Home » What To Look For In Rooftop Tents

What To Look For In Rooftop Tents

The purchase of a product as costly and technical as a rooftop tent is a bit of an uphill task. There’s an extensive list of aspects to take into consideration when buying the tents and a lot of users overlook important aspects. If you rush to make a purchase, you may get one that isn’t suitable for you as well as a rack that doesn’t work for your vehicle, a tent that doesn’t fit on your rack, or all of the above. These tents show up at your residence in huge freight vehicles equipped with hydraulic lift gates. Therefore, returning one is quite the problem. After years of testing rooftop tents we’ve certainly learned this adage by trial and error. It’s imperative to make the required research prior to purchasing a roof tent to ensure you don’t fall into the door to a costly and time-consuming pot of worms. Follow the link below for an in-depth understanding of how to choose the perfect rooftop tent to save yourself from wasting any time or money.

Initial Considerations

One of the first things to consider is the practicalities of having one on the roof because they’re not suitable ideal for all. Remember that you have to go up and down a ladder to lay down or get up at the end or late at night. Everything you put inside your tent must be given to someone or taken to the top of the ladder. For those with disabilities, injuries or large pets the rooftop tent could be difficult or unusable. Be prepared to be climbing, leaning, crawling and stepping on your vehicle frequently because there’s no other way to avoid it. However, this doesn’t mean you’ll damage your vehicle by installing a tent for your roof however, it’s essential to be careful. Be aware that these tents are heavy and that many models require assembly before you’re able to think about installation. It’s best to have the help of an accomplice to complete the installation process. A few of the parts are easier when you have two sets of hands, some models need power tools and they’re all at around 90 pounds. The more heavy models we’ve tried weigh more than 160 pounds. It is ideal to have the tent installed professionally.

I’m In. What’s Next?

Deciding that you’re ready to invest in a rooftop tent still doesn’t mean that you’re prepared for it. Most vehicles are not designed to hold that much weight on their roofs. You must know if your vehicle is designed to support the weight that the roof will be carrying. It’s not only the weight of the tent but also the weight of your bedding, equipment, people and pets that you have to think about. If you overfill your roof, you may potentially damage your vehicle or hurt yourself or someone else.

The Rack

Any old rack is not ideal for a tent on the roof — most racks do not have the proper rating for the weight. The crossbars found on a variety of vehicles, trucks, and SUVs are only limited to a maximum of 100 pounds. There is no way to use racks that are made by an aftermarket manufacturer and hold onto your vehicle between the door of the vehicle as well as the top. They put everything on just four roof points and will likely damage your car with all the pressure of a roof tent. To secure a rooftop tent over the cab of your vehicle, it is necessary to have a track system that distributes the weight down the length of the roof, including towers that are strong, and crossbars that have been rated to the right weight. If you plan to put your tent on bed racks for trucks or a trailer it is important to examine the specifications of your equipment to ensure that they’ve got a strong enough rating for this type of weight.

How do you choose a specific Model

When you’ve decided you want an rooftop tent and your car can manage it, and you’ve bought the appropriate rack for the job then you can begin studying the specifications of your tent. Rooftop tents are available in a variety of sizes and shapes with a range of options and costs.

Fold-out vs. Pop-up

There are two types of tents for rooftops: softshells and hardshells. Softshell tents are less bulky while traveling and have thick Rubber or Cordura covers for when they’re not being used. They are able to be folded up to the side or back of your vehicle, and generally require more time to change from camping mode to travel mode and then back. If you are planning to use the awnings, annexes or rain fly to cover this kind of tent, prepare to take an additional couple of minutes for camp setup and tear down. Based on our experience, softshells require a certain amount of assembly out of the box, which typically requires attaching the mounting tracks to the bottom of the tent as well as mounting the ladder. For the most part, softshells are substantially cheaper than hardshells.

Pop-up hardshell tents resemble gigantic fiberglass cargo boxes even when not being used, and they extend vertically or angle when it’s time to camp. The ones we’ve tested came fully constructed from the factory and require only one wrench to install on your rack. When the time comes to convert the type of tent from a travel mode into camping mode, most of the work will be done with hydraulic pistons, which open the tent in the same way as that of the interior compartments in a modern hatchback car. To fold the tent up and down, the roof’s weight and some of your own body weight and gravity makes the breakdown process super easy too. The whole process can take less than a minute or two for setup or teardown. The upper portion of the shell can also serve as the tent’s roof and there’s no need for a rain fly. The majority of hardshells occupy more space over the vehicle than softshells when in transport, however this footprint doesn’t increase as you camp. This is advantageous if you’re camping inside a tight forest or the campground is packed. Hardshells are a bit more expensive than soft-topped cousins.


The weight of the tent can be a significant issue in smaller cars but for those with bigger trucks and SUVs It’s to be less of an issue. It’s also important to think about that eventually, you’ll be lifting the tent on or off of your vehicle. If this is something that you’re likely to do regularly, that extra 20 or 30 pounds can be a major element. However, with increased weight comes a greater durability. If your tent is expected to see a lot of usage, whether off-road, in festivals, or simply lots of road trips, it might be worth the extra weight for an extra-large model.

It is important to think about the kind of weather that you’ll be camping. A person who travels towards Moab in July probably does not need the same type of canopy that someone going toward the Cascades in April. It is essential to have a good ventilation system in hot temperatures, which is why a bigger canopy might make you sweat during hot days. However, if you’re looking to purchase a tent that can take on any type of weather, but gives you plenty of airflow, we’d suggest you choose a model that is four seasons. The softshell tents we tested have a removable rainfly. But with seams that are taped and waterproof canopies, the 4-season models don’t require a rainfly in light rain. Hardshell models don’t require a rainfly, as the shell which covers the tent in traveling becomes the tent’s roof while in camping mode.


There are two types of ladders for rooftop tentS: sliding and telescoping. The telescoping ladders are more versatile, however sliding ladders are sturdier. If you aren’t afraid of drilling into a sliding ladder to provide yourself with a few more options for height as well, tents made for the type of ladder you want are usually less expensive.

Security and Privacy

It’s not every person’s dream to have a garage in their home, and there are times when it’s essential to leave your vehicle at the trailhead or in a parking lot for long durations. If this happens choosing a tent which locks to your rack is wise. In terms of privacy, in an rooftop tent it is a little vulnerable to the eye of others in a variety of ways. But, some tents feature large awnings or annexes which can provide a private place to change, shower, or hang out at a crowded campground or festival.

Mounting System

The mounting system included with your tent could be crucial based on your vehicle, your rack, as well as the type of use you’re planning. If you’ll be taking your tent off of your vehicle frequently, a tool-free system might be the best option. It’s important to know that the tool-free systems can be restricted as to the width and spacing of the crossbars and racks they will fit. To have a long-lasting, more flexible mounting system, we suggest you use an awning that comes with traditional track mounting.


If you’re camping in the car You want all the facilities available and there are all kinds of accessories for tents on rooftops. There are internal shelves as well as LED lights, boot bags, mattresses that are deluxe and interchangeable canopy. If you’re a person who likes to have all of the whistles, bells, and tones then you need to choose an option that includes all of the choices. Remember that certain tents include extra equipment, while others charge you an arm and leg to upgrade.


For a lot of people, fashion is everything. After all, it feels great to look stylish and stand out. On the other hand many people do not care about what the tent’s design is as long as it’s doing its job. Certain brands provide a variety of styles and colors and some offer a basic choice. If you’re not afraid to sacrifice some fashion for functionality, you can save yourself money by opting for the less well-known or more colorful model.


Buying the right rooftop tent for you could change the course of your camping experience. It’s essential to take the time to look into every aspect you can to ensure that you don’t end having a product that does not suit your needs or falls apart. Take a look at our extensive rooftop tent review and the individual reviews for each product to get a better understanding of what you’d like to get. Make sure you be careful and thoughtful when making your purchase that will save you time, money, and frustration.