James Baroud Evasion RTT on a Stockman Pod

In my previous post on Sleeping Arrangements, I was fairly negative about Roof Top Tents (RTT), citing their detrimental effect on vehicle driving dynamics, vehicle aerodynamics, and also the potential danger of sleeping over 2 metres above the ground at the end of a flimsy ladder.

However, for certain reasons, I’ve now decided to mount a RTT to the top of my Stockman Pod Extreme. Mounting the RTT on the trailer removes all of the above mentioned disadvantages, but keeps all the RTT advantages.

The mounting height is about 1.5 metres above the ground and is barely 40 cm above the top of the trailer load platform. Whilst the 60 kg of the RTT will affect the trailer dynamics, in the case where the trailer cannot follow along, it can be left behind at camp leaving the vehicle dynamics unaffected. The highest point of the RTT is lower than the vehicle roof line, and the selected RTT is quite streamlined, so the overall aerodynamics should not be significantly worse than they already are (considering both vehicle and trailer are pretty much brick shaped anyway).

The most important benefit of fitting the RTT to the trailer is that at just 1.5 metres off the ground a fall is substantially less dangerous. To further reduce the danger of falling, I’ve decided to fit my RTT so that the entry will be from the rear using a set of well formed, large and stable steps. This rear entry concept does have an impact on the method I’ve chosen to fit my RTT to the trailer.

I’ve chosen to use a James Baroud Evasion M Evo, based on good reviews and inspecting the options available at retailers around Melbourne. I purchased my RTT from Outback HQ, and I’m very happy with their customer service.

Taking Delivery

Following delivery of my Stockman Pod Extreme, the large cardboard box was placed on top and secured for the drive home.

Fortunately there was no further excitement until I was able to crane off the RTT and get to work mounting it.

Firstly the Stockman Pod Extreme RTT Upgrade gas struts needed to be attached to their mounting points in the lid of the trailer. If they weren’t added before the RTT was fitted then the smaller standard struts (which remain) wouldn’t be able to lift the lid with the tent. Adding the heavy duty struts costs some access to the trailer, by reducing the angle of the lid, but it is not significant.

However, with the heavy duty gas struts in place, the lid needed quite some encouragement to close. I needed to juggle ratchet straps to close it down.

Rear Entry Reinforcing

Usually Outback HQ recommends that the James Baroud M sized tents need just two bars, but they should be widely separated. Larger sized RTTs need to have three bars to support them properly.

With the Stockman Pod the Rhino Aero bars are just 1.5 metres apart, which is quite close but not an issue normally. However, as I was planning to use the rear entry of the James Baroud Evasion RTT there would be quite a lot of load over the end of the tent, out beyond the internal aluminium rails integrated into the tent under-shell. This could lead to cracking the outer shell in the worst case.

To provide an additional layer of strengthening to both front and rear of the RTT, I have added full length aluminium beams under the existing integrated rails but extending to the end of the tent shell at both front and rear. This provides full support for sitting on the rear ledge of the tent (when entering or leaving), and also provides additional strengthening for the entire mounting system.

I chose to use 100mm x 50mm x 3mm thick aluminium channel. This is the largest channel shape that can fit between the top of the Stockman Pod Big Top Lid and the top of the Rhino Aero bar on which the RTT would be mounted. As the Aero bar is only 40mm thick, this left 10mm of material on both sides of both channels to provide the end-to-end strength that I desired to achieve.

Overall, this mounting method adds significant strength and security to the whole build. The RTT cannot “lift off” the bars, as the Aero bars are inserted through the channel rails which are tied at multiple points to the RTT chassis rails.

Now the trailer lid can be comfortably opened and closed with the RTT fitted, either stowed or open. With the RTT stowed or even opened, the front tool box can be opened too.

Building Rear Step

My Stockman Pod Extreme is fitted with the plywood storage shelf and two aluminium storage bins, as well as the standard fold down tail-gate. These conveniently provide two large and stable steps up to the RTT. In addition only a low stool or step is needed for the first step up to the tail-gate.

So all that was needed was to turn the top of the storage bin into a large step. This was done with a sheet of 2mm thick aluminium non-slip tread plate, carefully cut, and folded for strength, and fitted across the top of the storage bin. As a side benefit, the aluminium step can be stored in-situ on the storage bin so it takes no space to transport.

Obviously, the wooden school chair photographed is not a permanent solution. I will get a work step or stool that can be used to provide one or two steps up to the tail gate. The tail gate makes a safe stoep to leave boots and mud before stepping up into the RTT via the storage bin step.

To exit the RTT it is just a matter of sitting on the edge of the tent shell and your feet naturally find the top of the storage bin step, and you can stand up (preferably holding onto one of the tent roof struts for stability), before stepping down to the tailgate. It is even possible to sit on the storage bin lid when putting boots.

I would also point out that the aluminium storage bins are 2 metres long, and are contained within a structural case. The storage bins are designed to hold well over 100 kg of items. The step could be used with the storage bin extended by over a 1 metre (rather than just the depth of the tail gate, about 40 cm). So, the step is quite strong and overall using this rear entrance to the RTT is much safer than the standard folding aluminum ladder.

Stockman Pod Extreme Delivery Notes

As discussed in the Curb Weight post, I decided to purchase a custom built Stockman Pod Extreme for Going Bush. I took delivery of following a short delay because I asked to add Rhino Rack Aero bars and upgrade the lid to support a roof top tent.

This is a short note to cover the adjustments that I made to the standard Stockman Pod Extreme product, that do not appear on their options list.

Drawbar Tiedown

To use the drawbar to carry light weight items such firewood or rubbish, added 4 D-ring tie-down points welded to the inside of the bar. This will enable the load to be secured on the top of the drawbar, and therefore not need to pass under the bar where the tie-down strap could be cut or scraped on a rock. The tie-down points are also set up enough to allow a PVC or steel pipe to pass through them, potentially allowing a hammock style carrier to be created for smaller items.

Frame Gusset

I added a gusset between the frame and drawbar. Stockman have never seen a case where separation was a problem but, since it was easy to do and it made me happy, it was done.

Water Tank Bash Plate

The Stockman water tank is 6mm thick poly roto-moulded plastic and it is very tough, well able to withstand blunt trauma from rocks and other material. It is also located much higher than the tow vehicle ground clearance. So there is little that can go wrong.

But to prevent damage due to sharp objects, such as branches and sticks, I’ve added an aluminium bash plate to the underside of the water tank. This is not to prevent normal impacts from being absorbed by the poly plastic tank, but rather to prevent a sharp object from penetrating the plastic. The concept is like lightweight medieval chain-mail used to prevent cutting and stabbing, rather than full plate armour.

Suspension Reinforcement Bracing

Triangulation gussets between the suspension hangers and the spring mounts was added as per the CruiseMaster installation recommendation. Prior to my build this was not being done but now it has become standard practice for Stockman to add the triangulation reinforcement bracing.

Hayman Reece Recovery Points

And finally, the standard D-ring recovery points were replaced with Hayman Reece 2″ hitch points. This allows recovery straps to be connected to the hitch point with standard hitch pins, rather than using a shackle. Also each Hayman Reece hitch can support other accessories, such as a vise mount for example. Using two hitch points allows recovery forces to be shared onto both side of the frame, and allows the trailer to be guided more accurately for a reverse recovery.