It’s imperative to know how much carrying a rooftop tent will affect your fuel consumption before purchasing one for your next camping adventure.
Fortunately, some data is available that demonstrates an estimate of just how much more fuel your vehicle is going to use when hauling a rooftop tent.
Here’s How Much Rooftop Tents Affect Gas Mileage:
A vehicle’s gas mileage is affected by the car model and the type of rooftop tent used. According to some studies, a vehicle’s fuel economy will drop in the range of 17 percent when a rooftop tent is installed on a car. This can be due to added weight and drag from wind.
How Much Money Are We Talking Here?
Your car will likely experience a drop in fuel economy with a rooftop tent in place; however, how much it drops will depend on various factors.
You can expect to spend more on gas if you have a rooftop tent installed, in all honesty.
Below we have compiled a quick list summarising what you should consider when figuring out how much more gas you will be using and how much more you will be spending:
- The type of roof racks you are using.
- The size and make of your rooftop tent and whether or not it is softshell or hardshell.
- The model of the vehicle you have and how much fuel it usually uses without a load.
- How you have placed the rooftop tent on your vehicle.
- The way you drive your vehicle.
- How much torque your car has.
Should we use a 17 percent drop in fuel economy as our basis, we can work out how much more you would roughly pay for gas while using a rooftop tent.
If you drive on average around 20,000 miles a year and the cost of gas is $2.50 a gallon, you will likely spend around $460 more than usual should you have a rooftop tent installed.
Do Rooftop Tents Affect Car Performance In Other Ways?
The main reason for a car’s gas mileage being affected by a rooftop tent is because of the wind resistance it creates.
Some rooftop tents are not as aerodynamic as they could be, and as such, the drag of the car is negatively affected, which causes an increase in fuel consumption.
So we know that a rooftop ten affects our vehicle’s gas mileage, but do we know why, and does a rooftop tent affect other areas of a car’s performance? Primarily a vehicle’s center of gravity is affected.
Regardless of the type of car you have, you will notice that your vehicle’s center of gravity is affected when a rooftop tent has been installed.
When a rooftop tent has been mounted, the vehicle’s height is increased, which causes the car’s center of gravity to be affected. When the center of gravity is altered, it reduces trail performance and the vehicle’s overall handling capabilities.
For some cars, driving around corners will slightly destabilize the vehicle, and extra attention would have to be paid to steer the vehicle.
However, it is beneficial to note that some cars retain their handling capabilities fairly well despite having a rooftop tent mounted to the roof.
Do Rooftop Tents Create Noise In The Vehicle?
Rooftop tents create noise inside a vehicle while driving it but how much noise will depend on the tent and the vehicle.
Many people who utilize jeeps, for example, will notice their rooftop tent is noisier, whereas other types of SUVs that have a rooftop tent installed might not be as noisy. The more aerodynamic the rooftop tent is, the less noisy it is, and depending on your vehicle, you might not hear anything other than slight background noise.
The place that makes the most noise the space between the rooftop tent and the roof creates a drumming-like noise that could be irritating for some.
You can negate this by purchasing a tent that fits closer to the roof racks and the roof of the vehicle.
Additionally, if you decide to use a softshell tent, you will hear more noise inside your vehicle from the rooftop tent than if you utilized a hardshell tent.
How Fast Can You Drive With A Rooftop Tent?
Now you might think that having a rooftop tent mounted will affect how fast you can drive.
Having a rooftop tent isn’t really going to affect how fast you can drive.
You can still drive normal speeds, as ultimately, the only thing that will be affected is the distance you can drive on a single tank of gas.
The faster you drive, the more fuel you will use due to the tent’s wind drag.
Therefore you can continue driving how you usually would, but if you want to be more fuel-efficient and save costs, it would be best to drive slower and with an aerodynamic rooftop tent.
Rooftop Tent Models That Are More Fuel Efficient
There happen to be many rooftop tents that are manufactured to be aerodynamic and, therefore, more fuel-efficient.
Below we will look at three brands and their respective rooftop tents that are likely to save you money on gas:
1. Roofnest Condor
Not only does the aerodynamic nature help combat heavy fuel consumption, but the dimensions of the tent allow for a spacious, homey feeling.
Inside the Condor, you will be able to sleep 2 to 3 people once you easily set up the fold-out rooftop tent. The Condor has a length of 83 inches by a width of 60 inches and can hold a static weight limit of up to 650 pounds.
Included in this tent is a comfortable built-in foam mattress that has a waterproof cover.
Should you want a rooftop tent that will endure years of differing weather conditions, then this tent might be perfect for you. The outer shell is made from ASA plastic for weather resistance, and the shell is made with ABS plastic.
Additionally, the Condor tents fabric is made with a durable polyurethane-coated polyester and cotton blend with a 3000mm waterproof rating.
2. Thule X Tepui Low Pro 3
The rooftop tent brand Thule has an excellent offering of softshell rooftop tents that actually minimize drag due to their low profile design.
This rooftop tent can sleep up to 3 people comfortably as it has an interior height of 3ft 6 inches, a length of 95 inches by a width of 57 inches. The tent comes with a lightweight dome canopy that works in tandem with the waterproof ripstop fabric on the sidewalls to be weather resistant.
The x Tpui Low Pro 3 is also UV and mildew resistant, and it has a frame that’s flame retardant.
Moreover, this rooftop tent features mesh screens that provide you with adequate ventilation, and the sturdy aluminum base ensures a safe night’s rest atop your vehicle.
The aerodynamic design will also save you money as your vehicle won’t use as much fuel with this rooftop tent installed.
3. iKamper Skycamp Mini
This rooftop tent sets up incredibly fast, and as such, you will be ready to camp in roughly a minute.
Alongside this handy feature, the tent can sleep two people, making it ideal for solo travelers and small families.
The Skycamp Mini is an attractive option for most as the aerodynamic lightweight design allows it to fit on most vehicles. Additionally, this hardshell rooftop tent by iKamper doesn’t negatively affect your vehicle’s gas mileage compared to other rooftop tent models available due to this design.
Inside this tent, there is enough space for two with a length of 57.28 inches by a width of 54.82 inches.
iKamper is known for using only the best materials, and they don’t disappoint with this version of the Skycamp. The material used to make the tent is breathable polycotton canvas for the tent itself, and the rainfly uses 150D polyester.
This rainfly is also detachable, which allows for better ventilation inside the rooftop tent.
Perhaps best of all, you will be able to customize your Skycamp mini, and many additional extras come included with your purchase.
You can look forward to gas strut locks, mounting brackets, hardshell wax, and much more.
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.