What is a Roof Top Tent - and Why Do You Need One? - Stoke Equipment Co

What is a Roof Top Tent - and Why Do You Need One?

How do you choose a rooftop tent? And how do you make sure it fits your car? The answer to these questions and more can be found below: 

Roof top tents are made for campers who love adventure. Their quick set-up time means you can camp easily anywhere, and their durable construction makes them the perfect for the wilderness. 

So is it time to ditch your tent on the cold, muddy ground and climb up among the treetops? Before you do, there are a couple of things to think about. This guide should help you answer any questions. 

There are lots of benefits of a rooftop tent: 

The adventure. 
Rooftop tents are a unique way to experience the great outdoors, whatever the conditions. Our Range of Rooftop tents are built to last, and designed to handle bad weather better than a ground tent and can be used in hard to get to locations - unlike an RV or motorhome. 

The view. 
Getting up off the ground means that you have easy viewing of the beautiful scenery just outside your tent. Some roof top tents even have built-in sky panels, so you can drift off gazing at the stars. 

Quick to set up. 
Rooftop tents can be unfolded and packed away super quick - literally within minutes. You don’t have to connect a bunch of poles and secure them in the ground like a traditional tent. All you have to do is unfold it and you’re done. This means more time exploring and less time setting up camp. 

Comfort. 
Most roof top tents have a built-in mattress which is generally comfier than blow-up mattresses - and it won't go down overnight. The bedding can remain inside the tent which means you can jump in as soon as the tent is opened. Also, the tent’s flat floor means no more rocks or debris poking your back at night. 

Built for all kinds of weather. 
The materials used to make rooftop tents are often designed to withstand harsh weather conditions better than ground tents. 

How do rooftop tents work? 
Travel to your favorite camping spot and open the rooftop tent, lower the ladder, and climb in! Rooftop Tents are designed to fit most vehicle rack systems, and they are easy to install with secure mounting hardware. They can stay on your vehicle between adventures, or you can easily remove it in the offseason. 


Rooftop tent vs trailer? 

The rooftop tent is more affordable than a camp trailer, caravan or motorhome – while still remaining mobile as it's transported by your car. Rooftop tents can be transported on almost any vehicle which makes them more flexible. Being able to go anywhere your vehicle goes makes them perfect for off-road adventures. 

A trailer, caravan or motorhome is still a better option for those who prefer the comforts of home, with a water and plumbing system. As they are larger, they are often less mobile than a rooftop tent. 


How to install a roof top tent? 
Before you get camping, you have to first mount the roof top tent to your vehicle. Rooftop tents are designed differently and have different installation methods, but the general process for most tents is: 
1. Place the tent on the roof rack of your car, slide it into place. 
2. Secure the tent by bolting down the provided mounting hardware. 

Of course, for more specific instructions always refer to the manual of your specific tent. 

Remember the roof racks! 
All rooftop tents are mounted on the roof of your vehicle via roof racks or a tray/platform system. If you have roof racks already, you'll need to make sure they’re compatible with the tent. If you don’t have roof racks yet, we have options to suit most vehicles. 


How to use the rooftop tent? 
Once you’ve reached your destination, how do you set up the rooftop tent?  There are two options, fold-out or pop-up, both are a lot quicker than traditional ground tents. 

Fold-out: Most common with soft-shell roof top tents. Simply pull off the travel cover, pull out the ladder and unfold the tent. Adjust the ladder so that it reaches the floor and then you’re ready to enjoy! 

Pop-up / Hard Shell: Most common for hard-shell roof top tents. Simply unlatch the latches and the tent will pop up into place. It’s that simple! 


How long does it take to open a rooftop tent? 
Some roof top tent enthusiasts have been interested in this exact question. When timed, most rooftop tents can be opened and ready for use in about three to four minutes average. 

The process of opening the tent, setting up the windows and rainfly rods can take a little longer, anywhere from 4-6 minutes. Hard-shell tents are usually quicker since there are no extra features like rain fly rods to set up. 


Hard shell roof top tent vs soft shell roof top tent? 
A hard shell tent is opened by releasing a few latches. For this reason, they are usually faster to set up and tear down. Also, since they tend to be made of sturdy material like aluminum or ABS plastic, they are great at withstanding wind and rain. All these factors make them popular for overlanding and off-roading trips. Also, some hard-shell tents double up as a cargo box for extra storage, or to use during the off-season. 

Soft shell tents are the most common. One half is mounted to the roof rack of your car, and the other is supported by the ladder. To open it you simply extend the ladder and pull to fold the tent open. Soft shell tents come in bigger sizes than hard shell and the largest roof top tent can fit up to four people. Also, soft-shell tents can have an annex attached which allows for an extra room below the tent. 


What’s the best roof top tent? 
-Car top tents for families 
The largest roof top tents usually max out with a weight capacity of about 650 lbs (290kg), which is perfect as a 4 person tent for families. A roof top tent annex also gives you extra space to get the little ones ready in the morning, or even a separate place for them to sleep. 


-Car top tents for weekends and short trips 
If you’re the type of explorer who likes quick weekend getaways or a short stay at a campsite, a compact lightweight car roof tent is ideal. A tent like the Thule Foothill frees up space on the roof of your car. This makes it ideal for smaller vehicles like crossovers and wagons and means you can bring along extra equipment like a bike or kayak. 

-Car top tents for rugged adventurers 
If you have a long trip planned out to the hinterlands, choose a roof top tent that is designed for where the road ends. Thicker tent material and diamond plated flooring, for example, helps tents withstand brutal weather and off-road conditions. A tent like this is perfect for your 4X4 trailer or off-road rigs. 


How do you know if a roof top tent fits your vehicle? 
We know how important it is to make sure that your rooftop tent is secure and safe. That’s why it is super important your tent fits the vehicle properly. Below are some things to consider when checking if a tent will fit your car. 

-Weight capacity 
The dynamic weight capacity is the weight your car can handle when driving. This is the maximum weight capacity specified by your vehicle manufacturer. It’s basically the weight capacity needed to hold your rooftop tent. 

The static weight capacity, on the other hand, is the weight that your car can take when the car is parked, the tent is set up and the ladder is added. Since the ladder adds extra support, the static weight capacity is usually three times more than the dynamic weight capacity. This tells you the weight needed to hold the tent and the people sleeping inside. 

-Distance requirement 
There are aluminum bars at the bottom of the tent used to attach the tent to your car roof. These bars can’t be too wide for your car. Check the recommended distance requirement in the tent’s manual to make sure it fits your specific vehicle. 

-Roof Rack Fit 
An aftermarket roof rack is almost always required, since they have a higher weight capacity than most factory installed racks that come with your car. Your rack will need to be able to handle the dynamic weight of the tent. 

-Roof Type 
Roof top tents work with most roof types - except for bare roof vehicles without tracks or rails. A car with a sunroof shouldn't pose an issue, but definitely not vehicles with glass roofs. 

A rooftop tent works on vehicles with crossbars, siderails, gutters, tracks and roofs with fixed points. For any fitment questions don't hesitate to drop us a line through our contact page!

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