Roof Top Tent Camping In The Summer

The summer has always been full of opportunities to take time off from the usual day to day grind. Camping has always been a favorite summer activity for me and roof top tents make camping that much more accessible. Here are some of the best tips of roof top tent camping in the summer.

Roof top tent camping in the summer is a fun way to spend time in nature while still having access to comforts like a vehicle, radio, and a place to cool down when the heat hits. You can help cool off in your roof top tent by the placement of your vehicle and being prepared.

One of my favorite summer memories is when my family went camping at Lake Meredith in North Texas. Cooking hotdogs on the campfire, roasting marshmallows and fishing the lake. There was a group of us with 3 families and a ton of supplies.

One of my least favorite parts of that trip was how long it took to set up 5 different tents! There were hundreds of pieces and it pretty much took a whole day, even with all of us helping.

Roof top tent camping is so appealing because it allows you to have your tent and your vehicle in one spot. Most roof top tents are very easy to assemble, being pop-ups or hard-shells.

Like with any camping trip however, you must come prepared, with supplies and ways to make your trip more comfortable. This is even more true in the summertime when the heat can get above a comfortable temperature.

Fear not, however, we have put together some great tips and ways to make roof top camping in the summer a great experience.


Why Roof Top Tent Camping

Roof top tent camping is an exciting way to combine camping with road trips and ease of access. The main benefit to roof top tents is that the tent is much easier to assemble and attaches to your vehicle, leaving more space at your campsite.

When it comes to camping, anything you can do to make the experience easier leaves you with more time to do activities and relax.

More benefits:

  • The ability to plan long road trips with camping
  • Compact camping
  • Not as many parts for assembly
  • Comfortable camping in rough areas

There are a ton of awesome communities for roof top camping. You can find other interested people, share experiences and make new friendships. People love to share good advice and tips.

The ease of access is the best part about roof top camping, having your tent and vehicle as one unit makes pulling up to a camping spot and popping your tent out a breeze.

Many roof top tents are pop-up style tents or hard shells, this makes it much easier to set up than a tent that has a hundred pieces.

This makes the experience even better in the summer when saving a few hours putting your tent together can help get you closer to relaxing and cooling off.

How Roof Top Tent Camping Works

If you are new to the concept here’s how it works. Your vehicle must have a roof rack, the tent attaches to the roof rack. Most vehicles that can have a roof rack and support the weight can be used for a roof top tent, even some cars can be used.

Setting up the tent depends on the style of the roof top tent you have. There are pop-up tents, hardshell tents, and tents that combine the two.

Most roof top tents have fewer parts than a conventional tent, making the set up much easier.

Roof top tents have a latter that goes up into the entrance of the tent, so it’s easy to get into the tent and get comfortable.

The tent can also attach to other types of vehicles that support roof racks like trucks and vans. As long as the truck bed has a cover that supports a roof rack or a roof rack over the cab you’re good to go.

You can usually camp with a roof top tent at any campsite that allows vehicles, however, it is a best practice to check ahead that it is allowed.

One rule of thumb is that if an RV is allowed a the campsite then a roof top tent would also be allowed.

Roof top tent camping makes it so you can set up a tent and camp in areas where you can pull over a vehicle, this makes camping in dispersed areas much easier. Areas with rough terrain such as rocks can be camped on using your roof top.

No need to drive stakes into the ground or find a soft spot to throw up the tent, the roof provides everything you need.

Hardshell Vs Softshell Roof Top Tents

When it comes to camping in the summertime you may want to consider which type of roof top tent best fits your needs. There are hardshell tents similar to camper shells, and softshell tents that are made out of materials similar to a conventional tent.

Some tents combine soft and hard sections. The hardshell tents still have compartments with window areas and screens that allow airflow.

However, softshell tents let a little more air in. Hardshell tents may be a better option for camping in the colder months, while softshell tents work great for summer and winter.

Most roof top tents have great insulation and are made of quality materials that help control the temperature in your tent.

Both styles of tents are compact and make the setup process easy and quick which makes the experience that much better.

Most roof top tent manufacturers offer instructions as well as information on specifications. Make sure that the style of tent you want will work with your vehicle and that it meets all of your criteria.

Do your research on the different types of roof top tents and find out which one is the best fit for your camping habits.

Inside a Roof Top Tent

Roof top tents are a lot like other tents. They have window areas made out of clear plastic or screen material. They have room for multiple people to sleep comfortably and can be extremely cozy.

They are made with ventilation in mind, so camping with a roof top tent in the summer is a great way to go.

The platform is sturdy so you can set up a cot inside and they have room for other accessories that make the experience better. They come in many shapes and sizes so chances are you will be able to find a tent that fits your camping style.

Some roof top tents are larger than others. There are many models and styles that use different methods.

Some of the tents go over the roof and then extent to a lower section that fits to the ground, making it a double tent with a lot more space.

The smaller models fit only the rooftop and have less space but are more contained.

If you have more than two people sleeping in the tent you may want to consider one of the models with more room.

If it is just you and one more person the basic models have plenty of room and space for making it a comfortable experience.

Roof Top Tent Awning

A great way to help cool down the area around your rooftop tent is to attach an awning to your tent or vehicle. These extend out giving you a shaded area to set up chairs and tables next to your tent.

There are lots of options for awnings, some attach to your tent, some attach to the vehicle and others are pop-up style awnings that can be placed anywhere around your camping area.

When it comes to the heat of the summer an awning can make all the difference, keeping the sun from beating down on you while you relax outside of your tent. This helps also when you are preparing food or keeping a cooler with ice.

An awning makes any summer activity a better experience, more shade can provide you with a comfortable camping area when there is no natural shade or trees to help block out the sun.

Awnings are a great accessory for your roof top camping set up, they come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors.

Roof top tent with awning.

How To Cool Down Your Roof Top Tent

There are many ways to help cool down your roof top tent. When the summer gets hot you have to find an edge to help cool off.

You may want to consider bringing accessories such as battery-operated fans, water spray bottles and sleeping bags and blankets that help you cool off such as space blankets.

Options for cooling off your tent:

  • Park in the shade
  • Set up your tent where the breeze moves through
  • Go swimming when it gets hot
  • Set up a homemade air conditioner with ice

The best way to cool off your tent is to park your setup where there is shade from trees or other types of shade.

You also want to set up your tent in the direction of the breeze so that it passes through your screens and ventilated areas.

When things get too hot consider going swimming if it is an option, nothing cools you off better than swimming in cool water.

You also have the option of setting up a homemade air conditioner out of a bucket and ice. There are even some buckets and ice systems that have a fan that fits over the top of the bucket moving the cold air if you have access to a battery-operated fan or electricity.

Summer Camping Tips

When it comes to roof top camping in the summer there are many ways to make the overall experience better. Let’s take a look at some of our best tips for camping in the summer!

  1. Consider taking your tent down during the day
  2. Find a camping spot with shade
  3. Use an awning or sunshade
  4. Drink lots of water
  5. Use a sheet instead of a sleeping bag

Since roof top tents are easier to put up and take down than conventional tents, consider taking the tent down during the day to keep it from trapping in heat, and setting it back up in the evening when it cools off.

Finding a camping spot with shade in the summertime is the best way to ensure that the heat doesn’t get to you as bad.

Awnings and sunshades make great accessories for camping. Having an awning over the area where you sit and prepare meals can be a lifesaver. Sunshades also work great for blocking out the sun from parts of your tent or areas where you sit.

When it is hot during the summer make sure to drink lots of water and keep yourself hydrated. This works wonders for your body temp.

Consider using a sheet instead of a blanket or sleeping bag when the nights get extra hot. A thinner blanket can make a world of difference.

Water Jugs Stacked on Grass

Best Places to Camp in the Summer

The area where you decide to camp can make a big difference in the summertime. You may want to consider camping where the temperature isn’t as hot.

Best places for summer camping:

  • Places with lots of trees
  • Areas with lower temperatures
  • Around lakes or rivers

If you love camping in the summer but hate the hotter temps then consider camping in a heavily wooded area instead of a desert area.

These places tend to have lower temperatures and have fewer things that reflect and soak up heat such as rocks and sand.

You may want to go on a road trip to somewhere that doesn’t get hot in the summer! This makes camping in the summer such a great experience. Camping areas in the mountains often have lower temperatures.

Lakes and rivers can help cool off the area where you camp. They also provide you with a water source for swimming!

Swimming is one of my favorite camping activities, some camping areas with lakes and rivers allow boating, tubing and other water activities.


Activities for Summer Camping

Summer camping offers some of the best activities. If you love camping consider a summer camping trip rather than a winter trip for activities such as swimming, hiking, biking and more.

Best summer activities:

  • Swimming and boating
  • Hiking and biking on trails
  • Riding ATV’s on trails
  • Exploring nature

Swimming and boating are on the top of the list! The best way to cool down in the summer is to be around water.

Hiking and biking on trails is a fun way to spend a summer day. Most camping areas provide trails for summer activities.

Riding ATV’s can also be a fun activity. Driving fast through the summer air is a great way to cool off!

Exploring nature in the summer is another one of my favorite activities. A lot of plants and wildlife thrive in the summer despite the heat. Taking a stroll in a wooded area with lots of shade can be a fun experience.

Summer Camping Checklist

There are a few things you will want to make sure you do and have with you to make your roof top tent camping experience that much better. Let’s look at your checklist for summer camping.

✅ Bug spray, bugs can be a problem.
✅ Light-colored clothing and shorts.
✅ Sunscreen for keeping your skin safe.
✅ Large hats to keep the sun off your face.

Being prepared for the heat in the summertime is essential for summer camping.

Consider packing light-colored clothing and summer-friendly clothes such as shorts.

Sunscreen should be on your list of things to bring when summer camping, keeping your skin safe is a priority.

Large hats can help keep the sun out of your face, plus they look cool and keep your head cool.

Always carry bug spray with you when you’re in the wilderness, bugs can always be a problem.


Summer Camping Accessories

Here are a few camping accessories that make a summer camping trip a fun experience for the whole family.

  • Swimming shorts and swimsuits
  • Battery-operated water spray fan
  • Compass for exploring nature
  • Fishing gear if you plan on fishing

Make sure to bring swimming trunks or swimsuits if you plan on getting in the water.

Battery-operated way spray fans are a great way to cool you off on long walks or in your roof top tent at night.

Consider carrying a compass with you if you intend on doing any exploring or long hikes in the wilderness.

If you plan on fishing don’t forget your fishing gear! Fishing poles, minnow bucket, bait, and lures.

Cause a little bit of summer is what the whole year is about.

John Mayer

Related Questions

Do roof top tents get hot in the summer? Most roof top tents have plenty of ventilation, however, just like any tent they can and will get hot during the heat of the day. We suggest taking the tent down in the day and putting it back up in the evening if heat is a problem.

Are any roof top tents air-conditioned? Most roof top tents do not have built-in air conditioners. Some hard shell roof top tents could be altered to add an air conditioner but this would most likely void any warranty and would not be easy.

Chad Kilpatrick

Chad Fox is a camping enthusiast that loves nature and long road trips.

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