Roof Top Tent Camping Off the Grid


Camping off the grid is something that can help bring you closer to nature and help you center yourself. A roof top tent can make that experience much easier with the ability to camp anywhere that you can bring a vehicle.

Roof top tent camping off-grid is a way to camp off-grid while using a roof top tent that makes your campsite compact and easy to set up. It offers you the chance to truly get away from the busy world while still having what you need to survive.

Whether you’re new to the roof top tent camping experience or a not, there are obvious benefits that can help you get off the grid while camping with a roof top tent. Some of us prefer to have moments of unaccompanied time, others prefer to have a partner for off-grid camping.

Off-grid camping combines the practice of going off-grid with road trips and the camping experience.

Having a roof top tent helps that combination easier by making your vehicle an all-in-one way to make that happen.

Most of us have fond memories of camping, the smell of the campfire, the food, the moments of silence. What a better way to have some time to be in your own thoughts than to go off-grid with your camping trip.

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What is a Roof Top Tent?

A roof top tent is a tent that attaches to the roof rack on a vehicle. They come in many shapes and sizes, from a pop-up tent, to a hardshell tent. There are small ones, large ones, and tents that combine above and below to make more room.

They have a ladder that reaches up into the tent, giving you access. There are fewer parts in roof top tent than with a conventional tent, making it easier to set up.

They will fit on just about any vehicle that can support a roof rack and the weight limits.

If you are unsure if your vehicle would work with a roof top tent, check with the vehicle manufacturers to see what their roof weight limits are and the specifications of the individual roof rack you are looking into.

Trucks can be used as long as they have a roof rack, and even cars that can have a roof rack may work with a roof top tent.

Benefits of a Roof Top Tent

There are a ton of benefits to having a roof top tent, and most of them make off-grid camping even easier. Let’s take a look at our list of what makes roof top tents so great.

  • You can camp anywhere you can take a vehicle
  • Your campsite is more compact with the tent and vehicle in one
  • There are less parts to the tent than a conventional tent
  • Safe from most animals by sleeping overhead

With a roof top tent, you can camp pretty much anywhere a vehicle is allowed. This makes off-grid camping so much easier. You won’t need to clear an area out for your tent.

Your campsite is more compact, which is great for off-grid since you are trying to have a minimal impact.

Roof top tents have less parts to put together than most conventional tents, they are usually a pop-up style tent or hardshell. This means you will not have to put stakes into the ground and set up a hundred poles.

Since in most roof top tents you are sleeping overhead on top of your vehicle it can be harder for animals to bother you.

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Dispersed Camping

When camping off-grid you are trying to get away from society, and into the wilderness. Dispersed camping lets you camp in places that are not necessarily designated campgrounds.

You may just want to pull over on a road and camp just off of the road, a roof top tent allows you to do that as long as you are in a secluded area where you will not be bothered. Make sure to go far enough off the road to stay safe.

Many state and national parks have areas for dispersed camping that allow you to really get into the heart of the forest.

If you are considering off-grid camping then dispersed camping is probably the method for you.

Many public places allow dispersed camping, there are fewer people to deal with and that is usually the goal of being off-grid. To have everything you need to camp on your own.

When dispersed camping you will want to double-check that you are allowed to camp on the property that you are on. Most land is private and not public and even some public land may not allow you to just park anywhere you want and set up your roof top tent.

When dispersed camping you need to be prepared by getting all of the info you need beforehand.

Check on websites, or call ahead if there is a phone number available for information.

Private Camping Spots

One of the best ways to go off-grid is to get permission from someone you know with land. You may even own the land yourself. If you have access to private land you can set up your roof top tent in a compact area.

You may want to go camping on your own private land where you plan on going dark for a few days or even weeks at a time.

Private land makes this much easier, since you do not have to worry about moving to different spots to avoid detection.

You may also have friends or family who own private land, as long as you have their permission you can set up camp on their spot, away from society where you can be off-grid and set up with everything you need.

As long as you can get a vehicle into the area you are looking to camp at you can use a roof top tent for your off-grid camping trip.

The best part is that your vehicle allows you to have some extra things to help you get by, such as battery power, a radio, and other luxuries you may want to have with you for off-grid.

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How to Find Off-Grid Camping Areas

There are more options for finding off-grid camping areas than you might think. The purpose of off-grid is to get away and spend some time in the wilderness. So how do you find areas that allow off-grid camping?

One of the reasons most people are attracted to off-grid camping is the ability to camp without having to pay the fees associated with most campgrounds.

You are trying to save money, and get away from conventional systems like park fees, and rent.

You can start by asking friends who may have private land for you to go off-grid on. A lot of places will also have dispersed camping areas that provide places to camp that are off the beaten path.

You can also ask around with people you know who camp regularly, chances are they have come across a few places that allow free camping in secluded areas.

There are many apps and websites dedicated to finding free places to go camping and that is secluded enough to do off-grid style camping.

Many websites let others leave reviews and share their experience with different places to off-grid camp.

A roof top tent makes most of these places even easier to camp on since you can camp in such a compact way.

How Much Room is in a Roof Top Tent

All roof top tents are designed differently, however most of them are compact. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t larger tents though. Some roof top tents extend off of the roof and have a second section that goes onto the ground making it much larger.

You can expect most roof top tents to sleep one two two people comfortably. The tents have zippers and windows that are usually made from plastic or a screen material.

A lot of the hard shell roof top tents are a little smaller than most, but still large enough to sleep in comfortably.

There may be enough room for you to set up a cot, or have a tote to use as a makeshift table that also holds some of your supplies.

You can also keep gear and supplies in your vehicle since your tent will be set up on top, it may give you more room by storing most of everything in the vehicle.

When choosing the right roof top tent consider size, how many people will be sleeping in it, how much space you need personally.

Choose the right tent based on your personal needs and you will have a great tent and a great setup.

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Alternative Places To Camp

Some other places to off-grid camp that you may not have considered are places such as lakes, forests, mountains, and other hard to get places that most people will not be interested in.

As long as the land is public and allows camping, or private land where you have permission, sometimes these harder to get to places give you more options for off-grid.

If your vehicle is 4×4 you have many more options for getting to an area that no one else will be.

Most forests that are public have trails and roads that are too rough for a regular vehicle and require an off-road vehicle.

These are perfect for people with the right vehicle that plans on doing some off-grid style camping.

You may need to think outside of the box when going for off-grid camping areas, do some research and leave no stone unturned!

Try to keep it legal though, some people have the idea that they can stealth camp off-grid at places that are privately owned or that do not allow camping and in most cases, this can get you into trouble.

Avoid any place that hast a no trespassing sign posted and do not attempt to camp anywhere that you are unsure of.

Checklist for Off-Grid Camping

We know that off-grid camping has it’s own criteria for what you need to bring with you so we have made this checklist for essential off-grid camping needs. Let’s take a look.

Off-Grid Checklist:

✅ Folding tables and folding chairs
✅ Supplies for campfires, ax, and firestarter, cooking
✅ Extra water and water filtration device
✅ Bathroom tools such as trowel for digging and bags
✅ Tire traction tracks

You will want to make sure you have everything you need to get away, since you will not be close to civilization. This means being prepared. You will need to have folding chairs and a folding table.

Bring supplies for starting campfires, an ax, Firestarter and whatever else you may need. There are even portable fire pits. You also need pots and pans for cooking and utensils.

Make sure you have extra water and consider purchasing a water filtration device in case you have access to natural spring water.

Since there are no bathrooms in the wilderness you will need some tools to get you by. You may need a trowel or small shovel for digging, and trash bags for your used toilet paper.

Since you will probably be camping in the middle of nowhere on rough roads, you may consider getting tire traction tracks, these fit under your tires when you get stuck and help you gain traction to get unstuck.

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Solar Power For Off-Grid Camping

Since you will be off-grid you may need to look into solar power. There are many options for adding solar power to your vehicle, the top of your tent, and even small solar-powered devices.

Being off-grid doesn’t necessarily mean being completely unplugged. There are solar systems that allow you to charge phones, radios and just about anything else you may need on the go.

There are small solar packs that fit on the back of a backpack that create energy while you’re walking around, exploring, hiking or whatever you’re up to.

There are small fold-out solar units about the size of a briefcase that can be used to charge larger devices and keep you plugged in.

There is probably a solar device for pretty much anything you might need, on any scale. Solar power has come along way since it was introduced.

Many of them are compact and can hang from your vehicle, the roof of your tent, or even from a tree.

Off-Grid Camping Tips for Roof Top Tents

If you are planning on going on an off-grid camping adventure we have put together a few tips and trips that might help you be more prepared.

  • The best tip is to be prepared for anything. The more preparation and thought you put behind your off-grid camping experience the easier it will be once you get there and have no access to the outside world.
  • Always bring more supplies than you think you need, anything can happen, you may go through your food or water faster than you thought, or you could get stuck out in the wilderness for any number of reasons.
  • Let someone know where and when you will be going off-grid, if something happens you will want someone to know where to find you and look for you if you don’t show back up when you say you will.
  • Even though you will be off-grid consider bringing a smartphone, it will have apps that will help you find more places to camp and will allow you to call for help if something goes wrong.
  • Make sure to have everything you need to keep your hygiene up. You need to have a toothbrush and toothpaste, plenty of water, clothing, and anything else you can think of.

These tips could help you in a situation that you never thought would happen. The more prepared you are the safer you will be. Always practice safety and always keep your hygiene up.

Being healthy and safe is the most important thing when off-grid camping so keep that in mind.

Luck is a very thin wire between survival and disaster, and not many people can keep their balance on it.

– Hunter Thompson

Related Questions

Does off-grid mean being completely alone? Not necessarily, you may choose to go off-grid with a partner or other people who want to share the experience with you. Off-grid camping and living is not reserved for those who are alone and in most cases having more than one person can be safer and easier.

Do roof top tents need maintenance? Most roof top tents are well made with quality materials, however, you may still want to get extra parts such as zippers, and screen material to keep with you in case you need to repair anything. Zippers and screens tend to wear out the fastest.

Chad Kilpatrick

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

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