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Home ยป How To Buy A Rooftop Tent

How To Buy A Rooftop Tent

The process of purchasing a product that is as costly and complex as a roof tent is a bit of a daunting task. There is a long list of considerations to make when purchasing the tents and a lot of people overlook some very important aspects. If you’re rushing to make a purchase, you might be left with an unsuitable tent for you, a rack that doesn’t suit your vehicle or a tent that does not fit on your rack, or all of the above. The tents are delivered to your home in huge freight trucks with hydraulic lift gates. Therefore, getting them back is quite a problem. After many years of testing rooftop tents we’ve certainly learned this lesson by trial and error. It’s imperative to make the required research prior to buying a rooftop tent to ensure that you don’t open a huge and costly pot of worms. Read on for the complete details of the steps to take to find the right rooftop tent to ensure that you don’t waste any time or money.

Initial Discussions

One of the first things to consider is the logistics involved in owning one on the roof because they’re not suitable ideal for all. Be aware that you have to get up and down a ladder before you lay down or get up in the middle at night. Everything you put in your tent should be given to someone else or carried up the ladder. For people with disabilities, injuries or pets that are large roof tents can be challenging or impossible to use. Also, be ready to be leaning, crawling, and stepping all over your vehicle often since there’s no way around it. It doesn’t mean you’ll wreck your vehicle by installing an outdoor tent on the roof however it’s important to be careful. Be aware that these tents are heavy and the majority of them require installation before you can consider installation. You’ll require the help of a friend for the installation process. A few of the parts are simpler with two sets of hands, certain models require power tools and they weigh at around 90 pounds. The models that are heavier than what we’ve tested can weigh up to 160 pounds. It is recommended to put the tent up professionally.

I’m In. What’s Next?

If you’ve decided to invest in a rooftop tent but that doesn’t mean you’re ready to buy one. Many cars are not built to support that weight on their roofs. You must know if your vehicle has the capacity to withstand the weight that the roof are likely to have. It’s not only the weight of your tent but also the weight of your bedding, your gear, people and pets that you should consider. If you overload your roof, you could be able to damage your vehicle, or hurt yourself or someone else.

The Rack

The rack you have isn’t suited for a rooftop tent Most racks are not designed to support the weight. The crossbars used on a lot of cars, trucks and SUVs are capable of supporting up to 100 pounds. There is absolutely no need to use third-party clamp racks that attach to the vehicle between the car’s door along with the roofing. These racks put each of the four roof points and probably damage your car due to their weight. roof tent. To safely mount a rooftop tent over the cab your vehicle, you’ll need to install a track system that disperses the weight along to the entire roof, beefy towers, and crossbars with the appropriate weight. If you’re planning to set up your tent on bed racks of a truck or on a trailer ensure that you check the specs of the items you’re using to confirm that they have a good enough rating for this type of weight.

What is the best way to choose a particular Model

Once you’ve decided that you want an rooftop tent and that your vehicle is able to handle it, and that you’ve got the proper rack for the job then you can begin looking at tent specs. Rooftop tents come in many sizes and shapes with a wide range of options and costs.

Fold-out vs. Pop-up

There are two kinds of rooftop tents which are hardshells and softshells. Softshell tents are lighter for travel, and they have the thickest covers made of rubber and Cordura covers even when not being used. They unfold over the side or the back of your vehicle and typically take longer time to convert from camping mode to travel mode and reverse. If you decide to utilize the awnings or annexes or rain fly for this kind of tent, be prepared to spend another extra couple of minutes for camp setup and tear down. In our experience, softshells typically require assembly from the box. This typically involves securing the mounting tracks to the bottom of the tent, as well as fixing the ladder. In general softshells are a lot more affordable than hardshells.

Pop-up hardshell tents resemble enormous fiberglass cargo containers even when not being used, and they extend vertically or at an angle in the event of a campout. The ones we’ve tested come fully assembled from the factory and only need one wrench to install on the rack. When the time comes to convert this type of tent from travel mode to camping mode, the majority of the work will be done with hydraulic pistons, which open the tent as if it were that of the interior compartments in a modern hatchback. For folding the tent using the weight of the roof and some of your body weight and gravity make the process of breaking down a breeze too. The whole conversion process will take less than a minute or so for setup or teardown. The upper portion of the shell can also serve as the roof of the tent and there’s no need for a rain fly. Hardshells typically cover a much larger area over your vehicle than softshells do during transport, but that footprint does not grow when you’re camping. This is beneficial if you’re camping within an area with a lot of trees or a crowded campground. Hardshells are quite a bit higher in price than their soft-topped cousins.


The Tent’s weight could be a significant issue for people with smaller cars; for people with larger SUVs and trucks It’s to be a minor issue. It is also crucial to remember the possibility that, at some point, you’ll have to lift the tent up onto or off in your motor vehicle. When this’s a task you plan on doing often and often, the extra 20 or 30 pounds can be a significant deciding factor. But, with weight generally comes added endurance. When your camper is likely to see lots of usage, whether on the road, during festivals, or just many road trips, it might be worth the extra weight for the most robust model.

It is important to think about the type of weather you’ll be camping. A person who travels toward Moab in July probably does not require the same kind of canopy as someone heading toward the Cascades in April. It is essential to have a good ventilation system in hot temps, so a thicker canopy might make you sweat on hot days. That being said, if you’re looking to purchase a tent that can withstand any weather conditions but offers a good amount of ventilation, we’d recommend you go with a 4-season model. The tents we tested have a removable rainfly, but with seams that are taped and waterproof canopies, the 4-season models don’t require one when there is less rain. Hardshell models don’t need a rainfly at all because the shell that covers the tent in travelling mode is transformed into the tent’s roof while in camping mode.


There are two types of ladders suitable for roof tents which are telescoping and sliding. Telescoping ladders are more adaptable, whereas sliding ladders are sturdier. If you aren’t afraid of drilling into an incline ladder to give yourself different height options and length, tents with this type of ladder are typically less expensive.

Security and Privacy

Many people don’t have garages in their home, and there are times when it’s essential to let your car go to an area for parking or trailhead for extended periods. If this happens, getting a tent that locks to your rack is wise. For privacy, in an rooftop tent you’re exposed to onlookers in many ways. That said, some tents include large awnings and annexes, which provide an area to unwind or shower, or just enjoy a relaxing time at a camping site or at a festival.

Mounting System

The mounting system that comes with your tent may be vital depending on your vehicle, your rack, as well as the type of use you have planned. If you’ll be taking the tent off of your vehicle often the tool-free option could be a better option. It’s important to remember that tool-free systems could be restricted as to the width and spacing of the crossbars and racks they fit. For a more permanent, more flexible mounting system, we recommend that you choose a tent that has typical track mounted.


If you’re planning to camp in your car You want all of the amenities available, and there are a variety of accessories for tents on rooftops. There are shelves inside as well as LED lights, boot bags, mattresses of a premium and canopies that are interchangeable. If you’re the kind of person who wants all those bells and whistles it is best to select one that offers all the options. Take note that some tents are equipped with accessories, while others cost you an arm and a leg for upgrading.


For a lot of people, style is everything. In the end, it’s good to look good and be noticed. However most people do not care about what the tent’s style is so long as it’s performing its job. Certain brands provide a variety of designs and colors while some only offer one basic choice. If you don’t mind sacrificing a bit of style for functionality, you can get a better price by opting for the less well-known or more colorful model.


Finding the ideal rooftop tent for your needs can make or break your camping experience. It’s crucial to take your time looking into every aspect that you can so that you don’t end up with something that doesn’t work for you or breaks down. Go through our complete review of the rooftop tent and individual reviews for each product for a better understanding of what you’re looking for. Be sure to take your time when making a purchase that will save you time, money, and frustration.