How Safe Are Rooftop Tents?

Roof top tents are a great commodity for those who enjoy a non-traditional way of camping. Unlike camping on the ground, roof top tents are set up quickly and conveniently. They also take up less space in your car, leaving room for other gear.

Those are just a few of the many intriguing aspects of roof top tents, however one of the first things you should consider before investing into your own roof top tent is the safety. Without proper safety, you cannot fully enjoy the benefits your roof top tent has to offer.  You might be wondering if roof top tents are safe?

The quick and simple answer is yes! Roof top tents can seem scary at first, but no need to fret, roof top tents and traditional ground tents are equally safe. This above ground alternative keeps campers safe from snakes and other creepy crawlers that may disturb your peace. They also give you protection against any water that might accumulate on the flat ground. 

In this article, we will discuss more in depth on the safety of roof top tents and how to find the safest option for your vehicle. Continue reading below to find out more.

Are Roof Top Tents Actually Safe?

As we have briefly mentioned earlier, roof tops tents are very safe. Some camp goers feel as though roof top tents are safer than traditional camping tents due to limited entry points. Bears, snakes, cougars and any other outdoor animals will be less likely to disturb you or threaten your safety in a roof top tent.

Experts say roof top tents are considered equally safe to ground based camping. However, I’d like to provide you with a list of pros and cons to help further answer your question if roof top tents are actually safe.

PROSCONSRoof top tents deny access for pests like ants, scorpions, snakes, racoons and many others.There is a small possibility of falling. While it’s super unlikely, it can occur.
Almost all roof top tents are waterproof, making it easier to avoid flooding in your sleep space.There is more exposure to weather conditions like wind or snow. Most roof top tents include mattresses with plenty of mesh, ventilation, and support, making great for safe sleep.Equipment failure can happen although easily avoided with proper set up and maintenance.

How Much Weight Can A Roof Top Tent Support?

Roof top tents are a fun, non traditional way of camping that anyone can enjoy, and before purchasing your own, you will want to ask yourself these two questions, “How many people do I plan to sleep and how much does the weight total to?”.

Whether you are looking to sleep solo or bring the entire family, knowing the answers to these questions play an important role in reducing safety hazards.

The weight capacities largely vary depending on which brand or style you choose. Below, I’m giving you a list to compare and contrast different brands based on your needs.

Roof Top Tent BrandsMax LoadRecommended Person Capacity
Smittybilt Overlander Tent661 lbs2
Thule x Tepui Ruggedized Kukenam 3600 lbs3
Tuff Stuff Elite Overland Roof TopTent800 lbs5
Raptor Series OFFGRID Voyager750 lbs2

As you think more about your lifestyle and family, you’ll be able to pinpoint which roof top tent best fits your wants, needs and safety concerns. 

Can My Vehicle Support Roof Top Tents?

When shopping around for your own roof top tent, one thing you need to check is if your vehicle can support it. A common rule of thumb is if your vehicle’s rooftop load capacity is 165 lbs or under, a roof top tent would not have adequate support. This is because the roof top tents themselves can weigh anywhere from 100 to 200 pounds, causing major potential damage if mounted on a vehicle inadequate to support it. 

Generally, Trucks and large SUVs typically have the best support for a roof top tent base and rack.

Here is a list of questions to ask yourself when preparing to buy a roof top tent for your vehicle.

  • What is my vehicle’s rooftop weight capacity?
  • How many people will be sleeping in the roof top tent?
  • What is the weight of the tent itself?
  • Will I be carrying luggage or extra gear in my roof top tent while traveling?
  • What is the weight of the rack base and ladder?

The total amount of pounds you come up with is called the combined static weight.

For the safety of you and others, you want the combined static weight to be a little less than your vehicle’s rooftop weight capacity. Leaving some wiggle room and not pushing boundaries will lower your risk of any mishaps happening.

Which Vehicles Cannot Support A Roof Top Tent?

As we mentioned earlier, calculating your combined static weight and knowing your vehicle’s roof top load will help determine how big of a tent you can use, but you may be asking yourself, ‘How do I even find out my vehicle’s roof top load?”. 

Drivers should always refer back to their vehicle’s driver manual to find out specifics on weight restrictions.

How Fast Can I Drive With A Roof Top Tent?

When driving to your camping destination, you might find yourself speeding in excitement, which hey I totally get it. However, it is not recommended that you drive any faster than 70 miles per hour (about 112 km per hour). 

Before driving anywhere, you definitely want to make sure that your roof top tent is safely secured to the roof rack on your vehicle. Once it’s secure and properly mounted, feel free to go on about your fun adventures. 

One thing you may notice is extra drag due to the extra weight load caused by the roof top tent. Additionally, your gas tank will need to be filled more frequently as well. 

Which Shell Is Safest? Hard Or Soft?

You may be wondering what the differences are between hard shells and soft shells – and no we don’t mean tacos, ha! Each style of roof top tent shells have their own pros and cons, together we can compare both to see which feels safest to you.

Hard Shell ProsSoft Shell Pros
Hard shell roof top tents are engineered to create fast and efficient set up.They pack down smaller on the roof of your vehicle, making for easier installation. 
They offer more durability against environmental happenings such as falling tree branches or debris.Soft shell roof top tents are lighter weight and reduce the load on your vehicle. 
They are completely waterproof, making it easier to avoid mold and leak problems.Because of the lesser load, your vehicle will perform better, resulting in safer travels.

Conclusion

Roof top tents give so much freedom to adventure seeking people who need simplicity and convenience. You might even find yourself feeling like you aren’t really camping and see it as more of a luxury experience, which is heard often by fellow owners in the roof top tent communities. 

In conclusion, roof top tents are generally a very safe camping option. Personally, I feel as though the pros outweigh the cons on this one, but that’s just me! A little food for thought is to read plenty of reviews before purchasing and always keep your owners manuals handy for any safety concerns that might arise.

And lastly, if you decide to go through with your roof top tent purchase (or maybe you already own one), I want to congratulate you on your new adventure! Enjoy the magical experiences roof top tent camping can bring.

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