Can You Put A Roof Top Tent On Any Car

If you are a tenter, you may not have realized why you love this idea of ‘getting away’ so much. Tenting offers people a lot of health benefits outside of the fact that it is down-right enjoyable.

When your tent near trees, you get more fresh oxygen; tenting also offers socialization, and it will improve your mood and reduce your stress. Tenting also gets you out exercising, into the sunshine, and for most, it provides a good night’s sleep.

This method of camping also comes with a variety of choices in picking the right tent for your needs. One option is the roof-top tent for your vehicle. But a lot of tenters want to know if you can put a roof-top tent in any car?

How To Know If A Roof Top Tent Will Work On Your Car

For the most part, roof-top tents will work on any car; however, this does not mean it will be ideal for every car. Some vehicles are not the best for these tents, and they include hatchback or small compact cars.

The reason they do not work as well on these cars is the roof-top tent adds weight to your roof. These tents are also not aerodynamic. The lightest weight roof-top tent you will find weighs in at about 120 pounds, and you’ll need roof racks to set them upon. If you don’t already have a roof rack, this is an additional weight for your car.

When you add this extra weight, your suspension can be affected, as well as the speed of your car, how it accelerates, and your fuel consumption.

If you don’t mind these inconveniences, you can put a roof-top tent on a smaller vehicle; it has been done by those who just want a good place to sleep as they travel across the country. These tents, do, however, work best on an SUV or bigger vehicle.

Roof Racks and Roof Top Tents

Will all roof racks work with roof-top tents is another factor a lot of tenters need to take into account. A roof-top tent can be installed on a canopy, crossbars, or flat racks. Just as there are vehicles that work better than others in supporting a roof-top tent, so are there roof racks that will work better than others.

DWC (dynamic weight capacity) is how much weight a roof rack can physically hold while your car is in motion. When you sleep in your tent, you distribute the weight of yourself and the tent, so it isn’t as important as the DWC while you are driving.

You want to make sure that your roof racks have a DWC that is at least the weight of the tent. If you have a tent that weighs 120 pounds, you have to have roof racks with that same DWC. The specs on your racks should list this information, or you can call the manufacturer if you cannot find the number.

Not just any roof rack is right for a roof-top tent. There are some brands such as the Rhino-Rack that have a fixed mounting point, gutter mount, or track mount that works great for roof-top tents.

They do also have systems that will not work as the extreme weight increase can alter the engineering of the rack. So, before you purchase a roof-top tent, make sure you have a rack system on your vehicle that can support one.

Another factor with the roof racks to consider is how far apart the racks are mounted. For most roof-top tents, you will want your racks between 32 and 48 inches apart.

What Are The Weight Capacities of Roof Top Tents?

Generally, roof-top tents run between 100 and 220 pounds. Deciding which tent will work for you depends on how much weight your roof rack can support.

There is a lot of choices on the market for roof-top tents. Chances are you will be able to find the right one for you and your roof rack.

When looking at the tent weight capacity, the roof-top tents typically allow 200 pounds per tenter. That ratio would mean if there are two of you tenting, and you have a two-person tent, then it would support 400 pounds.

The three-person roof-top tent will support 600 pounds. The ladders used to access your roof-top tent, generally support up to 320 pounds.

Pros of Using a Roof Top Tent

Roof-top tents are becoming a phenomenon as it gets tenters off the ground and away from the unknown creepy, crawling guests that can invade a tent pitched on top of the ground. Some of the other pros to roof-top tenting include:

  • They easily pitch – The roof-top tents have been engineered to be a quick set-up. By undoing a few straps, popping it open, and putting out a few poles and the ladder, you are set up and ready to enjoy.
  • Excellent construction – These tents are generally constructed of robust material and are able to withstand stormy weather.
  • They sleep comfortably – Roof-top tents come with a super-plush mattress made of foam.
  • Unrestricted camping – You don’t need a campground to set up your roof-top tent. You can find a remote track without the need to find a level, clean tent pad. The parking level, however, will improve how you sleep on top of your vehicle. 

As with any product, if there are pros, there are also a few cons. The cons of roof-top tenting are the cost. The cost of a roof-top tent is much higher than one you would pitch on the ground.

Another drawback is the fact that it stays attached to your roof, and the aerodynamic drag could affect your travels.

You will then have to decide if the tent stays attached to your vehicle between trips, or if you remove and re-install for each tenting experience.

Many roof-top tenters you find real love the advantage of a high vantage point on their roof when they are out. Some refer it back to their childhood and how they always wanted a tree-house.

Whatever reason you have for choosing a roof-top tent, one thing for sure is you’re going to enjoy an excellent outdoor experience.