Roof rack tent installation

How Do I Get A Roof Top Tent On The Car Roof?

You are thinking of buying a roof top tent or you have already bought one and now you are wondering how you can get it on the roof of your car. In this article, you will learn about several ways to safely take your roof top tent onto and off the car.

How do I get a roof top tent on the car roof? A roof top tent is placed on the car roof by at least one or more people lifting the roof top tent and placing it on the roof rack of the car. If the vehicle height is more than 5.2 feet, the roof top tent is lifted onto the car roof using a forklift or a special crane device.

In the following we will shed light on and explain this short and crisp answer in relation to the various situations, so that after reading this article there should be no unanswered questions about how the roof top tent is placed on the car roof.

It is also explained how you can get the roof top tent on the car all by yourself using a special device.


Lift the roof top tent onto the car roof without any tools

A roof top tent is a bulky object that is difficult to lift on your own, but actually quite easy with the help of several people on the roof of a car.

The first step is to determine the weight of the roof top tent, either by asking the manufacturer or by reading the information on the user manual.

The second step is to assess whether you can lift the determined weight of the roof top tent, according to your own age and gender, using the correct lifting technique, without the risk of injury.

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Nevertheless, it is important to correctly assess your own fitness in relation to the shape and weight of the roof top tent before lifting it onto the car roof.

Most roof top tent weigh more than 110 pounds and when closed have a shape that hardly allows you to lift the roof top tent onto the vehicle roof without at least demolishing the car.

The third step is to use the correct lifting technique to lift the roof top tent alone, in twos or even four (for very heavy roof top tents) and lift it onto the roof rack of the car.

You should make sure that everyone involved lifts the roof top tent evenly and that they do not damage the vehicle when logging it up.

Here is a short video on correct lifting and carrying:

After the roof top tent has been placed on the roof rack of the car, the same thing needs to be aligned and fastened to the roof rack with the U-bolts and nuts supplied. There should be a space of 27-29 inches between the roof racks. The exact information about the distance between the individual cross members can be found in the manufacturer’s operating instructions.

You can use a forklift to bring the roof top tent onto the car roof

If you have a slightly higher car roof, such as a truck or an SUV, then it makes sense to lift the roof top tent onto the roof with a forklift.

Since hardly anyone has a forklift standing around at home, this option is not available to most people. Unless you know someone who owns a forklift or you can place the roof top tent with a forklift directly at the dealer.

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Roof top tent dealers who have several roof tents in one warehouse usually also have a forklift. So when you go to pick up the newly purchased tent, the dealer can lift the roof top tent directly onto your car with the forklift.

This is particularly useful if you buy a large and heavy roof top tent such as the “Thule Tepui Ruggedized Autana 3 Tent“.

For example, the Thule Tepui Ruggedized Autana 3 Tent weighs 192 pounds. There you absolutely need help to mount it on your car roof. You can use a forklift or a lift system to get it onto the roof of your car.

Lift the roof tent onto the roof with a crane

For those who would like to be independent and not have to rely on a few buddies to come by to help or to have to find someone with a forklift, you can use a purchased or self-made crane device.

The modified motor crane: In order to be able to lift the roof tent onto the car roof alone and without assistance, you can modify a motor crane, for example.


A conventional motor crane is made to lift an engine out of a car and not actually to lift a roof tent onto a car roof. Because most motor cranes have an arm that is too short for the purpose discussed here, it must be lengthened.

The extension must be carried out professionally and correctly so that your safety is guaranteed and your vehicle is not damaged. An extension must be welded on to extend the crane arm. The welding work should be carried out by a professional, as incorrect welding does not guarantee the correct connection of the structural parts and the crane arm could break off and injure people or the roof top tent could be damaged.

Here I linked you to a very good motor crane that I use myself. This motor crane is very stable and is particularly suitable for conversion to a roof top tent lift system. ( link!)

Goplus 2 Ton Folding Engine Hoist Cherry Picker Shop Crane Hoist Lift, Heavy Duty Steel with 6 Iron Caster Wheels (Black)
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This option is particularly suitable for people who do not want to drive the roof top tent on the car roof all year round. So you can spontaneously decide to put the roof tent up on the roof of your car alone and then to put it down again after the trip.

A fixed crane or a pulley system also offers the same advantages.


The Suspenz Ceiling hoister uses stainless steel precision pulleys and hardware to hoist your watercraft. A self-locking safety cleat protects you and your watercraft from an accidental release.


The perfect way to store your rooftop cargo box or roof top tent, the Thule MultiLift box lift mounts on your garage ceiling. It works just as well for kayaks and surfboards, too.

It just depends on how much space you have at home or in your garage for such devices.

For example, you can have a fixed crane built for you, which is placed in a certain place on your property so that you can drive your vehicle underneath at any time. The roof tent can also be stored outdoors all year round, that’s no problem.

A pulley system is particularly suitable for those with a garage.


I hope that I was able to give you some useful hints and ideas so that you can get your roof top tent on your car roof safely and comfortably, either by yourself or with the help of friends and certain devices.

But one thing is very important, safty first! Always make sure that your construction is completely safe and that it is also suitable for the weight of the roof top tent.

The methods described here are certainly not the only ones that exist. People are very creative and come up with everything they can to move their roof top tent.