How do you fit a roof tent to your vehicle?

A roof tent is secured/bolted to roof bars or a roof rack that is fixed to your vehicle’s roof. Our tents are supplied with quality stainless steel fixings that bolt to roof bars. Depending on the type of roof rack that you have and where you want to mount the roof tent, you may be required to drill and bolt through your roof rack.

If you have any questions about securing a roof tent to your vehicle, get in touch with us at support@tentandtrail.com to find out more information.

Roof bars or roof rack?

Roof tents can be fitted to either cross bars or a roof rack, each have their benefits and widely available. For an example of each see below and further information on each.

Roof Bars

Roof bars fit to a vehicle's roof and cross between the roof arches. The bars mount to a roof at 4 points and are the most common way of carrying loads on your vehicle's roof.

Roof Rack

Roof racks are normally come as a metal frame that forms a base which mounts to the roof by at least 4 points or more.

Roof bars

Roof bars or crossbars are a common accessory for many car owners and are widely available for most vehicles. You can pick up roof bars at Halfords and they offer a service to fit them as well. Roof bars are split into different types, depending on how they mount to the vehicle roof:

Rain Gutter – for older cars, roof bars were usually mounted directly to the gutter surrounding the roofline.

Bare Roof – modern vehicles, which do not have gutters, can have a roof rack installed by attaching hooks to the top of the door frames.

Fixed Point – some vehicles have fittings for after-market racks that attach via reinforced lugs in the roof or have pre-threaded holes.

Side Rails – vehicles with factory-installed rails, which may be flush against the roof or raised off of the roof, running front-to-back on the roof.

Factory Bars – some vehicles have a factory-installed permanent roof rack.

When you are installing roof bars to your vehicle, make sure to attach the bars correctly and refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual.

Roof bars on the roof of a car in the UK.
Roof rack with awnings attached back and sides on a Land Rover Defender in the UK.

Roof racks

A roof rack is a metal frame that is fixed on top of a car and used for carrying large objects. These are less common on vehicle but provide more space and strength for carrying loads on your car’s roof. 

Roof rack fix to the roof of a vehicle in the same way as roof bars but come as one large framework, meaning they normally need two strong adults to fit, otherwise you might end up with scratches across your roof’s paintwork.

When installing roof racks, it is important to fix the rack properly, in accordance with the vehicle’s owner’s manual. Roof rack manufactures will give you advice on the right rack for your vehicle.

A great online company that offers lots of roof racks and bars for any vehicle – The Roof Box Company

How does the roof tent attach?

All roof tents come with stainless steel fixings to attach to your roof bars or rack. Included are nuts, bolts, brackets, even tools with detailed instructions. All the supplied fixings are made from premium stainless steel 304-grade metal. This is to prevent them from corrosion/rust and added strength.

There are two most common ways of installing your roof tent to your car. The first method is drilling holes in your roof rack or bars and then bolting the roof tent down. And secondly, use the provided brackets to clamp to your roof rack or roof bars. 

Roof tent bolted to a roof rack on a car in the UK.

Roof tent attached to a roof rack

Here you can see we have measured and pre-drilled holes in our roof rack to bolt the roof top tent to the roof rack. There are two channels that run the width of the roof tent base, making it possible to bolt the roof tent down in several places in needed.

We would always say that the roof tent needs to be secured in 4 places with the m8 stainless steel bolts provided with your roof tent. NOTE – make sure all bolts are tight but do not overtighten the bolts.

Roof tent installed to roof bars

In this example, the roof tent has been clamped to a roof bar using the provided stainless steel brackets and m8 nuts and bolts. Spread the clamping points equally across the two roof bars, to achieve 4 spaced securing points.

NOTE – make sure all bolts are tight but do not overtighten the bolts.

Roof tent clamped to roof bars on a car in the UK.

What is the best position for a roof tent?

Compact Series roof tent dimensions and layout.

Roof tent dimentions and opening

The roof tent mounting channels run across the tent base spaced 80cm apart. If you’re using roof bars and the supplied fixings, then the mounting channels will need to run across the roof bars. This means the roof tent will open to the side of your vehicle, the driver’s or passenger’s side depending on your choice.

If you are using a roof rack, you will need to measure out the 80cm mounting space to pre-drill your desired mounting position and opening direction.

If you need any help with mounting or deciding with is best for your setup, then feel free to get in touch.

Opening sidewards

With the roof tent opening to the side, you have a great covered space for cooking or sitting under. You can access your vehicle via the passenger doors and you don’t need to worry about opening clearance. But you do need to check that the boot opens without hitting the side of the roof tent base.

If you are using roof bars, this will be the best option and it gives you an easily covered space next to your vehicle. 

Roof tent on an estate car, camping in the UK.
Land Rover Defender overlander with a premium quality roof tent erected on top in the UK.

Opening backwards

As with the side opening position, opening over the back of your car, you can create a covered space at the rear of your vehicle. Great for cooking or sitting under while having access to your car’s boot space.

One thing to check if you’re going for this setup is whether your vehicle’s boot will open with the roof tent open. 

Need help fitting your roof tent?

Check out our handy step-by-step roof tent install guide. We also provide a roof tent fitting service at our workshop in Hampshire, UK. To find out more and availability, please contact us.

Roof Tent FAQs

You’ve got questions, we got the answers. If you can’t find the specific answer you’re looking for then contact us at support@tentandtrail.co.uk and we will be happy to talk through any questions you may have.

Yes. All roof top tents come with 100% waterproof heavy duty 420D Polyester Oxford canvas. The canvas used for the roof tents is UV and mould resistant, making your tent cooler and longer lasting in any kind of weather.

See our helpful step-by-step guide on how to install a roof tent.

Roof tents are bolted or clamped to roof bars or a roof rack. All our roof tents come equipped with a full vehicle fitting kits (bolts, brackets, even tools) and detailed instructions. Included fixing are made from premium stainless steel 304 grade metal. This is to prevent corrosion/rust and provide added strength.

We also provide a fitting service with purchase of any of our products, please contact support@tentantrail.com for more details.

All of our products, roof tent and awnings have a 1 year guarantee, for any manufacturing defects that might occur. In the unlikelihood of any issues or defects please contact us at support@tentandtrail.com and we will be on hand to help.

Please see our T&Cs page for more details.

We’ve got you covered.

We know that accidents can happen but there’s no need to worry that your roof tent is ruined. A number of spares for all our products, ranging from travel covers to window rods and brackets/fixings are available on request. Simply get in contact with us at support@tentandtrail.co.uk and tell us what you require. 

Free shipping service is available to the vast majority of UK customers. However, certain UK postcodes do not qualify for our free shipping service and customers in these areas may be required to pay a supplementary delivery fee. The current free shipping exclusion zones include postcodes in the following areas: Channel Islands, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, Isles of Scilly, Scottish Highlands & Islands.

Consequently, if your postcode falls within one of the free shipping exclusion zone(s), please email support@tentandtrail.co.uk confirming your full address details and we will be in touch with a quote for delivery. We can also arrange delivery to Europe – please contact us for a quotation.

Vehicle access restrictions to your property may mean additional cost or delivery failure. If you are concerned this may apply to you, then please be sure to email us before you complete your order at checkout.

Yes. As long as you can fit roof bars or a roof rack to your car, then a roof tent can be mounted to your car.

Ready to pick your roof tent?

Roof tents will fit any vehicle not just a 4×4.