A rooftop tent has gained immense popularity with time in overland adventures. This came into the market for the explorers and adventurers who wished to keep themselves off the ground predators. It came into use with the Australian Outback exploration. But, currently, it’s every camper’s ease and convenience. Roof Rack Tent is easy to set up and simple to use. They are fast to set up without any traditional tent setting like tough ground or driveways to parking lots. Your vehicle is its ground to set it up. This makes it a versatile camping tent during your travel. A rooftop tent has become essential gear for several overlanders. This gear is always set on their rigs. They are cool and functional. Owing to their advantages and features, roof rack tents have become so popular.
What is a roof rack tent?
A roof rack tent is a camping accessory that fits the motor vehicle roof easily. It was designed to provide the campers or travelers with a comparatively safe environment in comfort. These first originated in the western region of Europe around the 1930s. A roof rack tent needs a roof rack to set the tent. A roof rack is the framework support to hold the tent. Once set up or installed, it goes all the way to your destination. While traveling, the rooftop tent is collapsed. When you wish to use it, you pop it up open and relax in.
Rooftop tents are often seen on Land Rovers for an expedition. However, it does not limit to a certain vehicle. It can be fitted to any vehicle. They are mounted on a roof rack or roof bars that are set over the vehicle roof. They have evolved. They form a ridge pole conventional tend over a vehicle. They are folded into a small package. They are set up on a roof rack. There are several styles and designs in the market currently from waterproof to molded ones to cantilever arrangement types to gas rams that erect the tent automatically to lightweight ones. The design and style are up to you to choose and to your budget.
Purpose of a rooftop tent
While camping, the rooftop tent remains on your car roof. These roof tents let you have your base camp with you at all times during your travel. You are safe and secure from the land of reptiles, bugs, or other creatures. You are comfortable in your cave and explore frequently and easily. You get waterproof tents that keep you secured even when it’s rainy. Your expedition never stops.
Why is a roof rack tent better than a normal tent?
Roof rack tents are quick and easy to set up. Once installed, you can have them all through your travel. You can collapse them during the travel and pop them open when you want to be in your basecamp. This saves you time and the bedding always remains in its place. However, what makes them better than a normal tent? Let’s take a look at some important variations that give a roof rack tent an edge over a normal tent.
- Ground tents- Ground tents are tough to set up and have to be removed or rolled up whenever, you relocate. You will need some tarp as a footprint below the tent to shield yourself from the tough ground. You need a bigger setup for bigger tents like stakes, tie-downs, and poles.
- Rooftop tents- This type of tent just needs you to position the tent supports by folding them open. While some rooftops can be handled by one person, some others may need additional help to pitch like for taller vehicles. You, however, do not need cumbersome hardware to set it up. They are quick to pitch, hence time-saving. Your bedding remains intact and in place without any rolling or packing unlike in a ground tent.
- Ground tents- You need a flat surface or a proper ground level for an appropriate ground tent set up. You need to even out things and dig up holes for an even sleeping surface. You might experience non-friendly terrain at stakes or poles when camping in a non-designated location. Ground could be cold, and uncomfortable and sand or dust can be messy. You can experience heat loss in a ground tent. However, in windy areas, ground tents are more stable.
- Rooftop tents- Setting up, looking for ground, level ground, and others are not an issue when it comes to these units. The odds of ground camping are eliminated with a tent mounting on a vehicle roof. In windy areas, the tent can rock or buffet due to the wind blowing around.
- Ground tents- These tents can accommodate 2-3 individuals with a little extra room. This is family-friendly. You can stand up in some tents.
- Rooftop tents-The majority of rooftop tents can accommodate 2-3 people. Standing up to your height may not be possible here. However, camping for 2 is a breeze with these tents.
Comfort and Accessibility
- Ground tents- Padding, pillows, and sleeping bags have to be unpacked once the camping tent is set up. This is time-consuming and exhausting at times after a long journey. Since it is at ground level, open the flap and walk in. Getting out is equally easy.
- Rooftop tents- These units permit accessibility to a bed right away when they are set to open. You need to pick up a ladder to get into your rooftop. So, it could be a little tougher for seniors or people with some limitations. Getting out is the same. However, it is fun for overlanders who can explore any time of the day and enjoy the star-studded sky view too at night. They are comfortable with padded flooring. No pre-preparation or post-packing for sleeping. No cold grounds or tough weather seeping from the bottom.
- Ground tents- The land reptiles, hard ground, and other hazards can be daunting for you to have a peaceful sleep.
- Rooftop tents- You are on a level with no accessibility to reptiles, land bugs, and so on. You can have a peaceful sleep. You are safe from snakes, scorpions, bears, lions, etc.
Rooftop tents are convenient, less in maintenance, critter secure, cool, fun, and time saving as compared to ground tents.
Advantages of a roof tent
There are several advantages of a roof tent with several options that can convert your vehicle top to rooftop base camp for adventure camping.
- Off the ground- Rooftop tents keep you safe from bugs, animals, dirt, and raised views during your camping. It keeps you dry in any climate and high in view level which is cool and fun.
- Easy and fast set-up- Setting up your base camp at an enhanced level from the ground in an epic spot is possible with a rooftop tent. Deploying your rooftop is easy and fast. They come with easy pop-up and folding facilities. Pitch up and you have your tent ready in no time.
- Comfortable- After a long travel, setting up your tent is easier with a rooftop tent. You are set on memory foam built-in mattresses. They ensure a flat sleeping surface with good ventilation. You have sufficient space to store your gear. This is just the place you need to sleep after a long journey.
- Easily removable- When offseason, this tent is easily removable. If you do not want to, they could be easily folded without occupying extra space.
- Mobility- This is ideal for an adventurous road trip. When moving from place to place, setting your tent every time can be hectic. You are set where your vehicle is with a rooftop tent. Surfing beach to beach, weekend tips, 4×4 enthusiasts, and so on are conveniently mobile with your rooftop tent.
- Durability- These tents are available in durable materials like weatherproof, lightweight, strong, and sturdy materials. Therefore, they are stronger for any weather.
- Frees up vehicle space- Rooftop tent frees up a lot of vehicle space. This means you have space for other necessities in your vehicle.
- Safety and Security- Since rooftop tents are off the ground, you are safe from land animals and critters.
- Cheaper as compared to RV- You can enjoy mobility and comfort as in an RV in a cheaper way.
- No packaging- You do not need to roll up your sleeping bed or packaging post sleeping as there is an in-built mattress.
- Lesser maintenance- Since the tent is a rooftop one, it does not gather ground debris or dirt.
- Time-saving- Once the tent is installed, you do not need to remove it often. Just fold it and pitch it back when needed.
Can you build a roof rack tent on any car?
You can build a roof rack tent on any car, but your car should be ideal to hold one. Rooftop tents add on some extra weight to your car top. They are not aerodynamic as well. The lightest of the rooftops is about 120 pounds. They need a pair of roof racks to set them up. If your vehicle is small and offers less power, the additional rooftop tent weight can affect the ride. You will find a huge change in acceleration, power, and speed.
Some aspects to look for in building a roof rack tent on a car are:
Your car racks should work with your rooftop tent
- The car-top racks usually work with a majority of the brands meant for roof racks. Rooftop tents can be set up with crossbars, a canopy, or flat racks.
- The racks should have DWC-Dynamic weight capacity. This capacity relates to the tent weight. DWC is the optimum weight that the rack can carry while the vehicle is moving. For example, a tent of 130 pounds weight has a DWC of 130 pounds.
- Ensure the specs of the racks meet this DWC.
- The weight of the vehicle occupants and the weight of the tent should be dispersed over the entire vehicle. This will not impact any minor weight addition when the vehicle is not in movement. This is SWC-Static weight capacity. This is greater since the vehicle framework is strong to hold the occupants’ weight.
- Ensure the rack system should be good enough to hold and place the rooftop tent. This is because you cannot put any rooftop tent on your rack.
- The most preferable rack system to hold your rooftop tent is one that has enhanced SWC. These are the strongest and safest.
- The racks should be mounted around 32 inches to 48 inches apart with a cross-section of 2 inches height x 3.25 inches width.
Tent Weight Capacity
- Off-road tents have an overall weight that toggles between 100 to 220 pounds.
- Your tent model should be chosen on the weight capacity of the roof rack that it can carry.
- There are different roof racks and rooftop tents available that can match and hold at least one of the models.
- The majority of the rooftop tents go well with the majority of the brand of roof racks and the vehicle make. This is because the DWC is higher for the majority of the factory-made racks.
- Tent weight capacity is generally 200 pounds for one occupant, 400 pounds for two occupants, and 600 pounds for three occupants.
Why are the roof rack tents more expensive than normal tents? But why is the investment worthwhile?
Rooftop tents have varied features and complex than a conventional ground tent. This is why they can add to your cost. The primary feature is that they are safe and protect you from ground animals at night. This ensures a peaceful sleep. They are easy to set up and time-saving once set up in terms of packing pillows and sleep mattresses, rolling the tent, cleaning the tent, and so on.
Some features that make the rooftop tents expensive are:
- They are safe.
- They are comfortable.
- They are simple to set up.
- They are durable.
- They are made of a complex framework.
- The materials are high in quality and strength.
- The mounting brackets will cost you additional.
- They are convenient.
- The rooftop tent comes in a hard shell and soft variants.
- Soft-top tents open vertically.
- Rooftop is labor-intensive compared to regular tents even during manufacturing.
- Rooftop tent seams are usually stitched two times often and at times 3 times while a regular tent needs only one stitching.
- Rooftop tents are quite durable that enhance their lifespan.
- The overall design, complex construction, and additional accessories make the rooftop tents expensive.
- Their maintenance is low as they are not exposed to hard ground. There is no exposure to hard debris or damage.
Is the investment worthwhile?
Yes, the investment is worthwhile. This is because of the special features that give the rooftop tent an edge over regular tents.
Easy to install– Rooftop tents are simple to install and even a beginner can handle the tent conveniently and fast. It can be set up in minutes.
Durability- A rooftop tent offers more durability due to its multiple seam stitching and sturdy material. It lasts long when you fold it and pitch it back multiple times.
Pre-Preparation- Regular tents need a lot of pre-preparation like cleaning the ground with no rocks, sticks, or sharp objects. Smoothening the ground is important. While a rooftop tent is set up once and you are ready to go. This is particularly handy when you have traveled long and you are good to get into a tent in no time.
Less maintenance- Rooftop tents have less maintenance as they are not exposed to debris and dirt from the ground. They are less likely to get torn or damaged by sharp objects or ground. They do not get as dirty as the ground camping tents. Since they are on vehicle roofs pitched on racks, they are always on a smooth foundation. They do not get damaged easily.
Safety- Rooftop tents are safe as they do not expose you to land-dwelling creatures or animals at night. They provide you peace of having a sound sleep at night during your expedition.
Comfort- They are comfortable as they come with an in-built mattress at the bottom with pillows and a duvet. It is cool and fun with a rooftop tent that offers comfy sleep. In regular tents, you need to sleep in a sleeping bag on the cold ground.
Accessorized- A rooftop tent comes with sky windows often. You can gaze at stars at night and have sunlight peeping in to enjoy the night and mornings.
Rooftop tents on average can cost you from 1.5k dollars to 4k dollars. The above features of a roof rack tent make worthwhile the investment.
Roof Rack Tent can be chosen depending on your camping location, your vehicle, your budget, style, and other needs. Some leading suppliers can meet your rooftop tent needs with their varied options. A rooftop tent is the best choice for your adventure camping. Once set up on your vehicle roof, they are good to go. They are safe, easy to install, comfortable, long-lasting, and worth the investment. Happy camping!
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!