Roof-top tents, which are part treehouse and half glamping tent, are an intriguing alternative to the standard tents seen at most auto parks. Models that fit on top of a car or truck are available.
Consider the following advantages and disadvantages before purchasing a roof-top tent:
Just untie a couple straps, pop it open, and fasten a few items.
Burly but comfortable: Built to resist storms while also having creature pleasures like a foam mattress.
Locate a location to park and you’ve found a place to pitch your tent.
If you’ve never slept in a rooftop tent, it’s hard to imagine how different it is from sleeping in a traditional tent. In general, we’ve found that rooftop tent (RTT) sleeping feels safer and more secure than sleeping in a tent on the ground.
Plus, RTTs offer a bird’s-eye view of your surroundings, airflow that’s unheard of in a ground tent, protection (and peace of mind), and generally superior comfort for sleeping.
The drawbacks: Unlike a ground tent or a tow-behind camper, when your tent is on your roof, you have to break camp before you drive away. And, for those who make nighttime visits to the loo, there’s a ladder to negotiate between you and relief (unless you’re willing to get creative).
Also, if your dog gets to share the human bed, practice your one-handed ladder climb before you attempt to hoist them up. Multiply that effort if you have more than one dog.
Not every rooftop tent fits every vehicle or every budget. But some tents work for almost every car or truck. Rooftop tents are all pricier than even the plushest backpacking tent, but if you’re able to invest, you won’t regret it.
Fitting a Roof-Top Tent to Your Vehicle
If you don’t already have one, you’ll need to purchase one to act as the tent’s base. Rack manufacturers such as Yakima, Thule, and others often have higher weight capabilities than OEM vehicle racks, making them ideal for a roof-top tent.
Next, consult your owner’s handbook or contact the makers of your vehicle and rack to obtain the information shown below, which will help you narrow down models that will fit your car.
Overall tent weight: This may be found in the product information for each tent.
The dynamic weight capacity of your vehicle and rack will be specified separately.
Static weight capacity: Confirms that your vehicle and rack can hold the weight of your tent, as well as the weight of everyone inside and their sleeping gear.
Installing your tent on your vehicle rack might be tricky, so read the instructions carefully. Roof-top tents are quite hefty, so having a companion is beneficial.
Optional extras: Some tents have annexes or awnings that may be purchased separately for additional living space.
Different Tent Styles
If you’re not sure if a roof-top tent is right for you, here are some more options to consider:
Camping tents: Consider sleeping capacity, seasonality, and other qualities while selecting for a camping tent. Quick selections may be found in Best Camping Tents of 2020.
Backpacking tents: Pack weight and affordability are important factors to consider when selecting a tent to carry into the backcountry. Top Backpacking Tents provides a hand-picked short list.