What to keep in mind when choosing a roof top tent?

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Why prefer one to the other and what to take into account?

Why should I need a roof top tent?


Quick - it only takes a moment to set up, it's easy to find a spot for, and it comes ready with a mattress. For some models, you can leave the sleeping bags in as well. Many models also come with gas struts or an electric motor to make setting up extra easy.


Comfortable - the roof top tents have a soft mattress inside, unlike most conventional tents, and the cold and wet ground is as far away from you as possible. As a rule, roof top tents are made of many times stronger, thicker and more weather-resistant material than conventional tents.


Does not reduce the off-road capability of the car - unlike a towable minicamper-type trailer or a caravan, the installation of a roof top tent does not in any way reduce the off-road capability of your car, sometimes even vice versa.



Where and how to place the tent?


The first things that you should definitely consider are the possibilities for placing the roof tent. For cars, buses and SUVs with a long cab, the choice is simple - the tent must be installed on the roof. But in the case of pick-up trucks for example, a better solution may be to place the tent above the load bed  instead. In this way, the roof top tent can usually be placed below or at the same level to the cab’s roof line and the effect on the car's fuel consumption is much smaller. In general, the rear end of the pick-up is rather light when empty – putting the weight above the rear axle can therefore improve grip and handling. However  this sets certain limits on the dimensions of the roof top tent, so it is definitely worth measuring your truck first.


Depending on the tent, the question may also arise as to which way the tent should be placed. For some tents, the construction of the tent itself dictates the direction. For example, for tents with a hard cover. Due to their size and entry openings, they are only suitable for placement in a certain way. However, there are a lot more options for folding tents. It must be taken into account that according to the direction in which the tent should unfold, the entrance and the necessary ladder must also be placed. Therefore, we should take into account that we ensure the best possible access to the rest of the car. For example, in the case of a hatchback, there is no point in opening the tent towards the back of the car - access to the tailgate will be too difficult. Rather, the tent could open to the sides of the car - leaving enough space to open both the car's doors and the tailgate.

For cars that have tailgate or rear doors that open to the side or sides, it’s the other way around. There we might want to position the tent so that the entrance is at the rear of the car. This way, the rear hatch is still accessible safely and at the same time we immediately have a shelter behind the hatch in the form of a tent.


How to fix a tent to the car?


In order to create a secure and safe support surface for the tent, we have mainly 2 options - either a full-size roof rack or cross beams / load bars. The weight of the tents is usually between 40-60 kilos, so both solutions can easily carry the tent. Don't worry that your car's owner's manual provides a load capacity of 80 kg for roof rails, for example. These restrictions apply at the time of driving and during this time our tent is not being used - the railings only need to carry the tent and roof frames themselves, we don’t need to add our own weight. All you have to do is make sure everything is properly secured.


But which solution to prefer? Of course, a large roof rack is the most stable solution and allows us to attach awnings and all sorts of other accessories to the rack itself. But if our chosen tent would swallow up the entire usable space on the rack or we simply do not plan to put anything else on it, we can also surely  go for the load bars, which is a significantly cheaper solution. Regardless of which option seems most suitable for you, we will find a model-based solution for you.


How big and what type of tent do I need?


Most of the roof tents can comfortably accommodate up to 2 people. If the traveling party is larger, it is worth looking towards XL and XXL tents with a width of 160 cm. As for which type of tent to prefer, it depends the mostly on the above - where and how much space we can allocate for the tent. So make sure that the tent fits the dimensions of the car and the rack/bars and you are still able to access everthing else on your car as well. If your car allows you to install the tent only above the roof line, you could prefer a hardcover tent - they are in general more streamlined and thus contribute less to the car's fuel consumption. If you are tight on space or it is important that the tent can be placed on the car in various directions, a folding tent may be preferred.





In summary, the principle is to "measure 9 times, cut once". Try to take into account all the limiting factors like dimensions and positioning, but also your own personal need. If you have any questions or need some advice, feel free to contact us.


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