How To Store A Roof Top Tent: In-Depth Storage Guide


Rooftop tents are a great way to experience some unique outdoor adventures. But after the amazing experience of the great outdoors, you might wonder, how do you store your rooftop tent?

You can store a rooftop tent in five different ways:
1) flat on the storage floor
2) on its side against the storage wall
3) hang up on the storage ceiling
4) on a cart/ platform
5) the roof of your car

In this article, we’ll explore all the different methods to store your rooftop tent more thoroughly. And the questions such as How Do You Store A Rooftop Tent In A Garage?, Can I Store A Rooftop Tent On Its Side?, How Do You Store A Rooftop Tent In Winter?, Can You Leave Your Rooftop Tent On Your Car? will all be answered. So let’s get started! 

Just a heads up, this post contains some affiliate links. Purchases you make through these links may earn us a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases

Five Ways To Store Your Roof Top Tent

It’s important to store your rooftop tent correctly so that it remains in good condition for many years to come. A garage, shed or storage space that is dry and can be closed is the best option. And make sure to take these precautions before storing it: the tent is fully dry, ensure that the weight is evenly distributed, and do not leave it in a humid environment. And try not to place it in frequently-traveled spaces within the storage space, as there is more risk for contact and damage.

Depending on your particular situation, one of the below storage options may work better for you than others. Regardless of which one you choose, make sure to practice proper maintenance and care for your rooftop tent, and it will provide you with many years of great outdoor experiences.  

1) Flat On The Storage Floor

Placing your rooftop tent flat on the ground when you have enough storage space is the easiest option. Make sure the area can be closed and is dry. And lift the rooftop tent a bit from the ground for air circulation to avoid mold and to prevent scratches etc. You can use a foam noodle or wooden pallet to place between the floor and your rooftop tent. And if you worry about dust and dirt, you can cover the rooftop tent extra.

Place the rooftop tent on a moving blanket, so you can easily move it around without scratching it. And in this video below, you’ll see how you can dismount your rooftop tent from your car by yourself if you don’t have a hoist:

Video Tutorial: How To Dismount Rooftop Tent By Yourself

2) On Its Side Against The Wall

When you’re limited on storage space, you might want to store the tent on its side. And for those of you who wonder, Can I Store A Rooftop Tent On Its Side? I have good news!

You can store your rooftop tent on its side in most cases. Check the rooftop tent manufacturer’s instructions if they recommend storing the rooftop tent on its side. For lightweight rooftop tents storing on its side is usually not a problem. For heavier rooftop tents, this can be a problem. Take precautions to store your rooftop against the wall without the risk of falling down.

Steps to store your rooftop tent on its side properly:

  1. Remove the rooftop tent from your car using a hoist or other method.
  2. Ensure the rooftop tent is fully dry and all gear is removed from the tent.
  3. Cover your rooftop tent with the dust cover that came with it or a queen-sized mattress protector. This will help to protect your tent from any dust, dirt, or debris that may accumulate while it’s on its side.
  4. Use thick moving blankets to move the rooftop tent around without getting it scratched.
  5. Keep a couple of wooden blocks on hand to support the edges of your rooftop tent and evenly distribute its weight. If you don’t have wooden blocks, you can cut up some pool noodles to use as padding.
  6. Place the wooden blocks or noodle pieces perpendicular to the wall where you’re storing your tent. Now lift your tent, and place it hinge-side down on the blocks.
  7. Gently lean it against the wall, ensure it is secure, and won’t slide down.

By following the steps above, you can safely store your rooftop tent on its side. However, it’s important to note that this is not the ideal long-term storage option. If you’re planning not to use your tent for an extended period of time, it’s best to follow some of the other methods mentioned in this article.

3) Hang Up On The Ceiling

One of the most popular storage options is hanging the rooftop tent on the ceiling because it keeps the rooftop tent the most out of the way. While this will ensure that your tent is in great condition, you’ll need to ensure that the space can support the weight of your tent. It also requires special hardware to create a hoist.

Steps to hang your rooftop tent in the garage:

  1. Mount cables (you can use straps or harnesses as well) to the ceiling of your garage, or find an appropriate beam that can support the weight of your tent.
  1. Securely attach the cables to each corner of your rooftop tent and ensure they are evenly spaced.
  1. Pull up on the straps until your tent is hanging safely suspended from the ceiling.
  1. Adjust the straps/cables, if necessary, so your tent is properly balanced and secure.

And there you have it! By following the steps above, you can safely store your rooftop tent in your garage without taking up any valuable floor space. 

Pro Tip: You can find Tree Saver Tow straps on Amazon for around $25. These are often used to wrap around trees for winching vehicles, but they also work perfectly for hanging your rooftop tent. Find one that is rated to hold the weight of your tent and adjust it as needed. Just be sure to check for any signs of wear and tear before every use.

You can buy a motorized ceiling hoist on Amazon or your local hardware stores. Or you can make one yourself, as you can see in this video tutorial below on how to create a DIY hoist system to store your rooftop tent. In all cases, ensure that the ceiling hoist’s load capacity exceeds the rooftop tent’s weight.

Video Tutorial: DIY Hoist System

This method is more expensive and takes up a bit more time than the other storage options, but it’s definitely worth it, especially if you have limited floor space and enough ceiling height in your garage or storage space. It is also very convenient because you can directly take the tent off and on your vehicle using this hoist, as seen in the video below.

Note: This method requires some experience with basic tools and equipment. If you’re unsure what you’re doing, it’s best to get a professional to help.

4) Store It On A Cart-Like Platform

Another method to store your rooftop tent is to place it on a platform or some other portable construction. This can be a helpful method when you don’t want to hang anything on your ceiling but want to use put the rooftop tent on an elevated platform to allow for easy maneuverability. For example, you can place your rooftop tent on a mover dolly.

This is a good option when you have enough floor space to move things around in your garage, but this method comes with more risk of damage because you move it around so it can be easily damaged. But this method is a great option if the move from your car to the storage space is a long distance.

Ensure the cart’s load capacity exceeds the rooftop tent’s weight. And secure the rooftop tent to the cart so it won’t fall off while moving it around, and lock the wheels, so it doesn’t roll around in your storage area unnoticed. 

Suppose you have grandkids and don’t mind leaving your rooftop tent exposed to the weather. In that case, you can consider building a high platform construction in your garden to place the rooftop on top of it so it can function as a fun treehouse during the off-camping season.

5) Leave It On On Your Car

Probably a few of you might also be thinking, “Can I just leave my rooftop tent on top of the car?”. After all, wouldn’t it be convenient to have your tent all ready to go whenever you’re feeling spontaneous, right?! So here is the most direct answer:

You can leave your rooftop tent on top of your car. It saves time and storage space when you frequently camp and like spontaneous trips. However, fuel efficiency makes it costly, and exposure to all weather conditions affects the lifespan of the rooftop tent when leaving it on top of your car.

It is worth storing your rooftop tent when you know you won’t use it in winter or other months of the year. And here are the reasons why:

Things To Consider Before Leaving Rooftop Tent On Top Of Your Car

Mileage

Rooftop tents have a significant impact on your car’s gas mileage. For a medium SUV, there’s a drop of almost 2-13% in fuel economy when carrying a rooftop tent, whereas, for a mid-size sedan, that drop can be anywhere between 11-19%. This is because the added weight of the tent, plus the wind resistance created by its shape, strain your engine and thus affect fuel efficiency. As I explain more in-depth in my article: Do Roof Top Tents Affect Gas Mileage? Full Guide

This means that leaving your rooftop tent can be very costly, especially during times when gas prices are at their peak. This can be an important reason why you want to store your rooftop tent instead of leaving it on your car. And when using a hoist system, removing and placing your rooftop tent doesn’t have to be a big hassle. You can invest in a good hoist system in your garage with the money you save on fuel.

Lifespan Of Rooftop Tent

Your rooftop tent is exposed to the elements when left on your car – meaning that wind, rain, and snow can all take their toll over time. The lifespan of your rooftop tent can be affected, depending on the type and brand of your rooftop tent and the type of (extreme) weather conditions the rooftop tent is facing.

High-quality rooftop tents such as iKamper, Thule, and Roofnest and mostly hardshell rooftop tents are meant to endure the toughest elements daily. They are designed to be 4-season rated against the wind, rain, snow, and UV rays. In those cases, there really isn’t a reason to take the rooftop tent off.

More Maintenance

The last thing you want is for your rooftop tent to start showing signs of wear and tear because it hasn’t been stored properly. Not only can this shorten its lifespan, but it can also make it less safe and reliable when you do eventually take it out camping. You can expect a little more maintenance when leaving it on your car. Regular check-ups can avoid surprises during a spontaneous camping trip.

Risk Of Being Stolen

Unfortunately, the world now is not roses and sunshine. Some people want to take advantage of others people’s stuff. There is a risk that your rooftop tent can be stolen if you constantly leave it on top of your car. It is not a big risk, but I didn’t want to leave this out. And it all depends on where you park your car unattended. Big cities are at higher risk than the countryside. You probably know best what the risk is in your area. And otherwise, check it up. But know this:

A rooftop tent is very hard to remove, especially with anti-theft security nuts, where you need special tools to open it. In most cases, the normal installment is more than sufficient. Risk is minimum but is present. Depending on your location, you perhaps maybe choose to store your rooftop tent when you know you will travel to high-risk places.

Conclusion

So there you have it – while leaving your rooftop tent in the car is technically possible, it’s not in all cases the most ideal solution. Choosing to store your tent inside a garage or shed (or even in your home) is usually going to be the better option – both for convenience and safety. That way, you’ll know that your rooftop tent is still good as new whenever you decide to take it out camping again!

Is It Worth Storing Your Rooftop Tent?

After all the options explained above, you might still wonder, Is It Worth To Storing My Rooftop Tent?

Storing your rooftop is worth it because it protects its lifespan of ten to fifteen years, saves money on extra fuel due to the impact on your car’s gas mileage, and eliminates the risk of mold growth and the risk of theft.

Depending on your situation, it might be worth it to store your rooftop tent instead of leaving it on top of your car.

Our Experience

We traveled with our hard-shell rooftop tent through many countries in Europe back in 2019. For us, it was our home for almost a year, so leaving it on top of our car was the most obvious. And of course, we also booked some hotels or Airbnb along this road trip. But leaving it on top of car was totally worth it as you can see in our video below:

Currently, we have a soft-shell rooftop tent where we travel to Portugal in the winter. During this time, we use the rooftop tent on the road between The Netherlands and Portugal and for some occasional trips in Portugal. During this time, we also leave it on top of our car. But when we get back to The Netherlands and stay at a campsite in our caravan for many months in spring, summer, and fall, we store our rooftop tent.

Because it is lightweight, we can easily remove it with just two people from our car. And store it in a shed and hop on whenever we plan a weekend getaway. It is worth storing the rooftop tent during this time because we use it less frequently. It saves us a lot of money on fuel. And we’re not as heavily loaded, which also takes a toll on our small car.

Our soft shell rooftop tent

How Do You Store A Rooftop Tent In Winter?

For those of us who live in colder climates, storing a rooftop tent in winter is especially important. Not only do you want to ensure that your rooftop tent stays safe from the elements and any extreme temperatures, but you also want to ensure it doesn’t incur any damage from snow or ice.

You store a rooftop tent in winter by following these three rules: it should not be stored out in the open, stored in a dry place, and properly sealed. A garage or shed is the best place to store your tent, but if you don’t have access to one, you can also store it in a covered area such as a carport or even under your deck.

Here are some general guidelines to follow when storing a rooftop tent in the winter:

  • It goes without saying that you should NEVER store a rooftop tent out in the open during winter. The best place to store your rooftop tent in winter is inside a garage or shed. Ensure the temperature is kept above freezing; if necessary, use some insulation to keep your tent warm.
  • If you don’t have access to a shelter for your tent, then the next best option is to store it inside your home. This is only advisable if you have plenty of space in a dry area. Remember to check on the tent regularly to make sure there are no signs of condensation or moisture build-up.
  • Finally, if you have neither a garage nor room in your home, you can opt to store it outside in a dry, shaded area. You should use a waterproof cover to protect your tent from moisture and ensure that it’s securely fastened. Double-check to see if all openings are sealed off, so that snow and ice don’t get in.

You should now be all set to keep your rooftop tent safe and sound throughout the winter months. Say goodbye to the cold and hello to a stress-free camping experience – no matter the season!

Note: If storing outside, try to find an area that is protected from wind and precipitation – for example, near a wall or behind some branches. This will decrease the chances of your tent getting damaged.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding rooftop tent storage:

Q.1. How often should I check my rooftop tent for damage while in storage?

A. We recommend checking your rooftop tent in storage once every 1-2 months to ensure that it’s in good condition and free from any potential issues. You should also check after each camping trip to ensure that everything is still securely in place and that no parts have been damaged.

Q.2. How to store hard-shell tents vs. soft-shell tents?

A. You store hard-shell tents on flat, level surfaces in order to keep them safely in place due to their heavy weight. Soft-top tents are much lighter and can be stored on their side as well without risking damage to the tent itself. In all cases, place a foam block underneath or against the wall to prevent scratches and moist growth. And use fixing points on the wall to secure it thoroughly with straps.

Q.3. Is there anything else I should do to ensure my rooftop tent lasts?

A. To increase the lifespan of your rooftop tent, we recommend cleaning your tent regularly. And treating the fabric with a waterproof spray or sealant every couple of months to ensure it stays watertight. Also, storing the tent only when it’s completely dry keeps it in good condition. As well as storing your tent in a cool and dry place whenever possible – will help to preserve its condition and prevent any mold or mildew from building up in the fabric.

Final Thoughts

While it can be exhilarating to drive around with a rooftop tent on top of your car, it’s important to remember that proper storage is essential for keeping your tent safe and in good condition. Ensure you have the right setup before leaving it on your car, and always store it inside when possible. When done correctly, your rooftop tent will be ready to go whenever you are! Happy camping!

Helpful Articles

The following articles might be helpful for you to read as well:

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!

Recent Posts