Essential Roof Top Tent Camping Gear


Probably among most camping opportunities, roof top tent camping offers the best versatility. Unlike bulky RV camping, there are fewer limits as to where we can set up camp with roof top tents. This is also similar to that of the conventional ground-mounted tent camping. Our options range from the urban spaces, simply at the Walmart parking, all the way to the backcountry. However, the best and the most successful experience roots from packing the right camping gear for roof top tent camping.

Our essential camping gear for roof top tent camping list is not that different from that of ground camping. In fact, they might even be fewer as some may already come built-in with the tent, as the mattress. We may only have to bring sleeping bags, or just blankets and sheets. Besides that, as in-ground camping, it is essential that we bring lamps and flashlights. We should also have bags to keep our dirty shoes in and carabiner hooks to access hanging items.

Moreover, speaking of storage, we should also bring food bins or cooler. Not only do they store food, but they also protect us from food scent-attracted bears. And speaking of food, we should also bring a stove and cookware. Lastly, in case of emergencies, our list should include first aid and basic tool kits.

We cannot afford to ruin a supposedly perfect and relaxing camping experience just because of poor packing. However, we should also avoid over-packing as the load of stuff we bring might only turn out to be useless. We only need to make a shortlist of the essentials mentioned, and we are good to go. 

Sleeping Bag

Sleeping bags are a staple in any overnight activity and as camping gear for roof top tent camping. Of course, since we are in our comfortable beds, sleeping should be a bit harder inside the tent. But with a sleeping bag, we can be kept warm and comfortable for a good night’s sleep.

Sleeping bags can vary, though. If we are camping in a dry, hot climate, we should go for a sleeping bag that is specially designed for the climate. This applies as well if we are camping in a wet, cold climate, especially at a sub-zero degrees campsite. Also, we may consider opting for mummy sleeping bags as they are body-hugging, which should keep us warm that and a couple with some insulation tools and methods.

Blanket and Bed Sheets

Usually, a sleeping mattress is a default camping gear for roof top tent camping. We do not even have to think about it as it already comes with the roof top tent. Therefore, we may skip bringing sleeping bags if we are camping in a campsite with a bearable climate. We can just layer our tent mattress, which is often at least two inches thick, with sheets and blanket. However, for colder climates, we may still need these items, especially if they are thermal ones. These are what we meant by some insulation tools.

Utility Sheet or Tarp

When roof top tent camping, our car, and tent automatically becomes our base camp. However, we do have things we cannot do inside either the car or the tent—for instance, the kitchen and dining spaces. We will have to brew our coffee and prepare our meals over a fire, definitely outside the tent. And with a utility tarp, we can layout our ingredients and food on the ground over the sheet. We can also utilize it as a picnic sheet or a dining roof where we can arrange camping furniture under. Therefore, it is really useful if we pack a utility tarp as camping gear for roof top tent camping.

Lighting Tools

Of course, going out to camp means no convenient lighting like the ones inside our concrete homes. Moving about at night will be typically harder, and our vision will be a bit weak. Therefore, we should pack enough lighting as essential camping gear for roof top tent camping. For one, we can bring in lanterns for the inside of the tent and for our dining spaces. Also, we should make it a point to have handy headlamps and/or flashlights for nighttime trips. These items will be lifesavers, especially when we have to for a trip to the restroom.

First Aid Kit

 roof top tent camping  gear

We keep first aid kits inside our homes; thus, we should also bring one for outdoors and cars. This is as we are more susceptible to potential injuries or emergencies when out, perhaps on a road trip. Also, our camping itineraries might include hiking on a rugged wilderness trail. Thus, we should always be ready in case we hurt ourselves. We should keep the kit stocked with waterproof matches as well as an emergency blanket just in case.

Shoe Bags

Some roof top tents come with an annex extension where we can take our shoes off before climbing the tent. By doing this, we can keep our sleeping compartment clean and free from the mud or dirt from our shoes. However, we may not have this luxury as an annex extension would mean an additional cost to pay. Therefore, we will have to bring our shoes in, or else they might be thrown away by the elements outside.

As a solution, we can bring shoe bags with us that we can attach to the tent using Velcro straps. Otherwise, we can hang them next to the ladder, so they are more accessible when we have to climb down.

Tool Kit

Our roof top tent set up is basically reliant on our installation and its nuts and bolts. And during our drive to the campsite, it may happen that something might loosen up. It may surprise us when the tent or a part of it will come flying out while we are on the road. Therefore, it is essential that we bring a tool kit with spare nuts and bolts. In fact, it is particularly essential to check for our gears on unpaved and bumpy routes.

Stove and Cookware

Normally, we would have to cook at our campsite unless we want to eat foods that are not fresh. Also, isn’t camping incomplete without doing outdoor, scout-ish cooking? Therefore, we should bring a stove that has enough propane. Otherwise, we may go back to the primitive fire-starting method using firewood. Also, we should bring a couple of cookware such as pots, pans, dishes, knives, and the like.

Food Storage Bin or Cooler

 roof top tent camping  gear

Obviously, we will have to pack food for when we hit the road to our campsite. And to keep them fresh, they should be stored properly, in fact, even freeze-dried if possible. Also, a proper storage will keep them from thieving animals or bears. In line with the latter, food storage will reduce the scent of food, which is what attracts bears.

Carabiner Hooks

Carabiner hooks are useful both inside and outside the tent. We may have items that we hang up, such as car keys, watch, belts, and the like. Thus, we can use carabiner hooks to access them quickly. Also, they are useful for when we hang stuff underneath the tent that we want to access from the ground.

Related Questions

How can we make our thick canvas roof top tent more breathable?

Apparently, roof top tents are made of thick, durable material made to last under the strong elements. Usually, they are weather and waterproof to keep us dry and protected during unpredictable rainstorms. However, the same material that does this is also that which is responsible for extreme heat and near suffocation. This is because the material does not really let much air in.

With that being said, we may usually utilize 360 degrees windows and open them to let air in. They are usually fitted with mesh layers as well so that mosquitoes and bugs cannot invade our tent. But if we have a bug repellent that we are confident enough in, we can open even the mesh layers. This will cool our tent off immediately if we are in warm climate camping. Otherwise, we may need a portable fan to aid us in a good night’s sleep. Most fan models are clipped to the metal arch at the center of the tent for best coverage.

How can we maintain mobility with roof top tents?

Lack of mobility is one of the most listed cons for roof top tent camping. Once we set up the tent, it will feel taxing to put it away for a drive down the store. However, they are apparently usually made to be set up in just less than five minutes. Thus, we should not worry too much about re-setting up. 

In putting the tent away, on the other hand, we may leave the sheets and pillows inside for our convenience. They will just compress and fold away from the tent. Also, we may keep other items permanently tucked away like the portable 12 voltage fan or the reading lamp. 

Tria Cinchez

loves outdoor activities, especially when it involves camping. Also, she sees to it she doesn't miss her joyride schedule with friends.

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