Don’t Set Up Your Rooftop Tent On The Ground, This Is Why


A rooftop tent is an excellent addition to your camping gear because it offers the versatility of a ground tent without the hassle of getting wet from the ground when it rains. Rooftop tents are designed to attach to the top of your car and fold out from there. An excellent question that always comes up is, can you set up a rooftop tent on the ground?

A rooftop tent is not designed to be set up on the ground. If it is attempted, the frame may be destroyed beyond usability. Not just the frame, the clips and attachment pieces designed for attaching to the car’s roof will not work correctly afterward.

A rooftop tent is designed to work on top of your vehicle, so placing it directly on the ground will not be a good option for you to take. Once the parts on the bottom of the tent are damaged, there will be no going back. Let’s dig into this a little bit further.

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EUROPE ROAD TRIP | ROOF TOP TENT ON SMALL CAR

EUROPE ROAD TRIP | ROOF TOP TENT ON...
EUROPE ROAD TRIP | ROOF TOP TENT ON SMALL CAR

Can You Set Up A Rooftop Tent on The Ground

Even if the circumstances demand that you place the rooftop on the ground to sleep in, it would not be a good idea. Rooftop tents are simply not designed to be on the ground.

Placing this type of tent on the ground instead of on top of the vehicle as designed will cause many different types of damage. Granted, you may get away with it once or even twice. Still, eventually, you will hit yourself in the head. Wondering why you didn’t listen if your Rooftop tent was severely damaged after you set it up on the ground. 

Why you don’t want to set up your rooftop tent on the ground

Let’s summarize the main reasons why you don’t want to set up your rooftop tent on the ground; 

  • Rooftop Tents are designed to mount on the roof of a car.
  • It damages the frame
  • It damages the rooftop connectors
  • Damage to the bottom of the tent
  • Damage to the side and top if it is a hard-top design

Basically, you could easily damage the parts of the rooftop tent that make it a rooftop tent. The frame and connectors allow it to hook safely on top of your vehicle. If even one of these sections becomes damaged, the tent will no longer be able to be used for what it was produced to do. 

Can You Use A Part Of A Rooftop Tent on The Ground?

Most rooftop tent brands have the opportunity to extend the tent with an awning or canopy so that you can extend it to the ground. Especially the tent awnings are perfect for this. 

A rooftop tent awning is an added room that gives much more storage or sleeping space if needed while still allowing the main sleeping area to be up on the roof off the ground.

Even though these tents are designed to have a part on the ground, this is often also the section where the ladder must sit, giving you access to the rooftop tent. So, a rooftop tent awning gives you extra but limited space. It is an excellent place to use as a dressing room or additional sleeping area. If you have a dog, it is also an ideal place for them to hang out for the night.

Only some cars are high enough to extend your rooftop tent with an awning you can set up on the ground. For example, we drive around with a Sheepie Yuna 160 that we put on our Toyota Yaris. To extend this rooftop tent with an awning, the minimum height of the car’s crossbars is 5.57 Feet (1.7 meters). Our car is relatively low and measures around 5.1 feet (1.56 meters). 

So, we use a canopy with our rooftop tent. Creating just that extra space outside for more comfort. The canopy can be built up as a sun canopy or to the ground, creating extra privacy to relax. 

Popular Rooftop Tents That Offer Awnings To Set Up On The Ground

Some of the most popular brands that offer rooftop tents are Ikamper, Roofnest, Thule, and Sheepie. 

As I said, we drive around with a Sheepie Yuna 160. The 160 stands for the sleeping footprint for our rooftop tent 160×250 centimeters (63″x98,4″). All the rooftop tents from Sheepie can extend with an awning or canopy. 

Ikamper, Roofnest, and Thule rooftop tents offer awnings for their rooftop tents. Most of these brands have many extensions and accessories available to create more comfort and luxury with your rooftop tent. 

Can Rooftop Tents Go on The Ground If Using A Platform?

There are two ways to set up your rooftop tent on the ground while using a platform. 

You can mount your rooftop tent on a platform or roof rack and place that on the ground. Or you can create a unique platform that is a bit above the ground and mount your rooftop tent on that platform. In essence, you create a treehouse idea, where the house is your rooftop tent. 

  • You can use a platform designed for the tent to go on top of the vehicle
  • You can create your own frame to support the tent on the ground 
  • You can design a new structure that goes onto the bottom that will allow you to use it on the ground

If the platform is detachable, you can place it on the ground and use your rooftop tent as a ground tent. The platform’s design will allow it to hold the tent without causing any damage to it. However, the platform will not be secured down onto anything, so it may not stay in one spot, especially if you set it up on snow or ice. 

Why Should a Rooftop Tent Only Be Used On A Roof?

Rooftop tents are designed to go onto the top of your vehicle, so why would you ever want to set it up on the ground? It completely defeats the purpose of having this type of tent. Plus, the advantages of a rooftop tent far outweigh the ones designed to go on the ground, which would be a moot point if you set it up on ground level.

  • Clean – Tents that are not on the ground will stay clean longer. No dirt or debris will be tracked into it, and the wind will not be able to blow dirt and grime onto the outer surfaces.
  • Comfort – Rooftop tents are designed for comfort. They come with foam bottoms and insulated tops, and they also guarantee to give you a flat surface to lay on.
  • Up High – Being off the ground will keep you warmer and drier, plus it keeps you out of the reach of most predators, snakes, and bugs.
  • All Weather – Since the tent is up off the ground, you can use it in any weather conditions. Mud, floods, snow, ice, or anything else you may encounter on the ground will not be an issue since you are on the roof of your car.

Why would you want to use it on the ground if you spent the money buying a rooftop tent? Each tent you can purchase on the market will be designed for a specific use and is best used in such a way.

Conclusion

What it all comes down to is that the rooftop tent is yours, so you can do what you want to do with it. Once you have used it on the ground, though, it will become nothing more than an expensive ground-style tent. And you will likely never be able to use it as a rooftop tent again.

If you are unsure where you want to sleep each night while camping, take the time to get yourself a cheap little tent on Amazon designed to be secured to the ground. That way, you have an option. And, you will never damage the rooftop tent by placing it on the ground. 

However, I would always go for a rooftop tent because it’s much more comfortable and easier to set up. Then again, I might be a bit biased since I’m a fanatic rooftop tent traveler 🙂 

Recommended Articles

You may be interested in learning more about rooftop tents. I’ve shared our experience and knowledge in several articles that you might want to read as well; 

Can A Rooftop Tent Go On Any Car?

Top 10 Best Advantages Of A Rooftop Tent

Léon Kopijn

Léon Kopijn works and lives as a Digital Nomad. He travels the world with the love of his life and writes about inspiring cultures and practical travel tips. Find out more about Léon on his about page!

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