How Make Your Roof Top Tent Comfortable


Roof top tent camping is nowhere near sleeping on our beds inside our concrete homes. For a reason, it is classified as an adventure activity, ironically, while being a relaxing one. Primarily, it is a relaxing activity as it keeps us off the fast-pacing zones in the cities. However, it is an adventure as it consists of sleeping probably in between trees or on the riverside. This also means that we are closer to nature, including rainstorms, wind, or snow. But despite that, we can still be comfortable while on a roof top tent.

The best way to make our roof top tent camping comfortable is to assess our camping ground situation primarily. For one, we should examine the ground, whether we are parking our vehicle on a leveled ground. It is important to take note of this as we want to avoid rolling over during our sleep. Also, for inevitable and stubborn winds, we should as well park our car so that the wind works in our favor. By doing this, we can minimize the noise caused by the wind, thus keeping our comfort on while inside.

Moreover, in line with nature talks, we have unpredictable rainstorms to deal with as well. Often, roof top tents come equipped with rainfly, but it may still gather rainwater that may drip through the canvass. For this, we can use extendable tarp poles to raise the center of the rainfly to keep the water from pooling. Then, we can create ventilation, among other things, to prevent moisture buildup to avoid dampening our beddings. Lastly, for the cold and the dark, we can use portable items such as heaters, flashlights, lanterns, and the like.

Roof top tent camping is indeed nowhere near sleeping on a proper bed inside our home. However, it does not mean that we have to suffer so much while doing the activity. It is enough that we go blazing in the wilderness and cook our food manually and longer than we would. Let the night be a good time to rest, and our tents be good stations to sleep in or to watch the stars from. This is saying that we have, if we can, to make a way to keep our roof top tent camping comfortable. We can do this through the following tips in keeping our comfort on while on a roof top tent.

Sleeping on a balanced platform mattress

roof top tent comfortable
beautiful view of the nature outdoor a roof tent on the car. travel and lifestyle wanderlust concept

One of the greatest advantages of roof top tent camping is that we do not have to sleep on the ground. This means that we do not have to worry about rainwater possibly wetting the surface under our tent base. This also means that our tents will be less hard to clean up after our camping trip. Aside from that, we can also avoid unleveled ground, which is a possibility for ground tent camping.

To keep our comfort on while on a roof top tent, we should ideally avoid parking on unleveled grounds. Parking on these types of grounds will mean that we have to sleep as well in an awkward position. We might be in an area within the tent when we sleep, and on another when we wake up because of this. However, if it cannot be avoided that we have to park on unlevel ground, we always use rocks. We use them to get some of our wheels on them to achieve balance. Otherwise, we can use leveling blocks or some blocks of wood for this purpose. Then, our mattress will be 180 degrees flat and parallel to the earth’s surface.

Keeping warm and cozy on an outdoor bed

Usually, roof top tents come equipped with a mattress that is at least just two inches thick. And we would be lying to ourselves if we say this mattress will be enough for a good night’s sleep. Sometimes, the same tent manufacturers can offer an additional mattress that we can purchase separately. Other times, some campers still bring their sleeping bags with them. The pillow is another thing. For some, their bags would suffice as pillows, while others use inflatable pillows.

However, not because we are out there for a supposed adventure are we not allowed to bring our duvets. We bring them as we go out to camp to keep coziness and comfort on while on a roof top tent. It will make sleeping a bit closer to our home on top of that, for a guaranteed un-elusive sleep. Also, we can bring our actual pillows at home to get on par with our duvets. As we wake up, we can simply fold our bedding into half of our roof top tent and compress it well. We should as well make sure not to let the bedding interfere with the tent poles. Then, we can close our tents to get on our day.

Dealing with the wind

For all camping opportunities, we should ideally check on the forecast so that we can ensure smooth camping. Of course, we would want to avoid rainstorms and potential floods in case we are camping next to the river. However, sometimes, no matter how prepared we are, nature still manages to be unpredictable. It can surprise us with occasional rain at least, and probably heavy blowing wind. The thing about roof top tents is that they are more susceptible to getting blown. This is as they are mounted overhead or at a height. Thus, we are more likely to get disturbed while inside our tents.

Windy situations are especially present in bare campgrounds or off the forest or wilderness. The beach, for one, is somewhere we can expect for uncooperative wind. To manage, we can move our vehicles so that the wind works in our favor. We can do this even with the tent open and the ladders lifted, as long as our tents are secure with straps. This will also allow us to minimize the flapping sounds of our tents as a reaction to the wind. Thus, we can keep our comfort on while on a roof top tent despite the wind.

Preventing water torture

Roof top tents usually come with a rainfly that we can use during those unpredictable rainstorms. However, the rainfly has portions where rainwater gathers and pools over our tents. This gathered water before we know it will form drips and leak in our tents, especially when disturbed. These drips will roll down the tent canvas and may then drop onto our face while we are sleeping. Thus, how else can we keep sleeping comfortably at night when this happens? This is just pure water torture.

To remedy this kind of situation, we can always utilize an extendable tarp pole. We should place it so that it holds up and raises the center of the rainfly, the part where water can pool over. Simply, this will prevent water from gathering and will allow it to run-off while it keeps raining. Not only will this keep our comfort on while on a roof top tent, but also when packing up to leave. Dry rainfly and tent means no waiting time or wiping time before we can fold and fix them for packing.

Minimizing moisture inside the tent

Moisture inside our tents is a result of the process called condensation. This originates primarily from the water vapor that is present around us all the time. Since closed tents can be warmer than ventilated ones, the tendency is that they hold more water vapor. These water vapor molecules, when it comes in contact with the cold like our tent walls at night, clump closer. When this occurs, the vapor turns into liquid droplets through condensation. It also explains why there is moisture during mornings despite no rain, because of the air we exhale.

To minimize moisture inside our tents, we can create an airflow to reduce condensation. Having this will allow the warm air that has been in the tent during the day and from our body to get out. We can do this by rolling slightly or all the way up the vestibule or by unzipping our tents. This is easier done now as most of the tents are already fitted with mesh layers for ventilation. Also, if ventilation is impossible, we can also wipe the rainfly’s interior walls with an MSR camp towel. Otherwise, we can lay it out in the sun during the day to let the moisture evaporate. In addition, we can also place desiccants inside our tents to absorb residual moisture.

Dealing with the cold for a better sleep

There are a lot of reasons why we can potentially wake up at night while camping in the wilderness. Probably, we might be called by nature, or that nature might be pouring out some rainstorm. Other times, we might be called to wake up due to our cold feet even with socks and sleeping bags on.

Previously, it is mentioned how we can bring our duvets with us during roof top camping. How else do we even keep ourselves warm inside our real bedrooms other than our heater units? Therefore, we can deal with the cold one way by bringing our bed duvets with us during roof top camping. Besides that, we can also do the classic water bottle filled with hot water and tossed in our feet area. If inside the sleeping bag, the heat from the water can be distributed through the entire sleeping bag.

Moreover, for the same purpose as the hot water bottle, we can also toss some dry clothes at our feet area. This is especially effective if we are inside the sleeping bag. The dry clothes function by absorbing or soaking up the moisture from the bottom of the sleeping bag. This is an essential property of fabrics called absorbency. It is for this reason that we use towels or fabric maps to wipe spilled liquid in our kitchen.

Aside from all that, we can make it easy for ourselves if we use classic and portable heaters. This is especially necessary when we are out camping during the winter in sub-zero temperatures. It sounds crazy, but winter camping actually is practiced by quite a number of daring adventurers. Also, we can purchase a heated blanket or mat if we can invest in one. This is probably the easiest among all that was mentioned and the most effective at distributing heat throughout our body.

Having better vision on dark nights

roof top tent comfortable

The thing about roof top tents, soft shells, or hard shells, is that they are usually very dark inside. This is due to the fact they are typically made of thicker fabrics, made to stand up against winds. One reason why roof top tents are specifically made to be windproof is that they are mounted at a height. This means that because they are mounted on car tops, they are more susceptible to getting blown by winds. For that, one of its downside over ordinary ground tents is its dark interior during nights.

However, this is not so much of a problem with our go-to trusty flashlights. However, since flashlights might have less coverage, we can also use lanterns to light up our entire tent. We can either opt for a solar lantern or a battery-operated one, depending on our preferences. We can also get creative and form a more sophisticated lighting system inside our roof top tent. Perhaps, we can use LED strips and get power even from our camping generator, if there is any. Also, we may need a pocket holding a light and portable flashlight on our ladders for when nature calls midnight.

Related Questions

Can we layer up clothing while inside the sleeping bag?

Sleeping bags function as a house and have similar insulation, which prevents heat from escaping. Like a house, sleeping bags also have a furnace inside them that heats them up. In line with this, it is also our metabolism that produces body heat. Imagine wearing long underwear indoor during winter; it is generally warmer than walking around naked. Thus, it will also be warmer inside the sleeping bag if we wear the same long underwear. It functions as another layer of insulation, which traps the heat and keeps it close to our body.

However, too much clothing will prevent us from getting warmed up. It is because too much stuff may compress the sleeping bag’s insulation and, thus, reduce the amount of trapped heat. Also, it is another thing to wear tight-fitting garments or socks. They have the tendency to reduce the blood circulation in our extremities, making us feel colder. In addition, wearing too many layers of clothes might cause us to sweat. This sweat, when it dries, will degrade the insulation inside the sleeping. And then it will just be like we are wearing wet clothing. Therefore, we should avoid too much layering up when we are sleeping in a sleeping bag.

Why should we choose roof top tents over trailers for our camping trip?

With regards to comfort talks, pull-behind trailer trucks might be greater than our usual roof top tents. They also are attractive and evoke an image of cruising the West with minimal worries. However, roof top tents are better in terms of moving. For one, they do not require a hitch, freeing the hitch for other things such as a bike rack. They can also venture better into the backcountry, unlike trailers. Also, they can affect gas mileage minimally, only by 1 to 2 mpg. Whereas when we pull a trailer, gas mileage will be affected considerably more.

Moreover, for storage, roof top tents are smaller and can be folded. Trailers, on the other hand, will take up considerable space in our yards. In addition, roof top tents require less maintenance. And on top of everything, we can expect trailers to be more expensive than our roof top tents. However, we can try experiencing both as trailer rentals are available in some states. This way, we do not have to spend so much and that we can save the space in our yards if any.

How can we make our roof top tent camping safer?

Naturally, roof top tent camping is already a safer option compared to ordinary ground tent camping. It keeps us away from the tides if we are close to bodies of water or for when it is rain-storming. Also, they raise us away from lurking snakes, spiders, or scorpions. 

However, to get the most of all these advantages, we should mount our tents on our car roof top properly. If possible, we should use factory mounts from the same manufacturer of the tent. Also, the roof rack should as well be factory-issued from our car maker. Roof racks, in particular, have a weight rating, so we should pay attention to it to match with our vehicle.

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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