The Most Common Problems with Rooftop Tents and How to Fix Them (2023)

Are you a camper who does not always approve of sleeping on the ground? Then a rooftop tent is an answer to your comfort woes. Rooftop tents are lovely pieces of outdoor inventions for campers. If you have a rooftop tent, you won’t have to sleep on the ground anymore. You will just attach your tent to your car’s rooftop or on the roof of your trailer.

Like everything in life, the comfort of using a rooftop tent comes with a few trade-offs. Although using a rooftop tent is very convenient and advantageous, there are some downsides that you might face.

Here are some of the most common problems that you might face when using your rooftop tent. I have also sorted out how you can fix these common problems.

Common Problems with Rooftop Tents (and fixes)

The Most Common Problems with Rooftop Tents and How to Fix Them (1)

Common problems with Rooftop Tents, and how to fix them.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

1. They Are Usually Very Dark Inside

Rooftop tents are usually darker on the inside as compared to normal tents. However, this is not such a big problem. You can still fix it anyway. You can use a flashlight, a solar lantern or a battery-operated lantern. You can also get creative and fashion a form of lighting into your tent that is more sophisticated.

You can use LED strips and even get power from your camping generator in case you brought one along. These are some of the devices that will make sure that you deal with the darkness that is normally associated with rooftop tents.

2. Complicated Installation

Installing them on the rooftop of your car can… be a little hectic

Rooftop tents usually weigh between 100 lbs to 175 lbs (45kg to 80kg). They also come in complicated shapes and different sizes. Installing them on the rooftop of your car can, therefore, be a little hectic, especially if you are doing it on your own.

After having some difficulties trying to set up mine on my own on a few occasions, I later found a way to set it up and take it out without needing an extra hand.

The Most Common Problems with Rooftop Tents and How to Fix Them (2)

(Video) ROOFTOP TENT BUYING GUIDE - The TRUTH Pros & Cons For The Most Popular Styles - Roof Top Tents 2020

Getting the tent up on your car can be difficult to do single-handed, but not impossible. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Setting up a rooftop tent is now a one-man job for me. Here is how you can make the setup process easy without needing a helper. First of all, you will need to make a skateboard or a cart for your tent. You can use caster wheels and sheets of plywood to make a cart or skateboard.

You can then use the skateboard or cart to get your tent onto the roof of your car by rolling the cart or skateboard onto the tailgate of your car. If your vehicle does not have a tailgate, you can use a table or a chair.

Watch a video on how you can do that:

The cart will also be important as it will help you to manoeuvre your tent around your camping ground. It can also act as a dandy place where you can store your tent.

To get your tent on your car’s rooftop, just roll your cart on and position it. Keep your tent on end. Push your cart towards your tailgate. Lift your cart on the ground end until it is standing on your tailgate. Tip your cart onto the roof bars of your camping vehicle and slide your tents into place.

3. Rainwater Gets Collected by the Rainfly

Rooftop tents are usually designed with two-room portions; the bed portion and the lower room portion. Towards the lower room of a rooftop tent, the roof tends to slope down. When it rains, the roof will get pooled with water. What’s bad with this is that it can lead to a special type of torture that is called water torture.

The pooled water on top of the roof of your tent will form drips on the inside of your tent. These drips will then roll down your canvass and drop into your eyes, face and ears. Now, this is what I call water torture because you won’t be able to sleep in any way with water dripping on your face.

You can fix this by using an extendible tarp pole.

You can fix this by using an extendible tarp pole. You can use this pole to raise the centre of the rain fly by holding it up. This will prevent the water from collecting as it will just a run-off.

The Most Common Problems with Rooftop Tents and How to Fix Them (3)


Position your vehicle to take in the views! As Rooftop tents are off the ground, you can usually see more of the view.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Further benefits of rooftop tents

There you have it on the three common problems that you will face when using a rooftop tent. Generally, the benefits of using a rooftop tent outweigh the disadvantages. The most obvious advantage of using a rooftop tent is that you will be elevated above the ground.

This will somehow give you a sense of security if you always have a fear of being attacked by wild animals. You will also be protected from sleeping on the wet ground when it rains. You won’t, therefore, need any tips on how you can waterproof your tent.

With a rooftop tent, you won’t also have to worry about selecting a campsite. Since you will be isolated from the ground, you will, therefore, have the freedom to be less selective when picking a campsite. The only thing you can be choosy about is a campsite that has the perfect view.

Another good thing with rooftop tents is that they usually come with in-built mattresses. You won’t have to carry your mattress. The only thing you will have to carry is your sleeping bag.

Winding Up

Rooftop tents are getting very popular these days among campers. This is because they offer campers with several advantages that normal camping tents will offer. You can also try out a rooftop tent the next time you go camping.

You will be better off with a rooftop tent because at least you are now aware of some of the most common problems that you might face while using your rooftop tent. These challenges are nothing compared to the benefits you will enjoy when using a rooftop tent. You just need to know how to handle them and enjoy your adventure.

Car Roof-top Tents in the UK

If you are thinking about a roof-top tent in the UK, then click here for a few options.

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Brian JohnContributor


I am Brian John, I am very passionate about camping and any other outdoor activities. I take pride in interacting with nature in more special ways like camping, hiking, mountain climbing among others. I love sharing my experiences in camping with other people, and I have no better way to do it other than by blogging. I am very passionate about my hobby and ready to interact with other people who share the same passion with me through Enjoy The Wild blog.

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What is the deal with roof top tents? ›

The rooftop tent is more affordable than a trailer, camper van or RV – but is still a mobile home transported by your car. These tents can be transported on any vehicle which makes them more flexible. Also, they can handle bumpy terrain making them perfect for off-road adventures.

How long do roof top tents last? ›

Depending on the brand, the conditions you use it in, maintenance, and softshell vs. hardshell, tents will last longer or shorter durations. Most hardshell rooftop tents last on average between 10 to 15 years. In contrast, most softshell rooftop tents last 5 to 10 years.

How do you keep mold off your rooftop tent? ›

Rinse the tent off with a solution (1 cup lemon juice, 1 cup sea salt, 1 gallon hot water). Once the Lysol solution has been properly washed out, let the tent air dry for several hours in order to prevent future mold from forming.

What cars can support a roof top tent? ›

Yes! Most roof top tents fit on most vehicles, whether it be jeep, truck, or SUV. Truck and van racks that fit pick-ups or truck beds are great for mounting your roof top tent.

Do you leave your roof top tent on all the time? ›

Even though many rooftop tent campers have successfully overnighted in parking lots and rest areas, they do so with caution… Never leave your rooftop tent open and unattended while overnighting in parking lots or rest areas.

Why you don't want a roof top tent? ›

Rooftop Tents Are Expensive

If you already own or are shopping for a rooftop tent, you're aware of the most obvious drawback: The price. Rooftop tents are expensive. Some of the best camping tents on the market cost less than $400, while even entry-level rooftop tents start north of a thousand dollars.

Can you put AC in a roof top tent? ›

A portable air conditioner unit is a bigger investment, but you will definitely see the benefits. An air conditioner is a sure fire way that you can keep your rooftop tent cool – even in the most intense heat. A small alternative to a full a/c system is this mini evaporative cooler fan.

How often do roof top tents get stolen? ›

It is quite rare that a rooftop tent gets stolen, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't happen. Just like it is rare for a bear to enter your campsite, campers will still take precautions to prevent the worst from happening. It only takes one theft to ruin rooftop tent camping for a user forever.

Does rooftop tent affect gas mileage? ›

A vehicle's gas mileage is affected by the car model and the type of rooftop tent used. According to some studies, a vehicle's fuel economy will drop in the range of 17 percent when a rooftop tent is installed on a car. This can be due to added weight and drag from wind.

What kills black mold in tent? ›

Spray the affected area with distilled white vinegar to kill the mold. Let it dry. Scrub the area lightly with a soft brush using a mixture of 1 cup of lemon juice and 1 cup of salt to a gallon of hot water. NOTE: Avoid using detergent soaps or bleach, which is harsh on canvas and challenging to rinse out.

What kills roof molds? ›

Hydrogen peroxide may be one of the most effective mould-killing solutions. It is anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. You can clean mould from your ceiling, walls and floors using hydrogen peroxide. Just keep in mind that hydrogen peroxide acts like bleach and affects delicate surfaces.

What can you spray on roof molds? ›

The less expensive solution is to spray wash the roof with a 50 percent mix of water and bleach to get rid of the algae. (No pressure washers, please. They're likely to damage the shingles.) Just be sure to wet your foundation plantings first, and rinse everything in clean water when you're done.

How fast can you drive with a roof tent? ›

There's no harm in trying to maintain your top speed. However, it is best to maintain a speed not over 65 mph for safety purposes. The reason behind this is that, additional weight or load are present on top of your car.

Can you leave a rooftop tent on your car? ›

Most cars were not originally designed to carry the extra weight of a rooftop tent. It is heavy, and installing it will probably scratch the roof. Fuel consumption will increase, the suspension system will have a higher (possibly unbalanced) load, and the car's center of gravity will be raised, making it less stable.

How do you know if your car can handle a rooftop tent? ›

Just make sure that your racks have a Dynamic Weight Capacity (DWC) of at least the weight of the tent. For example, if the tent weighs 130 lbs, the racks MUST have at least that same DWC. You can simply call your manufacturer; look at the specs of your racks to know.

Can you 4wd with a roof top tent? ›

A tent like this is perfect for your 4X4 trailer or off-road rigs. Hard-shell rooftop tents are also ideal for jeeps and truck beds. Their hard material makes them extra good at withstanding rain and wind.

How warm are roof top tents? ›

The short answer is that yes, roof top tents are warm. At the very least, they tend to be warmer than traditional tents. The long answer is a bit more complicated. Roof top tents have several aspects that improve their warmth, but you'll still need additional protection if you plan on camping in colder months or areas!

Are rooftop tents really worth it? ›

Rooftop tents are worth the expense because it offers convenience, safety, and faster setup times. They prevent ground-dwelling critters and small game from entering your tent at night.

How do you cool a rooftop tent? ›

Use a fan. Another efficient way to keep yourself and your tent cool is by using a fan. A face can help in circulating the cool air throughout the tent while removing the heat. You can use the battery-operated fan or you can power the fan through the cigarette socket as well.

Can you run a roof top AC while driving? ›

It is perfectly fine to run the RV AC while driving! Now when we drive on hot days I stay cool and we keep a blanket in the front seat so Susan can stay warm.

Do you need sleeping bag for roof top tent? ›

A comfortable sleeping bag is a camping necessity and is key to a good night's sleep. Make sure you take one that will suit the climate you'll be camping in and is rated for the temperature. You may even want to consider getting a liner for extra warmth.

Are roof top tents too heavy? ›

It's heavier. The extra size and weight of rooftop tents contribute to fuel waste and car weight pressure. What's more, families tend to place their extra gear and equipment on the tent to add more space inside the car. Must be folded always.

Does insurance cover roof top tent? ›

If you rent your home, for example, your rooftop tent may be able to be covered by your renter's personal property policy. Or if you own your home, then your tent might fall under your homeowners insurance.

What is the average weight of a roof top tent? ›

Rooftop tents typically weigh between 100-200lbs. If your car came with a roof rack factory installed you're going to want to check the manual and verify what weight your rack is rated for. Most factory roof racks are not capable of carrying this much weight.

How much weight can roof rack hold with tent? ›

Generally, a rooftop tent can hold a total weight capacity of between 400 and 900 lbs.

Is it better to sleep in your car or in a tent? ›

Sleeping in a car is safer than a tent- You can lock yourself in your vehicle when you go to sleep at night. This makes it much harder for dangerous people to get to you during the night.

How much extra fuel does a roof box use? ›

More typically drivers are spending between 10 – 25% more on fuel because of their roof box. This is because increasing the 'frontal area' of the vehicle destroys the aerodynamics. Even an empty roof rack can add up to 15% to your fuel bill.

Do rooftop tents leak? ›

With roof top tents gaining more popularity each year, a must-have is the security of knowing it's waterproof. Thankfully enough, roof top tents are generally waterproof, but the thing you really have to look out for is leaks.

Can I use vinegar to clean my tent? ›

Prepare five quarts of hot water and add a quart of vinegar and half a teaspoon of dish soap. Use this mixture to gently rub down all affected parts of the tent. If there is a particularly tough stain, use a brush with soft bristles to scrub it out.

Can a moldy tent be saved? ›

CLEAN. Depending on how much the mold is ingrained into the nylon or canvas tent fabric, you may be able to remove mold with just hot and soapy water. Our recommendation is to start by washing it with water and a specialized cleaner, which will not impact the performance or water repellency of your tent.

What scent kills mold? ›

Clove Oil

Clove is the essential oil that has been researched the most extensively for its antifungal properties. Evidence suggests that clove oil can kill mold and fungal spores almost as effectively as commercial disinfectants.

Can I spray vinegar on my roof? ›

Vinegar and detergent are great options if you want to know how to remove moss from roof naturally. Spray it on, leave and then brush off.

Can you use vinegar on roof shingles? ›

Vinegar will not hurt roof shingles and is the best way to clean asphalt shingles. Vinegar bough at the store will have different concentrations of acetic acid. 5% is adequate for most roof damage, although you can go as high as 25% for very stained roofs.

Can you power wash mold off a roof? ›

Simply put, unless you have it on a low (and much less effective) setting, cleaning your roof with a pressure washer would likely do much more harm than good. The water pressure won't damage just the shingles, either.

What is the best spray on roof sealant? ›

Here are our top five recommendations for roofing caulks and sealants and brief descriptions for each product.
  1. Liquid Rubber Waterproof Sealant. ...
  2. Flex Seal Spray Rubber Sealant Coating. ...
  3. Dicor Self-Leveling Lap Sealant. ...
  4. Gorilla Waterproof Patch & Seal Tape. ...
  5. Liquid Rubber Color Waterproof Sealant.

Does wet and forget work on roof algae? ›

Roof cleaning can be made easier with a once a year, no-fuss application of Wet & Forget Xtreme Reach™ Hose End. This outdoor cleaner is safe to use on virtually any type of roof and will help to keep your roof free of moss, mold, mildew, and algae all year long.

Why do people get rooftop tents? ›

Why are rooftop tents so popular? Rooftop tents provide their owners with a quick and easy way to set up camp almost anywhere. This makes them great for people who like to camp in places where setting a traditional tent up might not be possible.

How much does a roof top tent affect fuel economy? ›

Some studies have shown that a vehicle's fuel efficiency will drop by 17 percent when you install a rooftop tent. This is due to drag from the wind and added weight on the vehicle.

Are roof top tents safe in thunderstorms? ›

There has been an interesting discussion on the overland forum about being in a roof top tent during a thunderstorm and the consensus is that you could be struck and thus fried, particularly when in the open.

Can you take a rooftop tent through a car wash? ›

Most manufacturers and manuals will tell against running them through a car wash. The ideal way to keep them clean is to wash them at home with warm, soapy water. For rooftop cargo boxes, the sentiment is the same.

What side should my roof top tent open? ›

If it opens upwards, it's best to position your RTT opening to either the passenger or driver side.

What is the floor of a roof top tent made of? ›

All of our roof top tents come with 1" aluminum interior hoops attached to aluminum alloy joints for the strongest framework available. The floors are aluminum sheet top and bottom wrapped around a fire retardant insulated core so you won't get cold at night from underneath.


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