When exploring the camping and outdoor world, the most crucial part is where you’ll sleep. A tent has been around for many years, and somewhere along the line, someone came up with a roof top tent. It sounds very convenient, but is a roof-top tent bad for your car?
Roof-top tents are not bad or damaging for your car. If you stick to the weight limits of the specific car you own and follow the instructions for assembling the rooftop tent, you will not damage your car.
However, If it’s not correctly installed, it could detach from the vehicle and cause severe damage.
What a great invention, not having to sleep in a tent on the floor but somewhere up higher on the roof of your vehicle. Although they are expensive, they are a great addition to your camping gear, and they do not damage your car. There are precautions to take and instructions to follow when mounting and assembling your rooftop tent so that it is not bad for your vehicle.
Are roof top tents bad?
Rooftop tents are not bad for your car if you are responsible and careful when assembling and mounting them onto the roof of your car. Rooftop tents are very heavy and need at least two people to mount it. If one is not very careful, the metal parts of the tent could scratch the car.
How the weight of a roof top tent affects your driving
The weight of your tent is a crucial aspect to consider because each car is different with a different load capacity. Here are a few of things to consider when looking for the right rooftop tent for your car.
Weight of the tent
The average rooftop tent weighs between 100-200 pounds. This would make it very difficult to mount on your own. There must be at least two people mounting the tent to not scratch or dent the car in the process.
When considering what tent to buy, you need to take your car into account. If you have a small car, you will buy a smaller tent, and if you have a larger car, you could choose whichever tent suits you. Your vehicle will have a roof weight limit, which one can find in its manual.
The weight your car can carry is significant to consider because you could damage your car’s suspension if you overload it. A damaged suspension could be an expensive fix. You also have to consider the total weight your car can carry, as you will also be packing other luggage when traveling.
There are two different types of weight restrictions to consider, namely static weight and driving weight.
Static weight of a car
Static weight is your car’s weight capacity when it is stationary, with all its luggage and fuel. This is when it is packed or set up for a camping trip. Static weight also includes people sleeping in or climbing in the tent. Your car’s static weight is the most prominent weight capacity your vehicle can take. Weight capacity will differ with each car.
Driving weight of a car
Driving weight, also known as Dynamic weight, is the weight your car can carry while in motion. This weight is less than the static weight because wind resistance and other forces and energies get exerted when your vehicle is in motion.
Your car would take the strain if it had to carry the full static load in motion. Dynamic weight needs to be carefully calculated so that you are not over-exerting your car while driving.
How much does a roof top tent affect gas mileage?
The weight of your rooftop tent is a significant factor in how much gas your car will use. If your rooftop tent is lightweight, an average of 100-150 pounds, your vehicle will be likely to use less gas. If your rooftop tent weighs over 150 pounds, your car will use more gas.
The total weight that your car carries while driving will also impact its gas usage. In this case, it is best only to take the necessities when going on a trip.
The wind resistance for a rooftop tent is greater than without it. This wind resistance depends on how strong the wind is blowing and what direction it is blowing in. If the wind blows in the opposite direction of car, it will catch the tent and create more resistance, using more gas. If the wind blows with the vehicle, it will not have much resistance, using less gas.
How fast can you drive your car with a roof top tent?
The speed at which you can drive your car depends on the strength of your car’s engine. Some vehicles are more capable of operating well with a load than others. It would be best if you looked into this when deciding what car to use with your tent.
In most cases, your car can drive the same speed with a tent as it can without a tent. Your vehicle should be able to go your preferred speed unless it is heavily loaded. The only difference would be wind resistance and gas usage.
Is a roof top tent worth it?
A rooftop tent is definitely worth buying. It will save you sleeping on the ground, it is comfortable, and it is safer if you are sleeping in a national park or where there are wild animals. It can also save you space, because it is kept on your roof and you can pack other things inside the vehicle, on top of the roof or next to the tent.
You may not have to tow a trailer or caravan; this gives you more freedom regarding where you can drive to. You can go off-roading and on 4×4 trips. A rooftop tent is definitely for the adventurous type or those who enjoy camping but do not want to sleep on the ground.
Rooftop tents are not damaging to your car if correctly installed. They are very beneficial to camping lovers, as they are easy to take on any adventure. If you take your car’s weight limits into account, you will not damage your car’s suspension in the long term. A rooftop tent is worth having and investing in.
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David Parnell is the founder and lead editor at Trail and Summit, who enjoys writing on a wide range of topics from travel trailers to trail running. He’s an accomplished mountain endurance athlete who has completed over 25 ultra marathon races (follow on Strava). He is most proud of his finish at The Drift 100 – a high elevation, 100 mile winter foot race that zigzags along the Continental Divide in Wyoming. In the future he hopes to compete in the ITI 350 and ultimately the full 1,000 mile Iditarod Trail Invitational that follows the same path as the historic dog sled race.