We all just love to go out into nature on our weekends and spend a few nice days there, don’t we? I used to pack my tent and drive off, or later I also had a camper that I drove around with. But over time it turned out that the big campers are not for me and I prefer to be flexible. I want to drive to places and camp there that you normally cannot reach if you stick to the normal official roads. That’s why I bought a jeep back then and drove it through forests and pitched my tent in the wild.
Of course, that was always great and a really great experience. But with time and age you get more and more comfortable and don’t want to have to do with setting up tents. That’s why I came to the roof rack tent. When I read in a forum how easy and uncomplicated it is to erect such a roof tent, I was immediately impressed and bought a roof rack tent like this. I was totally enthusiastic about this type of camping, because you are much more flexible and don’t have to search for an optimal location for your tent for so long, because where the car is currently, I can sleep, just perfect.
What I also see as an advantage is that I can now sleep in an elevated position above the ground and don’t have to worry about any animals in the forest. I just pull up the ladder and everything is safe and sound.
Today’s roof rack tents are manufactured to such a high standard that you no longer have to worry about leaks or even tents falling. In this following guide, I would like to show you a few tips and tricks on what to look out for when buying a roof rack tent. Have fun while reading.
The Roof Rack Tent Buyer’s Guide: 12 Things to Consider
There are so many different roof rack tents on the market now. Various retailers offer various versions of these roof tents and you quickly lose track of them. There are very expensive tents (which is sometimes much too exaggerated), but there are also cheap tents and you can quickly become overwhelmed with the selection of roof tents.
- The Price
One of the first things you see when looking for roof rack tents is definitely the different price ranges of the various tents. But what should you spend on a good roof tent for your car? I can tell you from experience that you don’t always have to buy very expensive roof tents. Usually, these prices are much too high! You should spend between $ 800-2000 on the roof rack tent. Meanwhile, the cheaper tents are also very well made. And always keep in mind that you have to have some money on hand for the roof rails.
- Tent Security
If you are looking for a roof rack tent on the internet, please always make sure that the tents are attached to the car. With some variants, the anchoring on the car or on the roof rail is not so good. It can come loose and, in a serious case, fall or come loose on the highway and cause annoying noises. But if you look for roof tents on our website, you can be sure that we only recommend good and safe tents that we have already tested ourselves.
- How Well They Secure in Place
Always make sure that the roof rack tent is screwed securely and firmly to your car or SUV. What must not happen is that the tent comes loose at night and slides back and forth. Therefore, always make sure that the screw connection is well secured.
- Their length and width
When you have found your favorite roof rack tent, always check whether it really fits on the roof of your car. Sometimes it can be of course that your car is much narrower than the shape of the tent. This can quickly become dangerous if, for example, you drive on narrow roads and get stuck somewhere. The best thing is if the tent, when assembled, is flush with the vehicle body or is slightly smaller. The length of the roof rack is also important. It shouldn’t protrude backward or forwards and thus impair your view of the traffic. If the tent protrudes far in front or in the back, this can also be illegal, different from state to state, please inquire again exactly about the legal situation in your state.
- Its Weight
Of course, the weight of the tent on your car roof should not be underestimated either. Please make sure that the roof of the car is able to take such a weight. You can find this information either in the manual for your car or on the manufacturer’s website. But most current car models have no problem with that, as the tent rests on the roof rails and these rails are connected to the A and C pillars of your vehicle. But please inquire beforehand if you are not entirely sure.
- How it Impacts Your Gas Mileage
Of course, with such a structure on your car, fuel consumption will also increase. That is the disadvantage of a roof rack tent. Since these tents are also mounted on the car roof, they naturally interfere with the car’s aerodynamics. But it is always like this, the faster you drive, the higher the disruption to the vehicle’s aerodynamics. That’s why you shouldn’t drive too fast with a roof tent. Take it easy, after all, you go camping and not on the racetrack;) But definitely expect more fuel consumption.
- How Aerodynamic They Are
Most roof rack tents are not built very aerodynamically. It is therefore advisable not to drive as fast as you normally do without a roof tent. The fuel consumption with a roof tent will also increase, as the aerodynamics will be significantly impaired with such a structure.
- The Aesthetics
Of course, you can argue … some people like it, and some people don’t. If you drive around with such a roof tent you will definitely stand out. You will be outed as fast as a camper! Don’t forget that you can no longer drive into the car wash with a roof tent, for example. Otherwise you would probably damage the roof tent. You also have to be careful in parking garages, as your car is now much higher than without a tent.
- Its volume
Of course, it depends on the model you choose. There are small tents for 1-2 people, but there are also roof tents for more people. That is always your personal taste and it depends on what you want to do. But I can recommend that you always buy a larger roof rack tent because you also want to stow additional things in the tent overnight that you cannot leave in the car interior.
- Overall Compatibility
As alluded to above, compatibility is also essential to the roof box equation. You need to make sure that your roof box actually fits on top of your roof. We already talked a bit about securing it into place, but there’s more to that than simply making sure it doesn’t slide down the back or fly off the car.
For one thing, certain roof tents are designed with certain vehicles and classes in mind. You’ll, thus, want to pay attention to the vehicle classes listed for each of the roof tents we mention below.
Whether or not your vehicle already has racks installed on top of the roof can also make a big difference in terms of which roof tents are compatible, and how you can get them to fit. As mentioned, different roof tents need different roof racks. You’ll, thus, need to check if those racks can be attached to your roof’s existing racks and, if not if the roofing tent can work with the ones your vehicle already has.
- The Way it Opens
Most roof rack tents open to the side right away. The roof tents then have a ladder with whose help you can get into the tents. But there are also versions that have the entry on the back. Once you are in the tent, you can usually close the tent with a zipper. The quality of the materials has meanwhile also become very good so that they really rarely break.
- Frequency of Use
Today’s roof racks are built up in such a way that you can easily use them very often. If you take care of your roof tent properly, you will enjoy your tent for a long time. So it really comes down to care. You should regularly clean and care for the outer skin of the tent. Moving parts should also be lubricated regularly with grease or silicone. For example, I have a roof tent that I’ve been using for more than five years and the tent still looks new and works fine.
Here is a list of rooftop tents that I can recommend. Just click on the link and you will be redirected to the respective provider where you can find out more details about the rooftop tents.
- 2-3 person tent with high-density 92″ x 55″ foam double/full mattress and 661 lb. max load;
- 600D heavy-duty waterproof top and extra large rain fly; sunroof;
- Side windows, top sunroof and both front back extra entrance with mosquito netting;
- Aluminium telescopic ladder;
- PVC rooftop cover.
- Can accommodate up to four people
- Includes an extended private canopy entrance with removable annex
- Constructed from coated 600 denier and a 260g poly-cotton blend made to withstand the elements of any season
- Tent fabric is UV resistant and withstands the elements of any season
- Mesh panels offer plenty of ventilation and open for more airflow
- Four, large internal pockets for storing gear and camping accessories
- Includes a high-density foam mattress for added comfort
- Can accommodate up to two people
- Ultra low profile design folds down to 7″ / 18 cm for better aerodynamics and vehicle fit
- Tent base is constructed of thermoplastic materials that are both durable and 100% recyclable
- The Dome canopy is lightweight while still providing all-season protection
- Patented ZipperGimp easily attaches the canopy to the base of the tent
Here we show you the rooftop tents from Rei.com. If you would like to find out more about a special roof tent from Rei, simply click on the link and you will be redirected to Rei.com in a new browser window.
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!