So you’re considering a roof tent for your vehicle? In this article, we are going to explore the advantages and disadvantages of buying a roof tent for your car. It’s always worth doing your research before any purchase and we hope this article will help you decide if a roof tent is right for your camping holidays in the UK or abroad.
What are the advantages of a roof tent?
1. Camp anywhere
No grass needed, whether you’re on a mountain track, sand dune or a Tesco car park, a roof tent allows you to camp just about anywhere.
2. Go anywhere
You’re far less hindered with a roof tent, you can travel places you could only dream of with trailer tents, camper trailers, caravans, campervans and motorhomes, especially if you have a 4×4.
3. Quick set-up and tear-down
Attaching a rooftop tent is easy and will fit most vehicles that meet a few requirements. See our page, can I fit a roof tent to my car? Set-up time is very quick and can be done in a few minutes. You will be the envy of your traditional tent friends when you are all set up and sipping cold water, beer or wine.
Roof tents are constructed from a heavy-duty canvas made to withstand nature and its elements. This material is of course waterproof as well as UV and mould-resistant. A strong aluminium support structure makes for a long-lasting and very durable tent.
A good rooftop tent will have mesh windows and doors for ventilation, great on a hot summer’s day or night. A comfy high-density foam mattress should come as standard and some tents even have a sky view window for star gazing at night and extra light during the day.
6. Bugs and beasts
Being up on your vehicle’s roof means you are out of the way of insects like scorpions, ants, and spiders. Nobody wants to find something crawling around in your tent or sleeping bag! Wildlife in the UK is less of a threat but if you are abroad in a country where there are snakes, tigers, bears, wolves, etc. you will be out of their reach in a rooftop tent.
You have your very own viewing platform with great views that you can’t get with ground tents. Waking up to the view of the ocean, lake, river, mountains or forest, is always better from higher up. You’ll never camp on the ground again.
Compared to the price of a campervan, motorhome or trailer tent, a roof tent is a lot cheaper to buy and maintain.
Are there disadvantages to a roof tent?
The nature of being up higher means that in windy locations or weather, a roof tent can be buffeted around. However, they are designed to handle strong winds and the rocking will either bother you or send you off to sleep.
2. Fuel economy
The extra weight and wind drag of a rooftop tent of your vehicle will contribute to fuel waste, meaning fuel economy will be reduced. This may mean removing the roof tent in periods when you don’t intend to use it.
3. Day tripping
If you plan to head off exploring for the day, you must fold away the roof tent. This is a hassle when compared to a traditional ground tent where you can just leave it while you’re off seeing the sights. One suggestion is to take bikes away with you, so you can explore without using your vehicle. If you do need to drive, you can fold up the rooftop tent with your bedding inside for speed.
4. Toilet trips
We’ve all been there, a bleary-eyed trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Making your way down a ladder and back up is a little more challenging than a ground tent but really not too bad. Another option is to keep a bottle handy as one rooftop friend said to me!
5. Can’t stand up
Well, unless you’re under 4ft tall, you can’t stand up in a rooftop tent. However, some roof tents come with an annex meaning that you have space to stand up, cook, eat and more.
So what's the conclusion?
Ok, so we might be a little biased in our opinion but we have tried to be as fair as possible about the pros and cons of a roof tent. The pros far outweigh the cons when compared to grounds tents or the cost of a campervan/motorhome. And don’t forget that a roof tent can be mounted on a van if extra accommodation is needed or a trailer if you’re planning on using your vehicle for day tripping.
Can you think of any more advantages or disadvantages to a roof tent? I’d like to hear from you, so leave me a comment below.
Find out more about how a roof tent attaches to your vehicle and whether you can fit a rooftop tent to your car. Looking to buy a roof tent? Visit our shop for a range of rooftop tents and vehicle awnings, available with free delivery in the UK.