Tips, Tricks & Trends

Three Rack Systems for a Rooftop Tent

If you’re the adventurous type with your mind always on your next chance to hit the highway for a cross country trip to see the beautiful American landscape, chances are you’ve considered buying a rooftop tent.

These tents offer a great place to sleep no matter where you are. A rooftop tent can essentially mount on any vehicle. Want to head into the wild in your Subaru Legacy? Go for it. Just make sure you choose a rack system that is capable of handling the load. Here three rack systems for a rooftop tent.

Why a rooftop tent?

They help cut down on hotel costs as well as the time it takes to set up and dismantle your campsite. The rooftop tent is a home away from home on top of your ride. It lends a certain freedom that is hard to get elsewhere.

Anywhere you are able to access in your vehicle, you can essentially set up camp and spend the night. Hit the backcountry trails and go until you can’t go anymore. Then set up your rooftop tent and stay till morning.

But it’s good to know what you are getting yourself into before setting up your rooftop camping rig. First of all, an average rooftop tent weighs about 120-130 pounds. So, it’s important to find a rack system that not only fits perfectly on your specific vehicle, but that is also fully capable of handling the weight of a rooftop tent.

Choosing a rack system

In order to choose the perfect rack system to handle the rooftops dreams you have for your vehicle, there are some key determining factors. The most important factor is probably the maximum Dynamic Weight Capacity or DWC of the rack system.

This tells you how much weight the rack can handle while the vehicle is in motion. A rooftop tent can weigh anywhere from 95 to over 200 pounds, so before you choose your rack, make sure you know how much your tent weighs.

The Static Weight Capacity or SWC is the weight your rooftop rig can handle while the vehicle is parked. The tent weight in addition to its occupants will evenly distribute over the whole frame of the car, which is why almost any sedan, SUV, or truck can handle the load of a rooftop tent.

Rack systems

There are three basic options when it comes to choosing a rack for your rooftop tent. A full roof rack like the one in the video below, crossbars, and a bed rack are the three primary options. If you are on the hunt for the perfect rack system to equip your vehicle, you’ll first want to choose between these three options.

A roof rack like this one by Front Runner Outfitters is the best choice if you plan to keep your tent up top for the majority of the time –– or forever. They are able to handle a large DWC and offer the most support for enabling weight dispersal for SWC. roof racks such as these mount onto existing factory mounting points or clip on to avoid any drilling or other vehicle alterations.

Crossbars like those offered by Thule or Yakima are great if you have a lighter tent. Since many of these options clip on, they aren’t quite as sturdy and reliable as a more permanent rack setup. But even some factory crossbars are absolutely capable of handling the DWC of a rooftop tent.

These are great if you think your rig may be more of a seasonal thing and you anticipate its removal for any length of time. Or if you want to be able to equip your vehicle for an adventure on a whim without having to drive around with the rooftop tent all the time.

Bed racks are designed specifically for pickup trucks, like the popular Toyota Tacoma. This type of rack system allows for tent mounting over the bed of your truck. If you have a pickup truck, you may decide that this is your best bet.

Do your research

This isn’t something you want to go back and redo. While you are sure to find things to tweak as you go along, it’s best to do your research and decide which rack system will accommodate your tent. It is also extremely important to fit the rack system perfectly to your vehicle. These three rack systems should be a good place to start your research.