Rooftop Tent Camping

Common problems with Rooftop Tents, and how to fix them.

The Most Common Problems with Rooftop Tents and How to Fix Them

Posted by Brian John.
First Published Jan 2018; updated Jun 2023.

We've noticed Rooftop Tents are getting more popular overhear in the UK. Of course, over in the US, they are already popular. So, if you are thinking of getting one, here are some tips from across the pond via Brian John.

Are you a camper who does not always approve of sleeping on the ground? Then a rooftop tent is an answer to your comfort woes. Rooftop tents are lovely pieces of outdoor inventions for campers. If you have a rooftop tent, you won’t have to sleep on the ground anymore. You will just attach your tent to your car’s rooftop or on the roof of your trailer.

Like everything in life, the comfort of using a rooftop tent comes with a few trade-offs. Although using a rooftop tent is very convenient and advantageous, there are some downsides that you might face.

Here are some of the most common problems you might face when using your rooftop tent. I have also sorted out how you can fix these common problems.

Common Problems with Rooftop Tents (and Fixes)

Rooftop Tent Camping

Common problems with Rooftop Tents, and how to fix them. Photo credit: Shutterstock

1. They Are Usually Very Dark Inside

Rooftop tents are usually darker on the inside as compared to normal tents. However, this is not such a big problem. You can still fix it anyway. You can use a flashlight, a solar lantern or a battery-operated lantern. You can also get creative and fashion a form of lighting into your tent that is more sophisticated.

You can use LED strips and even get power from your camping generator in case you brought one along.

These are some of the devices that will ensure you deal with the darkness normally associated with rooftop tents.

2. Complicated Installation

Installing them on the rooftop of your car can... be a little hectic

Rooftop tents usually weigh between 100 and 175 lbs (45kg to 80kg). They also come in complicated shapes and different sizes.

Installing them on your car's rooftop can, therefore, be a little hectic, especially if you are doing it on your own.

After having some difficulties trying to set up mine on my own on a few occasions, I later found a way to set it up and take it out without needing an extra hand.

Family Rooftop tent camping

Getting the tent up on your car can be difficult to do single-handed, but not impossible. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Setting up a rooftop tent is now a one-man job for me.

Here is how you can simplify the setup process without needing a helper.

First, you must make a skateboard or a cart for your tent.

You can use caster wheels and sheets of plywood to make a cart or skateboard.

You can then use the skateboard or cart to get your tent onto the roof of your car by rolling the cart or skateboard onto the tailgate of your car.

You can use a table or a chair if your vehicle does not have a tailgate.

Watch a video on how you can do that:

YouTube Video Thumbnail
YouTube Video Thumbnail

The cart will also be important as it will help manoeuvre your tent around your camping ground. It can also act as a dandy place to store your tent.

  • To get your tent on your car’s rooftop, roll your cart on and position it.
  • Keep your tent on end.
  • Push your cart towards your tailgate.
  • Lift your cart on the ground end until it stands on your tailgate.
  • Tip your cart onto the roof bars of your camping vehicle and slide your tents into place.

3. Rainwater Gets Collected by the Rainfly

Rooftop tents are usually designed with two-room portions; the bed portion and the lower room portion.

The roof tends to slope down toward the lower room of a rooftop tent.

When it rains, the roof will get pooled with water.

What’s bad with this is that it can lead to a special type of torture called water torture.

The pooled water on top of your tent's roof will form drips inside your tent.

These drips will then roll down your canvass and drop into your eyes, face and ears.

Now, this is what I call water torture because you won’t be able to sleep in any way with water dripping on your face.

You can fix this by using an extendible tarp pole.

You can fix this by using an extendible tarp pole.

You can use this pole to raise the centre of the rain fly by holding it up.

This will prevent the water from collecting as it will just run off.

Rooftop tent with a view

Position your vehicle to take in the views! As Rooftop tents are off the ground, you can usually see more of the view. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Further benefits of rooftop tents

There you have it on the three common problems you will face when using a rooftop tent. Generally, the benefits of using a rooftop tent outweigh the disadvantages. The most obvious advantage of using a rooftop tent is that you will be elevated above the ground.

This will give you a sense of security if you always fear being attacked by wild animals.

You will also be protected from sleeping on wet ground when it rains. You won’t, therefore, need any tips on how you can waterproof your tent.

With a rooftop tent, you won’t have to worry about selecting a campsite.

Since you will be isolated from the ground, you will have the freedom to be less selective when picking a campsite.

The only thing you can be choosy about is a campsite that has the perfect view.

Another good thing about rooftop tents is that they usually come with in-built mattresses.

You won’t have to carry your mattress. The only thing you will have to carry is your sleeping bag.

Kids in a rooftop tent

It's not quite a treehouse, but camping off the ground could be a great adventure for kids. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Winding Up

Rooftop tents are getting very popular these days among campers. This is because they offer campers with several advantages that normal camping tents will offer. You can also try out a rooftop tent the next time you go camping.

You will be better off with a rooftop tent because at least you are aware of some of the most common problems you might face while using your rooftop tent. These challenges are nothing compared to the benefits of using a rooftop tent.

You need to know how to handle them and enjoy your adventure.