Camping with a rooftop tent is a great thing. There are many beautiful campgrounds in the USA that you can easily reach (even with your tiny hatchback 😉 ). But what if you want to camp away from the public roads in the wild nature?
A rooftop tent is ideal if you just want to drive off and explore the wilderness. You can just stop anywhere and set up the roof tent there and stay overnight (Of course only if wild camping is officially allowed).
It’s a lot of fun driving your 4×4 on dirt roads. However, there are still a few important things you should keep in mind when driving off-road with the rooftop tent.
You should take some time to prepare yourself, your vehicle, and your roof tent for the off-road camping trip. Here I would like to tell you about my experiences with my jeep and the rooftop tent.
I hope that this article can give you some important tips to better prepare you and your vehicle for the upcoming off-road trip.
The most important things you should consider on an off-road trip with your 4×4 and the rooftop tent
These tips are based on my personal experience with my Jeep. Of course, you should give more thought to the preparation. Everyone has their personal experiences with the off-road camping trip!
Overhangs and trees
When driving through the forest with your rooftop tent, it can quickly happen that low-hanging branches damage the rooftop tent.
If you own a softshell rooftop tent, branches can damage the fabric. If you have a hardshell rooftop tent mounted on the roof, branches grazing the tent are not that bad, but they can damage or scratch the shell.
Therefore, you should always be careful when driving under low-hanging trees.
If you drive through very difficult terrain, you should always consider that the rooftop tent shifts the center of gravity of your vehicle further up. This increases the risk of tipping over or rolling over.
So if you drive up a big incline or a track that consists of big boulders, you should drive very slowly and always think about the additional weight on the vehicle roof.
Weight transfer on climbs
Where is your rooftop tent fixed on the vehicle roof? If it is attached exactly in the middle, it is attached further in front or further back on the vehicle roof. You always have to keep in mind that a rooftop tent affects the center of gravity of your vehicle.
It is ideal if the rooftop tent is positioned exactly in the middle of the vehicle roof. You should also always check that the rooftop tent is optimally fixed and cannot slip while driving through rough terrain.
Sliding loads on the vehicle roof can quickly lead to dangerous situations!
Place roof bars as low as possible
Especially if you are out and about with your 4×4 and a rooftop tent, you should make sure that your rooftop tent is attached as close as possible to the vehicle roof.
You can use special roof bars that are very low.
If the rooftop tent is placed too high, it can have a negative impact on the center of gravity of your vehicle. As a rule, try to position the rooftop tent as low as possible.
The lower position can also have the additional advantage off-road that you can drive better under bridges or under low-hanging trees without damaging the rooftop tent.
It does make your truck more tippy
As mentioned above, the center of gravity of a vehicle is extremely important when driving off-road. The additional weight on the roof can be particularly noticeable on steep slopes or inclines.
If you don’t own a rooftop tent yet and are looking for a rooftop tent, it can make sense to buy a rather small and light rooftop tent!
>> Have a look at my article about small and light rooftop tents. <<
Take enough tools and spare parts with you
On an off-road camping tour, it can be very important that you have the right tools with you to be able to fix any damage to the vehicle.
In any case, you should have a toolbox with the most important tools to repair your vehicle in a makeshift way, until you are back in town and can take your vehicle to a professional repair shop. Nothing is worse than having damage to your vehicle that disables your vehicle and ruins your camping trip.
You should always have a spare tire with you that is new or in very good condition. It is also important that you have a high-quality jack with you to make it easier for you to mount the new tire.
Of course, duct tape belongs in every trunk! In the case of minor damage, you can quickly and easily fix broken or bent parts of the vehicle or rooftop tent.
Put a can of water or coolant in the trunk. An off-road trip can be very taxing on your vehicle’s engine and cooling system. You should therefore always have water or coolant with you so that you can refill the coolant in the event of overheating.
A winch can also be very handy. Many vehicles offer the possibility to install a winch that can save you and your vehicle in difficult situations.
Off-road driving with the rooftop tent is totally different than driving a 4×4 on the road to the next campground. Of course, off-road driving with a jeep or truck is a lot of fun, but it is also more dangerous and requires a few preparations.
So it’s better to be well prepared than if you end up causing damage, tipping over with the 4×4, or even damaging your vehicle and not having helpful tools or spare parts with you.
Planning for an off-road rooftop tent camping trip is particularly important here!
If you have any other tips or tricks, I would ask you to write me a comment under the article so that I can supplement and optimize this article if necessary.
Download Our Roof Top Tent Overview (PDF)
In this pdf file, we give you an overview of the most popular rooftop tents. You can download this PDF file for free and use it freely!