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Fitting a Roof-Top Tent to Your Vehicle

Given that camping has been everywhere since Homo erectus emerged from treetops, it wouldn’t appear that there are many innovations left when it comes to sleeping under the stars. The truth is, roof-top tents that are set on their high perches are attracting many double takes from camping enthusiasts who live in the ground.

If you’re thinking about buying a roof tent this is what you have to know.

Pros and cons of roof-top tents quick setup vs. steeper cost are key factors.

How to know which tent matches your vehicle: Examine the both the rack, the vehicle and tent specifications prior to buying.

How do they connect to your vehicle The floor bolts to the roof rack, so be sure you’ve got the right arrangement.

Other considerations include Annexes, tent durability and shipping considerations are just some of the aspects you’ll want to think about before purchasing.

The Appeal of a Roof-Top Tent

While roof-top tents have been a phenomenon throughout the U.S. in recent years they’ve existed for years, growing in popularity initially in places like Australia, where camping above the realm of creepy crawlies was instantly recognized as a genius idea.

Many owners of roof-top tents today speak about how a top view resonates with them in a deep and fundamental way. Maybe it’s an ode to childhood and a fascination with treehouses or deeper in our brains and memories of sleeping in trees so we could survey our surroundings from a comfortable vantage point before drifting off to dreamland.

The advantages of a Roof-Top Tent

Pitching ease: It’s designed to allow quick set-up. After you’ve set up camp, undo a few straps, break it open, and then set up the ladder and poles.

The construction of a beefy structure is generally the tent fabric, floor and pole materials are sturdy and can withstand stormy weather.

Comfort: Most have a luxurious foam mattress.

Camp wherever: Set up in a park, parking lot, dirt track in remote locations or wherever.

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

Camp on the level: A well-planned placement of rocks or blocks under tires can assist you to keep things on an even foot.

Con’s of a Roof Top Tent (yes, there are a few)

Cost: Significantly higher than a tent for camping (cheaper then an RV though)

Aerodynamic drag: The more you speed the more drag (and the impact it has on your battery’s capacity or gas mileage use).

Initial roof-to-roof attachments are an exercise in itself. You need to decide if you would like to take on the hassle of removing it between camping trips.

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

Installing a Roof-Top Tent on Your Vehicle

Most roof-top tents weigh greater than 100 pounds, therefore you must be certain that the rack you choose is strong enough to take on the challenge. If you don’t have a roof rack at present, you’ll need be aware of the weight of your tent as you shop for a rack that will serve as its base. The specs you require aren’t always easily accessible So you might have to contact your vehicle manufacturer and the rack manufacturer directly to find the info you require.

To find out if a rooftop tent is compatible with your vehicle, look up this information:

Total tent weight: That should be included in the specs of the tent’s maker.

The dynamic capacity of weight: This measure the capacity to support that tent weight while you’re driving. You need to verify this spec for both the vehicle and the roof rack. If you’re placing the tent on an independently purchased roof rack, be sure to look through your car’s owner’s manual regarding the roof’s capacity for dynamic weight and the manual of the owner of the rack for that same spec. Racks made by brands such as Yakima, Thule and others typically have greater load capacities than standard racks.

Rack compatibility: Check the user’s manual for sure your rack can work with a roof-top tent. (Some racks and components are marked as “not compatible.”)

Static capacity of weight: The capacity of the rack (and the roof of your vehicle) to accommodate its intended number of sleepers and their equipment is rarely an issue. The majority of car roofs are engineered to withstand loads relating to a rollover accident. Combine that with the load distribution system provided by the sturdy tent-floor platform and extra support provided by the ladder, and you have an extremely sturdy structure. Still, you must verify that the static capacity on your vehicle as well as your rack will support the weight of your tent, along with all the people in it, as well as their sleeping equipment.

Connecting the Tent to Your Roof Rack

Although setup is easy when you pull your car into camp, the initial procedure of attaching the camper to the rack is going to take some time. Read and follow all the installation instructions carefully. You’ll also require at least one strong partner to be close to you in order to lift the tent up onto your roof rack.

Additional Shopping Tips

The main thing to think about is deciding which tent model will fit within the capacity of your rack for vehicles. 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. Some tents offer the option of adding one later.

The durability levels are the same for the majority of roof-top tents are robust, a few brands also offer highly durable models made to withstand extended travel in severe conditions. Some brands also have all-mesh canopies as an option.

Hardtops Fabric versions are cheaper; they also keep things more fully protected as you drive.

Shipping costs: Buying at a retail store is the most convenient option however some models may only be available online. Because it’s a heavy product, which is costly to ship to your house Try other options such as REI’s choice to ship to a retailer for free.

Check before you purchase Locating a store where you can rent roof-top tents take some research but it will pay dividends since your main goal is deciding whether this higher version of life in a van is right for you.

Other Tents Attached to your vehicle

The latest innovations in tents that attach to the top of your vehicle have led to the creation of solutions that attach to other components of a vehicle, like the tailgate on an SUV or the bed of a pickup truck. The benefit of some of these designs is that they allow you to set up your tent and then take the vehicle to the next destination for short trips.