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Porsche's $7,000 Roof Tent Makes Camping Not Suck

Photo:  Steven Ewing
Photo: Steven Ewing

The campground at Leo Carrillo State Park in Malibu, California is lovely, but you’re not exactly roughing it. There are park restrooms with indoor plumbing and a Starbucks 10 minutes down the road. Each campsite has a fire pit with a built-in cooking grate and there’s a cute little store where a disaffected local teenager will sell you firewood, medicine, snacks and booze. Every night, you can catch a postcard-worthy sunset on the beach of the Pacific Ocean. It’s camping for people who don’t totally love camping. It’s camping for people like me.

That’s why I totally dig Porsche’s new rooftop tent. It’s hella easy to set up and pretty comfy inside, and it makes a weekend in the great outdoors a lot easier if, like me, you don’t live your life like it’s an REI catalog. Yes, the tent is ridiculously expensive, at just over $7,000. But if you’ve already spent the money on a brand-new Porsche — in this case, a $170,000 Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo — an extra 7 grand is probably just a drop in the bucket. I assume, anyway.

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Full disclosure: Porsche loaned me a Taycan with a rooftop tent installed so I could go camping with Jalopnik writer Kyle Hyatt and his wife. I built a fire and cooked a s’more while Hyatt fetched me a premixed Aperol spritz, because he’s a true friend.

Photo:  Steven Ewing
Photo: Steven Ewing

Available through Porsche’s Techquipment accessories catalog, this $7,028 tent can be fitted to any of the company’s cars – ones that can support roof rails and crossbars, at least. A butch wagon like the Taycan Cross Turismo is perfect for this setup, but note that Techquipment has lots of pictures of this tent on top of various 911s, so please, future 911 Dakar buyers, go wild. All packaged up, the tent weighs 123 pounds, so getting it on and off the car is not a one-person job. But setting it up at the campsite is totally something you can do on your own while your friends are yelling at each other trying to set up their rickety Target tent — and it only takes, like, 10 minutes, tops.

Photo:  Steven Ewing
Photo: Steven Ewing

Once you’re parked at camp, a key unlocks two latches on the passenger side of the tent. The hard shell lifts up, revealing a strap to pull down the ladder. Because the tent is meant to work on cars of various sizes, the ladder’s steps are adjustable. That’s also helpful if you’re parked on rough or uneven ground, not that you’ll find much of that at Leo Carrillo; my Taycan Turbo’s summer tires never left the pavement.

Photo:  Steven Ewing
Photo: Steven Ewing

Before you actually get inside the tent, get on the ladder and undo the zipper by the entrance flap so you can secure the two tension rods. This’ll make a cute little zip-up archway that you can easily crawl through. Get up in there, position the two-piece sleeping pad to cover the length of the hard floor and then use the other two tension rods to secure each window awning. That’s it. You’re done. Super easy.

The zip-up windows can be completely open, covered by a mesh screen, or fully closed off from the harsh light of day. There’s also a skylight above you that works the same way, though it’s best to keep that one closed or morning dew will drip in. (Ask me how I know.) Under each window you’ll find zip-up storage pockets for stuff like your wallet, glasses or phone. But there isn’t really a lot of room inside for other stuff. Even up there by myself, I had room for a backpack by my feet, but I wouldn’t try to keep a suitcase in there and still sleep comfortably. Guess that’s what the inside of the Taycan is for.

Photo:  Steven Ewing
Photo: Steven Ewing

This also brings me to the other hurdle: changing clothes. Assuming you’ve brought your wearables up into the tent, there’s not actually enough room to stand up inside. That means you’re doing the sit-kneel-bend dance to get dressed and undressed. There are hooks where you can hang bags or jackets underneath the ladder, at least, but that’s still outside, so you’ll have to lean out of the tent and reach for your belongings. It just takes a little extra preparation to make sure you can easily and comfortably change.

Once you’re finally in the tent and all settled for the night, sleeping is pretty posh. The tent is insulated, and despite temperatures hovering around 50 degrees Fahrenheit (California in December, amirite?), I stayed pretty warm with just a regular ol’ sleeping bag and some flannel pants. If you’re by yourself, there’s plenty of room to toss and turn, but if you’re going to share the tent with a friend or partner, well, I hope you guys really like each other. Depending on your length and width, it could be a little tight.

Photo:  Steven Ewing
Photo: Steven Ewing

When the camp weekend is over, tearing down the tent is also a cinch. Take out the tension rods, flip up the ladder and grab the huge strap to pull the hard top down. Once it’s almost closed, make sure all the fabric flaps are folded in and then secure the locks with the key. The tent takes even less time to close down than it does to set up. Seriously, 5 to 10 minutes max.

Does this 123-pound tent change the way the Taycan operates? Not really. And thank goodness – the Turbo Cross Turismo is awesome. The 93.4-kWh battery pack sends a maximum of 670 horsepower and 626 lb-ft of torque to a pair of electric motors, and I don’t imagine the extra weight hinders this car’s estimated 0-to-60-mph time of 3.1 seconds. Acceleration, braking and even cornering aren’t really affected by the ever-so-slightly higher center of gravity, mostly because the majority of the Taycan’s heft is already situated way down low in the chassis.

Photo:  Steven Ewing
Photo: Steven Ewing

The Turbo Cross Turismo’s 233-mile EPA-estimated range isn’t hindered too much, either, even with the aerodynamic penalty of a box on the roof. Plus, I’ve always found the Taycan’s EPA numbers notoriously easy to beat, and with 800-volt electrical architecture, you can take advantage of 270-kW charging speeds at a 350-kW public charger – assuming it works, anyway.

The major thing you notice while driving with the tent is the extra noise. The Taycan is, like all EVs, mostly silent in operation (unless you turn on the stupid futuristic boo-ahh-woo-wee sounds). When you get on the highway, however, you can really hear the air rushing around the roof tent. It also makes the Cross Turismo’s standard glass roof panel pretty much useless, though at least the large box provides more shade to keep the car’s interior cool.

Photo:  Steven Ewing
Photo: Steven Ewing

I’d be remiss not to point out that companies like iKamper offer similar rooftop tents for thousands of dollars less. But again, if you’ve already got the Porsche, you’d probably just rather buy the Porsche-approved accessory. And yes, of course, you could just drop a hundred bucks on a tent from the local department store and pitch it on top of a tarp, but ew, that’s gross and uncomfortable and I guarantee if it rains you’ll wake up damp. Besides, it doesn’t look as impressive on social media, and you’re a Taycan Cross Turismo owner, goddamnit. Camping might not be your favorite thing, but it’s your public duty to keep that hashtag active lifestyle image alive.

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