Have you ever considered a roof top tent?

March 7, 2017

For many families that go camping, especially when staying many nights, involves a large family tent where there’s plenty of space to keep everyone’s stuff.

For getting away at the weekend, though, it doesn’t have to be the case. We will often use smaller tents for that quick one-night camp.

A type of tent that we’ve not tried but look an interesting option for one night stays, perhaps when touring around, is the roof-top tent that you pitch on top of your car!

I’ve seen a few of these, but the picture below sparked me into finding out a little bit more about them.

http://www.drivingline.com/articles/top-10-must-haves-for-expedition-gear-junkies/Rooftop tents keep occupants safe from the monsters of the night. They also save space, since bedding can be stored permanently in the tent. Via drivingline.com

Why get a car roof-top tent?

Car roof top tents are especially popular where you are doing an overland tour, where it’s just you and your vehicle travelling the wilderness.

They are also very useful in making sure that your sleeping area is up off the ground from predators and inquisitive animals, snakes, and dangerous insects. Something, of course, that we don’t get too much of here in the UK!

However, I have seen a few these on a number of campsites, especially the more remote campsites.

Some look really quick to set-up, such as this Bundu electric roof-top tent from South Africa. Though, there’s not much room for the kids!

Roof-top tents for families

If you don’t all mind sharing, you can get some larger car top tents that you can share as a family, though there are some that do have the option of a divider and even separate entrances.

http://www.tuff-trek.com/soft-top-tents.htmlFeaturing the same popular features as our standard TT-02 model but with enhanced sizes for larger families. The 2.2m Family model features 2x ladders, 2x doors, to allow you to enter the tent without disturbing the other occupants! Via tuff-trek.com

http://www.equipt1.com/item/Series-3-Family-Roof-Top-TentThe 2200, nicknamed the Family Roof Top Ten, is the largest roof tent in the Series 3 line, and boasts every world-class feature Eezi-Awn is known to deliver. It has 2 ladders, and a removable center dividing wall. It requires the support of at least 4 load bars and can be mounted for entry from either side of most vehicles or trailers. This option accommodates 4 adults. Via equipt1.com

http://www.ikamper.comSkycamp is the only expandable hard-shell roof top tent. It easily fits 2 adults and 2 children, or 3 adults, making it a perfect tent for families who are struggling with small tents. The Skycamp is truly a revolutionary design that leaves a small footprint, but leaves a huge impact for bigger families and people. Via ikamper.com

http://tepuitents.com/collections/4-person-roof-top-tents/products/baja-series-sup-tm-sup-xlThe Baja SeriesTM XL has a sleeping capacity of 4. Via tepuitents.com

The other option, of course, is to pitch a separate annexe. Though, that does defeat some of the advantages in having a roof-top tent.

http://www.tuff-trek.com/soft-top-tents.htmlUse it on it’s own or as a great addition to a pull out awning.Big enough to sleep in and stand up (2m x2m and easily takes a double camp bed), the possibilities are limited only by your imagination. Via tuff-trek.com


What type of car can have a rooftop tent?

Not all cars can take the weight of a rooftop tent. Typically 4x4s are going to be the vehicle of choice, where they are designed to take a much larger load on the roof of the vehicle.

However, I spotted this on UK firm Tuff-Trek website:

http://www.tuff-trek.com/soft-top-tents.htmlIt can be used on all vehicle types (not just 4X4’s). Via tuff-trek.com

The weight reported for this TT-01 roof-top tent is 56kg. Though, remember to add your weight to the overall load on your car roof!

Disadvantages of Roof-top Tents

So roof-top tents can be quick to set-up and easy to transport if you are travelling around. But, when reading up about them, I found that they had a number of disadvantages too.

The extra weight on the top of your vehicle can make it a little unstable. This might be a big issue if you are doing any off-roading I would imagine.

They also increase fuel consumption. If you are doing a lot of touring in the wilderness, running out of fuel might be less than helpful.

Here are some good tips from people who have used them.

Con: You can’t set up your tent and drive away. That is the biggest negative for the rooftop system. If you want to set up a week-long camp and then use your car to go on excursions, well, you have to pull down the tent each time. You may also need to leave something in your campsite to hold your spot. Via gearjunkie.com

http://www.landcruisingadventure.com/roof-top-tent/Another issue is weight (depending on material and size – our roof top tent weighs around fifty kilos). Therefore, as many overlanders will carry more on the roof than just a tent, your vehicle needs a strong roof rack. As we learned quickly in the journey, having too much weight to the roof caused window stiles to break, or the Land Cruiser to sway more easily on rough tracks. Via landcruisingadventure.com

So with all the pros and cons…

…it’s still something I’d like to try at some point. At the moment, they are quite expensive for just ‘a try’, though I did find a few cheaper models on Amazon.

Photos credit drivingline.com, tuff-trek.com, equipt1.com, ikamper.com, tepuitents.com, landcruisingadventure.com

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Gav Grayston Contributor

Father to 3 kids, who loves getting out and about (hiking, running, camping, cycling, canoeing...) Co-founded Get Out With The Kids to help other parents enjoy the outdoors with their family.

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  1. Gordigear from Australia make great quality tents. The Gordigear “Explorer plus” is the widest available on the market and great for a small family. I have one for sale on gumtree at the moment. A second hand quality canvas tent is far better than a new polyester replica.

  2. Be very wary of the cheap end of the market, they are always made of flimsy polyester that just womt breathe and so end up horribly sweaty! We bought a Tuff-Trek 3 years ago as they are real canvas so breathe properly. Awesome quality, brilliant customer service and we love it!!!

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