Would a Rooftop Tent Work for You?

By Lori Straus

Nothing is more classic to camping than a tent. But perhaps the ground is so bumpy—no matter where you lie down—that you worry your air mattress might spring a leak. Or you want to reduce the number of unwanted guests in your tent. Truck tents and rooftop tents solve these problems for you.

How Truck Tents WorkRoof Tent Basics of OVerlanding

Truck tents turn the bed of a pickup truck into a full tent, i.e., the truck’s bed is your floor. These tents are lightweight, and online reviews report that they’re generally easy to assemble.

One major benefit to these is that you can sleep on the flat bed of your truck instead of the bumpy and sometimes rocky ground of your camping site. Add a truck bed liner underneath the tent, and your sleeping bag may be enough for a good night’s sleep. If you need something thicker to sleep on, look for mattresses specifically made for pickup truck beds.

Get Higher Off the Ground with Rooftop Tents

Whereas a truck tent can only be used on a pickup truck, rooftop tents can be used on any vehicle with the right rack system installed. If you’re new to using your vehicle as your base camp, so-to-speak, don’t buy one of these online without fully researching it. Confirm that the roof rack you have can carry the load dynamically, i.e., while you’re driving. In addition, double-check that the tent can properly (i.e., without Gerry rigging) attach to your roof rack.

However, note that a ladder is the only way to get into and down from the tent. If you have difficulty climbing ladders, then skip this tent.

Inside of Rooftop Tent Over Looking WaterKeep the Following in Mind for These Tents

First, ensure the tent you buy is made from durable material. If the price tag is really low, consider passing. Yes, we all like to save money, but any kind of shelter needs to withstand the elements. You don’t want rain dripping through your $50-cheaper tent while you’re sleeping.

Second, search online reviews for comments about the weather. For example, several reviews I read about the Napier Backroadz truck tent mentioned that the tent withstood all-night downpours.

Third, look for tents that offer a good amount of ventilation. Spending the night in tight quarters will feel more comfortable with air circulation. Moreover, more windows equal more light, especially important if those downpours take place in the daytime.

Stay Grounded and Know Your Camping Preferences

Both rooftop tents and truck tents can make camping much more comfortable. They raise you from the ground, leaving you less accessible to curious critters. Not sleeping directly on the ground also helps with your sleep.

However, what if you like to drive your truck during the day, perhaps to hard-to-reach corners in Canadian backcountry? With both of these tents, you would have to pack up every morning before heading out. You might find that far too inconvenient. (Not to mention frustrating, if someone takes your spot when you return.)

Research your options, ask camping friends for recommendations, and buy the tent that will best suit your needs. Once you have it, enjoy your time in the outdoors!