How to Secure a Roof Top Tent

Roof Top Tent with a red security lock

Rooftop tents have had a surge in popularity lately, and for good reason. They’re a comfortable, versatile place to stay without needing to worry about finding a campsite. While there are certainly plenty of benefits to rooftop tents, there are a few downfalls as well. 

Theft is one of the major concerns of rooftop tent ownership. Of course, leaving a big investment out in the open (on your roof) can be unnerving. We’ll go through a thorough list of ways to help you secure your roof top tent.

Secure your Roof Top Tent with these 10 helpful tips:

  1. Install Locking Nuts
  2. Use Locking Bars
  3. Use Locking Straps
  4. Install Auto Alarm
  5. Set up Security Camera System
  6. The Buddy System While Camping
  7. Remove Your RTT in the Off-Season

Protect your investment with these proven preventative measures. Let’s get down to business and prepare you for a worry-free adventure in your rooftop tent.

But just because it’s more difficult doesn’t mean it can’t happen. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Not only have you invested your time and money into your RTT, but if it gets stolen, you won’t have anywhere to sleep!

There are a number of ways to prevent theft. Here are seven of the most effective ways to prevent your rooftop tent from being stolen.

7 Tips for Securing Your Roof Top Tent From Theft

Preventing theft is your responsibility. It’s a shame that we have to lock everything down, but it’s better to protect your belongings than to leave them vulnerable to theft.

The most effective method of theft prevention is using a combination of the following methods. Combining the forces of more than one of these can double or triple the chances that you will never have to deal with theft.

1. Install Locking nuts 

If you’re lucky, your rooftop tent will come with locknuts.That way, you’re assured of a perfect fit. Locknuts simply tighten your roof top tent to the metal frame and your rig’s roof rack . The harder your RTT is to pull off the roof, the harder it’ll be for someone to take.

If your tent didn’t come with locknuts, you can always pick some up at the local hardware store. If you can’t find them there, you can find everything on the internet. Just make sure you get the right size to fit your tent’s bolts.

2. Use Locking Bars 

A set of lock bars acts like a strap: it’ll go over the top of the RTT and attach it to the bracket below the tent. As with most of these security measures, locking bars only work while the rooftop tent is closed and away in its case.

These special bars are made to be durable, rust-resistant, and highly secure. Once your tent is in its case and all zipped up, simply place the bars over top of the tent, secure them to brackets, and lock them up.

3. Use Locking Straps 

You may already be used to using straps to tie down your things, but are they stainless steel reinforced locking straps? If not, you should probably get some!

What’s the difference between nylon straps and these locking straps? Locking straps are much better at securing your RTT than standard straps because they can’t be cut. They’re manufactured with stainless steel rather than densely woven nylon threads, which will stand up to even the toughest knife.

Locking straps are sold in different lengths and sometimes in a variety of fun colors—or you can just go for a basic black. Purchasing a set of these straps will let you lock your straps with a key, which is a big bonus for peace of mind.

4. Install a Vehicle Alarm 

Most auto alarms are sensitive enough to be set off by the movement of an attempted RTT theft. The deafening sound of the alarm, paired with the fear of the alarm drawing unwanted attention, will most likely scare off the sticky-fingered bandits.

Most vehicles—especially newer models—come standard with car alarms. If your vehicle doesn’t have a factory alarm, you can install one. Installing an alarm can be done at home, but most people don’t feel comfortable performing a job like that. 

Take your vehicle in to a professional and explain your situation. Tell them that you’ll have a rooftop tent attached to the vehicle, and that you’re after an alarm system that will alert you if someone tries to take it.

5. Install a Security Camera

A security camera alone won’t prevent theft, but it will give you evidence if someone decides to take your tent. 

A security camera is typically user friendly and simple enough to install that most users can do it themselves. If you’re not comfortable with installation, there are plenty of companies that provide this service. There are also quite a few companies that offer simple security camera soluion

Most security cameras, like a Ring Security Camera, will have software or an app where you can monitor your camera. You should be able to easily access the footage recorded on your camera. A few models use internal memory cards, which can be removed and inserted into a drive to watch the footage.

You can choose to have your camera set to record all the time, which guarantees you never miss a thing. Or, you can program it to start recording after it senses motion around the vehicle.

In addition to catching thieves in the act, having a security camera may also qualify you for a discount on your auto insurance. Contact your insurance provider to learn about any possible discounts.

 While you have them on the phone, ask about car alarm discounts, as well. 

6. The Buddy System

Camping with friends is so much fun. Group gatherings of like-minded people out enjoying nature is a surefire way to make lifetime memories. As always, having a group with you will be beneficial in many ways.

You may be able to organize a team effort to watch the camp. With more eyes comes better security. If you decide to leave the camp, ask if someone would be willing to stay behind to keep watch.

You’re all there to have fun, so don’t let security get in the way of enjoying yourselves, but a missing rooftop tent will spoil the fun real fast.

6. Pack Up Your Tent When Not in Use

Leaving your tent set up all day just makes sense. You’re going to need it again that night, so why take the time to tear it down and set it up again? Though rooftop tents aren’t hard to set up, if you’re going to be spending more than one night at a campsite, most people just leave it set up the whole time.

If it makes you feel better, just pack it up. Packing up and locking your rooftop tent can help to deter wannabe thieves. Taking a few minutes to pack up your tent is worth it if it’ll give you some added peace of mind.

7. Remove Your Tent When Not in Use

If your RTT isn’t used very often but your vehicle is, you might want to consider removing your tent until when you don’t need it. It might take some effort, but it’ll ensure your tent isn’t stolen while you’re at work or running errands around town.

Removing your tent when you don’t need it is also a good way to prevent unnecessary damage from the elements. Sun, rain, snow, and ice can all decrease your tent’s lifespan. Store your tent in a covered, temperature controlled storage area when you don’t need it to keep it in good condition.

Bonus Tip: Get Your Tent Covered By Insurance

Even if you use every single tip on this list, it won’t guarantee your tent won’t get stolen. It’s never a bad idea to contact your auto insurance carrier and ask if they cover RTTs. Then, even if your tent does somehow get stolen, you’ll be able to buy a new one.

This doesn’t count as a theft prevention tip because it only works after your tent is stolen. It’s still not a bad idea, though!

Do Rooftop Tents Get Stolen?

Unfortunately, there are dishonest people in the world who will try to take anything that isn’t bolted down. And sometimes they’ll even find a way to steal stuff that has been bolted down! 

Traveling with items like bikes and rooftop tents on the outside of your vehicle give thieves a unique opportunity for theft. Rooftop tents (RTTs) are less likely to be stolen than an unattended ground tent, simply because ground tents are easier to access—but it’s not unheard of for an RTT to go missing.

The good news is that rooftop tents are made to withstand high pressure and, therefore, are not easy to remove. A thief would need to find your vehicle unattended for at least an hour to be able to successfully remove your RTT.

Protect Your Rooftop Tent From Thieves

Your rooftop tent is more than an investment; it’s your home away from home! Keep it safe from thieves with these helpful safety tips. A couple minutes of prep time and a few dollars could make the difference between a comfortable overlanding trip and sleeping in your driver seat.


James with daughter on the trails

About James...

Hi, I’m James. If I’m not working on this site, you can often find me outdoors roaming the trails. I’m an avid hiker, mountain biker, and overlander. I’m excited to share my passion for the outdoors with you.