5 Big Rooftop Tent Camping Challenges

Rooftop camping is like typical camping in a tent camping experience but with an adventurous twist and there are some rooftop tent camping challenges to deal with. It is everything and anything that regular camping is but instead of your tent being placed and set up on the ground your tent is placed and set up on top of your vehicle or trailer. It’s elevated camping!

What Is Rooftop Camping Different and What Are the Rooftop Tent Camping Challenges

Many couples and families, including my own, prefer roof top camping over regular camping. In fact, my husband and I live in a rooftop tent year round. It is just so much fun and is such a great bonding family experience. Rooftop camping , regardless of the rooftop tent camping challenges, is all the wholesome fun of regular camping with a better view, more security, and a cozier nights sleep.

When I first heard about rooftop camping I was like oh wow what is this for John and I? You see, my family has always been really into camping and when I heard about rooftop camping I told my husband all about it with the excitement of a child! He and I decided we just had to try it. It sounded like such a cool thing to do. We did some research and learned as much as we could about the subject. We then decided it was definitely worth giving a go.

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We found that the biggest rooftop camping challenges we eventually faced would be selecting, unpacking, setting up and installing our new rooftop tent. Since we had never gone roof top camping before we were unsure where to start. The first thing we did was purchase our rooftop camping tent. We were quite surprised at how expensive and complicated it could be.

There are so many rooftop camping tents available and the prices can really get pretty high. However, our family really loves camping so much that we just knew we’d use our new roof top camping tent often, and that it would be an investment that our family cherished for years to come.

How to true that was. The first time we set up our tent was a little iffy. We didn’t really know what to do or how to do it. After that first time that we went rooftop camping we knew just what to do. It wasn’t so tricky or complicated. It’s really only challenging the first time, for the most part. This article covers the Five big challenges of roof top camping.

5 Big Challenges


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Why Are Rooftop Tent Camping Challenges Different?

I’m sure that most experienced roof top campers can verify the fact that the first time you go roof top camping you will face a host of rooftop tent camping challenges. On our first practice run we found out quickly you need at least 1 3 step ladder to get the tent back down. We had single step stools and they did not gives us up high enough to put the needed on weight on the tent to force out the air inside the tent to close it  entirely.

Roof top camping can be a little bit complicated at first as you may have never purchased, let alone set up a roof top tent. Take your time selecting your new roof top camping tent. Look at all of the styles and types available and be sure to select one that will fit on your vehicle or trailer. Roof top camping tents come in various shapes, and sizes.

The big challenge of roof top camping really is the tent itself. Selecting it, installing it. The other challenges are trivial, and more about using the tent. They are however definitely worth mentioning. Once you have mastered setting up and installing your tent you are totally ready to go ahead and have your first successful roof top camping adventure! You’ll know exactly what to do when you go on your next trip and you will no longer face the initial rooftop tent camping challenges.

Rooftop Camping - Challenges of Rooftop Camping

Rooftop Tent Camping Challenges Number One…

The very biggest challenge you will face once you’ve decided to take a roof top camping trip is finding the right tent. Once you start searching for your new roof top camping tent you will discover that these specific roof top types of tents can be very costly. It may be some thing you might have to save for.

If you only plan on rooftop camping one time it is probably a better idea to just go good old fashioned camping with a regular tent, on the ground. However, on the other hand, if you really want to do that extreme camping thing and know you will enjoy the experience often then yes, definitely consider a new rooftop camping tent an investment. We bought our rooftop tent years ago and still use it all the time. We have had so much fun, and have made so many memories that the tent has paid itself of multiple times.

Rooftop Camping - Challenges of Rooftop Camping

Rooftop Tent Camping Challenges Number Two…

With that said we are on to rooftop camping challenge number two which is the challenge of unpacking of that new roof top camping tent. When the manufacturers package these things they really do a good job. Of course the first thing you will want to do when you get your new rooftop tent home is to see how it works. You will want to figure out how to install your new tent. You will definitely want to do this BEFORE you ever leave for your first roof top camping experience.

You really don’t want to be out in the woods with your family having difficulties. Imagine not even knowing how to set up or install your new tent when it starts to get dark on your first night? That would not be fun so it’s better to work out all of those kinks at home, before you ever leave for your camping trip. In fact many campers install the tent and travel with it on to avoid such problems. Don’t wait until you are out in the woods to install the tent if you don’t have to. Have it already installed when you get to your camping destination if possible.

Rooftop camping tents can be quite heavy, and no one ever knows what they are doing the first time they set one up. The average rooftop camping tent weighs any where between 125 and 150 lbs. Do not try to attempt to life or move your tent alone. You will definitely need to enlist in the help of your spouse, or a friend to not only avoid damaging the tent, your vehicle or trailer, but also yourself. The person helping you can also help you to read and understand the instructions. Two minds are better than one, and you are gonna need that extra pair of hands.

If you purchased your new rooftop camping tent brand the seller will install that tent free or for a small fee. If you purchased it used follow these steps: There will be several straps to cut, plastic to remove, etc. You will need a utility knife or pair of snips. Un-package your new tent near the vehicle you will be installing it on. Do this so you will not have to move the tent around too much after it is unpacked. Find the user manual and read it carefully. Un-wrap all of the pieces and parts and separate them according to what they are.

Rooftop camping challenge number three is the actual act of installing the tent. This challenge is simply unpacking it and making sure all of the pieces are there. There may be several different parts that need to be attached. Once you have it all unpacked and laid out, and you have gathered all of the tools you will need and have carefully read the instructions provided in the users manual, you are ready to begin. There will be a page in the manual that shows you exactly what is what, along with descriptive diagrams.

Find all of the ladder and set it aside from the rest. Gather your tools and prepare to set up your new tent. Go to the first step in the users manual and begin. Put the tent together and install all of the pieces where they go according to the manuals step by step instructions. When you are done go back through and double check each bolt to make sure that they are all snug and securely tightened. Remember your vehicle will vibrate which could cause the bolts to loosen over time. Always inspect your bolts for tightness before using your roof top tent.

Inspect those bolts weekly but simply reaching up and pushing on the tent. If the vehicle seems to move then you are fine, if you feel like there is slack then retighten the bolts.

Rooftop Camping

Rooftop Tent Camping Challenges Number Three…

Have that friend or spouse help you lift your new rooftop camping tent up onto the vehicle or trailer you will be installing it on. WAIT! Before you lift your new tent up onto your trailer or vehicle you will need to decide where you want the door and ladder. Would it be best on the right? Or would you rather have the entrance/exist on the left?

Most people actually position their rooftop camping tents so that the door is at the rear. Choosing the position the door at the end makes it so much easier to climb up and down. However, every vehicle is different so you will have to decide what will work best for you. Now, the next step is to lift the tent up onto the vehicle with the door facing whatever way you chose. This is when you will want to have help. Have your friend or spouse help you to not only lift the tent, but also to make sure the tent is centered on your vehicle.

It needs to be even on each side. Next, secure the straps that hold your tent in place and be sure to double check the manual to make sure you are doing it correctly. Secure the ladder and check to make sure it is both well tightened and safe. You can often use the ladder as a level to open up your tent. Pop it up. Check it out. Most roof top camping tents are actually more spacious than you would think. Ours has two rooms! Once you have figured out how to set up your new roof top camping tent you are ready to go camping!

Rooftop Camping

Rooftoptent Camping Challenges Number Four…

The fourth big challenge of rooftop camping is deciding where to go, what to bring and how long to stay. Most people prefer to take shorter rooftop camping trips. I mean, after all, you are sleeping in a tent on a vehicle roof. It’s an amazing and exciting way to camp but unless you are a true camping enthusiast a weekend will likely satisfy your roof top camping craving.

For us it is a lifestyle, we began traveling at 62 and went to over 100 countries around the world before Covid forced us back to the United States. We supplemented that initial wanderlust for world travel with a better option that allows us to stay in the United States while still traveling full time.

Where you go camping is totally up to you and how long you stay is as well. You can basically camp anywhere your vehicle will go and stay as long as you like. If you have an off road vehicle that can still have this type of tent installed on it your options are limitless! You can go as deep into the woods as you want to.

Rooftop Tent Camping Challenges Number Five…

Rooftop camping challenge number five is not that big of a roof top camping trip. The hardest part truth be told is that tent. The rest of the challenges you will face pretty much apply to camping in general expect for these couple of things. First of all, rooftop camping tents tend to be a lot darker than regular tents are. You’ll want to be sure that you have flashlights or a lantern. We have found the lantern pictured below not only serves the purpose better but also provides light inside a dark tent.

Every member of your rooftop camping trip experience because when it is the middle of the night and someone has to go to the bathroom you will need to know where to exit and descend from the tent. You will need light to lead the way to where you must go in the dark. When you are using a rooftop tent you are up off of the ground. Kids will need help and supervision and even adults should be very careful. Have that lantern hanging outside the tent will keep people and animals away from your campsite and provide light for going up and down the ladder. We are 70 and the ladder is by far our biggest challenge.

The next rooftop camping challenge that is kind of a big rooftop camping challenge but not is rain water collecting on the roof of your tent. If enough rain water collects in the rain fly area of your tent the water may drip through the tent into the inside. With our tent the angle of the roof when raised eliminates any problems with rain.

You don’t want to have the drips or water that will ruin your adventure! You can prevent this from happening at all by choosing to spend a little more when you purchase your new rooftop camping tent. If you have the extra funds to do so consider buying a hard shell tent. It will never be a problem with a hard shell tent.

If you do not have the money to do so, or have already purchased a tent that is not hard a hard shell rooftop camping tent then what you can do is get an awning pole. Use it in the center of the tent to raise it enough to let the rainwater run right off of the rain fly. This will solve the problem of rain water collecting and building up and you won’t have to worry about having the drip inside your tent should it down pour.

Rooftop Camping

The Perks Outweigh the Rooftop Tent Camping Challenges

There are rooftop tent camping challenge problems that will come up, yes, but there are so many more perks it is totally worth the effort. Roof top camping is an incredible experience! Once you go rooftop camping a time or two you will be able to overcome all of these challenges, in fact you will not even have them any longer. You will know exactly what to do, and how to do it.

Installing and using the tent takes practice. Feel free to do some experimenting while learning how to set up your new tent. You’ll get the hang of it through trail and error. Once you have mastered the tent your biggest roof top camping challenge is no longer a challenge at all. From there on out you can simply just pack up and go and use that tent anytime you are able to get away for a roof top camping adventure.

It is so very cool to sleep up and off of the ground. Your whole view is completely changed. I think that right there is my own personal favorite part of it all. The reason why I love roof top camping more than regular camping. I love looking out the window of my tent when using the roof top tent where as with a regular tent i just don’t feel that. It makes the time spent in the tent so much more enjoyable just because of how it is up so high. It’s an awesome experience.

Another big perk of rooftop camping compared to regular camping is that being elevated like that serves as a form of protection, in several ways. I don’t have to worry about skunks, raccoons, or bears outside my tent at night. I can rest assured my kids are all safe knowing that we are up off the ground.

I have found though that a regular camping challenge I have faced in the past was actually solved by investing in a roof top camper. That camping challenge is staying warm. My family froze at night in a regular tent on the ground. When you use a regular tent and are literally sleeping on the ground it can get very chilly. A rooftop camper is so much warmer! It’s also more comfortable as the floor is smooth, flat, and even with a comfortable mattress. There are no bumps or rocks or sticks under the tent.

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