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Roof Top Tent 2023 Buying Guide

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Since camping has been everywhere since Homo erectus walked down to the woods, it would seem like there are a lot of developments left to make regarding the practice of sleeping under the stars. The truth is, roof-top tents, pitched atop their lofty perches, are receiving more than a few double-takes from camping enthusiasts who live in the ground.

If you’re considering purchasing a tent with a roof, here’s what you’ll need to be aware of.

Cons and pros of roof-top tents Fast setup vs. more expensive costs are important issues to be considered.

What do you know about which tent matches your vehicle: Examine the tent, vehicle and rack specs carefully before you buy.

How do they connect to your vehicle The floor bolts onto your roof rack, so be sure you have a proper installation.

Additional considerations: Annexes transporting considerations, and tent durability are just a few of the things you’ll want to consider before you buy.

The Appeal of a Roof-Top Tent

Although roof-top tents have become an increasingly popular choice across the U.S. in recent years, they’ve been around for a long time, and have gained more popularity in areas like Australia in which camping above the realm of creepy crawlies was instantly recognized as a great idea.

A lot of roof tent owners discuss how a high view resonates with them on a deeper level. Perhaps it’s a nod to childhood and a love of trees or, perhaps, deeper in our souls where we would sleep in trees, able to look out over our surroundings from an comfortable perch before drifting off to sleep.

Advantages of a Roof-Top Tent

Pitching comfort: It’s designed for speedy setup. After you’ve set up camp, untie a few straps, unzip it and then deploy the poles and ladder.

Beefy construction: Generally, the floor, tent fabric and poles are sturdy and can withstand extreme weather.

Comfort: The majority come with super-soft foam mattress.

You can camp anywhere: at a camp site, in a parking lot, distant dirt track or wherever.

Camping above the ground Make sure your tent’s floor is free of water runoff and crawling creatures as well as sticks and rocks.

Make sure you are on the same level as your surroundings: A well-planned placement of rocks or blocks under tires can help you keep your camp on a level keel.

Cons of a Roof-Top Tent (yes there are some)

Cost: Significantly pricier than a camping tent (cheaper than an RV, though)

Aerodynamic drag: The faster you drive the more drag you will experience (and the impact it has on your fuel consumption or battery use).

Initial rooftop attachment is an undertaking: You must decide if would like to take on the trouble of taking it off on camping trips.

Day trips can be complicated: You can’t leave it set up as you drive away from your permanent camp.

Fitting a Roof-Top Tent to your vehicle

Most roof-top tents weigh more than a hundred pounds, so you should be sure that your rack is up to the task. If you don’t have a rooftop rack in place, you’ll have be aware of the weight of your tent as you shop for a rack that can serve as its foundation. The requirements you need aren’t always readily available and you may have to contact the manufacturer of your vehicle and the manufacturer of your rack directly for the details that you require.

If you want to determine if a roof top tent will work on your vehicle, search the following info:

The total weight of the tent: This should be in the specifications of the tent’s manufacturer.

Car and rack dynamic weight capacity: This measures the ability to support that tent’s weight while driving. It’s important to check this spec on both your vehicle and the roof rack. So if you’re putting the tent on a separately bought roof rack, you have to consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual regarding the roof’s dynamic weight capacity and the manual for your rack’s owner’s manual to confirm that same spec. Racks made by brands such as Yakima, Thule and others typically have greater load capacities over factory racks.

Rack compatibility: Go through the owner’s manual to make certain that the rack is compatible with a roof-top tent. (Some racks/components are listed in the manual as “not suitable.”)

Static capacity of weight: The capacity that the rack (and the roof of your vehicle) to support the specified number of sleepers and their equipment isn’t usually an issue. A majority of car roofs are engineered to withstand loads relating to a crash. Combine that with the load distribution offered by the sturdy tent-floor platform as well as the extra support offered by the ladder, and you have one extremely durable structure. That said, you still must confirm that the capacity for static weight on your vehicle as well as your rack can handle the capacity of your tent along with all the people in it, as well as their sleeping equipment.

Attaching the Tent To Your Roof Rack

Although the setup process is straightforward when you get your vehicle into the camp site, the initial procedure of attaching the structure to the rooftop rack is going to take a bit of time. Be sure to read and follow the provided installation instructions carefully. It is recommended that you have at least one sturdy partner close to you in order to lift the tent up onto your roof rack.

Additional Shopping Options

The main thing to think about is deciding which tent model are compatible with the capacity of your vehicle rack. In the end, you’ll have a few factors to think about:

Annexes and awnings: Some models come with extended living spaces or covered areas. A few tents allow the possibility of adding an awning later.

Levels of durability: While most roof-top tents are sturdy, certain brands have highly durable models made to withstand extended travel in severe conditions. Some brands also offer mesh canopies to choose from.

Hardtops Fabric types are more affordable; hardtops keep things more fully protected as you drive.

Shipping costs: Buying in-store is the most convenient option but some models may be only available on the internet. Due to the weight of the item, and expensive to ship to your home, look for workarounds like REI’s option to ship to a store for free.

Test before buying: Finding a place that rents roof-top tents require some investigation however it will yield dividends since your main goal is to decide whether this higher version of life in vans is for you.

Other Tents Attached to your vehicle

Innovative ideas in the field of tents that attach to top of your car have led to brands creating alternative tents that can be attached to different parts of the vehicle, such as the tailgate of an SUV or the bed of pickup trucks. The advantage of some of these configurations is that they allow you to set up your tent and then drive the vehicle to the next destination for short trips.