Vehicle rooftop tents: Yeah! or Meh?

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    • #212941

      It seems a lot of mountain bikers are getting on the rooftop tent bandwagon these days, though to be honest I don’t get it myself. Don’t get me wrong, the tents look really cool, especially when they’re set up at the edge of a canyon, but I’m not sure I understand the practicality. Interested to hear from owners or anyone who has considered buying one of these…

    • #212984

      Exploring Arizona over the past few years, and I briefly debated a few options for some of the upstate treks to ride. I haven’t ruled it out but opted to buy another bike instead;)

      I looked at the Tepui but also discovered that I have an air mattress that fits nicely in my 4Runner. Less space, but more MPG for the road trips. I’ve only used that set up once, but I may have to try it again.

    • #212989

      I’ve looked at those tents, but I’m always looking for duplicity in my gear.  So I’m still car camp with my backpacking tent.  The rooftop tents just seem so limited in their application.  Actually, I sleep without a tent as much as possible, and just sleep under the stars, … … nothing better imo … … but I live and recreate mostly in more arid climates.  I have considered buying a camper shell for my truck, for more storage, security, protection from the elements, and for sleeping.  Lots of duplicity and utility with a shell even beyond recreation (duplicity again).  I think I would go with a higher shell and then cut in a removable raised floor in the bed of the truck at the height of the wheel wells for a nice large bed for two (and head room above with the higher shell) and also ample storage underneath.  So for me it’s a backpacking tent, or a camper shell, both seem much more versatile.

    • #213010

      Meh. Looks cool, got excited when I 1st saw it… but IMHO, its not practical.

    • #213027

      I have a RTT and use it fairly often; pretty tough to beat for comfort with the aluminum platform and 4″ foam pad.   I am a non conventional snowbird, in that I split time between Florida and Oregon. I travel with my wife, guide dog trainees plus enough clothing and gear for the various circumstances we expect to face over a 6 month period.  We will sleep in the tent about half the time on our cross country trips.   I am somewhat of a lazy camper, spending a night or two at a time  and enjoy the easy convenience of the tent.  One drawback is having to break camp if you need to drive a few miles to a trailhead, but several times I have camped  at the TH, hit the trail early and be back at camp before other bikers have arrive for their ride.



      • #213063

        One drawback is having to break camp if you need to drive a few miles to a trailhead

        This is one of my concerns. Not just that, what if you run out of ice or beer and need to make a quick run into town? Seems like a pain to have to take everything down.

    • #213029
    • #213033

      I think they are good.  You can be up off the ground if it starts pouring rain. It is kind of like a pop-up camper, without the towing load.  I will probably get one when my kids graduate HS.

    • #213289

      The one I looked at would just fold down into it’s own turtle shell case.  If you needed to go, it would be fairly easy to fold up and go.  This is one I looked at:, it looks pretty slick.


    • #213290

      The Bigfoot RTTs are slick in that they have a hard case. Only drawback is the the additional weight.

    • #213294

      Meh. Find them practical if you need to stay away from the ground for safety.

    • #213453

      On big trips for multiple days, it is hard to beat a van….BUT….for short high speed one or two nighters…..the roof top looks like a PERFECT option. On our last trip to Moab there was a retired gentleman with an AutoHome own his Honda CRV and it looked super nice. It looked like it was perfect for his lifestyle. My wife and I would love to have one for super high speed fast getaways. Hey, the swell looks good in southern Oregon. I don’t feel like driving a big van for one or two days…but with a roof top tent on something like a Honda CRV….BRING IT ON! I love the idea. I think for big trips….sure pack the van with all the toys…but for ….hey, anybody wanna hit the coast for a day…. roof top… AutoHome even has a carbon version…

      Link to the AutoHome Hard Shell Tent


    • #213977

      I saw a guy demoing the Tepui tents at Sea Otter this weekend and I have to say, it looked pretty sweet. Just unfold, and you’re all set up!

    • #214250

      I’m a huge fan of small utility trailers.  I sold my pickup truck 8 years ago and bought a folding 4×8 trailer from harbor freight.  I currently tow it with a 2003 toyota corolla.   The corolla is rated to pull 1500 lbs., and the trailer will hold 1100 lbs.  It weighs about 300 lbs. empty (counting the plywood deck).  I’ve pulled 2 small dirt bikes (plus other riding gear) hundreds of miles with that setup.  The trailer drops fuel economy by 2-4 mpg. It’s still above 30.

      My 5×7 two-man tent fits on top of the trailer well enough when I need it to.  Obviously it overlaps the fenders of the trailer a bit.  If I were camping more routinely, I’d probably build a PVC pipe frame, and buy some canvas to construct walls and a roof.  Sew on some velcro straps to hold it to the frame, and make some screen windows, etc.

      …but that all seems like a lot of work when the 2-man tent fits well enough.

      Large plastic tubs are worth every penny you pay for them with this setup.  You have to ratchet-strap them down properly, but they keep everything on the trailer dry in transit, AND outside the tent, after you’ve set up camp.  That frees up a lot of space in the car.  If you’re willing to spend more, it’s not difficult to find airline cases that have locking mechanisms to prevent them from being tampered with, and to tether/chain them to the trailer frame.

    • #214464

      You know this thread ruined my RTT fantasy world.  I had not thought about having to breakdown for a beer run.

    • #214465

      They are definitely sweet!  I don’t own one but I’ve stayed in one a few times and my overall opinion….LOUD!  If it it windy at all they are flapping around like crazy.  Because of the way they are designed it is tough to REALLY tighten them down.  If you can find a nook protected from the wind you should be OK.

    • #224905

      Alec’s review of the Tepui rooftop tent was just published today and it seems he’s in the “meh” camp. 🙂

      Tepui Kukenam Sky Rooftop Tent Review

    • #224975

      I’m with @mongwolf that every bit of your gear should be used in different applications. There were few occasions when I found difficult to find a spot for my tent and rooftop would’ve been perfect. But in most cases backpacking tent is way better for me. And if properly set, no wind noise/flap issue.

    • #224977

      Terrible idea.

      For example, someone decides to fall and break a leg and they need to get to the hospital ASAP. Hang on, gotta take down the tent first.

      It’s a half awake wife that needs to pee like clockwork at 3am who falls off the roof and breaks her leg BTW 😉

    • #226610

      To me, it is all personal preference and what type of camping/trips you are doing. Don’t have one but I’m planning on getting the smittybilt overlander tent in the near future.


      • #226799

        I’m going to totally out myself and propose another perspective at the same time.   I’m absolutely terrified of bears.  Yeah, I know the stats.  I know how not to attract them.  I know I’m more likely to get killed by a meth head with a gun than a bear who would rather just be left alone.  But man, at 1am, when I hear something rustling around outside the tent or near where I’m sleeping, I turn into an irrational gibbering idiot. (Same thing with Sharks, FWIW).

        I think the rooftop tent is actually a pretty decent way to give yourself peace of mind (even though it actually makes almost no difference at all).

        Again, I realize I’m wrong, but it would help me sleep, just being a few feet off the ground. Dumb, but true.

        Now if they just made a shark tent.

      • #228106

        TheProletariat, I always had a hunch that part of the popularity behind rooftop tents had to with peace of mind in bear country. I have a Flippac on my truck, but I was attracted to the system because of comfort and ease of setup and breakdown. I can have the Flippac fully deployed in about a minute and breakdown is about 2-3 minutes. I also like the fact that I don’t have to search for a suitable tent site.

        [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="600"]Flippac Camper Flippac Camper on Nissan Titan[/caption]

    • #226830

      Meh……I’d rather not have to break camp every morning and reset every afternoon just to go tooling around and seeing the sights.

    • #228589

      I work with Subaru..Saw this today and remembered Jeffs post. Check it out.




    • #228653

      Lots of critters out there. Getting off the deck makes tent camping an easier sell to the wifey.

    • #330902

      Definitely yeah, but not all tents are created equal. I bought a Tupui low pro 3 for $1,800 and it was good for about 2 years then the wear in tear began to be too much. Granted I live in Hawaii and use my tent weekly in all kinds of elements from typical beach areas but also up in higher elevations of the mountain with temps in 30’s and 40’s. Considering how much I used the tent and the extreme changes in elements it held up ok.


      My buddy convinced me to spring the extra cash on an iKamper tent. I have the Skycamp 2.0.  It was pricey at $3,800 but is holding up very well (8 months). The low profile hardshell is nice and it has nice locks on it. I don’t mind spending the money on it because camping and exploring the island is our passion. I get a ton of use out of it. Here is a pretty solid review of the Skycamp and other brands as well for anyone interested. They have smaller tents as well and less expensive. I usually have my wife and often times our daughter.

    • #332325

      Just a few thoughts about some of the replies above:

      1) I know some wildlife researchers who use an electric bear fence around their campsites. These probably give more protection than anything else and aren’t extremely pricey, if you’re worried about bears. Of note, some national parks require a hard sided camper in some campgrounds. On yet another note, alcohol stoves are considered an open flame and are illegal during fire bans, where a gas stove would be ok. Best to check regulations before any trip you take.

      2) I have a pickup with camper shell but have quit sleeping in it and use a tent instead. The problem I had was the incredible amount of dust that got in driving on dirt roads, which stirred up some reactive airway problems at night. If you plan on camping in one pay some attention to sealing it off somehow, at least if you get off pavement.

      I personally car camp with a backpacking tent. A rooftop tent seems like a solution to a problem which doesn’t exist, but to each his own.

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