Why Rooftop Tents?

Why Rooftop Tents?


What is a Rooftop Tent?

A rooftop tent is much like the tent you've been using but with a bunch of added benefits. It mounts to the roof rack of your vehicle and includes a foam mattress so you're ready to go. Most of them are easier to setup than ground tents. They're also high off the ground which not only provides a fun factor like a treehouse but won't get flooded like ground tents. They sit atop the vehicle like a cargo box and include a ladder to get up there.

Selecting Your Rooftop Tent-- Hard Shell vs. Soft Shell

Hard shells are more durable if you plan on dragging it through branches as you move along. They usually cost more when compared to soft shells and also have a smaller sleeping footprint. Softshells fold out doubling the space while hardshells footprint remains the same open or closed. Hardshells have gas struts for a quicker pop-up method instead of folding out and installing poles to erect the softshell. Softshells start at ~$1000 and get up to ~$3000, Hard shells start at ~$2000 and get up ~$5000.

Can Rooftop Tents Fit On Any Car?

Yes. However, it’s often not the cars ability to support the tent, but the rack. The first thing to do is find out the weight rating of your rack. Usually the problem arises from weak crossbars on existing roof racks but a little WBR (Web Browsing Research) will usually help you find the total rack weight rating. Of course, we can help you with this as well, but if your rack isn’t up to spec that’s where a stronger aftermarket solution is your answer. We’ve got a lot alot of answers for that. We carry Front Runner, Rhino Rack, Thule, UpTop Overland, Leitner Designs, Etc.

How Do Rooftop Tents Attach?

Almost all rooftop tents have a track system along the bottom, downward facing bolts are slid into these tracks and hug either side of the crossbars. They can be slid forward and backward depending on the distance between the crossbars on your rack. Once they’re in place a metal band is placed underneath and bolted upwards pulling the tent down onto the rack. Standard roof top tents only need 4 mounting points, 8 bolts. That’s 2 brackets (4 bolts) per cross bar. Larger XXL tents from James Baroud, CVT and Tepui will need additional mounts.

Are Rooftop Tents Safe?

If your vehicle’s rack is equipped to handle it and the tent is installed properly you shouldn’t worry any more about it than you do about your wheels falling off. There are some concerns about the vehicle being top heavy with a tent on there but those concerns stem from off road handling and really depend on what kind of trails you’ll be doing. Some people find them to be more safe overall compared to a ground tent because the flood risk is extremely low and being off the ground provides some amount of security from bugs and small animals.

Are Rooftop Tents Waterproof?

Water “proof” is a term I see getting phased out in everything from tents to jackets to watches. Can you make a boat out of a rooftop tent? No. Will it keep you dry in wet weather? Yes. Everything has limits though and 10 days of constant heavy rain might take its toll and start to seep. We have to be careful because if it was totally waterproof there wouldn’t be any breathability and it would feel like sleeping in a plastic bag. The condensation would be even worse and flood the tent before the rain ever did. That’s why manufacturers find the happy medium between water resistance, breathability and overall temperature control. In all of my testing, I can confidently say rooftop tents have higher quality and better performing fabrics than ground tents. Further features from higher end tens like James Baroud include a 7 layer aluminized fabric that is 100% water resistant no matter how many days of rain you encounter. James Baourd roof top tents also include a solar powered exhaust fan to help minimize condensation.

Are Rooftop Tents Warm?

Yes, the thicker fabric and winter insulation kits available for certain roof top tents make a warmer option than traditional ground tents. However, as always there are pros and cons to everything. Rooftop tents in the air have The Bridge Effect (Insert Bridge Ices Before Road sign) with no insulation underneath from the ground. BUT almost all of them have an insulated base of some sort with a foam mattress on top.

How Much Can A Rooftop Tent Hold?

Depending on the model they, like ground tents, are rated for a certain amount of people. 56” 1-2 people, 62” 1-3 people, 72” 1-4 people and 87” a small circus. Soft shell roof top tents have the edge in square footage over hardshell rooftop tents because they fold out and double their footprint, vs pop up. The better question is what can your rack hold? Auto manufacturers will have these ratings which are different for if the vehicle is parked vs if it’s moving. The parked (Static) car can hold more weight but they don’t want you going down the highway with it. That’s perfect for rooftop tents because you’ll only have a lot of weight in there if the vehicle is parked and the tent is deployed. A little WBR (web browsing research) can help you find your vehicles static load limit to find out how many people it can handle. Of course, we’re here when you need us. In conclusion, the weight your roof can hold is often dependent on the rack, not the vehicle.

Why Are Rooftop Tents So Expensive?

It comes down to materials and engineering. A ground tent can “hold” 4 people no problem because it’s not bearing any of the weight, holding those same 4 people 6ft in the air is a different story. Rooftop tents have metal frames and hard floors to accomplish this. They also need to be able to withstand crazy weather while going down the interstate and have to be firmly mounted which all takes further design and engineering. Most of these tents will find themselves off the beaten path and have to handle the stresses that come from offroading. Creating a tent like this may sound simple but it takes special materials to keep weight to a minimum.

Do Rooftop Tents Change The Way I Drive?

In your daily life the rooftop tent should not change much. On the highway you may notice the extra drag but it also depends on which tent you choose. It’s possible to lose 1-2MPG’s but like most I watch mine religiously and haven’t seen much difference. The tent is making the vehicle taller though so in crosswinds you may notice a slight difference, but without taking it off and driving the same stretch I can’t be certain it was the tents fault. The biggest problem is probably the weight in a severe off-camber situation while offroading. You can combat this by taking better lines and loading the inside of the vehicle with weight as low as possible.


Still not sure if a rooftop tent is for you? Email us at info@spiritof1876.com. Come down to our showroom located in Castle Rock, Co we have plenty of tents on display. Or give us a call were happy to talk through options. 720.787. 9070


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