Roof Top Tent Camping Buyers Guide

Roof top tents have become very popular in our world today because they provide users with campsite sleeping quarters above prowling animals and hard dirt. They are easily deployed as they are mounted on vehicles thereby freeing up interior space for your belongings and your companions. This article is a roof tent buyers guide to help you get the most out of camping on the roof.

What are the major things to note and consider in Roof tent camping? There are so many things to consider, tips to note, how to install, etc. some of these guidelines include:

  • Know the requirements of your vehicle
  • Use roof racks and cross bars that work best for your vehicle
  • Get the needed accessories to ensure you get the best experience
Roof tent camping buyers guide

To ensure you pick the right tent to meet your needs, we have taken our time to compile this Roof tent camping buyers guide. Here, you will learn the various features to consider before buying one, tips on how to use, how to choose the best camping spot, pros and cons of roof top tent camping, how to install a roof top tent, and the maintenance required while using a roof top tent.

Roof Tent Buyers Guide

Important Things to Consider before going on Roof Top Tent Camping

Requirements of your vehicle

Users must know the payload capacity of their vehicles before going ahead to buy a roof top tent. Don’t ever assume that all SUVs or trucks can work with a roof rack. Although most of them will surely handle a weight of several hundred pounds, it is necessary that you check through the owner’s manual of your vehicle to know how much capacity it can handle.

Note that most of the roof top tents you see out there are heavy. Whatever is lost in weight savings will be made up in the durability. You should also consider the weight of all the occupants that will be camping with you. The maximum capacity of a vehicle should cover for both the users and the tent as well.


Considering the capacity of the payload isn’t meant for the vehicle alone, but also plays significant for the rack system. The manual usually includes the capacity of cross bars and roof rails it can handle. Also, there needs to be an account for both the rooftop tent’s weight as well as those intending to sleep in it.

Roof racks for camping

If you wish to go for an aftermarket rack, then there’s a need to check what is offered by the manufacturer of the roof top tent you want to buy. Most of them are specifically tailored for their tents, despite this, they are versatile, ensuring that they can work fine with other tent brands or rack accessories in the future.

For example, the truck bed rack of the Yakima OutPost HD works fine with its roof top tent. However, it also works fine with other brands’ gears like Inno or Thule. This includes cargo carriers, roof baskets, as well as other rack systems.


Roof top tents usually come with a flat surface for users to sleep on, but how you wish to be comfortable is left to you. You may purchase tents that already have in-built mattresses and bedding; however, others may still need you to upgrade them.

Important camping accessories

Many makers of roof top tents come with bedding accessories that will match or work fine with their products. These come with the additional benefit of not requiring packing them separately each time you wish to close the camp.

There are other important accessories to consider, such as an extended annex to give you more privacy, and lighting attachments. With awnings, sitting around your truck or vehicle may make things more comfortable for you. Also, if there’s room for a water tank, then there’s a shower as well.


Deciding the best tent size to suit your needs has a lot to do with your vehicle, but also very important is personal preference. Campers coming with a companion needs to size up accordingly as well, while the solo trippers may prefer going for a smaller alternative.

Size also goes a long way to affect the pricing, so you should consider that if you must save in the long run.


Once your tent has been picked up, installing or mounting it is the last and final obstacle to scale through. Fortunately for us, roof top tents were specially designed to be pack up and deployed quickly and with ease.

Majority of manufacturers have taken their time to create an installation video, which can be found on their websites. Depending on where you live, some of these manufacturers may even offer to install the tent for you.

Installing your Roof Top Tent

Roof top tents are the rave of the moment, but everyone keeps asking: “How best can the tent be secured to the roof of my vehicle when the load capacity of the cross bar is just a bit heavier than my weight?”

There’s a straightforward and direct answer to this question: There are two main types of roof top racks’ weight loading capacity. These include dynamic weight loading and static weight loading capacity.

First, don’t go for a roof top tent that is heavy, in which your roof system’s dynamic weight will not be easy to handle. Note that when you park your vehicle and you are set to climb in, you are static and therefore the capacity of your roof top tent to handle weight increases.

The installation of roof top tents comes easy and they take less than an hour to complete the whole process. You will also require two people to help you with the lifting. Asides the roof rack, the package comes with all the necessary tools required for the installation process.

We know how difficult the process of installation is, so we will be taking you through the whole process. You should find it very easy going through these steps.

Installation Procedure:  

  • Get yourself a very clean flat surface to handle this task and then place a crate on the floor to help you achieve a clean job.
  • Get the wooden crate cover disassembled and remove the tent’s protective plastic
  • Remove this tent from the crate and then place it on a surface (flat for best results)
  • Ensure that the bolts will be long enough to handle the task before the tent is placed on the roof rack. Depending on your application, you may need to use shorter bolts, or you may just cut other bolts that you have
  • If you have your installation kit, put the tent on your rook rack or cross bars.
  • Fit in the M8x 70mm bolts into the M8 5×16 sliding square nuts
  • Lift the tent up and then slide the 4 bolt sets into the idle of rails
  • If you have a trunk vehicle that has its doors opening upwards, ensure that the tent doesn’t touch the door of the trunk. To prevent this from happening, just leave some space or gap between the trunk door and the tent.
  • Place your roof tent in the middle of the cross bars, and at the same time, measure with a tape to check and note the distance.
  • After positioning the tent properly in the cross bars and created some space between your trunk door and tent, fix 4 bolts/nuts sets into the rails.
  • Place the installation brackets (85x5mm) to bolts and then tighten the M8 fiber hexagon and M8 washer nuts together
  • Ensure that the tent is properly secured to the cross bar.
  • Ensure that the mounting bracket bends slightly around the cross bars.

Tips on Roof Top Tent Camping

It is important you know what it requires to go for a roof top tent camping. You will need to keep some things in order before going camping. In this roof tent camping buyers guide, we have taken our time to discuss the things you need to know about roof top tent camping.

Have a camping partner

Roof top tent is easier to set up when you have a camping partner with you. Remember, roof top tents are very heavy and require strong people to set them up. If you are short, ensure that your camping partner is tall enough to access your vehicle’s roof. Short people always have issues when it comes to setting up an RTT.

Have a trial run

It is very important that you learn to set up your tent first before going camping. This will enable you to know more about the installation process and as such, set up the tent without difficulty. A trial run is important if you want to have successful camping.

Apply lubricant in the necessary parts

Applying lubricants in certain parts of your tent will help you to prevent friction. When camping, ensure you go with lubricant.

Install LED lights

When going camping, you will need to install lights in your tent to have illumination. This is needed more at nights when you might need to carry out some activities. You can get a solar light or LED light installed in your tent.  A poorly lit tent can cause an accident and you wouldn’t want such to happen, so ensure your tent has light.

Look for an even surface

Since you would be installing the tent on your vehicle’s roof you will need to look for an even surface to park your vehicle. If the ground is not leveled, you can carry some blocks of wood with you, this will level up the ground.

Keep your windows open during hot days

You will experience different kinds of weather when camping. Sometimes it might be very hot, in such a case, you need to open your windows for fresh air to circulate in your tent. You don’t want to sleep in a hot tent in days like this, so you need to do the needful.

Ensure your roof top tent is ideal for your vehicle

You need to be certain that the RTT you purchase meets your vehicle’s requirements. Check the roof of your car and be sure that it can hold the weight of your tent. Roof top tents are very heavy and if they are not compatible with your car, they could cause damage to it.

Make use of pillows and duvets

If you want to have a comfortable tent where you can feel relaxed, you have to make use of duvets and pillows. A duvet will keep you warm during cold nights and a pillow will make you comfortable.

Tie a plastic bag on your ladder’s end

A roof top tent always comes with a ladder to make it easy for you to access the tent. Sometimes it can be muddy and you wouldn’t like to put your muddy shoes in the tent. You can avoid this by placing a plastic bag at the end of your ladder.

Choosing the Best Camping Spot

Going camping using your roof top tent requires a lot. You surely need a Roof tent camping buyers guide. Even when you have a suitable sleep and shelter system, it seems difficult to have a good sleep on a campsite with low quality.

A very good prerequisite of having good quality night rest is having a good campsite, so being selective and deliberate about where you can lay your head is very important. Its necessary we know how to choose the best camping spot as it forms an integral part of the Roof tent camping buyers guide


Use the following guidelines to find the best site while exploring the outdoors.

  • Searching for a general location
  • Mid-way through the day, you should start considering the best place to camp at night. While searching on the map, locate places that are:
  • Very flat, where you have a greater chance of getting a level campsite
  • It must be within convenient proximity of water and firewood
  • Have it off-trail to prevent the wilderness experience of another backpacker
  • Don’t locate your camping site at the base of a canyon or valley, where you’ll have the most humid and coldest.
  • Areas that are far from prime habitats or animal trails that may result in an unwanted visitor at midnight
  • Away from areas of dangers like avalanches, natural hazards, incoming weather, and flash floods.
  • Far from breeding grounds for insects, like stagnant lakes and waterlogged meadows.

Note: Before you set up a shelter to accommodate more than one person, ensure that everyone lies in their spots and then adjust until they are all comfortable

Deciding on the Right Spot

 After selecting the general area, try to find a campsite that is:

  • Covered up in natural materials such as leaves, sand, moss, or, pine needles. These areas will be very comfortable and won’t be thermally conductive compared to areas of hard-packed dirt
  • Not facing any risk of flood anytime it rains.
  • Next to or underneath something such as large rocks, bushes, or trees. They will help in blocking wind as well as reduce heat loss.
  • Not wet. This is because wet grounds are usually very thermally conductive.
  • Contoured naturally to serve the right sleeping position that suits your needs.

After identifying the right spot, lie down to ensure you feel very comfortable. If you are, mark that spot with small rocks, so you can come back fully loaded without missing the spot. If you are not comfortable, try a different spot or different position. Due to the significance of the site to your sleep, it has to be fussy.

Also, before you head out for camping, it is nice to learn about the regulations of the area you are visiting. National forests, national parks, national monuments, state parks, and BLM land all have permit requirements and different restrictions. You don’t want to be held responsible for crossing a boundary accidentally without having the right permit. Be wise and stay safe!

How to Maintain your Roof Top Tent

To keep your roof top tent in good condition, you have to take certain measures. Below are some ways you can maintain your tent.

  • Always inspect the hardware of your roof top tent. Inspect every part to ensure they are working well. You can also lubricate some parts of the hardware with a light lubricant.
  • Ensure that your roof top tent is dry enough before you pack it. If it isn’t dry enough, open it and air dry. If you fail to do this, your tent can start building up mold and mildew which can cause offensive odor and discoloration. Remember that your roof top tent warranty doesn’t cover mildew and mold buildup.
  • Store your tent in a proper place when it is not in use, this will prolong its life span. Store it in a place that is free from direct sunlight.
  • Pull your tent’s zippers carefully to avoid damaging it. Ensure your zippers are protected from dirt and dust. To prolong your zippers’ life span, a non-scented bee wax can be applied to the zipper teeth.
  • Wipe out any dust or dirt from your ladder. You can also use silicone spray and a clean cloth to wipe the side rails of the ladder. Avoid spraying it directly on the ladder.
  • Before closing your tent, ensure the mattress is dry and clean. If otherwise, remove the mattress and dry.
  • When cleaning your roof top tent, make use of mild detergent and clean water. Wash gently and rinse thoroughly.
  • Do not expose your tent to too much sunlight, Ultraviolet rays can damage the material of your tent.

Pros and Cons of Roof Top Tent Camping

Although roof top tent camping offers you a lot of benefits, it has got some disadvantages too. We will be discussing its pros and cons in this roof tent camping buyers guide. Its necessary we know the pros and cons of roof top tent camping, as it is an integral part of the Roof tent camping buyers guide

Pros of Roof Top Tent camping

Camping in a roof top tent makes you have an interesting and remarkable camping experience. Roof top tents are designed to be installed on the roof of a vehicle. Since it is installed on a vehicle roof it makes you more comfortable and safe than a ground tent.

Campers who own a roof top tent have testified that these tents are the perfect choice for camping. Its necessary we know the pros of roof top tent camping as it is an integral part of the Roof tent camping buyers guide. Let’s have a look at the benefits you enjoy from roof top tent camping.

Easy to set up

Even if a roof top tent requires to be set up on a vehicle roof, you don’t need to be worried about how to install it. This tent is very easy to set up if you follow the instructions. Ensure that your vehicle has a roof, if it does, then off you go. Another good thing is that it doesn’t take much time to set it up, you can install it within a few minutes.


You will enjoy a lot of comforts when you camp in a roof top tent. This tent features a built-in thick mattress that enables you to have a sound sleep. The comfort you get from roof top tent can’t be compared to other tents. The whole floor is also soft which makes it easy to roll around as you like. 

One of the reasons people go for camping is to have a nice time and a refreshing feeling, good bedding can make you achieve this. You can also leave your bedding in the tent even when you are done using it, so, you don’t need to pack pillows and mattress anytime you are going camping.


When camping in a roof top tent, your safety is guaranteed. This tent keeps you away from crawling insects, wild animals, and petty thieves unlike, a ground tent that is vulnerable to insects and petty thieves. You can sleep soundly in a roof top tent as you don’t need to keep one eye open because of insects and thieves.


Even after setting up this tent on your vehicle roof, you can move it to another camping spot. If you are going to be changing your camping spot, then you should consider getting a roof top tent if you don’t have one. If the distance between your former camping spot and the new one is not too much, you don’t need to bring your tent down, just move it with the vehicle.


Roof top tent for camping is very durable since they are made with tough and sturdy materials that don’t tear. Once get this tent, be assured that it is going to serve you well. Since a tent is not something you want to keep buying all the time you can go for a roof top tent.


Roof top tents are made with weather-proof material which makes them useful in any kind of weather. These tents can be used when it is rainy, sunny or snowing. It has the ability to keep you warm during cold days and can also keep you cool when it is sunny.


This is one of the benefits you will enjoy from roof top tents. Since these tents are off-ground they allow more ventilation. It is like a treehouse where you don’t experience flooding or mud.


Setting up the tent on your vehicle roof makes you have more storage space in your vehicle. You can use the backseat of your vehicle as an extra room. This is lovely!

Cons of Roof top tent Camping

Yes, roof top tent camping has some disadvantages which we would be discussing here:

It is expensive

Roof top tents are known to be very costly since they are made with durable materials. If you don’t have much, you can’t get this tent.

It is heavy

These tents are very heavy which makes it difficult to lift up and off. The weight of a roof top tent ranges between 100 to 175 pounds, which means it requires 2 strong people to lift it. If you don’t have a camping partner, this might be a difficult task for you.

Road handling

While most manufacturers claim that roof top tent has n effect on your vehicle’s gravity, this tent affects your vehicle’s gravity over time.

Related Questions

How can I have a more comfortable sleep in my roof top tent? If you want to be more comfortable in your roof top tent you can make use of pillows and duvets. You can also ditch the inflatable pillows and sleeping bags to sleep better. Whenever you are closing the tent, fold the mattress into half and compress well to ensure the mattress doesn’t disturb the tent poles.

Does a roof top tent worth the price? Although roof top tents are very expensive, these tents worth the price because they are made with weather-proof and durable materials that make them withstand any kind of weather and rigorous use.  The benefits you will enjoy from these tents outweigh their cons.  These tents are also very comfortable and safe for camping.


Roof top tents are the best type of tent you should get for camping. These tents offer numerous benefits which make them ideal for camping. In this roof tent camping buyers guide, we have provided well-detailed information you need to know about roof top tent camping. It is important that you know the right thing to do when going camping.

To have a good camping experience, consider getting a roof top tent. This tent indeed worth the price since it makes your trip worthwhile. Before buying a roof top tent, it is important you know what to consider so as to choose what meets your requirements.

Wilson Lawal

Wilson Lawal is a highly focused and detailed individual with vast experience in writing camping-related topics and reviews. He knows how significant the camping experience is, and so, offers assistance by giving helpful tips and reviewing the best products to ensure campers get the best.

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