How to Insulate Roof Top Tents


Roof top tent camping means sleeping inside a thin fabric enclosure, very unlike our thick concrete homes. And while it can be a good way to feel refreshed during summer, it sounds almost an impossibility during winter. We do not really expect that thin fabric to warm us up obviously. Even with a few insulating qualities, roof top tents are usually not enough as is for extremely cold camping. Therefore, there is a need for us to take measures for some additional insulation of roof top tents.

For one, we can insulate our roof top tents using exterior insulations. These include waterproof rainfly, tarp, or cover, and practical all-weather emergency blankets. Otherwise, we can install some interior fitted insulation or an emergency thermal blanket installed on top of the internal tent. We may also make use of floor insulations such as sleeping bags, pads, mats, and carpet. And for those that have it, we can make use of tent annexes as wind barriers to protect our main tent room. Finally, we should position our tent so that it is facing away from the wind that may blow coldness in.

Normally, roof top tents already come equipped with insulation properties. For instance, they usually come with a thicker mattress or base than ordinary ground tents, which is at least two-inch-thick. However, extremely cold camping may require us additional insulation layers to keep us comfortable inside our tents.

Exterior Insulation of Roof Top Tents

In other words, this means covering up. Apparently, there are a lot of products that are available on the market to help insulate our roof top tents. Generally, they add a waterproof layer over our tents and provide heat or cold resistant properties. They should also provide good shielding from heavy rain, snow, hail, and other elements thrown by mother nature.

Waterproof Rain Fly, Tarp, or Cover

Before heading out to our campground, we may set up a larger rain fly, tarp, or cover over our tents. This is to test its waterproofing quality by spraying it with a water hose. If we see any leaking, this means that it is not ready for a camping escapade. We will have to re-waterproof it to make rain, snow, dew, or fog slide right off it when we are camping.

All-weather Emergency Blanket

In addition to that, we can also make use of an all-weather emergency blanket. We can fasten it outside our tents using clamps and be covered with a rain fly to keep it from flying off. It is an even brilliant idea, especially for 1- to 2-man tents. It makes a sound and cost-effective external insulation of roof top tents.

Interior Insulation of Roof Top Tents

Like rain fly, tarp, or over, interior roof top tent insulators are also sold on the market. They are placed inside so that they are not risked on being blown away by extreme winds. Also, they come in specialized products made by roof top tent manufacturers or can be improvised items.

Fitted Internal Insulator

Obviously, this is a type of insulation that serves as a counterpart for external insulation or cover-ups. It is a fitted insulator that clips onto the internal frame of our roof top tents, adding a layer of protection. For one is the quilted insulation by Tepui, which we can purchase to keep our tents cozy on the inside. It also looks sleek and aesthetic to create a more warm and homey atmosphere while we are outdoors.

Thermal Blanket

Insulation roof top tents

Other than that, we can also improvise a thermal blanket on top of our tent’s interior using duct tape. The thermal blanket will function by reflecting our own body heat back down to us. Thus, it will help retain the heat we generate and prevent it from dissipating through our tent wall. Also, it is generally waterproof, which means it will not go damp in case we need an emergency blanket. We can bring two thermal blankets to be extra sure – one for our tent, and one for our emergency kit.

Floor Insulation

One of the best benefits of roof top tents over ordinary ground tents is that they keep us off the ground. They allow us to lie on a thicker base, at least a two-inch thick mattress, than what we find in ground tents. Therefore, we are generally already provided with better insulation to deal with any weather conditions. However, we may need to add additional layers of insulation of roof top tents, especially in sub-zero degree temperatures.

Sleeping Bag

For one, we can use a nice thick warm sleeping bag. It functions by adding insulation inside our tents to lock the heat in and provide us comfort. Ideally, the mummy sleeping bag is best at keeping us warm even in sub-zero degrees. We can toss in a bottle filled with hot water in the foot part of the sleeping bag. Otherwise, we can also toss in some dry clothes or fabric so that they can absorb the moisture inside. Thus, it helps in keeping the insulation system of the stuff.

Sleeping Pad

Specialized sleeping pads are now also available on the market. Similarly, they trap dead air inside our tents to increase insulation value. The Therm-a-Rest’s sleeping pad, for instance, has an aluminized surface that reflects our body heat. It sends our body heat back to our sleeping bag and provides a durable added layer of insulation. Sleeping pads like this is ideal for 4-seasons camping, including winter, when extra insulation of roof top tents is needed.

Floor Mat or Carpet

We can line our roof top tent floor with a floor mat that is specially made for cold weather camping. For instance, the DOWNMAT 9 LW is designed to be down-filled and compact for travel. It’s just that, purchasing floor mats like this may be quite pricey but for reasonable quality. Otherwise, we can also line our tent floor with a piece of an all-weather carpet that can be bought from Home Depot. It functions almost as effectively as specialized floor mats at quite an affordable price.

Roof Top Tent Annex

An annex extension is available in some roof top tent models. It serves as an extension that creates an additional compartment or room on the ground level. Usually, it is used as an area where we can take our dirty clothes and shoes off. However, besides that, it is also good for keeping the cold wind out. It creates a wind barrier between the main tent door and the outside, which is helpful for cold camping.

Vehicle Location

Other than installing insulation accessories, it is also essential that we strategize on our vehicle’s location. Basically, we have to look for where we can avoid the wind when thinking about where to camp. And upon setting up, we have to position our tent door or annex entry away from where the wind is. This will help keep the rain, snow, or ice from blowing into the tent. 

Moreover, it is also useful if we embrace the sun and park not in shady spots when winter camping. However, we should make it a point to never park in an open field. This is as it will mean that we will have no protection from the wind and other elements. Also, it is best if we stay away from water and metal objects like fences and poles. The thing about them is that they are good conductors of electricity which the lightning current can travel to easily.

Related Questions

Can we use a heater inside a roof top tent?

Before, there were only limited heating options for tents, which had a few scary stories for campers. However, with the advances in technology, the options are now even more comprehensive. Heaters are now created, mainly just for tents. We should make it a point, though, to be careful when using one as it may produce some carbon monoxide. Therefore, we should read product instructions and use the heater accordingly to prevent any mishaps.

One consideration when choosing a portable tent heater is the catalytic heater. This type relies on catalyzed chemical reactions to break down molecules to create heat. Typically, it uses propane and can heat a tent for up to seven hours per pound of a gas cylinder. Otherwise, we can also opt for a radiant heater. It also may similarly use propane as well, but functions efficiently even on the coldest camping nights.

How do we position our roof top tent camping vehicle on hot seasons?

When setting up a roof top tent camp, it pays to know where the sun will rise in the morning. If we can, we should place our camp where the shade will be in the early morning. However, if there is no shade, we may orient the un-insulated parts of our tents away from the morning sun. Through this, we can keep the inside of our tents cool in adverse hot weather.

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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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