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Roof-Top Tents

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Roof-Top Tents

Part treehouse and part glamping tent, roof-top tents are an intriguing alternative to traditional tents that you see pitched at most car campgrounds. You can find models that fit on top of a car or truck.

If you're thinking about buying a roof-top tent, consider a few pros and cons:

  • Easy setup: Simply undo a few straps, pop it open and secure a few things.
  • Burly yet comfy:Made to withstand stormy weather while also including creature comforts like a foam mattress.
  • Camp anywhere:Find a place to park and you've found a place to pitch it.
  • Pricey:Many will cost more than $1,000.
  • Roof-bound:Causes drag when driving; has to be taken down if you drive away from camp for the day; removing/remounting from the roof between trips can be a chore.

Fitting a Roof-Top Tent to Your Vehicle

If you don't have one, you'll need to buy a roof rack to serve as the tent's foundation. Rack brands like YakimaThule and others typically have greater weight capacities than factory car racks, which make them well-suited for a roof-top tent.

Next, check your owner's manual or contact your vehicle and rack manufacturers to get the information below, which can narrow down models that will work for your vehicle.

  • Total tent weight: Find it in product information for each tent.
  • Car and rack dynamic weight capacity:This will be a separate spec for your vehicle and your rack.
  • Static weight capacity:Confirms that your vehicle and your rack will support the weight of your tent, plus everyone in it and their sleeping gear.
  • Rack compatibility:Some racks are listed as "not compatible" with certain tent models.

Mounting your tent to your car rack: It can be a little complex, so follow mounting directions carefully. Also, roof-top tents are heavy, so having a partner helps.

Add-on options:  Some tents offer separately purchased annexes or awnings for more living space.

Other Types of Tents

If you're not yet sure that a roof-top purchase is exactly what you want, below are some other tent types to consider:

More Reasons to Shop at REI

REI carries top roof-top tent brands like Thule, iKamper and Tepui. We also offer checklists and a vast selection of the best camping gear to help get you ready for your next outdoor adventure.