All you need to know about the rooftop tent

After the madness of motorhomes and then the enthusiasm around vanlife, today it is the rooftop tent that is on the rise ! Indeed, it gathers more and more followers. Concept, price, advantages and disadvantages… We tell you everything about this type of accommodation that is all the rage !

The rooftop tent concept

The roof tent (or rooftop tent) is a great compromise between vanlife and camping. Practical and easy to use, it allows you to easily add a berth to your everyday vehicle by attaching it to its roof. When folded, it looks like a roof box. Just imagine yourself on the roads, discovering new spots. It’s 8 p.m., you’ve just found a great place to hang out, but it’s getting dark. Hop, in a few minutes, you deploy your roof tent and you’re ready to enjoy the beauty of the landscape.Thanks to the rooftop tent, you travel with the essentials while keeping a certain comfort.

Which vehicle for a rooftop tent ?

What is really nice with this accessory is that it gives you the possibility of making any vehicle modular, of transforming it into a leisure vehicle according to your getaways desires. Indeed, you can use your car to go to work during the week and convert it into an adventure vehicle for the weekend. This is truly the greatest asset of this accessory. In addition, you can just as well install a roof tent on a motorhome or other type of RV in order to simply increase its sleeping capacity.

Whether you own a city car, an SUV or even a van, you have the choice of adding and removing the tent as you wish. Even a Twingo will do ! Your vehicle will simply need to be equipped with a gallery or roof bars to secure the tent. These must be strong enough to support the bedding. If you do not have one, we advise you to buy transverse roof bars (from left to right of the vehicle) and not longitudinal (from front to back). If your vehicle has longitudinal bars, then it will most often be necessary to opt for transverse bars with clamps, which are fixed on the longitudinal ones. This way, you will be sure that they will support the weight of the bedding. The support capacity of the bars should be checked before buying a rooftop tent, especially if you are several people sleeping there !

How to fix a rooftop tent ?

The simplicity of its installation is one of the criteria that make the rooftop tent so practical. However, fixing it must be done correctly if you want to prevent it from flying off during your journey, or slipping while you sleep ! The roof tent must be attached to the top of your car, using a roof rack or roof bars. You must be able to estimate the load capacity by adding the weight of the tent (on average 80kg) with the weight of the people who will be sleeping in it as well as the things you wish to store there.

How much does a rooftop tent cost ?

Opting for the roof tent is clearly more economical than shelling out tens of thousands of dollars in a leisure vehicle dedicated exclusively to your travels. It requires minimal maintenance while a recreational vehicle requires you to comply with revisions, technical checks and possible repairs, in addition to the maintenance of your everyday vehicle.

Another economic advantage of the rooftop tent is that even if in a few years you want to change your vehicle, this accessory is universal and durable. You will therefore be able to use your camping cabin until it wears out, on the different cars you will own during your life !

The price of a rooftop tent will not be the same depending on the country of manufacture, the materials used, the sleeping capacity and the speed of installation. You can find one between €1,000 and €1,500 as well as a model for a more upscale family around €5,000.

What are the disadvantages of a rooftop tent ?

It can be less practical than a motorhome, a van or a converted van, because you have to get out of the vehicle to access the interior of the tent, and therefore your bed.

It can also affect your fuel consumption due to the increased wind resistance of your vehicle. For less impact on your consumption, some models are available in an aerodynamic shell.

What are the other advantages of the rooftop tent ?

In addition to being easy to install, practical and adaptable to all vehicles, the roof tent offers other advantages.

First of all, travel with your vehicle equipped with the roof tent will allow you to park more easily than with a motorhome. You will also have more ease in accessing the different spots you want to explore than if you have a voluminous RV, which is more difficult to handle. Be careful, however, of the height of your vehicle with the tent on top before passing the parking barriers !

Sleeping above ground, thanks to the rooftop tent, also reassures the less adventurous people : being well sheltered from flooded ground after a heavy rain, being inaccessible to wild animals, crawling insects and other pests that could sneak into your tent… It also ensures that you sleep on a flat surface ! No pebbles, bumps or holes to ruin your night and disturb your sleep !

Finally, the roof tent (unlike recreational vehicles) allows you to sleep outside, or almost ! The view is even more beautiful when you are perched high up and the feeling of freedom is increased tenfold. You will need to cover yourself more but the advantage is that you are really connected to nature. Installed in your roof tent you will be able to appreciate the different landscapes, the song of the birds, the runoff of the water…


Whether you own an RV or just one with a rooftop tent, SwapTheRoad allows you to swap your home on wheels with another RV owner anywhere in the world ! Join a community of travel lovers, quickly discover new destinations by registering on SwapTheRoad !


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