Ventura Roof Tents Review – Ventura Deluxe 1.4 & 1.8

Ventura Roof Tents have been around for a couple of years now, earning a name as quality roof tents for an affordable price.

The question is, are they good enough to be an entry level roof tent, are they ideal as ‘the first point of contact’ for those who would like to try out overlanding on a smaller budget? If your new Ventura roof tent does not deliver on quality, that’s a grand wasted, not to mention the frustration and the unpleasant experience…

The fact that they are still in business might mean something. So if you wonder if the Ventura roof tents are too cheap to be good, read on.

Ventura Roof Tents Review

Table of contents;

Overview

Ventura Deluxe 1.4 - lightweight and durable
Ventura Deluxe 1.4 – lightweight and durable

Ventura roof tents cater for all requirements from a small 2-person roof tent to having the largest roof tent on the market, big enough for 4 people.

All Ventura RTTs are soft-shell fold over roof tents with an assisted pitching mechanism. There is an optional Annex for each version so there’s plenty of options to get the Ventura that really suits your needs.

Ventura Deluxe 1.4

The number refers to the internal width, so all Deluxe 1.4’s are 140 cms wide. That makes them a 3 person roof tent, as in 2 adults and 1 child. But in all fairness, I would only recommend them as a 2-person roof tent.

And I say them, because there are 4 different options with the Ventura Deluxe 1.4: a normal and an extended version, with or without an annex.

Ventura Deluxe 1.4 is the smallest of them, the internal size is 140 by 230 cms. You can access through an aluminium telescopic ladder via the front, there are two canopy windows on the side and one large window at the back.

Ventura Deluxe 1.4 Extended + Annex - almost perfect setup for couples and small families
Ventura Deluxe 1.4 Extended + Annex – almost perfect setup for couples and small families

The Ventura Deluxa 1.4 Extended is slightly longer, but the actual size of the mattress is the same. The extended front makes access / egress a bit easier. Setting up the extension is simple, you need to slide the pole out from underneath the mattress and pull the extended flysheet over, creating a 80 cms long enclosure above the ladder, so you can come down the ladder completely undercover and enclosed.

But but its real benefit shows when you attach an Annex, maximizing the space enclosed by the Annex.

Who is the Ventura Deluxe 1.4 for?

Ventura Deluxe 1.4 Extended with Annex – in my opinion – is the best option for 2 people if you are looking for a small roof tent that ‘has it all’.

Ventura Deluxe 1.8

Going up one size, there are the 180 cm wide Ventura Deluxe Roof Top Tents. 180 cms is HUGE in the world of roof top tents, and actually, the Ventura Deluxe 1.8 is one of the biggest roof top tents available.

Ventura Deluxe - not particularly streamlined...
Ventura Deluxe – not particularly streamlined…

Any tent-maker would say without hesitation that a tent this big is a 4-berth tent, but to be honest, I don’t believe that 45 cms constitutes as a full space for a grown up adult.

In all fairness, 3 adults could sleep in it comfortably, alternatively, 2 adults and 2 kids.

The only way I could imagine the Ventura Deluxe 1.8 to be suitable for 4 adults if everyone was below 180 cms height: that way everyone could sleep crossways. The mattress is 230 cms long, which is plenty for 4 adults sleeping crossways. Downside, that if anyone sleeping inside needs going down for a quick loo-break, they will need to crawl over the others…

Ventura Deluxe 1.8 Ext - Plenty of space for 3 adults
Ventura Deluxe 1.8 Ext – Plenty of space for the entire family

Who is the Ventura Deluxe 1.8 for?

The Ventura Deluxe 1.8 is perfect for families with up to 2 kids.

There is only one version of the Deluxe 1.8, that is the extended version with twin ladders. My suggestion is that the Annex is a must have, if you’d like to fully enjoy the benefits of the extension.

Fitting, Weight & Pitching

All Ventura Deluxe RTTs come with fittings and fixtures (lately…), and they fit on almost every vehicle.

Obviously, the smaller Ventura Deluxe’s are lighter weight, weighing only 50 kgs. They come in a 150×125×30CM packed size. As for placing it over the crossbars, it is a two-person lift, but it’s more than manageable on the driveway of your home without any special lifting equipment.

Image showing Ventura Deluxe fitting to the crossbars of the car. The Ventura Deluxe rooftents fit almost every vehicle

The Ventura Deluxe 1.8 comes in a bigger box, 180 cms in length while the other measurements are the same. Despite weighing 60 kgs, sometimes it’s easier to place longer items on top of your car. I should also note that weighing only 60 kgs for a roof tent of this size – again, probably the biggest (or one of the) roof tents available – is sensational.

The only thing that you should be aware of is the 180 cm total length when packed up: some cars simple won’t be wide enough to carry it sideways, and my be not long enough to have 2 or 3 crossbars on their roof at a proper distance for optimal weight distribution.

So despite only weighing 60 kgs, the Ventura Deluxe 1.8 may not be suitable for compact cars / smaller estates.

As for pitching, all Ventura roof tents are equipped with a mechanism that makes pitching easier. Including the time to remove the UPVC cover as you arrive to the campsite, opening the tent up takes a minute or so. With all the other bits and bobs that need sorting, the whole process takes about 5-8 minutes.

Weather Resilience

According to the strapline, the Ventura Deluxe Roof Tent series is capable of withstanding extreme conditions, from –27 degree mid winter weather, to altitudes of more than 3000 Meters and the heat of Morocco. 

This is probably true, but it is not more than clever marketing: the Ventura has nothing extraordinary, that other roof tents would not have. So it may withstand extreme weather conditions, so as other roof tents, although there’s one point to make: at this price level it is rare to have poly-cotton flysheet and tent body. (I don’t have to go too far to find roof tents around £3000 with polyester flysheet…)

So, both the flysheet and the body on all Ventura Roof Tents are made of 420D Poly Oxford Cotton Canvas PU 1800mm, Waterproof/Water Resistant, UV protection, anti tear material.

What does it mean?

Water Resistance

420D – this refers to the thickness of the material (to put it simply), polycotton tent fabrics tend to be between 300D (lightweight) and 600D (‘rugged’), so the Ventura Deluxe’s 420D is pretty much average (which is good).

Poly Oxford Cotton Canvas – not just random words, but it’s a bit confusing. This means that the fabric is made of polycotton: a blend of cotton canvas and polyester (usually around 60-65% polyester). Polycotton is a great tent fabric, having the benefits of a cotton canvas (i.e. breathable, less prone to condensation, natural waterproof properties, better thermal properties i.e. insulation), while the polyester makes it more durable while reducing the weight of the fabric.

Easy to notice the typical pattern of the Oxford weaves on the fabric of the Ventura Deluxe
Easy to notice the typical pattern of the Oxford weaves on the fabric of the Ventura Deluxe

The Oxford bit refers to a type of weaving which makes the fabric more durable and thinner at the same time.

PU 1800mm – refers to a polyurethane coating applied onto the tent fabric, which increases the water proof properties, and – depending on the type of coating – makes the fabric UV resistant and fire retardant. On the other hand, a thick PU coating fills up the pores between the fibres of the fabric, making it non-breathable.

The 1800mm refers to the Hydrostatic Head rating in mm – simply put the fabric can withhold an 1.8 metres high watercolumn without the water getting through the fabric. The minimum these days is around 1500mm, anything below 1500mm is not deemed waterproof (but showerproof, ie. beach tents).

The average HH value is around 2-3000mm, while tents designed to withstand more sever conditions tend to have a HH rating up to 6000mm. This does not mean that the Ventura Deluxe is not waterproof, it’s always a balancing act between keeping the fabric breathable and making it waterproof. And don’t forget, polycotton has some natural waterproof properties: the cotton fibres swell when wet, closing any gaps where the water could get through.

Polycotton has a warmer feel than polyester - the ideal fabric for a family roof top tent
Polycotton has a warmer feel than polyester – polycotton is the ideal choice of fabric for a family roof top tent

This also means that polycotton tents need to be ‘weathered’ before the first use, to enable the cotton fibers to take up their final shape and provide the fabric with that natural resistance to water.

More on tent fabrics here: Tent materials, fabrics, specifications and all the acronyms. FAQ.

Wind resistance

The whole tent is built on an aluminium plate and uses aluminium frames that are – according to Ventura – wind tested up to 75 mph.

It is very rare for a manufacturer to provide you with a wind test for a fully pitched roof tent. If they do, it’s normally much less then 75 mph (that’s practically a hurricane). It’s more typical for manufacturers to wind-test the roof tents when they packed up to establish a maximum speed when in transit, on top of your car…that measure is normally ~70 mph (or some other manufacturers have their tents tested up to 90 mph)

Not sure about Ventura, but, just as a precaution, I would not pitch it in a hurricane…

Thermal Properties & UV Resistance

According to Ventura, the fabric is also solar-reflective. To be honest, I doubt that Ventura uses anything that comes close to those fabrics with real solar-reflective properties: those have aluminium fibres weaved in the fabric that reflect sunlight.

Don’t forget, that polycotton naturally has better insulation than polyester tents.

Down-points

Here comes the big BUT.

To be frank, I expected to find much more BUTs, and I thought I would have to use the phrase ‘for this price’ more often. I was quite surprised that this was not the case.

There are a few things though, that are worth considering, especially if you have read the loads of negative user reviews.

Condensation

One of the most common complaints was about condensation building up inside the tent. With polycotton fabrics all around and a bit of ventilation every now and then, condensation should not be an issue.

Considering all other quality-related complaints, it might have something to do with the supplier of the tent fabric, there might have been some inconsistency in the thickness of the PU layer applied. A PU layer too thick would prevent the fabric from breathing, allowing condensation to build up easily.

Manufacturing quality

There were quite a lot of complaints on manufacturing quality, especially around stitches. This seems to have stopped being an issue as of 2019.

There is one mention of a telescopic ladder which was quite stiff, but this customer received a replacement ladder that did not have this issue.

Ladder

Speaking of the ladder, you must bear in mind that the maximum length of the ladder in 2 metres. This may be an issue if you have a larger vehicle: the average height of an SUV is around 180 cms. With the roof rack on top etc. you can easily come close to the 2 metres access height, which would then mean that the ladder stands in an almost upright position. This is not the safest, nor the easiest way to get in, and even worse when getting out.

Mattress

The mattress is only 5 cms thick which can feel a bit tough on the aluminium flooring. You may need a mattress topper to make it a bit more comfortable. That’s not the end of the world though, and again, there are roof tents that cost twice or three times the price of the Ventura Deluxe, and don’t have much thicker mattress either.

Customer Service Issues

Mentioned more often in user reviews from 2018, people complained about parts that were missing from the box and late delivery of the tent etc. In general, Ventura received the overwhelming majority of bad reviews on TrustPilot purely on appalling customer service and lack of support when customers had issues with their order or with the tent.

I would not say it was typical, as other reviews from the same time spoke very highly about the customer service and mentioned how quickly and efficiently their problems were dealt with.

The negative reviews about customer service seem to have stopped now. I am guessing, it was more of a workload issue on the person dealing with customer queries than anything else…

Customer Service & Warranty

Having said that, by looking at the website, Ventura Roof Tents is still pretty much a one-man band: the name and phone number on the website is the owner’s name and phone number. Is it good? Well, you don’t need to ask for the manager if you are unhappy with the way they deal with your issue…

As for warranty, all Ventura RTTs come with a 2-year guarantee.

Verdict

If you are afraid that Ventura Roof Tents are suspiciously cheap, you are right. With the inconsistent build quality around 2018 and early 2019 it was certainly true and there was an element of luck of getting or not getting a Ventura Deluxe that was made on a Friday afternoon.

I believe that this fear can go away now. They are very cheap AND from what I can tell, they look pretty solid.

You get a decent roof tent that is bigger than anything for the same price, it has features that other roof tents might not have for twice the price.

Just have a look at this round-up on cheap roof tents, if you’d like to see what else is there for the price of a Ventura Deluxe: TOP 10 Cheap Roof Tent 2020 UK

Where to buy

The best place to buy the Ventura Roof Tents is the official Ventura website: you can get 10% off by subscribing for the Ventura newsletter, which makes the Ventura 1.4 by far the cheapest roof tent in the UK right now. This is also the place to go if you need an awning for example.

If you go to Essex, where Ventura Roof Tents are based, you can see them in real life too and get a hand in fitting it on top of your car.

Also see: Roof Top Tent Weight Limits to find out if your car’s dynamic load limit is high enough to carry a roof top tent.

Second best place to buy a Ventura Deluxe is eBay. You can often find good deals on eBay for tent + annex for example,  cheaper than the sale price on the website.

You can also buy a Ventura Deluxe through TrekOverland, however they sell them on full RRP.

 

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