Does a Roof Tent Damage a Car?


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Recently, more people are reevaluating their lives, assessing where things are, and finding ways to achieve work-life balance. Today’s limited housing options, too, have made many people consider roof tents, allowing them to live remotely while also keeping down their housing costs. But many worry if a roof tent damages their cars.

Does a Roof Tent Damage a Car?

A roof tent will only damage the car if there’s too much weight. By purchasing a specially designed roof rack to support the tent’s weight, you can prevent damage. Most commercial roof racks aren’t equipped to hold the weight needed and thus damage the car.

The camping-outdoor recreational gear world is large, with many different options depending on your needs. Read on to learn more about roof tents, the damage they can cause, and why you should probably stick to the regular ground tent.


What Are Roof Tents?

When many of us hear the phrase roof tent, we think of your stereotypical canvas tent placed directly on the roof of a car. Fortunately, this isn’t quite the case.

Roof tents, also known as rooftop tents, are a specific type of camping tent in which a tent is placed on a car roof and is supported by some surface attached to the top of the car. Some of these tents are built into the car and pop up, while others are added to the top and expand outward.

Reasons More People Are Considering Roof Tents

Roof tents came originally for those traveling through hot arid places. They allowed people to sleep away from the heat of the ground and the potentially dangerous critters that live there, like snakes and scorpions. Over time, they’ve been adopted by the regular adventurer to travel long distances without having to pay for a place to stay. 

Many people have also turned to roof tents as an alternative to a regular ground tent. Roof tents provide camping ease and comfort. Thanks to roof tents, you don’t need to pack a big and bulky tent that’ll take up precious cargo space when going on a long trip.

Additionally, roof tents are easy to set up as you don’t need to find a specific spot to place the tent and because all you need to do is “pop up” most roof tents.


Reasons More People Are Considering Roof Tents

Roof tents came originally for those traveling through hot arid places. They allowed people to sleep away from the heat of the ground and the potentially dangerous critters that live there, like snakes and scorpions. Over time, they’ve been adopted by the regular adventurer to travel long distances without having to pay for a place to stay. 

Many people have also turned to roof tents as an alternative to a regular ground tent. Roof tents provide camping ease and comfort. Thanks to roof tents, you don’t need to pack a big and bulky tent that’ll take up precious cargo space when going on a long trip.

Additionally, roof tents are easy to set up as you don’t need to find a specific spot to place the tent and because all you need to do is “pop up” most roof tents.

Roof Tent Dangers and How They Can Damage a Car

Roof tents are often a fun and exciting alternative when camping but can cause serious damage if used incorrectly. Many people believe they can simply place the roof tent on the commercial roof racks, but this isn’t the case. 

Most commercial roof racks are only rated for 150 pounds (68.04 kg). Roof tents, alternatively, often weigh that much alone, excluding the weight of everything that’ll be inside the tent. If you use the roof tent incorrectly and you were to install the tent on commercial roof racks, you’re likely to damage both your roof rack and the roof of your car by overloading them with too much weight.

However, root tents used correctly are not likely to do this sort of damage. If you were to install a special roof rack meant to carry the weight of a roof tent and the materials and people inside, you could prevent doing any damage to your car’s roof or the attached roof rack.

But there are other issues associated with roof tents to take note. Roof tents aren’t easy to load onto the car because they’re so heavy, meaning you’ll need multiple people to mount the roof tent. And if you make a mistake, you’re likely to dent, scratch, or break something on the exterior of your car.

Roof tents are also relatively heavy, making it so you can cause serious damage to your car’s suspension. Cars are designed in a way that they can take on extra weight, but not in one particular area. By offsetting the center of gravity of your car, if you go over a bumpy dirt road, your suspension will be working overtime, leading to the potential for damage to your car.

Finally, while roof tents are generally safe, there are some safety risks associated with them. These come in the form of fall risks, weather risks, and equipment failure. Below is a quick explanation of each risk:

  • Fall risk: When getting in and out of the tent, most people rely on a ladder. These ladders can move and shake when people walk on them, and they can also get slippery depending on the weather. Though likely not all that severe, there’s a non-zero chance you could fall and injure yourself.
  • Weather risks: Again, these risks are generally not much greater than those who camp on the ground, but there’s still an added risk with sleeping in a roof tent in bad weather. Because these tents are elevated and will likely have less cover, they’ll likely be greater subjects to weather elements around them.
  • Equipment failure risks: Perhaps the most likely risks mentioned here, roof tents are at greater risk for equipment failure that could result in injury. If your tent collapses on you while on the ground, the worst thing that can happen is you get wrapped in canvas. On a roof, you could be hit with up to 150 pounds (68.04 kg) of weight, causing you to get injured and fall, resulting in injury. It’s important to check your equipment!

Due to the potential damage, you could do to your car and your body, with some exceptions, ground tents are generally recommended as an alternative to roof tents. Despite the fact you might lose some storage room, these are cheaper, less damaging to your car, and less dangerous to you. 

If this interests you, check out the best-selling tents, such as the Coleman Sundome Tent (available on Amazon.com). This tent has a strong frame that can withstand 35+ mph winds.


Final Thoughts

Although an admittedly cool alternative to ground camping, roof tents can do damage to your car when used incorrectly and are just not worth the hype for inexperienced campers. They can damage your car roof if you don’t respect weight limits and also cause other damage to you and your car.

Roof tents are generally not cheap, so their cost is something to consider, especially if you don’t plan to use your roof tent often.

Ground camping, at least within the United States, is certainly preferable. Whatever you decide, be sure that you have the best equipment for your trek!


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Martin

As an independent traveler, I try to share my positive and negative observations about van life as well as tips and tricks to make your life on the road easier. I travel and work in my old RV and would greatly appreciate a coffee from you if you find my content useful.

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