbs. listed (155 lbs. as tested without mounting brackets)
- MSRP: $3,399 assembled or $2,999 unassembled
Blue Dot Voyager Name
Carl Sagan saw a picture of Earth from 3.7 billion miles away, taken by the Voyager 1 space probe, and described the planet as a “pale blue dot.” He specifically said, “From this particular vantage point, the Earth may not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us … history of our species … on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”
iKamper named its latest RTT with this same idea in mind, “that we are travelers on a blue dot voyage.”
iKamper BDV Install
You can buy this iKamper RTT preassembled or as a “build it yourself” kit. If you do the build-up yourself, you’ll save a few dollars — $400 fewer to be exact. The preassembled tent ships vertically on a long, skinny pallet and in a very sturdy cardboard box.
You’ll find the ladder, rainfly poles, and mounting hardware inside the tent, which means you’ll need to pop it open on the ground before mounting it. We for sure scrambled at first, as we thought the mounting hardware wasn’t included, but don’t fret, it’s inside the tent.
If you go with the build it yourself option, this handy install video shows you how to do it, step by step. It’s also a good reference if you ever need to adjust anything on the tent, as it shows exactly how it’s all put together.
The preassembled BDV tent still took about 2 hours of final assembly/installation before adventuring could begin. At least two fit humans are needed to lift the tent into place. You’ll want to budget some wrenching time here for the standard sandwich-style plate and bolt mounting method.
The brackets are a real pain to install into the tent rails the first time, but once placed, they are easy enough to adjust. While the tent comes with the wrenches you’ll need, a 13mm ratcheting box wrench or a combo of short and deep sockets will help speed things up considerably.
When mounting the tent one nut cross-threaded halfway up the bolt — not an encouraging start. Fortunately, it seized at just the right spot, as we were still able to mount the tent securely.
iKamper’s quick-attach mounting brackets “2.0” sadly aren’t yet available for the BDV. This will be a big upgrade if and when they can be used on the BDV.
After some careful eyeballing and measuring, my Land Rover LR3 had a new hat. This hat is very square, industrial-looking, and not the most elegant — full composite hard-shell RTTs like the James Baroud are sleeker for sure — but we’ll take the functionality over fashion.
Roof Racks Matter
While I’ve got great plans to outfit this RTT with accessories, my LR3’s Yakima Jetstream bars are just barely sufficient for the weight of the iKamper BDV. The Jetstream bars are rated at 165 pounds, and this RTT weighs 155 pounds — not including mounting hardware or bedding.
Load ratings should always be taken seriously, and I’ll be upgrading to Yakima Pro bars or a platform rack system before adding additional mass to the top of my roof. If you’re ever unsure, iKamper has a rack fitment guide on its website.
iKamper will soon have a full range of accessories for the BDV. Specifically, it’ll have mounts for traction boards, axes, solar panels, storage boxes, and hopefully some crossbars for adventure gear like kayaks and bikes.
The tent can open with its gas assist struts with a 100-pound external load, at least in the “Load Zone,” the front half of the tent closest to the hinge point. More than that and you’ll have to take the gear off before popping the tent open.
On the Road With the BDV
On-road manners were about as you’d expect. A bit of wind noise, but nothing that a small fairing wouldn’t solve — or a couple of clicks up on the stereo. I also don’t think I lost more than 1 mpg of fuel economy, impressive for such a boxy-shaped RTT.
I have to give iKamper credit for a slim tent. The BDV is only 7 inches thick.
Once you’re at camp, setup is speedy. There are only two latches to flip, and the tent pops up on its own with the assistance of gas struts. The latches have built-in locking mechanisms that are easy to operate and give confidence that the tent won’t decide to open on its own when bombing down rough roads.
Reposition the material keeper bungee cord, pull out the telescoping ladder, and install the two rear rainfly poles and the tent is set up.
A great feature is that the ladder can be positioned on three sides of the tent — this makes it easy to shift it such that you can still open car doors and dial it in for your specific vehicle setup.
If you want to move the ladder to a different position around the tent, it will take a few minutes, as you’ll need to move some hardware around. The mounts themselves attach to the ladder with quick-release pins, which is super easy and secure. After a long day of adventuring, it was lovely to have the tent set up and be relaxing so quickly.
Inside the Tent
Inside the BDV is quite roomy, but could be even more so. The design has the headliner/tent material many inches away from the hardshell roof. While you still get plenty of room for a 6-foot-plus-tall person to sit upright without issue, the foot room in the wedge of the tent might be an issue for some.
In the wedge area of the tent on each side are also mesh pockets. We found them to be quite useful for stashing things like clothing when going to sleep.
The included iKamper mattress is 7 feet long and 50 inches wide. It is also 3 inches thick and has nine comfort zones of varied densities of foam across the mattress for optimal pressure points in a variety of sleeping positions. At first feel, it just seems like an egg crate foam mattress wrapped in material, but it really is quite comfortable.
Mattress Upgrade: iKamper’s RTT Comfort 5087
While the included iKamper mattress is really good, we opted for replacing it with iKamper’s RTT Comfort 5087 mattress. This mattress uses both air and open-cell foam to offer 4 inches of comfort and insulation.
The key for us is that the RTT Comfort mattress compresses so well that the BDV effectively becomes a thin rooftop storage box. This makes it easy to fit full-size pillows and bedding inside the tent when it’s closed, something that is possible, but more difficult with the standard mattress. The RTT Comfort mattress can also be left inflated inside the tent, along with a thin sleeping bag, but no pillows will fit at that point.
While the mattress self-inflates when the tent is open, you’ll want to top it off to your desired firmness like any other air mattress. Once you’re there, it’s a premium experience — easily as comfortable as my favorite tent pad, the Exped Megamat.
Sleeping Bag: iKamper’s RTT Sleeper DPL
We also tried out iKamper’s RTT Sleeper DPL, which by comparison was a real letdown. It’s a two-season, 58 x 80-inch sleeping bag that’s only rated for comfort to 61 degrees Fahrenheit. I was just barely comfortable when overnight lows dipped to 50 degrees F at my campsite in the Columbia River Gorge — although it probably would have been much warmer if my wife was also along on this trip.
Once I sealed all the zippers on the tent and the bag, my body heat warmed up the interior and I did sleep well, however. Temperature aside, the bag fabric — 30-denier ripstop nylon shell with 30-denier ripstop taffeta liner — feels cheap and slightly clammy. iKamper could up its game here.
After a long day of installing tents and trail running. I slept like a champ in the iKamper BDV Duo. The blackout canvas is legit, and I found myself snoozing well past sunrise.
Eager to take advantage of good wing-foiling conditions in the Gorge, I tried to rush through camp breakdown.
In principle, collapsing the tent is simple — just pull down on a webbing strap and close the two buckles. In practice, I found I needed to spend a little extra time going around the exterior and tucking in tent fabric. While there is an elastic band to help pull in the tent material, it’s not 100% effective.
That said, I was done in just a few minutes and had plenty of time for “wing floiling” as my wife jokingly refers to my comical beginner wing foil abilities.
iKamper BDV: Availability & Pricing
Preorders for the iKamper BDV open on Oct. 5. Shipments start in early November.
This RTT will set you back $3,399 assembled, or $2,999 unassembled. Either way, you’ll need to budget an additional $199 flat rate shipping for all iKamper rooftop tents.
iKamper BDV Solo
You can also get in iKamper BDV Solo, which is a narrow one-person RTT. It weighs nearly as much, at 140 pounds, and costs about the same, $2,899 or $2,499 unassembled. It is considerably narrower, however, at 40.25 inches wide. This allows for more gear storage room on your roof rack, without having to put it on top of the tent.
Is the iKamper BDV Right for You?
Is the iKamper BDV rooftop tent a good fit for you? In a very competitive space, this RTT stands out for its combination of versatility, price, and comfort, but it’s not the tool for every job.
If you already have an overland-built rig with a platform rack, or can direct-mount to factory rails, it’s a great fit. If you’re looking to outfit your daily driver CUV, the BDV is likely heavier and noisier than you’ll want. The SkyCamp Mini is a better choice for small vehicles, as featured in our 2022 guide to RTTs.
A stripped bolt and fussy fabric tucking are relatively small annoyances for a system that packs a ton of RTT for your dollar. We’re looking forward to many more nights under the stars and improving our rack system to take full advantage of this sweet piece of kit.