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Rooftop Tent Camping | Tips and Complete Guide

Rooftop Tent Camping

Rooftop tent camping is more exciting than regular camping. It’s the same thing as camping in a tent, but it is on top of your car this time. It’s a whole new way of traveling where your vehicle becomes the focal point of your campsite. Rooftop tent camping was introduced in the late 1930s in western Europe and became famous worldwide. People like rooftop tent camping more because you can become closer to nature, secure all your gear inside your locked car, and get a lifted camping experience away from the chaotic city life. This article will help you get a better knowledge about rooftop tent camping before you set out.

Rooftop Tent Requirements

Rooftop tent camping means you will sleep on the top of your car while camping. Specialized tents are used which people typically call pop-up tents or car-top tents. Despite having tremendous interest, some people don’t like the idea of camping because they don’t feel comfortable sleeping on the ground where there is a constant threat of jungle bugs and reptiles. But rooftop tent camping can solve this problem as you are far away from creepy crawlies when you are on the top of your car. Here are some things you need to consider for rooftop tent camping


You can use a variety of vehicles for car-top camping. Most people use SUVs for this kind of camping. But if you don’t have an SUV, instead you can attach a car rack to your vehicle and you are good to go. A high-quality car-rack attachment is crucial here because that’s where you will spend your nights. 

Rooftop Tent Camping


Car-top tents can be structurally different based on manufacturing brands and prices. but generally, all of them will work just fine for camping. Rooftop tents are very easy to set up. All you need to do is connect the tent to the roof rack and pull a cable or set the stand to open the tent. The best thing about rooftop tents is they mostly come in one piece, so you don’t have to struggle to set up the tent. It also saves you a lot of time. 


Before you go out into the wild for rooftop tent camping, you need to first make sure that the place is open for this type of camping. Gather your equipment and supplies and recheck them before starting your journey. Check your car’s condition and tools. If you are going far, keep a map and compass for navigation. Last but not the least, take spare batteries, car parts, and other essential items that you might need during the trip. 

Rooftop Tent Camping Etiquettes

Make sure that the campsite authority allows car camping or RV camping. Check and recheck your roof rack so that you don’t get into any trouble regarding tent setup or imbalance. Camping in the wild lets you stay near nature, so don’t put your headlights and radio on during quiet hours. Campers worldwide follow one common rule – “keep nature clean,” so don’t throw your trash on the site. Instead, store the scraps together and dump those into designated places. Finally, respect other campers and if you face any issues with them, then let them know politely.

Rooftop Tent Camping

Rooftop Tent Camping Tips & Tricks

Since you already have a general idea about rooftop tent camping by now, you should have realized how much more fun and exciting it is than regular camping. So now, I will share some tips and tricks with you, which can significantly enhance your rooftop tent camping experience.

Trial Run

Setting up a rooftop tent may seem like a daunting task, but with a little bit of practice, you’ll find it easy to pull up and down. Before going out camping, run a trial setup for the tent. Thus, you’ll get acquainted with the mechanisms of the tent. Also, this will help you to break in the zippers and moving parts so that you won’t have to face much hassle on-site with the tent. 

Get Some Company

Living alone is a great way to spend some quiet time away from the hustle and bustle of the city. But it can get lonely at times. So, we recommend that you take your pet with you. However, do check the camp rules first to ensure that pets are allowed on the campsite. You can also ask your friend to accompany you. That way you can have some friendly company who can also help to set up your camp tent and assist in other tasks.

Rooftop Tent Camping

Park On a Level Surface

Most car campers prefer a cliff or hill view for camping. Undoubtedly, the scenario is outstanding. But if the ground level isn’t smooth or flat enough, then there is a chance that your car might start rolling backward while you sleep at night. A flat even surface can help prevent this while also keeping your car steady.

Dirt Bag

Muddy shoes and wet raincoats can ruin your camping experience. These things can turn into the cause of having a dirty tent. But, you can’t leave them out in the open to get wet either. So, we recommend that you put all your wet and muddy clothes in a plastic bag or bucket, and then hang it from the tent ladder. 

Let the Tent Get Wet In the Rain

If it’s raining cats and dogs outside and you can’t properly close the tent, then don’t panic. You can dry it later with some air. Usually, tents are made of nylon-based fabric to make them lightweight. So, it gets dry faster than other materials. However, don’t pack the tent when it is wet because the moisture can destroy your bedding. Even if you have to pack it while it’s wet, open it as soon as you can to protect the bedding.

Keep A Light Source

There are times when you will have to answer nature’s call when you are out camping, even in the middle of the night. You need to go all the way down by a ladder, and if you slip accidentally, then there is a chance that you might get injured. So, it’s essential to keep a good light source with you. Rooftop tents are LED light friendly. But if you are camping for an extended period of time, solar lights are an excellent alternative as well. 

Rooftop Tent Camping

Use Duvets & Pillows

Rooftop camping is more comfortable than general camping. You don’t have to take any mattresses or sleeping bags because every rooftop tent comes with its own sealed bedding. So, you don’t need to worry about carrying extra bedding with you. Instead, just bring your favorite pillow and duvets to give you a sweet and comfortable night’s sleep. 

Why Should you Do It?

Rooftop tent camping is very fun and easy to do. Having a tent over your car can be used for both landing and camping. Here are a few reasons why you should go for it. 

Ready To Camp

Rooftop tents are easy to set up which can save a lot of time. Hardshell rooftop tents are designed to pop up quickly with durable-cushy mattresses, so you can set the tent fast and rest for the night. Softshell rooftop tents take longer to set up than hardshell tents but are better than ground camping. 


With rooftop tents attached to your car, you can move from one place to another every day. Rooftop tents are reliable and easy to open and shut. So, you can use them even on an off-road trip. These tents are best for 4-wheel drive cars and can match your travel style. You can leave places with no trace of yourself and no need to look for locations to set up your tent.


Everyone who has ever had a rooftop camping experience in their life has called it more comfortable than regular camping. That is because the mattresses in the rooftop camping tents are large and satisfactory so that two people can sleep comfortably at night. Also, if you go out on a road trip and don’t want to make your bed in the morning after a good night’s sleep, having a bed attached to the tent will be your biggest advantage.

Rooftop Tent Camping

Get Elevated

One of the best advantages you get from rooftop tent camping is staying up from the ground (like a treehouse). It can be tough to find a place with a dry surface, without any rocks or holes, free from tree roots, and clean for regular camping. You can avoid all these and have a dry camping experience with a rooftop tent. In addition, you don’t have to worry about your tent flooding during the rainy season. If your setup is strong enough in heavy storms, your car can hold the tent no matter how intense the wind gets. 


You will experience a new level of adventurous twist with rooftop tent camping. But it comes with some challenges also. There are a few things that you should consider like not having more than one person stay in the tent with you. So, it won’t be appropriate for your whole family to be up there. Here are a few of the challenges that you might end up facing.

Finding The Right Tent

Finding the right tent for rooftop camping is the biggest challenge you will face while planning for the journey. Most rooftop tents are expensive and can put a dent in your wallet. But, if you are passionate enough to spend your savings to have the best camping experience, you can’t go wrong with a high-end rooftop tent. So, think of it as an investment to escape the busy city life. 


Having a thrilling experience involves security issues. Since you will be camping in the woods or in the mountains, it is best to arrive early before sunset. In addition, you should not spend the night in a place other than a site designated for camping, as this could lead to wild animals invading your campground.

No Luxury Facility

When you go out of town to spend time alone and get away from your monotonous life, camping can be a bit daunting for those who spend their daily lives in a relaxed manner. But, as you cannot expect the aristocracy we are used to in a wild, noise-free, and natural environment, some may find it uncomfortable. 

Rooftop Tent Camping

Finishing Up

Rooftop camping is an adventurous and relaxing journey. To get the most fun out of it, you should prioritize having an adventure. The best places for car camping are BLM land, off-roads, and cliff trails, but you can start with traditional campsites to meet new campers – which will extend your camping knowledge, and others may also learn something from you. Follow these rooftop tent camping tips and tricks to get the best out of your journey. Don’t forget to keep nature clean and maintain safety. 

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