What Is The Point Of A Rooftop Tent?


You probably have seen them around, rooftop tents mounted on a regular car. It’s becoming more and more popular and changes the way of camping. But what’s actually the point of a rooftop tent?

The point of a rooftop tent is that it’s much easier to go camping. It’s easy to set-up. You create more space inside your car. Sleeping is more secure and comfortable because you don’t have to sleep on the ground, and many rooftop tents have a luxury mattress. Most rooftop tents fit on regular cars. Camping with a rooftop tent increases your mobility. 

We’re traveling with a rooftop tent a little over a year now, and it became our favorite way of traveling! Of course, sometimes we meet people that are traveling with an RV, and we think “They have a lot of space!”. But when we return to our rooftop tent, we’re always happy; it creates so many more opportunities and freedom of traveling. 

Traveling with a rooftop tent is one of the best ways of going on a road trip! In this article, I’ll tell you much more about the point of traveling with a rooftop tent. We’ll dig in, in the pro’s and con’s of a rooftop tent, essential facts you’ll need to consider before buying, and much more. Ready to learn more? Let’s find out! 

Rooftop tent worth it

Thank you for supporting Made For Travellers: Please note that some links in this article are affiliate links. When you make a purchase using these links, we may get a small commission, at no extra cost to you.

Why Choosing For A Rooftop Tent?

Are you still doubting if you should buy a rooftop tent? I think this article, and our other articles help you make your decision.

The point of traveling with a rooftop tent is that it’s easy to set-up, saves a lot of space inside your car. You increase your mobility, so it’s much easier to go everywhere you like. Rooftop tents are not really cheap, but they’re always much more affordable than an RV. 

Because you’re sleeping off the ground, it’s much more comfortable. It’s not only warmer but also much safer because animals like snakes and insects can’t get inside your tent that easy. 

If you like to go camping, being outside, but don’t want the hassle of setting up your tent, and sleeping on the ground. Choosing a rooftop tent is the best thing you can do! 

Pro’s and Con’s of A Rooftop Tent

There are many pros and a few cons to traveling with a rooftop tent. Overall it’s a great form of traveling around. 

Honestly, I can hardly think of many cons or disadvantages of traveling with a rooftop tent. But then again, I’m a rooftop tent enthusiast. So, my opinion is probably not the most objective. 

The biggest disadvantage in our last year of traveling is that we didn’t have an inside living space. We traveled throughout Europe, and there were days that it was raining a lot. We couldn’t sit and lounge outside, because, well, we only have a rooftop tent on top of our car. It is the one big advantage that RV’s have over Rooftop Tent, more living space. 

You could quickly fix the living space issue by buying an extra tent or an awning. But that also takes up more space in your car, so it depends if you have enough space. We do have an awning, though, but that’s more for creating some shade then a real inside living space. 

So, when the weather is bad, camping with a rooftop tent is not ideal. 

However, most rooftop tents are tested thoroughly in heavy wind and rain conditions. So, when you end up buying a rooftop tent, make sure to go for a quality rooftop tent. It’s reassuring to know when your rooftop tent is weatherproof. 

Advantages Of A Rooftop Tent

You’re probably not surprised that our list of rooftop tent pros is much longer than then ‘cons.’ We’re positive-minded people, and it is much easier to think of the fun things about this ideal way of traveling! 

So, here it goes, the advantages of traveling with a rooftop tent; 

Mobility

Many people still think that rooftop tents only can fit on large cars like a four-wheel-drive or SUV. But that’s not true! Many rooftop tents fit easily on top of a regular car. So when traveling with a rooftop tent, and your own car, you can imagine that you’re much more mobile. 

It’s easier driving around, cheaper (lower costs for gas), and you can park almost everywhere! Also, in many cities, it is not allowed to drive in the city center with a large RV. Often you need to park your RV at a large RV parking, just outside the city center, and take a bus that brings you towards the center. You don’t have this problem when traveling with your own car, which makes it much more comfortable getting around. 

Easy Set-up

There are basically two kinds of rooftop tents, hard shell, and soft tops. Both are perfect for traveling around, and there are only slight differences between the hard shell and soft top rooftop tents. 

The biggest difference is with setting up the tent. Hardshell rooftop tents are, on average, the easiest to set up. Many hardshell rooftop tents are fitted with gas springs, so you only need to open the shell, and it opens automatically. In a matter of seconds, your tent is ready to sleep in! 

There are also hard shell rooftop tents that open like a canopy (sideways), and these are taking a bit more time while setting up. Still, in a few minutes, you’ll be done and can start relaxing. The biggest advantage of these rooftop tents is that they’re often much larger, and you can sleep with more people (3 or 4) inside. In the pop-up, rooftop tents often only can sleep 2 people. 

Comfort Sleeping

For me, this was probably the biggest plus when we decided to buy a rooftop tent. Most rooftop tents have a normal mattress. Okay, not so luxury as at home, but way better than an inflatable mattress! If there’s something important, it’s good nights of sleep. So time to ditch that inflatable mattress and choose for a rooftop tent. You sleep like a baby again! (while not really like a baby; otherwise, you’ll wake up every 2 to 3 hours, but you get the expression, right? I mean, you sleep like a healthy adult! 6 – 8 hours of comfortable sleep. Camping with a rooftop tent gets more attractive!)

Also, you can bring your own bedding and ditch those camping sleeping bags. Many rooftop tents have enough space leaving your bedding inside the tent when it is closed, which is ideal! 

More Luggage Space Inside The Car

Rooftop Tents can not only be used as a tent, but also as an extra luggage compartment while being on the road. Especially the hard shell rooftop tents often have a lot more space you can use putting your stuff in. The things we’re putting in our rooftop tent while traveling are; 

  • Bedding (our duvet and pillows)
  • Ladder (every rooftop tent has a ladder which you use to get in the tent) 
  • Folding camping table and chairs
  • Awning Tent 

We even have space left inside our tent. I must say that not every rooftop tent has this possibility. Many softshell rooftop tents, and rooftop tents that open sideways, like a canopy, often don’t have much extra space when the tent is folded. 

So if this factor is important to you, it’s something you need to take into consideration. There are also many hardshell rooftop tents where you can put roof bars on top and store extra luggage. However, you always need to measure the maximum weight you can put on the roof of your car. 

Low Cost

Obviously, a rooftop tent is much cheaper than an RV, but it is more expensive than a regular tent. One of the most costly rooftop tents is made by Ikamper, and costs around 4000 US Dollars. This brand is known for producing excellent quality tents, so it might be a bit expensive, but it is an investment that you can use for years. And still, much cheaper than a standard RV, which can quickly cost around 10.000 US Dollars or more. 

There are many cheaper rooftop tents available on the market. The rooftop tents which we know get the best customer reviews are made by Ikamper and Tepui. 

Of course, you can make traveling with a rooftop tent as expensive as you want. If you only by a rooftop tent, and don’t use many extra’s, traveling with a rooftop tent can be very cheap. However, when you also decide buying a luxury annex or awning, and much other stuff, it can get expensive quickly. An annex is interesting to buy when you go traveling for a longer period. Also very useful when you want to have the opportunity of a place to relax when it’s raining. 

If you want to know more about the advantages of traveling with a rooftop tent, I recommend reading our article Top 10 Advantages of A Rooftop Tent.’

Rooftop Tent More Comfortable

Recommended Rooftop Tents

There are many brands and variations in rooftop tents available on the market. So it can be overwhelming choosing that one rooftop tent that fits your wishes the most. 

We made a selection of different rooftop tents, which makes it easier for you to choose the right one. 

Yakima SkyRise 

This Soft Top Rooftop Tent is lightweight, around 115 pounds (51 kilograms), and fits up to 3 persons! 

Smittybilt Rooftop Tent

An all-weather tent, often used for offroading camper experiences. Not very lightweight, 143 pounds (65 kilograms), so it won’t fit on top of every car. Ideal tent when you’re driving an SUV or larger car. 

Tepui LoPro Rooftop Tent

When it comes to lightweight, soft top rooftop tents, the Tepui Rooftop Tents are one of the best in the market. The tent only weighs 120 pounds (55 kilograms), and therefore ideal to fit on top of almost every car. 

Rooftop Tent Accessories

Annex Tent

An extra tent that connects to your rooftop tent is ideal when traveling for a longer time. The annex can function as a small living room where you can relax, enjoy your diner, and you can use it as a changing room. 

Tent Lamps

Rooftop Tents doesn’t have standard lighting inside, so you need to make sure to arrange that for yourself. However, when camping, you don’t want to bring that much stuff, so I would recommend using these batteries powered LED lights. Ideal when you want to read a book in your tent. 

Travel Hammock

This lightweight travel hammock from La Siesta is the best hammock you can bring on your travels. It’s very small, made of parachute fiber, and easy to mount. The perfect lounge accessory every traveler needs!

There are a lot of things you can do to make your rooftop tent more comfortable during traveling. Find out more in our article How Can I Make My Rooftop Tent More Comfortable.

Does It Fit On A Regular Car?

“What’s the point of a Rooftop Tent when I’m driving a regular car?” It is a question many people ask us, but I got some news for you; most rooftop tents fit on regular cars. 

We get this question a lot, and always before people see our car. Because if they see us driving around, it’s already answered for them. We’re driving with a Toyota Yaris, which is not a very big car. But we love traveling around with it! 

Finding out if a rooftop tent fits on top of your car is easy. You need to know the maximum dynamic weight limit of your car’s roof. You can often find this in the driver’s manual of your car. On average, most regular cars have a maximum dynamic weight limit of 165lbs (75 kilograms). 

So, if you want to know if a rooftop tent fits on top of your car, you just need to follow a formula. Always make sure not to override the maximum dynamic weight limit of your car. 

The weight of your rooftop tent (including extra baggage like bedding and foldable chairs) + weight of the roof rack/ crossbars must be lower or the same as the maximum dynamic weight limit. 

Many rooftop tents that are available on the market weigh between 110lbs and 154lbs (50 and 70 kilograms). I would always recommend finding a rooftop tent that weighs less because this way, you have a margin of putting extra weight on top of your car. 

There’s also a difference between dynamic and static weight. Basically, it means a difference while driving and while being in park mode (camping). When standing still, the roof of your car can hold much more weight, because the weight is evenly divided. And you don’t have the extra factors like weather conditions and driving speed. Often, the static weight limit is 3 to 4 times the dynamic weight limit. 

We explain much more about the weight limit and other details in our Step-by-Step Guide; How To Put A Rooftop Tent On A Regular Car

Things To Consider Before Buying A Rooftop Tent

You’re probably as enthusiastic as we are about rooftop tents, aren’t you? But before you decide to buy a brand new rooftop tent, first a few buying tips. 

How are you going to use it? 

Or better, what kind of trips are you going to make with the rooftop tent? When you’re only using it for weekend trips or short trips, you probably don’t need a very luxurious rooftop tent. But when you go on longer trips. Weeks or months of traveling like we did, you probably want to have a bit more luxury while on the road. 

Knowing this is essential before deciding on the kind of rooftop tent, and the extra’s like an annex or awning you might want to buy. 

How much space do you need? 

With how many people you want to sleep in the tent? And do you have enough space in the car to store all your luggage, or do you want to put some stuff in your rooftop tent? 

I would always recommend buying a rooftop tent that comfortably sleeps, three persons as a minimum. We have one that sleeps two, and that’s also perfect. But because we’re expecting a child, we need to buy a larger rooftop tent if we want to keep traveling this way. So always plan ahead, you never know what can happen! 😉 

What’s the weight limit of your car? 

Well, I just explained it earlier in this article, but it is essential to know this. You don’t want to buy a rooftop tent that’s so heavy, you can’t fit it on top of your car! 

What’s your budget? 

How much money do you want to spend on your rooftop tent? It always helps to set a budget before buying new large things like a rooftop tent. It prevents you from spending way too much money and also makes it easier to select your new rooftop tent. 

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

You also subscribe to our Newsletter. We don’t like spam emails. We promise you’ll only hear from us when we have something we think you’ll want to hear about. You can unsubscribe at anytime 

Recommended Articles

Are you looking for inspiration to plan your next travel adventure? These articles are a great source of inspiration!

Road Trip Articles

Roof Top Tent Articles

Not sure where to go next? Find more inspiration by visiting our destinations page or watching our travel show.

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 Content