What Should I Look For When Buying a Rooftop Tent?

In a world of endless options, it can be rather difficult to determine what you really need when it comes to purchasing an item. For those of you weighing different rooftop campers against each other, what are the things you need to look for that are going to make or break your experience? 

The things you need to look for when buying a rooftop camper include confirming that your vehicle is compatible with a rooftop tent, considering the quality of the tent, and keeping in mind the climate in which you plan to be primarily camping. 

Rooftop tents offer campers the ability to sleep a little closer to the stars, stay free and clear of any curious creatures roaming about the earth at night, and allow owners to go just about anywhere their vehicle can take them. All this appeal has people running to rooftop tents in droves, but when it comes to knowing what matters with this tent, it can be rather difficult. Take a look below to find out what you need to look for when buying a rooftop tent. 

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What Should You Look For When Buying a Rooftop Tent? 

When looking at a rooftop tent that has been installed, set up, and is actively in use, you may think that the system must be a no-brainer when it comes to ease and accessibility. Although this may be true, there are a few things that need to be considered before this becomes your reality, as a tent without the right features and qualities can put a huge damper on your camping experience. What then should you look for when buying a rooftop tent? 

Be Sure the Rooftop Tent is Compatible With Your Vehicle 

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Most rooftop tents will be able to fit on just about any vehicle as advertised by many different brands, but be wary of this promise. Although many vehicles have no problem supporting the equipment, there are a few things that you need to take into consideration and verify before you pull the plug and buy your dream rooftop tent. When it comes to considering your vehicle and its compatibility with the equipment you have on its roof, what should be given serious thought?

Make sure that the rooftop tent you choose is one that is compatible with your vehicle, as it does not exceed the dynamic weight or static weight limit of your vehicle. Even more, ensure that your vehicle has rails or some type of factory-installed support system that can hold aftermarket racks. 

Rooftop tents are heavy pieces of equipment, with some weighing well over 200 pounds. This may not seem like an issue if you know you have the ability to load and mount the tent without a problem, but it could be a problem for the roof of your car. Check to verify the dynamic weight limit that your vehicle has, which is the maximum weight it can carry when in motion, and then compare the weight of the tent you plan to purchase to be sure not to exceed this limit. 

Another weight limit that every vehicle has is the static weight limit. This limit is how much weight the roof can carry when stationary, which is typically much more than the dynamic weight limit. Even so, be sure to take into consideration the weight of your tent, the weight of the rack, and the weight of all of your equipment as well as body weight when the tent is in use before purchasing. If all of these exceed the static weight limit, it could cause damage to your vehicle.

One last item to look at when it comes to your vehicle is that your car has some type of factory-installed rails that are already present on the roof. These rails are essential to being able to mount a rooftop tent and without them, there is no way you can enter into the world of rooftop camping. Aftermarket racks must be installed to support your tent and these need rails in order to be secured down. Without them, you simply cannot install a rooftop tent. 

Consider the Quality of the Tent 

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The most important thing to consider before buying a rooftop tent is whether or not it is compatible with your vehicle, however, the quality of the tent comes in second to this. Rooftop tents, when compared to RV’s or Fifth Wheels, can seem like a steal when it comes to price. But when you hold these tents up against the price of ground tents, they can leave you with a bit of sticker shock. Some rooftop tents are much less expensive than others, but is quality sacrificed?

Before buying a rooftop tent, you need to consider the quality of the model you are buying. Although you may be able to get one model at a much cheaper price than another, this may end up costing you more in the long run due to poorly made equipment that cannot withstand the test of time and use.

It can be so tempting to purchase the least expensive brand and model on the market when it comes to rooftop tents. For many people, spending three to five thousand dollars simply is out of the question, but splurging just a bit more may mean the difference between a tent that lasts you one year versus a tent that lasts you seven. Make sure you have a tent that is made of durable fabric, is water-resistant, and has good quality hardware on it for a product that lasts.

The quality of your tent also goes beyond the tent itself, as the covering of the tent is something to consider as well. When you get into hard shell versus soft shell tents, you want to keep in mind the aerodynamics of each type and how well they weather. Hard shell rooftop tents tend to be more expensive, but they are more compact, offer less drag when driving at high speeds, and have a better ability to weather well without wear coming to the exterior. 

Consider Where You Will Be Camping 

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Some campers are wandering nomads that travel wherever their vehicle will take them, which changes their needs with tents to a product that can withstand a wide variety of weather and all seasons. However, not all campers find themselves greatly changing the general climate that their camping takes place in, which means they need to find a tent that is tailored to the conditions that they plan to spend the majority of their time in. 

Before purchasing a rooftop tent, you need to consider where you will be primarily camping. By purchasing a tent that is tailored to specific climates, you are better able to sustain yourself during your trips as your tent is designed to make your life more comfortable in that specific environment. 

If you are in an area that is mostly desert and dry, blazing heat, you should be looking for a tent that is made of durable, yet light material, with designs that reflect the sun from the tent rather than absorbing it. However, if you plan to use your rooftop tent year-round, you should look for one that is made to weather all four seasons and can withstand heavy rains, good amounts of snow, harsh winds, and high temperatures without leaving you wanting for something more.

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