Five tent roof tips – 20 minutes

car camping

Dreaming of a roof tent? Then you need to know these five truths

Rooftop tents are popular and offered for many types of vehicles from small cars to SUVs. But this type of tent is by no means suitable for everyone.


Not only has van life been thriving for years, at least since the pandemic, camping has been the general trend. This also brought a lot of impetus to the topic of roof tents. This type of tent is attractive, because with almost any type of vehicle you can always have a sleeping facility with you that can be set up in no time at all, where you can spend the night well protected from wet floors and many animals. However, rooftop tents aren’t exactly cheap and do have some limitations. Here are five things you need to know about it.

Whats going on?

Rooftop tents come in many sizes, shapes, and designs. Each concept has advantages and disadvantages. Hard-roofed tents, which when unfolded do not protrude beyond the traffic area occupied by the carrier vehicle, allow rapid assembly using crank arms or gas pressure springs in almost any (parking) space. However, in other types, the roof runs parallel to the ground. Depending on the model, the base area of ​​roll-up roof tents or roll-up roof tents, which tend to be lighter, can have up to twice the roof area of ​​a car or even more after unfolding. The space available in the tent is correspondingly larger, which, on the other hand, limits the choice of site. Hybrid tents are structures that combine hard-shell tents with a retractable roof. In inflatable tents, air tubes replace aluminum poles. They score with less weight.

how much does it cost?

No matter what type of roof tent you choose, you will have to invest a lot more than a classic ground tent. With few exceptions, new roof tents are usually priced in excess of 1,000 francs. Anyone who places a higher demand for tents, ladders, and transport packs will have to step up to the mid-to-high four-digit regions. If a proper roof rack is not available then you have to invest more for it. IMPORTANT WHEN BUYING A RACKER: Tent screws must match the diameter of the roof rack supports. Some groups do not match.

How difficult is it?

If you want to transport larger luggage on the roof of the car, you should pay close attention to the roof load. In many cases, the limit is 75 or 100 kilos. The weight of the carrier system and the roof tent must not exceed the value specified by the vehicle manufacturer. By the way, the maximum value specified in the operating instructions indicates the dynamic roof load, that is, for a moving vehicle. The reason: A significantly higher center of gravity changes driving dynamics. When braking or cornering, the forces acting on the roof rack can multiply, which greatly affects handling. However, there is much more room to load the roofs of the cars when they are stationary. However, only a few manufacturers state what the vehicle can handle, eg for off-road vehicles suitable for expeditions.

What else should be considered?

Regardless of the type, one thing is clear: even when folded, the tent on the roof of the car increases air resistance and therefore fuel consumption. In the case of electric cars, the roof tent in turn guarantees shorter ranges. This must be taken into account when planning your trip. After the trip, it is advisable to disassemble the mobile home again in order to save electricity or fuel. In addition, with a rooftop tent, you have to pay attention to speed: tent manufacturers usually recommend a maximum speed of 120 km/h.

Where can I stay with her?

In private camps or pitches, you can easily stay overnight in the tents on the roof. However, this kind of tent is pre-made for wild camping and spontaneous stay anywhere, which is usually a gray area in Switzerland and many countries in Western and Central Europe. How do individual cantons regulate wild camping? TCS on this site compilation and production. Resting or spending the night in public traffic, at least for a short period, is permitted if this serves to restore fitness to drive. However, if you set up a rest area or parking lot with a view of the lake with a table and chairs like the ones at the campsite, you will soon have a problem.

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