The sight of a bear trailing around your campsite, circling either you or your picnic basket, is one of the most disturbing moments every camper can encounter.
This can cause anxiety and fear in your mind.
So, are rooftop tents really safe from the bears?
Here’s a Rundown on How Bears React to Rooftop Tents:
Bears can climb both trees and ladders if they are small enough, such as black bears. These bears are curious and will hunt for food if they smell it, which is why campers usually tie their food up high. Rooftop tents are mostly safe from bears, but store food in your car to be safe.
Can a Bear Climb up a Ladder?
Bears can climb trees and even ladders.
In fact, the American black bear can climb ladders easily!
Bear cubs can also climb, but most adult brown bears cannot climb ladders or most trees because of their height and weight.
Rooftop tents are quite safe from bears; however, as a bear is less likely to go sniffing around on top of a car than on the ground with a regular tent. That is not to say that it isn’t impossible for a bear to go sniffing, so make sure to take proper precautions.
Just make sure you stay safe when you leave the tent at night if you have to use the bathroom.
How Easy is it for a Bear to Climb a Car?
Bears are smart and nimble when they are smaller species like black bears to climb on top of a car.
This has been proved true on many occasions, as several cases have happened where bears were trying to climb different kinds of vehicles. Bears are naturally curious, and because of this, they follow their nose where the food leads them.
If there is food or something that interests the bear inside your tent, he will definitely try to reach it: even if it makes the bear climb a car.
Is it Really Safe to Sleep in a Rooftop Tent?
It is indeed safe to sleep in a rooftop tent.
Even though wild animals like bears can try to climb your ladder, they will rarely investigate a rooftop tent over a ground tent – unless you have a strong-smelling food in your tent.
DO NOT keep food in your tent!
The elevation and design of the tents make them difficult to navigate, and the roof rack’s strength should keep you stable.
There are, though, a few things to keep in mind while camping:
- Don’t place your tent and car beneath a climbable tree.
- Pull up your ladder or collapse it at night if you can while still maintaining easy access to it.
- Keep an air horn or bear spray at your fingertips in case they do try to get in.
Do Bears Really Attack Tents?
When bears get accustomed to human food and garbage, they can become violent, dangerous, and even break into cars, vans, and tents.
When something smells or looks like a food jar, a bear will likely investigate it, and bears can sense a smell almost a mile away.
This risk of an attack must be minimized by ensuring that no food is in out or giving off a smell during the night.
While it’s almost impossible to say whether a bear will attack or not, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Here are some points which will help you to keep the bear away:
- Do not store or eat food inside your tent.
- Do not bring along particularly fragrant foods (such as seafood, bacon, and sausages).
- Cook downwind of your campsite.
- Keep a flashlight/headlight in your tent at night, and keep bear spray nearby.
- Don’t set your camp where there have been any bear movement signs (such as scratches on leaves, scat, patches of berry, carcasses).
- Don’t sleep in the same clothes in which you cooked the food.
What Tents are Good for Safe Camping?
Larger tents or those that you can store a collapsable ladder in at night are great options for tent camping in more wildlife-populated areas.
Also, if you have a taller truck that keeps you out of reach, this will help keep animals on the ground at bay.
Here are a few good options to choose from:
1. iKamper Skycamp 2.0
The Skycamp 2.0 fits up to four people and includes the following features:
- One minute set-up.
- Lightweight design.
- Customization options.
- Breathable fabric.
- Hardshell locks.
- High-Quality Construction.
2. Thule x Tepui Explorer Ayer 2
The Thule x Tepui Explorer Ayer 2 is made for two people and includes the following:
- Coated cotton-poly walls – great for all seasons.
- Fabric is treated to be both UV and mold resistant.
- High-density foam mattress.
- Mesh panels for ventilation and a view.
- Large internal storage pockets.
3. 2020 Sparrow by Roofnest
The 2020 Sparrow is made for two people and also includes the following:
- Built-in storage for camping gear.
- Solar panel mounting area.
- More headroom.
- Three large doors and windows with ladder mounts on three sides.
- Able to store bedding while traveling.
Are There Any Other Animals to Look Out For?
Several other animals can ruin your camping experience, but having a large rooftop tent-like iKamper or Thule tents help.
Mosquito buzzing can be really annoying.
They also bite, they make you itch, and some even carry diseases.
It is suggested to take a mosquito net to keep the mosquitoes away since any bug can wiggle its way into a tent if you’re not careful enough.
2. Wolves & Coyotes:
Wolves are less likely to encounter humans than coyotes, but both have been known to run into hikers or campers in remote areas.
Coyotes can even sneak into populated campgrounds if they’re hungry enough.
You’ll want to make sure that all pets or children are safe, elevated, and secure during the night to keep them from any wild animals that could harm them.
Coyotes are always bolder than wolves, so if you see a small-looking dog that looks wild, don’t interact with it at all.
Although many snakes are not venomous, they still tend to ruin a camping experience if they get in your stuff.
Other than those that announce their presence whenever they feel endangered, like a rattlesnake, most snakes are not always that easy to find. They can climb trees and poles, and they tend to try to find warm places to nest in for the night.
Don’t let your tent be a good spot for snakes!
Zip up your tent and keep your sleeping space away from stacks of logs, dense brush, low trees, or rocky outcrops.
What Do You Do if a Bear Attacks your Tent?
Rule one: don’t panic.
Bears aren’t dumb creatures, no matter what you’ve been told. Although they tend to get a little aggressive if provoked, most bears are smart and just as scared of you as you are of them.
Making loud sounds with an airhorn is one of the best ways to spook off a bear. You can also bang pots and pans together.
If that doesn’t work, keeping bear spray on hand is a great way to ward off a bear trying to get in your tent.
Most of all, if it is simply sniffing around your site, keep alert, and see if it goes away. Don’t provoke it if it doesn’t know you are there.
If it is actively trying to approach or harm you, you can make yourself look big with large blankets or coats and speak in a calm, deeper voice.
Then, if all else fails, try to slowly get to safety without running or allowing the bear to chase you. Try to get in your car and move it away from the site without knocking your rooftop tent down in the process.
Finally, if a bear is attacking you directly, try to curl up in a ball and protect your head, neck, and stomach. If it is a smaller bear or a black bear, a good smack to the eyes or snout might send them off running.
Morten is the founder of GoDownsize. He has filmed and interviewed people living in tiny houses and RVs since 2011. He grew up on the coast where his dad took him boating from a young age. He has completely rebuilt two RVs in which he travels with his family for months at the time. Read more about Morten here.