If you love car camping as much as we do, chances are that you’ve probably considered getting a rooftop tent. Rooftop tents have become a bit of an overnight phenomenon in the United States as people look for an easy way to pitch a tent and camp under the stars without compromising on comfort. Before they invest in a rooftop tent, however, many people are concerned about how much rooftop tents weigh and if their vehicle can support them.
Ultimately, every rooftop tent is different, but for the most part, they tend to weigh at least 100 pounds. Of course, this number can vary based on the model you decide to buy, but, generally speaking, you’ll be hard pressed to find a rooftop tent that dips under the hundred-pound mark, especially when you add in the weight of the mattress and additional features.
Before you go out and buy a rooftop tent, however, there are a few things you ought to know. To help you understand the ins-and-outs of rooftop tents, we’ll walk you through some of the finer points of rooftop tent ownership. We’ll start out with a discussion of what rooftop tents actually are and then we’ll talk more about how much rooftop tents weigh before finishing up with some things to think about for assembling and mounting them. Let’s get to it!
What Are Rooftop Tents
The aptly named rooftop tent is an outdoor living structure that sits on top of the roof of your car or truck. These simple, sturdy tents are attached to the top of your vehicle, keeping you high off the cold, wet ground and away from any creepy crawlies that might be lurking around.
Rooftop tents have gained lots of popularity recently because their beefy construction is specifically designed to withstand poor weather conditions. Plus, they allow you to camp nearly anywhere without the need for clearing off a flat spot to pitch a tent.
Every rooftop tent is different, but they generally come with a plush foam mattress to keep you comfortable at night. Some rooftop tents even have awnings and expanded living spaces so you can retreat under cover if the weather turns sour.
Do Rooftop Tents Have a Weight Limit
At this point, you probably understand that every rooftop tent is different, so there’s no one hard-and-fast rule about how much weight a rooftop tent can support. However, most rooftop tent companies estimate an average weight of about 200 lbs per camper. So, if your tent is designed for 2 people, you can usually assume that it can support about 400lbs of weight.
That being said, the weight limit of a rooftop tent itself is just one consideration for determining the maximum amount of weight you can put in the tent. Since a rooftop tent has to be mounted onto a vehicle, you first need to determine how much weight your vehicle – and the racks you’ll mount the tent on – can support. For the most part, vehicles can actually support a lot of weight as they’re designed to protect you during a rollover accident, so the main concern is the strength of the roof racks.
Then, you need to find out how much your rooftop tent weighs and how much weight you plan to put into it. Generally speaking, this additional weight will be the weight of each occupant, plus an additional 20 pounds or so for sleeping bags, clothing, and other gear. If the combined weight of all of these different pieces is less than the total weight your racks and car can support, then you’re good to go!
Can a Rooftop Tent Be Mounted on Any Car
The short answer is, yes, a rooftop tent can be mounted on any car, so long as it has roof racks installed. But, there are some vehicles where rooftop tents aren’t really recommended, like sedans and hatchback cars.
While SUVs and trucks are generally pretty good candidates for a rooftop tent set-up, smaller cars aren’t. This is is because they usually aren’t designed to support a lot of weight, which is, of course, problematic if you want to use a rooftop tent.
Before you decide whether or not to invest in a rooftop tent, check your vehicle’s owner manual or contact a dealer. You’ll want to know what your vehicle’s rooftop load limit is and be sure that your vehicle can support a 100-200 lb tent, people, and gear.
Finally, even if your vehicle has factory roof racks already installed, they may not be strong enough to support the weight of a rooftop tent and people. Check with your owner’s manual or car dealer to see how much weight your racks can support. Companies such as Thule and Yakima sell roof racks specifically designed to support rooftop tents, should your factory racks prove to be too weak.
Are Rooftop Tents Hard to Assemble
Rooftop tents are generally pretty easy to attach to your vehicle’s roof racks and you can often find instructional videos on the tent manufacturer’s website if you need help. Once your rooftop tent is attached to your vehicle, you’ll want to spend some time learning how to assemble the tent for sleeping in.
Rooftop tents are designed to be easy to assemble, but it’s important to practice assembling them a few times before you go camping just to ensure that everything works and makes sense. It’s a good idea to learn how to troubleshoot any potential problems, too, because you don’t want to get caught out in the rain with a malfunctioning tent!
Do Rooftop Tents Need Mounting Brackets
As you know by now, every rooftop tent is different. That being said, the vast majority of rooftop tents come prepackaged with all of the bits and bobs you’ll need to attach them to your roof rack.
Generally speaking, you’ll need to have a roof rack with crossbars and we strongly recommend purchasing racks that are purpose-built for supporting a rooftop tent. Once you have the roof racks in place, you’ll need to attach the tent to them using the manufacturer’s mounting hardware, which generally includes about 4 mounting brackets.
Rooftop tents can be a great way to get out and enjoy the outdoors without having to sleep on the ground. However, they aren’t for every camper or every car for that matter!
Before you go out and buy one, the first thing that you need to figure out is how much the rooftop tent you’re thinking of buying weighs. Next, be sure that your car can accommodate the weight.