I have an RTT on-order and I’m debating which ladder solution to go with. I’m curious what other folks think about the two options. I have a small dog I’ll be carrying up to the tent, so more stable is better. Here are the pros/cons I’ve come up with.
Collapsible Ladder Pros:
Allows access to the tent when the rear hatch is open (I have a drawer system and cook out the back, so the hatch is open often)
Cheaper than most hatch ladders
One less thing to rust/tarnish being on the back of the truck in the winter
It looks like it could be easier to get on and off of because it reaches all the way to the lip, so there’s not a gap that has to be cleared.
Collapsible Ladder Cons:
Needs to be stored somewhere in the truck
Needs to be extended during setup, collapsed during tear down
Takes up accessory space along the extrusion
Rungs can be uncomfortable with bare feet
Hatch Ladder Pros:
Always setup, doesn’t take up trunk space
Round rungs might be easier on bare feet?
Hatch Ladder Cons:
3M tape residue, possible marring if you ever wanted to take it off
None of the designs look like they use very sophisticated mechanical or aesthetic design (big bolts sticking out, bare hardware on black powder coat, sharp edges)
Anyone have experience with both?
I have both and use them simultaneously for uses similar to your needs.
I typically use the Hatch Ladder when camping by myself and or when accessing things the rack I have for the GFC. Other than that, the Collapsible Ladder is used for everything else including bringing my dog up/down
I’ve had my tent and both ladders for about 30+ trips so far and here’s what I can recommend
Collapsible Ladder Pros:
- Hatch stays open. I have drawers and a cooking system as well, so the hatch stays open almost all the time.
- I keep the ladder stored inside the GFC RTT, so it doesn’t take up additional cargo space. I have it stored between my mattress and an unrolled sleeping bag, so it doesn’t rattle.
- Much easier access angle when entering/exiting the tent. This is super important when hauling my dog(s). I usually have 1 of 3 dogs up there, and they vary in weight (15-50lbs).
Collapsible Ladder Cons:
- Yes, you have to extend/collapse them, but it literally takes like 30 seconds, including retrieving them from the RTT.
- If you choose not to store in the RTT, they’re pretty bulky to store in the cabin. I used to just strap them down to the top of my dog crate. It works, but still wasted space.
- May not be a problem for you since GFC just released additional windoors, however, you would always have to plan you camp around the ladder. I have a driver’s side door and although the ladder isn’t huge, it could get in the way if your setup is normally on that side.
- If you have an awning, it may get in the way depending on the size and what side it’s mounted on.
Hatch Ladder Pros:
- Looks cool.
- Allows me to access my roof rack without taking the collapsible ladder out
- If I’m camping by myself, then I just take out the collapsible ladder, and it’s 1 less thing to worry about.
- If you don’t keep the collapsible ladder in the RTT, there’s a chance you may leave it at home when leaving for camp (ask me how i know lol)
Hatch Ladder Cons:
- Mostly unnecessary weight.
- Struts will feel like they’re struggling. They hold well now, but who knows after a few years of use. If you mount anything on your ladder, you’ll need upgraded struts.
- Rounded bars suck. There’s no grip, and provide a very small footprint. Not a concern to most, but if it’s your only way up/down, you need to be more aware and/or less intoxicated. I’ve sort’ve fixed this by putting grip tape on the bars.
- You will kick your trunk. The bars are close to the trunk which inevitably causes your toes to hit the trunk when in use.
- The ladder isn’t inline. It takes getting used to going up/down on an offset ladder. The companies make a little “step” that attaches to the sides of the ladder, but I didn’t think they were necessary (kind of ugly too).
So, either way, I have both and will most likely keep both full time. My truck sounds similar to yours, so you may or may not benefit from having both. If you really want to pick one, stick with the collapsible - just be aware of the windoor/camp/awning restrictions. Aside from those, you’re good.
Feel free to ask more questions if needed, cheers
Thanks for the feedback. I didn’t know there was enough room to store in the tent itself. That’s good to know. I also hadn’t considered the possibility of leaving it at home, so that’s a good consideration too
Another thing to note - there’s enough space to store it if you’re using the supplied mattress. If you later decide to add a mattress topper, it won’t fit.
Between the two, I’d go with the collapsible ladder. Test it out, alter what you need after a bunch of trips, and if a hatch ladder is considered later, there are plenty of folks who’d buy the collapsible ladder from you.
@joserheo I’ve been out a couple times with the collapsing ladder and I’m starting to think the hatch ladder might be more my style. The tent is a bit finicky trying to close it with the ladder inside and the ladder takes up space and needs to be tied down if it’s going inside the 4Runner. With the drawers, it’s super quick to pack everything up to close the hatch and climb inside, so I don’t think that’s going to be as much as an issue as I thought. We only climb up into the tent after we’re all done for the day. Plus, we can hop on the tires if we need to toss things up there like pillows.
I think I’ve narrowed down to the Bajarack ladder
I think the Bajarack looks a little bit better designed as far as aesthetics, matching the truck, being low profile etc. But it’s steel (is it going to rust one day?) and has the rounded rungs that you noted are not the best for footing. We have camp slippers, so we’ll never be barefoot. I’m curious if you’d still consider the round rungs as a deal breaker.
The Greenlane is aluminum, with flat rungs, but the design is just a little clunky IMO. Could be they really wanted to let the function dictate the form.
Curious on your thoughts having lived with a hatch ladder. Thanks again for weighing in!
Hey man, glad you were able to test it out since everyone’s needs differ.
The BajaRack is a great option, however, I don’t have any experience with them. I have a Gobi ladder, and while it’s a great looking option, I believe the aluminum options are better overall.
I’m sure you’re aware, the Gobi ladder is somewhat identical to the BajaRack (however it’s straight, not curved). Here are my issues with my ladder:
Rungs are tiny and slippery with morning dew, rain, etc. - Simple fix is to adhere some skateboard tape to prevent slipping.
Lowest rung is not usable. It’s so close to the hatch, that you’ll either slip or kick the hatch - Fix is to PPF that area, or just not use it at all. It’s so close to the bumper, that you might as well use the bumper. Might be an issue with shorter folks and kids since the stretch from the lowest usable rung to the bumper is long.
The ladder is heavier than the aluminum options. The OEM struts can support the weight of the ladder, but not in cold conditions. I’ve had the ladder for about a year now, and while it’s the only thing mounted on the hatch, I’ve noticed the struts won’t hold the hatch open when cold (~30 degrees). - Fix would be to upgrade the struts (just make sure to watch youtube tips to not bash your taillight)
The ladder is steep. May not be an issue for you, but maybe your significant other and/or pup if you have one. - Fix is to keep the side ladder for when you need it.
Rust. Not an issue with mine, but if you decide to have 3rd party accessories that attach to the ladder, then wear and tear will eventually eat at the paint. - Fix would be to keep an eye out and repaint the worn areas as needed.
All things said, you can’t go wrong. If I did not get the Gobi second hand, I would have gone with an aluminum option. The Greenlane Off Road one looks great and seems superlight. All I can suggest is contacting these vendors to match your needs. They all have a similarly designed ladder and a somewhat competitive price point, so see which company’s lead time matches your needs.
From the top of my head, there’s Gobi, BajaRack, C4, Greenlane, Victory 4x4, and Ecotechne.
Don’t ditch the side ladder just yet. I’d test out the hatch ladder over multiple trips with and without your significant other and/or pet. You’ll kind of figure it out along the way, and if anything, you’ll keep both like I did. I’m glad I have both options. I use the hatch ladder when I’m on solo trips, and it definitely helps accessing anything you have mounted on the tent and opening/closing the tent.