Photo by pixdeluxe via iStock
When you hear the term “rooftop tent” you might have visions of hardcore off-road and overlanding enthusiasts who have parked their Toyota Landcruisers on the edge of a cliff at the end of a tough two-track.
And while that group is certainly in the rooftop tent crowd, you don’t have to be in order to make good use of a rooftop tent.
In fact, if all you do is car camp in KOAs and other established campgrounds, a rooftop tent is still a great idea. Let’s go over a few reasons why this is the case.
Rooftop Tents are Easy to Deploy
One of the major downers of car camping is the time it takes to set up your tent.
Now, I know there are some tents that are a breeze to set up (I’m looking at you, pop-up tents). But the tents I’ve had over the years took 10-15 minutes to get everything situated, from getting the tent up to getting the rainfly on to getting all the bedding situated inside.
But with a rooftop tent like my Torro Offroad Skylux (shown above), you just pop the lid open and away you go. Better still, you can keep all your bedding inside during transport, so if you have a late night and pull into the campground well after dark, you can literally be in bed in a couple of minutes!
You’ll Be Warmer, Too
Photo by lechatnoir via iStock
Since you get up off the cold ground in a rooftop tent, you’ll find that you have a warmer night’s sleep.
Nothing sucks the heat out of your body like the cold ground. And while your sleeping pad and sleeping bag can help insulate your body from heat loss, it might still occur.
In a rooftop tent, you can be nice and warm, snuggled up on your queen or king-sized mattress, and not have a worry in the world in terms of being warm enough.
And on the flip side, if you’re camping in warmer weather, opening the windows in the tent allows you to capitalize on any breeze that might be blowing. Being up off the ground might mean you get a little more of a breeze to cool you down, too.
While you’re sleeping warmer up in your rooftop tent, you get the added advantage of keeping creepy crawlies out of your sleeping space. This isn’t to say that you’ll be sleeping with all sorts of bugs in a ground tent, but you’ll certainly have fewer on top of your car!
Rooftop Tents Save Space
By the time you have your tent, ground cloth, rainfly, sleeping pads, and sleeping bags in the back of your vehicle, you’ve lost a fair amount of storage space that could be occupied with other things, like more food and extra drinks!
With a rooftop tent, all that stuff is, well, on the roof! With all that gear out of the way, you can bring along all the ingredients you need to make my favorite overlanding recipe. Or maybe your kids will simply have more room in the back of the car.
You’ll save space in your garage as well, at least during the time of year you go camping. Many rooftop tent owners simply leave the tent on top of their car throughout the summer, though this is best done if your car lives in a garage or has some sort of protection over it to keep the sun and weather from beating the tent to death.
In my case, my rooftop tent is on my Turtleback Expedition Trailer, which I keep in a storage unit. This setup works much better for me because it frees up my truck to be my daily driver and I don’t have to worry about damage to the tent from UV rays and weather.
Enjoy Loads of Flexibility
A last benefit of rooftop tents that I want to discuss is that they are extremely flexible.
You can get small tents or big ones, hardshell tents or soft shell, and you can mount them on your vehicle or a trailer, as I mentioned above.
Additionally, rooftop tents have tons of accessories you can buy to make them even more functional. For example, I have an annex room on my Torro Offroad Skylux (which you can see in the video above) that gives me additional enclosed space. I’ve used it as a prep area for cooking, as a dining area in the colder months, and as a lounge when I’ve been out camping with my buddies.
You can get awnings that extend out from your vehicle that give you a shady spot to relax, a solar panel that attaches to the tent shell, and a wide range of other goodies as well.
Sure, rooftop tents aren’t exactly cheap. However, I’d rather spend more on a more functional and comfortable tent that makes my trips that much more enjoyable. Wouldn’t you?!