Pros and Cons of Roof Top Tent Camping

The idea of roof top tent camping has risen since the 90s as people started enjoying the mobile, outdoor living. We have to admit that its setup looks like a straight-up movie hero that can go against awful elements. That while setting up a sublime, romantic mood that is similar to sleeping in a treehouse. Roof top tent camping, however, is in a slightly weird intersection of ground tents and RV or recreational vehicles. On top of that, there are a couple of advantages and disadvantages of roof tent camping.

4×4 offroad vehicle

The advantages of roof top tent camping are numerous, depending on our kinds of circumstances. For one, roof top tents are transportable for frequent and easy road trips. Also, compared to ground tents, they are easier to set up, more comfortable, and more durable. Their most apparent quality, their elevation, also makes them a safer camping option. It makes our stuff and us less accessible to animals and prying humans. Additionally, roof top tent camping is more practical than RVs for almost the same comfort.

On the other hand, the disadvantages include the restriction when we have to drive off for errands. We may have to bring a bike to be able to drive to a store for supplies. It is also relatively inconvenient to get the tent on and off the car top as they are typically heavier. Upon driving, our vehicle’s center of gravity and fuel efficiency may be affected by the tent load as well. The elevation should also be on our inconvenience in accessing our stuff. And lastly, roof top tents tend to be pricier than ground tents with often fewer capacities.

Roof top tent camping has only been becoming more and more popular. It makes us look like a cooler camper while providing credibility to our outdoor aspirations. However, before venturing, we should contemplate the advantages and disadvantages of roof tent camping.

Roof Top Tent Camping PROS


Of course, roof top tents are mounted almost permanently on top of vehicles if desired. Because of this, it is effortless to head out on a road trip with the tent on the car top. It is unlike the ordinary ground tents that we have to mount on the ground and disassemble each time manually. It is also unlike the RVs that may not have the capability of going deep into the backcountry. Among the most advantaged at roof top tent camping are the surfers that constantly move from beach to beach.

Simple and Quick Setup

As soon as we arrive at our campsite, we can immediately set up our tents in just a few minutes. It is only a matter of un-strapping, unzipping, and pulling until our tent pops up, ready to shelter us. This is a significant pro worth mentioning on our lists of advantages and disadvantages of roof tent camping. It is even of value if we compare it to ground camping, which requires us more time for setting up.


With roof top tent camping, we can protect our posture, or our kids, with the luxurious thick mattress. Also, we do not have to worry about unleveled and potentially rocky ground to sleep on. This is as the surface of our car top or rack provides a platform base for the mattress. We also do not have to sleep on a slope as we can easily use rocks or leveling blocks beneath the car wheels.


Roof top tents are generally weatherproof and made of materials that are more durable than ground tents. The thing about sleeping on top of a car is that the tent is more susceptible to strong winds. It is for this reason that roof top tents are specially made to withstand extreme elements.


advantages and disadvantages of roof tent camping

Like a true treehouse, roof top tents relieve us from the trouble of mud or flood when tides are high. Thus, we are also relieved from the trouble of having to clean a soaked and muddy tent. In addition, the elevation of roof top tents allows it to catch a breeze so that the interior is well-ventilated.


This should be the most significant in weighing out the advantages and disadvantages of roof tent camping. Because camping means sleeping outdoors, our tent should be our only protection. The thing about roof top tent camping is that it is less accessible to animals, which we want to avoid in the wild. Also, it allows us to be less accessible to prying and dangerous humans.


As mentioned, roof top tents are rather caught up at an intersection between RVs and ground tents. Of course, we can expect ground tents to be the least expensive as they are built to be compact and portable. RVs, on the other hand, are more expensive, but for all the relatively advanced features they offer. And in between are the roof top tents which offer better comforts than ground tents. Sleeping in one is almost similar to sleeping in an RV but for a cheaper cost.

View and Aesthetics

It is unquestionable how awesome a roof top tent looks like. However, the view they offer is worth mentioning in our lists of advantages and disadvantages of roof tent camping. We can wake up from our sleep to either a beautiful landscape or to a blocked view of the sunrise. The key is just a matter of how well we park our vehicle.

Roof Top Tent Camping CONS

Vehicle Mobility

This one is basically a disadvantage, especially if we are planning to camp long. Since the tent is mounted on top of our vehicle, it means we cannot drive off to the nearest shops. We may have to bring our bikes so that we have the convenience when we are running short on supplies.

Installing and Uninstalling the Tent on the Car Top

As mentioned, roof top tents are unlike ground tents that are designed to be lightweight and portable. The former is designed to be more durable, which means it is made of heavier materials. Typically, a roof top tent weighs about 60 kg, which will require that we tap a friend’s help to carry it.

Road Management

advantages and disadvantages of roof tent camping

Roof top tents on top of vehicles, we are to expect, will affect our car’s center of gravity. Other than that, they also affect the fuel efficiency of the vehicles but are nothing too noticeable.


Elevation can be listed both on the advantages and disadvantages of roof tent camping. As it allows our belongings to be less accessible to animals and people, it also makes it similar to us. We may have to climb on the ladder often or step on a stool to reach our stuff inside our tents. Aside from that, the elevation makes it relatively harder to rush to pee, especially at night. But it is just a small sacrifice for the sake of safety and security.


Of course, we should expect that roof top tents are relatively more expensive than ground tents. However, for all the upgrades they offer, the price difference should be tons worth it. Also, the experience with roof top tents is almost similar to RV experience but a lot cheaper.


At most, roof top tents can only accommodate ideally up to three persons. They are unlike the ground tents and RVs, which can accommodate more than four people depending on the size. Technically as well, roof top tents have a weight capacity ranging between 400 to 600 pounds. It is also worth noting that roof top tent ladders have a weight capacity of about 320 pounds averagely.

Related Questions

Are roof top tents permanently weather or waterproof?

Over time and after multiple general cleaning and maintenance sessions, the waterproofing qualities of the materials can wear out. Therefore, it is advised that after washing our tent canvas, we should re-apply some waterproofing agents. Aside from keeping our canvas waterproof, waterproofing solutions also add up UV protection qualities. We can use, for instance, a silicon-based water repellent like the 303 Fabric Guard. The Atsko Silicone Water-Guard works great as well. Solutions like these ones can be purchased from various local camping stores.

How do we care for old camping zippers that are acting out?

As the whole of our tents, zippers are as well subjugated to the elements such as rain, snow, mud, or sand. Because of this, we should also care for our tent zippers to prevent them from acting up. This is even as important so that they will last longer along with the entire tent. To do this, we can use a lubricant such as Bee’s Wax to keep the zipper longer lasting. We can buy even a small block and rub it on the zipper. We should administer the wax when the zipper is both open and closed. This as well will improve the performance of the zippers apart from dramatically increasing its service life. 

In addition, when mud and dirt get into the zippers, we should immediately clean it with a damp cloth. Then, we will have to re-lubricate the zippers back.

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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