A roof top tent is great for long overland trips spanning several days. It lets you sleep above your rig, giving you more space inside the vehicle (which you know you need) to fit all your gear and belongings. Using a roof top tent is safe and comfortable as long as you follow the proper guidelines for its use and weight limitations.
How much weight can roof top tents hold? Roof top tents are designed to hold about 200 lbs per person. Each manufacturer weight limit may vary slightly. For example the Front Runner Roof Top Tent has an average of 300 lbs per person. When you are looking at different roof top tents, using 200 lbs per person weight limit will be a good rule of thumb.
For reference, here are five different styles of roof top tents and their weight capacities:
|Front Runner Roof Top Tent||2 Person||600 lbs(270kg)|
|Raptor Series OFFGRID Voyager||2 Person||750 lbs(340kg)|
|Smittybilt Overlander Roof Top Tent||3 Person||661 lbs(299kg)|
|Smittybilt 2883 Overland Tent XL||4 Person||770 lbs(349kg)|
|Tuff Stuff Elite Overland Roof TopTent||5 Person||800 lbs(362kg)|
As you can see, 200 lbs per person is a rough average, but it’s not always the case. Let’s jump into some more detail about the different roof top tents and their weight capacities.
Front Runner Roof top Tent (2 Person)
The Front Runner Roof Top Tent is a great lightweight tent that comfortably holds one person but can accommodate up to two individuals. Although this tent is designed for only one or two individuals, it can hold an incredible amount of weight—up to 600 lbs. As a bonus, this happens to be the lightest tent on the list at 93lbs.
This tent offers some great features that set it apart from some of the other roof top setups:
- Lightweight and durable; weighs less than 100 lbs.
- Comes with a mattress
- About 4 feet wide and 8 feet long
- Easy installation and opening
- Has a retractable ladder
- Can be mounted onto a variety of bars and roof racks
- Windows and doors have privacy panels
- Great ventilation system
Raptor Series OFFGRID Voyager Roof Top Tent (2 Person)
This standard two-person tent can be set up and taken down in seconds. It sleeps two comfortably on a dense, foam double or full-size mattress. The Raptor Series OFFGRID Voyager’s weight capacity is an incredible 750 lbs total, so sleeping two people comfortably is no issue. The average two-person tent will hold around 400 lbs.
Below are some of the great features the Raptor Series OFFGRID Voyager tent has to offer:
- Simple design makes set up easy
- Withstands heavy wind and rain
- Heavy-duty 8-foot ladder
- Contains storage pockets and built-in air vents
- Large living area
- Space to hang equipment
- One year warranty
Smittybilt Overlander Roof top Tent (3 Person)
If you’re looking for a three-person tent that’s comfortable and travels well, the Smittybilt Overlander Roof Top Tent is a great option. This tent is designed to protect you from top to bottom with waterproof walls, mosquito nets, aluminum framing, and more. It’ll hold up to 661 lbs, which is right on track with the average 600 lb capacity for three-person tents.
Below are some of the great features of the Smittybilt Overlander roof top tent:
- Includes a double or full-size mattress
- Has a waterproof roof and rain fly
- Built-in sunroof
- Side windows have mosquito netting to keep out bugs
- Includes a telescopic ladder
- Contains interior LED strips
- Easy to set up and break down
- Comes with mounting brackets and a PVC cover
Smittybilt 2883 Overland Tent XL (4 Person)
The Smittybilt 2883 Overland Tent XL is a well-designed waterproof roof top tent that sleeps up to 4 individuals comfortably. This tent weighs more than some of the other models listed, but it can sleep more people. With a weight of 168 lbs for just the tent, you’ll likely need a friend to get it installed and set up.
With more weight comes a more robust design. This tent can hold an additional 770 lbs, right under what the average four-person tent can hold, which is about 800 lbs. This four-person tent is designed to hold two adults and two children comfortably, but any combination of individuals will work as long as you’re not over the weight limit.
Below are some of the great features of the Smittybilt 2883 Overland XL roof top tent:
- Made of heavy-duty material
- Includes a foam mattress with a removable cover
- Durable aluminum frame and stainless steel hinges
- Removable roof for sunlight and fresh air
Tuff Stuff Elite Overland Roof top Tent (5 Person)
It can be tricky to find a roof top tent that accommodates more than four individuals. The Tuff Stuff Elite Overland Roof Top Tent is designed for families of four or five. In the item description, it specifies families because to hold five people comfortably, three of those people should be child-sized. This tent will hold up to 800 lbs.
Below are some of the great features of the Tuff Stuff Elite Overland Roof Top Tent:
- Designed for family-style camping
- Has a PVC cover
- Has an annex room with a floor
- Outdoor storage for shoes
- Comes with two foam mattresses
- Tent contains an overhang
- Walls split for privacy
- Hammock can be mounted to the inside or outside of the tent
- Contains a rainfly
How Much do Roof top Tents Weight?
The weight of a roof top tent will vary from brand to brand. Most roof top tents weigh between 100 and 200 lbs. You can also find smaller roof top tents designed to be lightweight, typically under 100 lbs. Larger and heavier tents will require at least two individuals for installation.
The weight of the tent will depend on these three things:
- Size of the tent – The more people it holds, the heavier it will be because of the larger framework and added materials.
- Design of the tent – Certain materials and frames will weigh more than others, like a hardtop compared to a fabric covering.
- Added features – The more features your tent has, the more it will weigh. For example, a tent with an included mattress, ladder, cover, etc. will weigh more than a tent that doesn’t include those items.
Will My Car Support a Roof top Tent?
Roof top tents are designed to work on any type of car; however, there are specific vehicle characteristics that make them more suitable for a roof top tent than others. When deciding if your car will be able to support the roof top tent of your choice, consider these three things:
Know Your Car Roof’s Weight Capacity
Obviously, if your car can’t support the weight of the tent (or the campers inside) it’s not suitable for the job. You’ll also need a roof rack, which will add more weight.
Smaller cars aren’t as powerful, so lots of added weight will have a greater impact while driving compared to larger cars with more powerful engines. If you find your smaller car can handle the weight and you don’t mind the decrease in speed, power, and acceleration, then you’re good to go. However, large vehicles like trucks and SUVs are always recommended if you want to install a roof top tent.
Have Suitable Roof Racks for your Car
You need a roof rack to install a roof top tent. It’s what your tent is secured to while traveling and sleeping. There are roof racks designed specifically for roof top tents, but most tents can attach to a wide variety of racks.
If you already have a roof rack on your car, you’ll need to make sure your rack can hold the weight of your tent safely and securely while traveling. If your car isn’t moving, the weight of the tent and those inside doesn’t have much of an impact on the rack or your car because the weight is dispersed evenly across the rack. Most car roofs are designed to hold an incredible amount of weight in case they ever roll in a car accident.
If you’re still unsure, it’s always a good idea to check with the manufacturers of both the roof top tent and your roof rack to make sure the added weight of your tent won’t alter the rack’s stability.
When Mounting Your Tent to the Car Carefully Follow Manufacturer Instructions
Another key to making sure your car will support a roof top tent is to make sure the tent is installed correctly. Most tents come with the hardware needed for installation along with detailed instructions. Follow these directions carefully, and your tent will be safely secured.
In summary, if you can drive your car well with the added weight of your tent on top of it and if your roof rack is designed to hold the weight of your tent while the car is in motion, then your car should be able to support a roof top tent. Driving a larger vehicle and finding a roof rack specifically designed for your tent will also put your worries at ease.
Is a Roof top Tent RIght for You?
Now that you know your car will handle a roof top tent and you know which size roof top tent you need to hold your weight and the weight of your travel companions, you still might ask yourself if a roof top tent is the best tent for your trip.
When debating whether or not you want to use a roof top tent or a regular tent, there are a few things you may want to consider:
- Where will you be camping? Will you be at a campground, or will you be camping out on the trail? If you plan on camping on the trail, a roof top tent is indispensable. It’ll allow you to make camp wherever you stop, no questions asked.
- How long will your stay be? If you’re planning on spending several nights at a campsite and need to travel in your car during the day, a roof top tent might not be the best choice. On the other hand, if you’re traveling around spending one night here and the other there, a roof top tent is an excellent choice.
- What’s your budget? Roof top tents can range in price between $800 to almost $3,000. A traditional tent can cost you less than $300.
- Think about the benefits of a roof top tent. Roof top tents are easy to install, typically requiring only one or two people. They also keep you off of the hard ground and away from animals and bugs. Plus, you can sleep at almost any location.
How to Choose a Roof top Tent
Roof top tents come in all different designs, sizes, and styles. Selecting one that’s best for you and your needs can be a challenge. The list below will go over what you need to consider when choosing a roof top tent to make sure you make the right choice.
- Ease of assembly – Consider how easy it is to put up and take down the tent. This will include how heavy the tent is and how many people are required for installation and setup.
- Size – Find a tent with enough space and weight capacity to hold all the people in your camping group.
- Comfort – Look for tents that come with included mattresses or other comfort features to make your roof top tent more comfortable such as windows, sunroofs, or extra ventilation.
- Durability – Choose a tent that can stand up to punishment on the trail for years to come.
- Cost – Always consider how much you’re willing to spend on a roof top tent and stick to your budget.
- Your vehicle and roof rack – Make sure the tent you select will fit on your vehicle and roof rack. If you choose one that’s too heavy, it could damage your rig.
- Coverings and tops – Consider if you want a fabric covering or a hardtop to protect your belongings as you drive.
- Extra features – What luxuries do you want? Think of features like annexes, awnings, sunroofs, bug nets, shoe holders, etc.
Does the Added Weight of a Roof top Tent Affect Gas Mileage?
Once you’ve got the car loaded and your roof top tent secured to the rack, you’re ready for adventure. But remember, extra luggage and added weight will affect the gas mileage of the car. A roof top tent will also add drag while the car is in motion.
A roof top tent can decrease the gas mileage of your truck by up to 17%. Because there’s such a significant drop in gas mileage, it’s not a good idea to keep the tent on top of your vehicle all the time—especially if it’s your daily driver. To save money on gas, leave it up for overland trips and take it off for everyday use.
Find the Tent That’s Right for You
Roof top tents are a great thing to have when traveling, especially if you’re not headed to a place with formal campsites. When determining out how much weight a roof top tent will hold, you can typically figure it out by adding 200 lbs for each person the tent is designed to hold comfortably.