Roof Top Tent Tips and Tricks

The more time you spend doing something, you inevitably begin to adapt and adjust certain things to become more proficient at it, whether skiing, running, or knitting. It doesn’t matter what the hobby, chore, or task is. If you put enough time in, you’ll generally see improvements.

For those who are motivated to put copious amounts of time and energy into something they enjoy, a desire usually takes hold of them at some point. When this happens, it pushes you not only to spend more time performing the activity in hopes of getting better at it but also to study and learn about the various nuances people have found that can help in some way.

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With pretty much any activity, there are expert tips and tricks that people have discovered through experience. A great example of this is seen in how people have figured out skillful and advantageous ways to use their rooftop tents.

The exciting part of the tips and tricks used with this hobby is that it is still a relatively new way of camping for most people. The popularity of rooftop tents has skyrocketed over the past several years, and with this increased popularity comes more and more fascinating and beneficial shared advice.

This article will shed some light on some of these tips and tricks in hopes of helping others make the most out of their rooftop tent camping experiences. It must be noted that some of the advice and tips in this article are specific to certain brands and types of rooftop tents that may or may not work with your particular item. Each rooftop tent brand is a bit different and, though some of these tips are universal, some only work with specific brands.

Water Tips

One of the significant issues with camping in a rooftop tent (or a traditional tent for that matter) is the unwanted intrusion of water. Though tent manufacturers have throughout dissected this problem, it still cannot be eradicated. Rooftop tents are no exception, and since most are designed with an upper room and lower room, the roof of the tent slopes downward. This is all well and good, but when it rains, the roof of the tent typically begins to collect pools of rainwater and, due to the downward slope of the tent, this water trickles downward, sneaks its way into the lining of your tent, and drips on the inside. To counteract and prevent this, simply use an extendible tarp pole to elevate the center section of the tent’s rainfly to avoid the water from pooling in the first place and ruining your roof rack tent.

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Another tip to combat the intrusion of water in your rooftop tent is to install a couple of Peruvian sheets made from Alpaca wool over the interior support poles of the tent. The sheets are not only highly absorbent to take care of a lot of the moisture from rain but also make the tent feel a bit more of homey.

The early morning dew that forms out the outside of your tent merely is unavoidable. Still, many folks have found a secure method of keeping this condensation from invading their sleeping area. Do nothing. That’s right; do nothing.  All you have to do is wait for the sun to rise and a little bit of wind to pick up, and your tent will be dry in no time. Depending on the time of year and your location, this early morning dew is usually dissipated by 9:30 am so you can still start the day at a decent time without worrying about getting your sleeping attire and equipment wet.

Installation Issues

A common nuisance with rooftop tents is the intricate installation process. Though the complexity of this depends on the tent, with some being relatively easy and others more multifaceted, it is usually helpful to have at least one other person with you. When camping alone, however, installation is more complicated. It is just physically difficult to move the materials of the tent around and up to the roof of your vehicle.

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A smart way to help with this process is to use a wagon, cart, or some other item with wheels and enough room to fit your tent and everything you need for installation. A set of skateboard wheels attached to a piece of plywood is all you need. This not only helps you move stuff around your campsite but can also be flipped over and propped up against your vehicle’s tailgate to act as a sort of ramp to assist you in getting your rooftop tent both on and off of your vehicle’s roof.

The lack of lighting in rooftop tents is another issue that people run into while camping. Most resort to using a flashlight or lantern to see what’s going on at night but means searching in total darkness to find it. This becomes rather frustrating and time-consuming as it’s dark and difficult to find what you’re looking for. Many people have had this issue and have discovered an easy way to avoid these situations. Simply string a few bands of battery-operated fairy lights along the roof or sidewalls of your tent. This way, you’ll know exactly where the on/off switch is and won’t waste time and energy fumbling around in the dark looking for a flashlight.

Flashlights can be a useful way to light up the nighttime, but you’ll need to find a close and out of the way spot for them. If your tent happens to have a few handy little side pockets, you’ll find they are perfect for storing flashlights.

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One tip that any rooftop tent owner can benefit from is to trade your rather bulky sleeping bags, inflatable mattresses, and pillows for down duvets and pillows that can easily be stored by folding them in with the rooftop tent itself.

Now that we’ve gotten a few of the more essential tips and trick out of the way, here are some rapid-fire suggestions that I won’t go into great detail about as most can be followed without much issue:

Tips and tricks:

  • If you are camping with a buddy or significant other, it’s best to work as a team to open and close the tent.
  • If you are on the shorter side, rooftop tents can be a struggle since they are usually perched on the roof of a tall vehicle. The use of a small ladder or step stool solves these issues.
  • Make sure your vehicle is parked on a level surface. This helps solve a myriad of problems, one of which being a possible slip or fall due to unsteady footing. Remember to bring either plastic leveling blocks or a few blocks of wood for this purpose.

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I’m sure of a few of you reading this were anticipating a tip or trick related to everybody’s favorite part of the camping experience, the issue of using the bathroom. Most people’s solution to avoiding having to climb down and into the woods to take a pee is to keep a designated pee bottle in the tent.

Another slightly more involved method is to attach a funnel to a length of hose, which then runs out of the tent and into a bottle on the ground. If your imagination is anything like mine, you can foresee several things that can go very wrong with this idea; therefore, it may not be suitable for certain groups of people who like to play pranks or who tend to be a bit clumsy in the night.

Note that the somewhat brittle Velcro straps that are included with most rooftop tents should be immediately replaced with more secure ratchets and straps that will do a much better job at keeping your tent safe and secure.

Lastly, make sure you have plastic baggies or something to keep all of your window pegs in and count them before you leave to make sure you’ve retrieved them all. It’s also important to lubricate the metal interlocking bit of your tent as well as the zippers to avoid them becoming rusty. The same goes for the ladder.

Hopefully, some of these rooftop tent tips and tricks will help make your rooftop tenting adventure relaxing and comfortable. Also, practice keeping an open mind about trying new and exciting ways to make things a little easier on your camping trip. Sometimes the weirder the idea is, the better the adventure.

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