GFC camper vs ground tent

Hey there, I’ve been considering getting a GFC for some time but still can’t quite decide. . For those of you with a GFC camper do you ever still use a ground tent? Specifically do you use a nicer ground tent that isn’t super small but one you can stand up in or move around a little bit. I see pros and cons with a GFC and a ground tent. Here are some of my thoughts on the matter. Feel free to tell me I’m wrong or share your opinions if you want. Thanks

The thing I like most about the GFC is the ability to keep gear down below and then sleep up top. However I do find it odd that there are families of four sleeping people downstairs and upstairs. Doesn’t this mean all of your gear has to be pulled out and put in the elements or then stuffed in the cab of the truck? Seems like a bit of a hassle.
While this is a pro I also see it as a con because walking in and out of a ground tent is easier than climbing up a ladder or climbing through a hole. When it comes to going pee in the middle of the night seems like a little more of a hassle in a GFC especially if you are a female.
With the gfc if I have uneven ground I can level the truck and sleep where I want which is good unless there is a nice spot that I can’t get to because there are obstacles in my way. In this case a tent would be beneficial because I could actually sleep where I want rather than where I can get to.
I’m not a fan of campgrounds but some times at a campground the place you park your vehicle is not the most ideal spot to camp. Camping in a GFC at some campgrounds is like sleeping in a parking spot.
I like the idea that the GFC is easily deployed and pulled down so for the times where I am in and out of a spot quickly I like this feature but I do a lot of camping where I spend at least three to seven days in the same spot so being able to close the tent really fast is not always that big of a deal. I feel like if I spend thousands of dollars for a GFC I will really want to be in it all the time but perhaps bringing a tent for those times when you know you may want it is something others do as well? I have a four-person gazelle tent that sets up and takes down pretty quickly. Not as fast as a GFC but it’s really comfortable and easy to use.

The last thing I consider is the amount of space or room you have. When your tent is deployed on a GFC you have the space in the bed of the truck but when it comes to a ground tent you can make it as big as you want. Assuming you have a good enough spot to put the tent of course. You can get an eight-person tent for 200 to $800… If you really want to have a nice place to sleep inside and cook and Camp it just seems like there’s way more room if you get the right size tent. Now I get of having to set up the tent and put everything in it may be a con but there’s just no comparison to the amount of room you could have in a tent comparing it to being confined in the back of a truck. You spend thousands of dollars for a very tiny space in a gfc. Just something I’m thinking of.

I will never go back to sleeping on the ground unless it’s backpacking…

  1. Never have to worry about rocks/uneven ground.

  2. Never have to worry about ground water/bugs.

  3. Get some wicked awesome views from up higher/less worry about animals, etc.

Yes, you can get a ground tent for much cheaper and that will be much bigger…but both serve very different purposes.


Winter camping was my deciding factor. All winter I leave work thursday after work, ski pow friday morning anywhere in Idaho. Anyone who tells you they would throw up a tent at 11 PM in a 0 degree storm is a damn liar haha


I use all forms of tents. Let me lay my uses as well as pros and cons.
Smaller ground tent, use it if I am on moto, fine for just me otherwise not ideal for anything else.

Large ground tent 6’7” interior height. Have one from REI and haven’t used it in years.

Large awning tent. This is from Ironman and I can hook it to my awning mounted to my GFC. It’s a great option for a room if the bugs are out in full force. I use two cots in it which is really comfortable. My daughter and I go this route if we camp and ride our dirt bikes. Con is the set up with the cots. I could sleep on the ground but why if I have a big ol tent.

Rooftop tent (traditional clam shell style) was my old setup but it’s almost back to the ground tent but off the ground. I liked it but I had it mounted over the bed of my truck low with a tonneau cover. Was in a roll over in a SUV with the tent on top so I will never do that again. Love the tent but didn’t love the setup which leads me to the reason for getting a GFC.

GFC allows me the combo of all of these. I can still use my truck as a truck (mostly). I can stand and hangout in it if the weather sucks. I am one of those with a family of 3 where our kid sleeps downstairs. I built a “bed” for her where I store my camp gear underneath. About half the width of the bed. I can access my fridge from the side of the GFC. Set up and take down is the fastest out of all of them, if you have a system. I can mount on top as well, I have a box for tools and dirty clothes on long trips and recover boards. This set up really is the best and I would not consider another set up unless I win the lottery and get an earth roamer.

I don’t do campgrounds and we usually don’t stay in one place more than a night. It is a pain if you are staying as that is the only way of getting around so take down and setup could potentially be annoying for some. We just spent 10 days 3300 miles in it and I absolutely love the GFC. Just spent last night on Pikes Peak put my brother in the awning tent and we were still under 30 minutes to set up as well as take down.

Haven’t winter camped in this set up, but I can’t wait to.

Hopefully this gives you a little perspective.

For reference I have a 21 ford ranger crew cab with a 5’ bed. If I had a 6’ bed it would be even better.


Haven’t used a ground tent in almost 10 years now. Being off the ground in either a trailer, a RTT, or the platform camper is more comfortable and I can’t think of any ground tent that I’ve seen that packs up as quickly as the GFC. Even our trailer takes the same amount of time to break down as some ground tents.

I’ve camped a lot in various sized ground tents and we have 3 nice tents in the basement, including a large 8 person cabin style tent with a 7ft ceiling, but I don’t intend to ever sleep in them again if I can avoid it. We bought our first trailer in 2014 and that was our primary camping method, only using a ground tent on a handful of trips until we bought a RTT in 2016. Since 2016 we haven’t used the ground tent at all. In 2021 we decided to buy a new trailer that was more conducive to off-road travel and disbursed camping and we haven’t used the RTT since. Last year we replaced the RTT with the GFC platform camper for a few reasons:

  1. I wanted an quick option when solo camping that didn’t involve me emptying whatever was in the bed of the truck to sleep
  2. we wanted to move the kids out of our small trailer but keep them off the ground in bear country (yeah yeah…bears can climb…still better than being on the ground in a tent)
  3. I didn’t like the handling of the truck with the weight of the leer shell and RTT
  4. I didn’t like the time it took to setup and breakdown the RTT

An added bonus of the GFC that I hadn’t considered prior to purchasing is that it makes a great “base” for skiing, both backcountry and when resort skiing with the kids.

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Almost always solo camp, I don’t “set up” my tent until time for bed. It takes about 15 seconds (yes then 10 minutes to move nighttime items there and prep). No worries about insects getting inside due to staying closed. Packing up, less than a minute. Still faster and easier than anything else out there.

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