Whether you’re planning a camping trip or are just looking to increase the comfort of your roof top tent, there are a number of ways you can customize your tent. You can buy accessories to make it more comfortable, expand / upgrade your tent, improve cooling / heating and even completely bug-proof it with a couple neat accessories.
Popular Roof Top Tent Customizations
Buying a rooftop tent is a great way to enjoy the great outdoors. These durable tents are roomy and easy to use. Whether you want to travel to a remote location or a city, rooftop tents are the perfect choice.
Whether you are looking for an affordable or premium roof top tent, you can customize a variety of models to fit your needs. There are even certified aftermarket models that you can add to your car’s roof to increase its functionality.
A rooftop tent is a type of camping tent that’s attached to a car’s roof. It provides protection from the elements and is often convenient. Some models offer adjustable features such as a hanging gear hammock. It may also be mounted on a hitch rack, a trailer, or an empty truck bed. Some hardshell roof top tents have a flat ceiling and a flat floor. These models are also known for their comfort. They are a good choice for avid overlanders. Some models include a skylight and an improved ladder. They also have additional accessory channels along the sides of the tent body.
Some models also offer extras such as an awning and an anti-condensation mat. These features can increase the floor area of the tent and create more livable space. However, they are slightly more time-consuming to set up.
Back to the actual customizations, you should know that most common customizations for roof top tents include, but are not limited to:
- Expanding usable space with a roof top tent annex and/or annex.
- Replacing the original (if available) ladder with extended or better versions.
- Various winterization / insulation solutions applied to make your RTT more comfortable.
- Various accessories such as covers, tarps, rainflies (some RTTs have multiple color options).
- Various gear organization solutions, ranging from boot bags to gear lofts and other hanging organizers.
- Various climate control solutions – portable camping fans / ventilators, heaters, dehumidifiers etc.
- Various bug / pest control accessories – especially solutions like Thermacell’s high-tech bug repeller.
- Various lighting solutions – from lantern-power bank combos to string lights specifically made for camping.
Common Roof Top Tent Accessories
(1) Roof Top Tent Compatible Roof Rack
A surprising number of first time buyers of roof top tents don’t think about what roof rack they’ll need to properly mount their new overland home, but…it’s not something you can go without and you shouldn’t count on any factory installed solution. Check out the article below to figure out what roof rack you need, what weight considerations to take into account and how to make sure you’re purchasing the right roof rack for both your tent and vehicle.
(2) Roof Top Tent Anti-Condensation Mats
We really can’t recommend this strongly enough. Moisture is always a problem with roof top tents and in case your preferred roof top tent doesn’t come with one – buy one and save yourself a lot of headaches related to mold / mildew down the line. Keep in mind that an anti-condensation mat can be found pretty cheap and it’s a good investment – if your tent starts getting moldy, you won’t enjoy and for sure you’ll have a lot of trouble trying to sell it for a reasonable price down the line.
(3) Roof Top Tent Security Nuts / Bolts
While roof top tent theft is not that common, it’s unfortunately a reality and you can buy peace of mind with some nifty security nuts / bolts for your roof top tent. While this might not be a 100% guaranteed solution, it’s still better than nothing and the cost is minimal compared to what you’re paying for the tent.
(4) Roof Top Tent All Weather Covers
There are companies like Tuff Stuff Overland which sell all sorts of extra-durable covers for all weather conditions and they’re surprisingly affordable. Considering that wear and tear is inevitable for roof top tents, why not protect your investment with some high quality covers, while getting an extra layer of protection, insulation and warmth?
(5) Roof Top Tent Telescoping Ladder
We were surprised that a few roof top tents don’t come with included ladders, but luckily there are quite a few high quality solutions from brands such as Alu-Cab, Frontrunner Outfitters and more that work with basically any tent.
(6) Roof Top Tent Aerodynamic Wind Deflector
While it might seem like a strange accessory at first glance, a wind deflector basically pays for itself because it reduces drag / makes your vehicle with the mounted RTT much more aerodynamic. While it’s not something that pays off in one trip, the reduced gas consumption over a few thousand miles will definitely offset its price.
Arguably, you could live without the anti-condensation mat, security bolts, wind deflectors and covers but considering the low cost of these accessories and the downsides of not buying them – we really feel they’re a must-have.
Useful Roof Top Tent Accessories
(1) Quick Release Mounting Kit
If you plan on mount and dismounting your roof top tent multiple times a year, a quick release mounting system will save you a lot of hassle and reduce wear and tear as well. There are several options , but by far the most popular one is from Front Runner, since it has a good price / quality ratio.
(2) Roof Top Tent Matching Awning
While drinking a nice cup of coffee in your roof top tent is fine and dandy, you’ll still want some extra covered space for other activities, including cooking and whatnot, so a matching awning always comes in handy to expand your usable space.
(3) Roof Top Tent Annex Room
RTT annex rooms offer a lot of utility and greatly expand your usable living space at a fraction of the cost, so from our point of view it’s a no-brainer to get a compatible annex room as long as your budget allows it.
(4) Roof Top Tent Gear Lofts
A gear loft is a lightweight mesh gear holder that hooks at the top of your roof top tent and it’s a very useful organization and storage solution that’s worth the money. Gear lofts basically inspired all sorts of niche accessories such as boot bags, device bags, tool bags etc. that can be easily attached in various areas of your roof top tent – both inside and outside.
(5) Spare Roof Top Tent Latch Kit
A roof top tent’s latch kit is generally the most prone to breaking element, due to the constant wear and tear and it’s not something that you want to be driving without unless you’re planning on losing your roof top tent and potentially causing an accident. While there are many third parties producing latch kits, it’s best to ask your RTT manufacturer directly to sell you a spare one.
(6) Heavy Duty Roof Top Tent Driving Cover
If you’re not particularly happy with the cover your RTT came with, you can get a heavy-duty / premium cover from brands like Tuff Stuff for example.
(7) Extra Insulation Systems
While it may cost you a couple hundred dollars (or more, depending on the brand), if you plan on camping out in cold climates, you’ll be happy you’ve spent that money. While you can DIY, we generally recommend buying specific insulation systems such as The Ptarmigan Tent Insulation System which is compatible with a range of tents and can be easily “repurposed” for a different RTT brand if you’re a bit on the crafty side.
(8) Roof Top Tent Track Hangers
Roof top tent track hangers are secondary storage solutions in the form of tracks mounted to the sides of your roof top tent, greatly expanding the storage solutions at your disposal. If you’re an avid overlander, you know how valuable every extra storage solution can be.
(9) Roof Top Tent Shoe Racks / Bags
Similar to gear lofts, there are quite a few options in terms of shoe racks and bags that are really useful from our point of view. You won’t want to bring in dirt and mud into your roof top tent and the option to keep your shoes secured outside (without exposing them to rain for example) is a must have for extra comfort.
(10) Roof Top Tent Rain Canopy
Wet roof top tent ladders are one of our mild nightmares and a rain canopy that can be mounted to the RTT’s entrance is pretty cheap (generally under $100).
Nice to Have Roof Top Tent Accessories
(1) Premium Mattress & Bedding
While most roof top tents come with high-quality mattresses, you can always do better. If you’re the kind of person who values a good night’s sleep, you know much of a difference a premium mattress and high-quality bedding can make. If your mattress is “good enough”, you can always consider a good topper for extra comfort and just a little bit of extra insulation as well.
(2) Lighting Strips / Lanterns & Other Camping Lights
Good lighting is a must for camping nowadays. There are lots of cool lighting strips, string lights and even multi-function lanterns that double as chargers at affordable prices nowadays.
This wouldn’t be a complete list if we wouldn’t address the need for climate control with the following:
(3) Air Conditioner
(4) Ventilation Fans
(5) Tent Heater
(6) Dog Ramps
Choosing the Right Roof Top Tent Upgrades
Using a rooftop tent has its advantages. The most obvious is the ability to enjoy fresh air, which improves the sleep cycle. It also provides added comfort and a little bit of warmth during colder nights. There are several types of tents to choose from. Some are made of hard shell, while others are soft shell. Some even feature an integrated mattress.
If you’re looking for a rooftop tent, you’ll probably want to find one that’s easy to install. These tents usually come with all the hardware you need to get the job done. However, they may require you to bend the frame into place. This isn’t a big deal, but it could cause some headaches if you’re not careful.
There are several types of roof top tents on the market. The most popular are the hard shell types. These tents are more durable, but tend to be heavier. They can weigh up to 176 pounds when you’re driving, and roughly a few hundred pounds when you’re sleeping. This is a hefty load for a tent, so you’ll want to find a sturdy roof rack system to support it.
Winterizing Your Roof Top Tent
Fortunately, you don’t have to be a caveman to winterize your roof top tent. In most cases, it’s sufficient to invest in something akin to Thule’s Insulation Kit that comes with clear instructions regarding installation and you’re good to go.
While you are at it, make sure that your roof top tent is made from a durable material. For example, polyester fabrics are known to be more susceptible to ripping and tearing than polyurethane. Likewise, you should always make sure that your tent is waterproofed.
A well-built roof top tent should be able to withstand low temperatures without the need for a heater. In fact, many tents come with an insulated base plate, which can be a godsend when camping in sub-zero temperatures and, furthermore, the fabric used in the construction of the roof top tent makes a big difference too. For that reason, we recommend reading a bit more on what roof top tents are made of.
Other than that, it’s always handy to get something like a Mr. Heater and invest a bit more in premium mattresses / better bedding for your roof top tent. While most come with decent mattresses, you may want to spend a bit more to stay warm(er) and treat yourself with comfortable winter blankets.
How to Bug-Proof Your Roof Top Tent
Whether you are camping in the great outdoors or just taking a jog, a roof top tent is an excellent choice. It can protect you from the wet ground when the weather is bad and provide a sense of security against wild animals. Traditionally, roof top tents are made of canvas. Depending on the manufacturer, there are a variety of materials from which to choose. Some are made of plastic while others use lighter materials such as fiberglass and resin. These new materials insulate less effectively.
In the case of a roof top tent, the best way to bug-proof your outdoor oasis is to make sure you have a fully waterproof tent and that all its zipper systems work as intended.
Bugs and most pests are less of a concern with roof top tents since they’re above ground, but – nonetheless – it always pays off to buy something like a Thermacell and high-quality mosquito nets. If it’s one thing we absolutely hate while camping it’s mosquitos.
How to Make Your Roof Top Tent More Comfortable
Whether you are new to rooftop tents or are an experienced traveler, it’s important to know how to customize your roof top tent to make it more comfortable. A comfortable sleeping environment can make all the difference in your travel experience.
The first thing you should do is choose a tent that has the proper weight capacity. You want to make sure that the tent you choose is sturdy enough to support the weight of you and your family.
Rooftop tents can come in a variety of materials, from softshell to hard shell. Each material has different features, comfort levels, and cleaning requirements. The softshell tents are made with a heavy canvas material that protects against wind and rain.
The more expensive tents are made with thicker mattresses. This is essential for a good night’s sleep. A thin mattress doesn’t provide the cushion that you need. A good pillow is also important. A bad pillow can lead to neck pain and headaches.
Rooftop tents can also be equipped with a portable heater to provide additional warmth. Portable heaters should have an oxygen depletion sensor, and an accidental tip-over safety shutoff.
Roof Top Tent DIY Resources
Whether you are an engineer or a DIY enthusiast, there are a variety of resources available for customizing your roof top tent and even building one from scratch. These DIY resources can help you create your own rooftop tent and save you time and money in the process – or at least provide inspiration for other customizations you might want to attempt. Whether you have a truck, SUV or any other type of vehicle, you can customize your rooftop tent to suit your needs.
To get you started, we’ll point you in the direction of a couple very popular Instructables posts – mainly “The Ultimate Kayak Hauler and Roof Top Tent Camper” and the “Roof Top Car Camper” by Idea Studio 22.
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