How Do Rooftop Tents Work? (Explained for Beginners)

Rooftop tents are a great alternative to tents and RV’s when it comes to camping.

Rooftop tents allow you to go camping and it doesn’t restrict you to the location options you are held to with the traditional tent.

The major benefit of a rooftop tent is that you can camp anywhere you can take your car, and it is not as bulky as a camper or an RV.

Online Roof-Top Tent Stores:

Here are some of the most popular online stores to buy roof-top tents:

StoresPrice rangeModelsVisit
iKamper$$-$$$4Visit here
Thule$-$$$7Visit here
CampSaver$-$$$24Visit here
RoofNest$$-$$$7Visit here

How Are Roof Top Tents Constructed?

A major benefit of rooftop tents is how quick and easy they can be to set up.

First, you will want to make sure that you have the proper roof rack to construct your rooftop tent. This is what you will use to secure your rooftop tent. The rack provides a good and stable base. If your tent is secured to a roof, it will prevent it from blowing away while driving.

Most roof racks are available to be used with a rooftop tent, but you will want to make sure that you check with your particular tent and look at the rack on your car.

There are many steps in constructing your rooftop tent, and you will want to make sure that you read the directions very carefully.

When constructing your tent, you will want to:

  1. Get the proper tools.
  2. Find a large and clean workspace.
  3. Make sure all the components are included in your tent.
  4. Inspect and check your roof rack to make sure it will work.
  5. Secure your mounting tracks based on the instructions.
  6. Make sure to properly and safely attach the ladder.
  7. Secure your tent and cover.
  8. Make sure everything is properly anchored to your roof rack.

If you have any issues with your roof tent, make sure to check the manual for directions.

You do not want your roof tent to fall or be insecure. Safety should always come first.

How are Rooftop Tents Supported?

Rooftop tents might seem unstable if you are not familiar with them, but they can be very stable.

The stability comes from your roof rack system. To keep your roof rack system secure, you will want a stable roof rack that has crossbars.

This will help more securely mount your rooftop tent. When looking to make sure your tent is stable, there are some other things to consider.

You will want to make sure you know how much weight your vehicle and your roof rack can hold.

How Durable are Rooftop Tents?

Rooftop tents can be very durable and are similar to regular tents.

Depending on the material your rooftop tent is made out of, you can be looking at 3 camping seasons worth of use, but with a heavy-duty canvas and the proper care, you can see your tent last decades.

How Much Weight Can a Rooftop Tent Hold?

Most rooftop tents will state that they can hold up to between 500-600lbs.

However, you will want to make sure that your vehicle rack can withstand that amount of weight, too.

The easiest way to determine how much weight your car can hold is by checking your vehicle’s owner’s manual.

You also want to consider the difference between how much weight your car can handle when it is moving versus when it is not.

You also will want to find out how much your tent itself weighs, in addition to what the weight is of any guests or items that you intend to have in your tent after it is constructed.

The average weight a truck or SUV can hold while moving is between 150 and 165 pounds. While being still, your vehicle can hold up to three times that amount.

Can a Rooftop Tent be Mounted on any Car or Vehicle?

Whether or not a rooftop tent can be mounted on your car or vehicle would depend on how much weight your vehicle can hold.

If your vehicle cannot take the rooftop tent’s weight, you should not use that vehicle.

You also need a vehicle with the proper roof rack. Without the proper roof rack, your rooftop tent will not be secure, and you should not utilize that vehicle for a rooftop tent.

The best vehicles for rooftop tents tend to be trucks and SUVs.

Cars and other small vehicles are not a good choice for rooftop tent camping.

How Much Time Does it Take to Set Up a Rooftop Tent?

After your tent has been mounted to your roof, setup is quick and easy—no more long hours of hassling with large traditional tents.

Once you get to your destination, you can set up your rooftop tent in a couple of minutes.

Pop-up models are the fastest type of tent to set up and can take just 1-5 minutes. Canvas tents take a little longer, but the average time is still around 10 minutes.

Another time-saver with rooftop tents over traditional tents is that you can leave some bedding in rooftop tents, and they will still be able to close up, unlike traditional tents where you have to pack up all your bedding as well.

Popular Rooftop Tent Options:

If rooftop tents sound like something you might be interested in, some popular options include:

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.

Check out the iKamper Skycamp 2.0 by clicking HERE today!

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.

Make sure to check out the Thule x Tepui Explorer Ayer 2 HERE!

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.
  • Lightweight.

You can find the 2020 Sparrow by Roofnest rooftop tents HERE!


Rooftop tents can be a great alternative to traditional tents.

If this option is something you want to look into, there are many options available out there to fit your needs!

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