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Roof Top Tents

What is a roof top camper or roof top tent?  Things to note before purchasing.


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A roof top camper is a tent or cubical like structure located on roof racks on the top (or roof) of a car or 4WD vehicle.  Some roof top tents come with a soft top tent roof and others with a hard top roof and the sizes vary to accommodate 1-4 people.  Some models attach to the roof rack whilst others can be mounted to the vehicle’s rain gutters.

Options are available for the roof top camper to go either on the roof of your vehicle, on the bed of a pick up truck, on the roof of an off-road trailer and some can also be taken off the roof and re-located on the ground.  So take some time to do some research before you choose the best roof top tent or roof top camper for you.

Some manufacturers or brand names of roof top tents are ARB Touring,  ShippShape, Hannibal Safari Equipment, Open Sky, Aussie Traveller, Dingo Dozer and Trailer Roof Top Tents.


Advantages of Roof Top tents or Roof top camper

  • Ideal for 4WD vehicle
  • Lower cost to purchase compared to say a caravan, trailer or motorhome
  • More likely less fuel costs compared to say towing an RV
  • No towing if you choose not to
  • No extra registration costs as you are not towing a vehicle requiring registration
  • You can tow something like a jet ski, boat or motor bike trailer if you choose
  • Set up is quick
  • Some models allow for bedding and pillows to remain in the tent when packed or closed for travel
  • Normally there are no poles as internal struts support the tent
  • You are off the ground and away from any dangerous animals or creepy crawlies
  • An even sleeping surface and no rocks or sticks protruding through the floor
  • Some models of roof top tents extend out providing shade beneath
  • Other models provide an annex or weather skirt for additional living/privacy area and shade
  • You can travel with a roof top tent virtually any place your vehicle can go
  • Less storage space required at home compared to say a caravan, trailer or motorhome


  • Depending on your strength and agility, setting it up on top of the vehicle may be a challenge
  • You have to scale up a ladder and this may be a challenge if you are elderly or suffer from a physical disability
  • Storage of food and travel items may be a problem compared to say a caravan, trailer or motorhome
  • For a number of models you will have to pack it up if you want to drive off in your vehicle
  • Depending on the height of your garage or shed, you may have to remove the roof top tent from your vehicle before garaging or storing.

Things to consider when purchasing a roof top tent or roof top camper

  • Ensure the roof racks and the roof of your vehicle will take the weight of the roof top tent and occupants
  • Purchase suitable roof racks to accommodate the size of the roof top tent
  • Think about if you want to acquire a model with an annex/weather skirt or shower cubicle
  • Perhaps try before you buy and hire a roof top tent for your next 4WD adventure

Some places that hire out 4WD vehicles with roof top tents are Salamanda Travel, Aussie Wanderer Four Wheel Drive and the Britz Company.

Can a roof top tent be used on the ground?

There are makes and models of roof top tents that can be taken down from the roof and used on the ground.  This then gives you the advantage of a permanent tent site and being able to drive your vehicle away.


Roof top tent - Accessories/Construction

Depending on the make and model of the roof top tent the following are available:-

  • Strong aluminum frame
  • Waterproof canvas tent
  • Waterproof cover
  • Flysheet
  • Heavy duty ladder
  • Inbuilt fly screens
  • Full sized mattress
  • Annex option
  • Shower or change cubicle option


See also article -

Tents for Trucks, 'Well Back' Trucks, Station Wagons and Utes

Examine tents designed for crew cab trucks, utes, trailers, pick-up trucks or ‘well backed’ vehicles, SUV’s and tray back vehicles. 



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