Staying Off the Ground: How to Use Car Rooftop Tents

How to Use Car Rooftop TentsThere are more ways to camp other than the traditional tent on the ground. Camping has come a long way and we are seeing many innovations and advances being made regarding the way we go out and enjoy the great outdoors. Car rooftop tents, or car top tents, are one of the newest sensations and are quickly becoming a popular tool for campers.

Like with any other concept or project these camping tents come with pros and cons. Yes, you can easily set up camp with your tent down on the ground like usual, but why not take advantage of being up off the ground and away from all those creepy crawly bugs that plague a camper?

Car roof top camping tents can be put up in a very short amount of time, and they can be packed up just as fast as they went up. You simply drive to your destination, park your car in an ideal spot that you love, and pop your tent open. The tents typically come equipped with all the bedding already packed inside including an inflatable or high density foam mattress for comfort. These tents are always ready to go and can go anywhere you go. No more having to carry heavy and cumbersome camping gear to find your perfect spot.

How to Choose a Car Roof Top Tent

Like with any tent purchase, before you choose you will want to understand exactly what your needs are. Take into consideration the climate you will be in, the style of camping you have adapted, and the kind of vehicle you have and whether or not it has a roof rack.

How to Use Car Rooftop Tents

A smaller tent is best for cooler weather because it will help retain the heat and keep you warmer. A smaller tent will also weigh less. A larger tent that is heavier may hinder the fuel efficiency of your vehicle and adds to the overall load weight you are carrying.

How to Use Car Roof Top Tents

A hard-shell roof tent can stay mounted to the vehicle, and you can store the majority of your gear inside of it while you are on the move. These tents are often sealed to help prevent any water from leaking in and they also help to keep out dirt and debris.

Purchase a tent that will comply with your vehicle’s load rating, so you know that the vehicle is capable of carrying the extra weight. You will also want to understand the type of roof your vehicle has as well as the manufacturer’s recommended weight limit.

A backbone system should be installed first, so there is adequate support on the rooftop. This type of system can also handle an increased load weight and can better accommodate a rooftop tent. Other options include rhino-racks, track mounts, fixed mounting points, gutter mounts, and a pioneer platform. All of these options depend on the vehicle type and serves as the foundation for your rooftop tent.

The roof top tent can then be affixed to the mount and a small ladder can be used to easily get into the tent. Always make sure that the tent is being properly set up and you will also want to ensure that the ladder is supported on the ground so it can help support the tent. If you incorrectly place the ladder, then you may experience some structural problems with the setup of your roof top tent.

The following are a few examples of some of the best car roof top tents available:

1. Tuff Stuff Ranger Overland Rooftop Tent with Annex Room

The Tuff Stuff Ranger Overland Rooftop Tent includes a free annex room which totals an over $200 value. This structure features an all-aluminum frame and comes with a ladder and the roof rack mounts. There is a high-density foam mattress, and the tent also has screened windows. It will hold up to 350 pounds. The annex room will easily zip on after the tent has been installed. Remember, you must provide your own rack or base to bolt the tent onto.

How to Use Car Rooftop Tents

Product Dimensions- Open56x96x52 inches
Product Dimensions-Closed12x56x48 inches
Mattress Size56×96 inches
Product WeightApproximately 150 pounds

Key Features

  • Includes an annex room
  • Can fit two adults
  • Tent unfolds in just minutes
  • Does not require any tools for setup
  • Retractable ladder can be folded away to increase space


  • Installation requires at least two people
  • Instructions are mediocre

2. Tepui Autana XL Sky Tent- 4-Person, 4-Season

The Tepui Autana XL Sky Tent is a four-season tent that can accommodate up to four people. It is made with a polyester and cotton material and has a waterproof ventilate coating with mesh and taped seams. It can withstand rain and other adverse weather conditions and is the perfect tent for a road trip adventure. It is also very easy to install and includes a high-density foam mattress for comfort. Racks should be installed 32 – 48 inches apart on the top of the vehicle.

How to Use Car Rooftop Tents

Product Dimensions-Packed72x48x12 inches
Floor Dimensions96×72 inches
Vestibule Area81 square feet
Product WeightApproximately 180 pounds

Key Features

  • Includes a large and removable annex
  • Boasts of an A-frame design with a good amount of head space
  • Removable PVC floor and side screened windows
  • Large rear door can grant access to the vehicle
  • Mosquito netting
  • High-density foam mattress for comfort
  • Internal pockets for storage
  • Includes universal mounting brackets


  • May have mold issues due to condensation

Final Thoughts

Most roof top tents are very simple to install and the setup and take down of the tent is simple and easy to do as well and takes no time at all. No more wasted time fighting with setting up a traditional tent with all its pieces. You will also find nice and comfortable mattresses, weather protection and a good height off the ground to put distance between yourself, bugs, and any mud.

A roof top tent is also more affordable than an RV and still provides you with the comfort and convenience of a good night sleep.

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