Rooftop tent camping can be very complicated and require a lot of planning and setup to ensure that you have a great experience.
However, rooftop tent camping can also leave you open to the elements in the same way you would with traditional tent camping. RV and trailer camping is much easier and protects the user from wind, rain, and animals better than a regular tent.
Therefore, it is important to know how well-insulated your tent is and what you should pack for if you are going to camp in weather that could be much more severe than a regular, warm summer evening.
Here is an Idea of How Well Insulated Rooftop Tents Are:
Rooftop tents are built with high-quality materials to withstand most elements, such as rain, wind, and blocking heat from UV rays. Unfortunately, they do not come standard with insulation, but rooftop tents stay off the cold ground, and a portable heater will keep the user warm.
Online Roof-Top Tent Stores:
Here are some of the most popular online stores to buy roof-top tents:
Can Rooftop Tents Keep Out the Cold?
Rooftop tents are made from high-quality materials built to withstand what most users will experience on a camping trip.
Some of these materials include poly-cotton, rip-stop nylon, and core-spun poly-cotton, which are blends of polyester and cotton, as well as waterproof fabric nylon that keeps the tent flexible but sturdy.
They also have a solid base and interior that allows you to add a warmer, thicker mattress padding to your tent’s base to prevent the cold from coming in, and you can usually fit a space heater even with two to three people sleeping in the tent.
However, in extremely cold temperatures, there isn’t much that any tent can do unless it is specifically winterized or is built as a 3 or 4-season tent.
Temperature Limits & Warnings for Rooftop Tents:
I need to note here that rooftop tents can only handle so much before the user will suffer from extreme temperatures, even with proper insulation and prepping.
As we will illustrate further in this article, most 3 season tents can only handle temperatures between 40-70 degrees Fahrenheit outside at night before the user either becomes too hot or too cold. Summer tents should only be used in night temperatures between 50-70 degrees Fahrenheit as well.
Finally, 4 season tents with included insulation or DIY insulation, as well as proper thermal gear, clothing, sleeping bags, a mattress or floor pad, and an electric heater might be able to give the user the ability to camp safely in temperatures below 30 degrees Fahrenheit, but this should only be done by experienced campers or with extreme caution.
3 or 4 season tents are tents made from strong materials that can help you keep out all kinds of weather, rain, and wind.
However, 3 season tents are less likely to keep you warm in harsher conditions, such as heavy snowfall, freezing temperatures, or extended trips in bad weather.
4 season tents are stronger, heavier, and meant to keep the user safe from incredibly cold or extreme temperatures, such as strong winds, heavy snow, and freezing temperatures.
These will have stiff poles, rigid materials, and thick bases to help keep you safe and warm.
Rooftop tents are made from sturdy materials that can help keep out the cold, wind, and rain, but not all of them are necessarily categorized as a 4 seasons tent.
However, they do keep you off the ground, out of the mud, snow, and rain, and they generally stay pretty dry and warm.
Personal and DIY Insulation:
If your rooftop tent is not a 4 seasons model and its materials aren’t as sturdy and warm as you would want, there are things you can do to keep yourself warm.
First and foremost, you need a good sleeping base or mattress. Some tent campers buy a foam mattress topper or pad and use that as a base for their sleeping bags or other thermal gear.
There are also roll-up mattresses and toppers that you can buy online specifically for camping uses.
This is less about comfort and more about creating a warm base to your tent to keep out any air leaks in the bottom or protecting your skin from the cold metal. As long as you keep the cold out of the bottom of your tent, you’re already at a great start.
The next thing you will want to do is insulate the rooftop and walls from the inside with reflective fabric or foil. This will help keep the warm air inside the tent from escaping, and in fact, reflect it to you.
In extreme cases, you can do this to the outside of your tent, essentially creating an igloo-like structure.
Finally, bring a portable heater with you that you can fit safely in your tent. Ensure that your heater is electric and not burning fuel, which could potentially give you carbon monoxide poisoning.
If you properly prepare and insulate your tent, you should be all set to camp in any extreme temperatures!
At What Temperatures Can You use Rooftop Tents?
Rooftop tents can generally withstand a wide variety of temperature changes.
Basic or amateur camping gear is only good for comfortable nighttime weather, such as 50-70 degrees—experienced campers with the right gear and insulation.
These campers can even handle temperatures as low as 30 degrees at night, maybe even lower with very expensive and high-quality equipment, such as thermal sleeping bags, expensive pre-insulated tents, proper clothing, and heaters.
A rooftop tent is most commonly used in that comfortable range of 50-70 degrees of nightly camping or daily use. However, if you have the proper gear and follow the correct steps to insulate and keep your rooftop tent warm, you can delve into those colder temperatures.
Therefore, it is important to remember that inexperienced or unprepared campers should never try to camp in temperatures lower than 40 degrees at night.
Are There any Models Suitable for the Winter Months?
If you aren’t sure where to start when it comes to purchasing a rooftop tent that will keep you warm in the winter, we’ve got a few tents to get you started!
When you go about looking for the perfect tent, make sure you keep in mind your needs or requirements, too.
1. Thule x Tepui Explorer Kukenam 3
The Thule x Tepui can sleep up to three people and is made of a very strong, 4 season, poly-cotton blend to withstand harsh weather.
This Thule rooftop tent includes plenty of storage and is mold-resistant. It also has plenty of standard mesh panels for easy airflow.
Furthermore, this rooftop tent is listed as a 4 season tent and is more likely to keep the user warm without DIY equipment.
This rooftop tent can withstand up to 600lbs, making it perfect for fitting two people comfortably with plenty of gear, blankets, mats, heaters, and sleeping bags.
2. Skycamp 2.0 – iKamper
iKamper rooftop tents are an incredibly good investment for their quality and functionality.
The Skycamp 2.0 is a larger version of their previous Skycamp, allowing four people to sleep comfortably within. This is great for families or couples who want a little extra room when they set up shop in this rooftop tent.
The Skycamp includes a thick mattress at 1.8″ for the floor, which will help you keep the cold off your skin or clothes, as well as strong, stainless steel shell locks that keep the doors and flaps locked down tight.
This promotes safety from people and animals and keeps your doors shut tight against the elements.
Furthermore, the Skycamp is made of a breathable poly-cotton canvas, waterproof polyester, and double-layered, fiberglass reinforced panels for 1″ thick insulation.
This is not only a great winter rooftop tent but comes highly recommended by most as the rooftop tent to use in a pinch.
3. Roofnest Sparrow XL
The Roofnest Sparrow XL is brand new to 2020 rooftop tent for two, which includes a fiberglass-reinforced ABS plastic framing.
It comes with a 7cm interior mat for the floor to keep out the cold, and it is made from a polyester-cotton blend, which is thicker and tougher than a regular tent.
This is perfect for keeping out wind and rain, but also the cold.
Each Roofnest tent can hold up to 650 lbs, so it is durable and able to hold plenty of gear to keep you nice and toasty.
Every rooftop tent comes with a ladder of roughly 7.5 extendable feet.
Can Rooftop Tents be Used in Cold Weather?
Rooftop tents can be used in cooler or colder weather if properly insulated and prepared by the user.
As we’ve mentioned above, rooftop tents can delve into that 30-40 degree range if the user has taken the proper steps to insulate, cover the floor, wear the proper clothes, use thermal sleeping bags and even bring an electric heater.
Now, this level of preparedness will depend on the experience of the camper, as well as their budget.
Winter camping is incredibly expensive for how much all the equipment costs, as well as all the extra gear you may need even outside your tent on a hike or simply building a campfire.
Therefore, even if your tent can withstand those temperatures, make sure you are prepared in all areas before heading out into the frigid snow for your camping trip.
Shelby Sullivan is our specialist when it comes to pontoon boats and recreational watercraft. She is often found sailing the freshwater lakes of Michigan. She is also a light-traveler who enjoys camping and traveling the world. Read more about Shelby here.