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Yakima SkyRise HD Medium Review: Sleeping Off the Ground

Yakima SkyRise HD Medium RTT El Camino Del Diablo Hero(Photo/Ron Frazelle)
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Yakima has been a household name in the bike world since 1979. The rack giants were also among the first popular brands to produce car-roof-mounted bike-carrying solutions. Nowadays, they do much more than that, like the SkyRise rooftop tent series.

Lately, Yakima has focused on the many different aspects of adventure, while providing cargo and gear management solutions to help get you there. But, what we’ll be focusing on in this post is their SkyRise HD Medium rooftop tent.

Maybe you’re thinking “Wait, a rooftop tent review on a bike site”? Absolutely. Why not? I enjoy, nay, love taking my Jeep out camping and I love doing it with or without riding my bikes… and I know a lot of you do too. The two activities shouldn’t be mutually exclusive. So, read on.

Yakima SkyRise HD Medium

There are a lot of different configurations of rooftop tents these days. And the Yakima SkyRise is what I would call a “fold-out” rooftop tent. With this type of tent, the ladder is an integral part of its structure when opened for use, as it supports the overhanging part of the tent.

We owned the first generation of the Tuff Stuff Overland Ranger rooftop tent, which is also a “fold-out” type rooftop tent. We had it installed on “Ol’ Blue”, our ’95 Jeep Cherokee for almost 5 years. I didn’t mind it… but I didn’t love it either. That tent had some annoying aspects to it that are the same annoying things about the SkyRise…which we’ll touch on later.

Yakima SkyRise HD Medium RTT left side

The SkyRise HD (heavy duty) is rated as a 4 season tent. This comes in handy when we disperse camp in the deserts surrounding Southern California. In the winter the nighttime temps in the desert can drop to the high 20s – low 30s F, and even colder if you get up into some elevation.

Yakima SkyRise HD Medium RTT logo shot

Having the “HD” version of this tent with its 600D ripstop polyester fabric and 3000mm waterproof PU coating helps keep us warm on those cold desert evenings. Rain’s not a big issue where I live, but the SkyRise HD does have a removable rainfly.

Yakima SkyRise HD Medium RTT Maria
My wife, Maria… good shot of the roof windows

There are 4 large windows to get the full scope of your surroundings while in the tent, plus two “skylights” to star gaze while falling asleep. These top windows are on the rainfly as well, so your view of the sky is always available if you see fit.

The geometry of the frame of the tent did seem to allow for more usable space inside. The sleeping area is 56″ wide by 96″ long. Plenty adequate for two adults and a decent amount of gear, or two adults and a child/dog and a little bit of gear. The height of the tent’s interior while opened is 48″ high.

SkyRise HD Medium Details

  • Two size options provide room for two or three campers (small and medium)
  • Frame geometry offers more usable space
  • Large doors, windows, and skylights open up the vistas
  • 4-season weather protection: 600D Ripstop Polyester fabric with a 3000mm waterproof PU coating
  • Rainfly with 210D Ripstop Polyester, 3000mm PU waterproof coating
  • Guy lines and D-rings on the tent floor to hang gear or tie down the tent in windy conditions
  • Abrasion-resistant tent floor with a textured finish for added durability
  • Ladder has mid-height adjustment points for easy set-up
  • Ladder auto-close function that makes it a snap to close up
  • Tool-free and lockable vehicle mounts—easy to put on, quick to take off
  • Easy-to-deploy design means less work and more play—great when it’s dark or raining
  • 2.5″ thick foam mattress
  • The foam sleeping pad includes a removable cover for easy cleaning
  • Mesh panel improves ventilation and lets you view the starry skies
  • The aluminum tent frame is light, strong, and pre-set to make pitching a breeze
  • Open Dimensions: 56″ x 96″ x 48″ High

SkyRise HD Medium Specs and Retail

Retail: $2499

  • Weight: 114.64 lbs.
  • Dimensions: L 58.00 in x W 48.00 in x H 17.00 in
  • Minimum Crossbar Spread 26.00in
  • Maximum Crossbar Spread 40.50in
  • Limited 2-year warranty

SkyRise HD What I Liked, What I Didn’t

What I liked:

Yakima SkyRise HD Medium RTT El Camino Del Diablo sunset from the back

The Yakima SkyRise HD is a quality built tent, using high-quality materials. The heavy-duty 600D ripstop material was very nice. It had a quality feel and a great fit and finish to it. Being a four-season tent, it kept us warm on a very cold night during a recent multi-day trip through the Sonoran desert.

Yakima SkyRise HD Medium RTT comfy mattress

I loved the mattress. The 2.5″ high-density foam mattress is very comfortable. It’s not only comfortable, but it seems to insulate us from the cold floor underneath the mattress.

Yakima SkyRise HD Medium RTT sheets

When Yakima sent out the tent they sent some of their optional accessories with it as well. Of all the accessories, the SkyRise BedSheets fitted sheets were my favorite. they are specifically tailored to fit the SkyRise mattress. After washing them first, they were soft and comfortable.

They’re made from 100% GOTS-certified organic cotton. When you opt for the fitted sheets, you get two pillowcases, a fitted bottom sheet and a top sheet with a pocketed end, keeping it tucked in for the cold nights.

Yakima SkyRise HD Medium RTT sleeping area

There were a plethora of lil’ storage pockets inside the tent, which was a nice touch. We used one for a permanent spot for the charger to use for your phone or an LED light strip.

Speaking of light strips, Yakima also included the SunBelt flexible LED interior light strip when they sent the tent. That’s a nice touch as it can stay in the tent when you close it up. It uses Velcro straps and can be attached anywhere in the tent. Nice touch. They sent the SideKick shoe bag and SkyHooks with the tent as well.

The SideKick shoe bag is big enough for two pairs of shoes or one pair of hiking boots. It has a clever mounting method using a soft plastic tube that slides into the side rail of the tent.

Yakima SkyRise HD Medium RTT inside

I liked the size of the inside of the tent. It felt roomy and comfortable. Watching movies and sleeping with two adults and gear was no problem. The 48″ high ceiling was less desirable. I could’ve used a higher ceiling as kneeling to turn around or grab something from the other side of the tent, was not great. I also found it odd that the tent doesn’t come with a condensation pad under the mattress. Most tents that I’ve researched do.

The SkyRise HD Medium’s overall weight of 114 lbs was a highlight as well. Although the Yakima Rib Cage rack system that I installed on our Jeep JL has a 300+ pound dynamic weight limit, keeping the weight down when loading a vehicle’s roof is very important. Especially if the vehicle does any off-roading.

This tent comes with an oversized cover that was a relief to use. On our other tent, the cover was zippered to the base. It was tight and fitted, making it very hard to get the tent material “just right” to get the cover on. But this tent was relatively easy to slip the cover over, leaving it not baggy.

When folding the SkyRise up for the first time, the rainfly and tent material bellowed out the sides. I was so relieved to find out that the cover was oversized, leaving room to easily slip the cover over the folded tent. It uses velcro to attach to the base, which also adds some wiggle room to get the cover on. It buckles down in six different places to keep the flapping under control while driving.

I love that it allows you to keep your bedding (a reasonable amount) in the tent when closing it up. For us, the sheets, two pillows, a thin Kelty comforter, and a medium-loft down comforter. This is a game changer for us, as there is limited storage in the Jeep itself.

What I Didn’t like:

One of the highlights of owning a rooftop tent is the quick, easy deployment and breakdown of the tent. I found that that highlight goes away with the SkyRise on a vehicle with a higher-than-normal stance… like a Jeep Rubicon. This isn’t really a knock on the tent itself, but more on the choice of vehicle.

The “fold-out” style tent, like the SkyRise, would be fine on vehicles that have a lower stance. This would put the mounted tent closer to the ground, making it easier to fiddle with. For example on our Jeep Cherokee, this wasn’t a real issue, as it was not as tall as our current Jeep.

With our current Jeep, I ended up finding this style of tent undesirable. The Rubicon allowed the tent to sit too high, making it difficult to navigate when deploying and closing the tent. Bringing a step stool helped with this, to a degree, but overall, it’s a less desirable solution.

Also, I didn’t care for the rainfly design. It’s cumbersome and bellows out much more than it should when folding the tent up. This makes the tent even more difficult to close and slide the cover over it. In addition, If you have an awning mounted next to the tent, as we do, you won’t be able to use the rainfly poles to prop the rainfly up on the side with the awning. The Skyrise’s rainfly is easily removable, which we did, which solved these problems.

This might be something of a small criticism, there are ill-fitting flaps that cover the hinges of the tent, one thick one outside, and a thinner one on the inside. These work “ok”, but leave a lot to be desired. They don’t stay closed well and let not only cold air in, but potential bugs (mosquitos) as well.

I should note that this is not something that is only an issue on the SkyRise, it’s the same with all “fold-out” style tents. Not sure there’s even a solution for it, as I’m pretty sure it needs to be there for the tent to operate. Just something to be aware of.

Yakima SkyRise HD Medium RTT Yuma AZ
The tent all closed up, sitting much higher than I would like, in Yuma, Arizona… ready to tackle the El Camino Del Diablo trail.

When mounted to our Jeep with the supplied quick-mount mounting brackets, the tent ended up sitting very high on the roof. Some wind noise is to be expected when running a rooftop tent, but with the extra height, it was a lot of wind noise. I would opt to not have the quick-mount mounting brackets if possible.

In Conclusion

Overall I would say that the Yakima SkyRise HD Medium is a good tent. It’s well built using quality products, it was very easy to mount on the Jeep. It is very comfortable with a quality mattress. I believe it will last a very long time.

However, I don’t think it’s the right tent for my particular application. While having it mounted on the Jeep, and using it quite a bit in the last few months, it provided a mostly positive experience. In contrast, the little things that rubbed me the wrong way were often very frustrating.

The cost of the tent seems on par, if not a little on the high side for tents of this style. But, that being said, it is a tent of very high quality with some attention to important details.

If you have a vehicle that doesn’t have a ride height that is on the higher side, or an adventure trailer…something that allows you to essentially move around the vehicle to close the tent up, I would recommend this tent.

Yakima SkyRise HD Medium RTT El Camino Del Diablo sunset
Sunset, dinner time.

The Yakima SkyRise HD Medium is a solid investment for the camper who doesn’t want to have to find the perfect ground to pitch a tent and wants to sleep up off the ground to help them get their “glamp” on, this is the tent for you.


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Eggs Benedict
Eggs Benedict
7 months ago

You (Bikerumor) should open up/allow for commenting in the Best Of articles. That way people can share their experience with the manufacturer’s items on your best of list.

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