How Fast Can You Drive With A Roof Top Tent?


Top Speed For Vehicles With A Roof Top Tent On Top

A straight-forward answer to this question is this: The maximum speed you can have while you drive for an outdoor adventure using your overlanding rig with a rooftop tent installed is dependent on your vehicle's capacity itselfHowever, there are factors that should be considered before zooming out on the freeway bound to your favorite camping destination. 

Factors that Affect Speed Performance of Vehicles with Rooftop Tents

You've decided to go on an overlanding trip that takes you forever to travel, or somewhere far that requires you to arrive sooner than scheduled. Then you try to test out your off-road truck's capability to rush thru major roads by stepping on the gas and rapidly taking on the highway BUT you remembered, there's an RTT installed on your roof, and it feels like sometimes you are "swaying" or it seems like that you are running slow and your rooftent is letting you down. 

We'll try to sound less nerdy in this blog and try to explain these factors using simple words and omitting "Laws of Physics'' and "Newton's Law of Motion" as a reference. So here it goes: 


Vehicle's Top Speed

The top variable in achieving your top speed is the capacity of your ride to keep going in reaching its maximum potential. Of course, you can't have something what you are not capable of having, unless provided with some enhancers and additional boosters. Your vehicle's top speed, whether you have a rooftop tent installed or not, still depends on what your off-ride can reach. Having a roof tent installed doesn't greatly affect the overall performance of your off-road truck when it comes to its top speed. 

You may be discouraged by attaining your max speed when you hit off the road, because of some experiences you had, but it still all boils down to your vehicle's capacity. 


Fuel Efficiency

You can have the maximum speed all you want with your roof tent mounted on your vehicle. That's a fact. However, expect something will be different when it comes to your fuel consumption. If from experience, when traveling on a full gas tank of your Toyota Tacoma can take you let's say approximately 450 miles in one go, with a rooftop tent installed, it may be reduced and expect it to be less.

fuel affected with cargo installed above the vehicle

Having something above your roof, adds to the resistance of the vehicle, not necessarily slowing it down, but requiring more fuel consumption in maintaining your desired speed. Imagine having the friction between your vehicle tire and the surface of the road. That's exactly what's happening also on top of your vehicle. Plus, if your roof tent weighs heavy, with all the stuff you bring for an outdoor camping, expect your fuel to run less miles than your usual.



The flow of wind that's passing through your off-road ride plays an important role in having to attain your maximum speed overall. The resistance that this event produce may deeply affect your desired top speed, especially when the wind direction is against your way. That's why it is important to consider this factor if you want to arrive to your destination swiftly. There are numerous things you could consider installing or buying if you want your vehicle to be more aerodynamic and smoothly sail off with the wind. 

prinsu low profile roof rack

Having a low-profile roof rack can improve the aerodynamic capability of your ride to adapt and withstand strong gush of winds. Prinsu Racks are perfect example of this type of roof rack. They provide a mininimalist, low profile rack system that's nearly close to your roof, providing minimal space between. A perfect rack to mount your iKamper SkyCamp 2.0 or your BadAss Rugged Roof Tent


Wind Breaker or Deflector System

wind deflector

Wind Breaker or wind deflector, as simple as it may sound, is an added feature of some roof racks, like the ones present on Prinsu Roof Rack, where a piece of metal is placed in front of the rack to break wind. The wind breaker system prevents the direction of the wind to pass through between the roof rack and the vehicle's roof, deflecting the strong wind that the monster truck faces while on a speed burst. 

These affects the speed performance of your off-road truck by reducing the drag that it produces when speeding up. And of course, securing your mounted cargo or RTT in place by preventing them to be swayed by strong gush of wind out of its mount. Also, this mechanism prevents rattle and vibration caused by strong wind to whatever is mounted on your roof rack. 


Quality Roof Rack

The RTT you installed above your off-road ride's roof also plays an important role in your top speed mission. These tents should be carefully assessed and secured to prevent dragging, rattling and of course, dismounting from the roof rack and cause severe accidents.

A quality roof rack enables you to drive with peace of mind while running your way through the freeway. One great sample of the best roof rack you can install is the Slimline II Roof Rack Kit by Front Runner. These rack system has a built in wind deflector system that can obviously minimize the wind drag and improve the aerodynamic of your monster rig. Also, knowing your dynamic roof rack weight capacity helps in optimizing your top speed. These load rating refers to the total weight your rack can handle while moving. 


Rack Safety and Tie-Down Options

Speeding up while on the expressway gives you plenty of wind forces that may go against your roof top tent, or any other cargo loaded on top of your roof rack. It is important to have a secured and safe option when it comes to mounting anything above your rack. It is also important to have a rack system that can hold over 165 lbs. of dynamic load rating.

One great example for this type of rack system? The Front Runner Slimline II Roof Rack System. Plenty of tie-down points and mounting location to secure everything on top nicely. What's even more important having this kind of roof rack system is how it is placed on your roof.

When you plan to have your off-road ride testing its speed limit, it is important to have your rack system properly secured, bolted and tightened perfectly, to ensure the safety of everyone on the road. 

Also, make sure that whatever you carry over the rack (tent, gear, cargo boxes,) is all secured and attached or held properly to the rack itself. It's no secret, the faster you go, the more the wind or air will push whatever you are carrying, and if not tied or secured properly, it can fly off. 


Roof Top Tent Installed

We all know that there are two types of Roof Tents that you can have for your off-road camping trip. There are many rooftop tents available on the market but we can categorize them into two: Hard-Shell Tents and Soft Shell Roof Tents. These types of tent can have different effects on your top speed and fuel efficiency when you'd like to cruise your way through the highway. Let's differentiate each:

Soft Shell Roof Tents

Soft Shell Roof Tents are generally lighter than hard-shell tents. Lighter materials are used in the production of these tents but the durability is still astounding. These tents won't normally add up to the weight of the vehicle, thus, providing a lighter feel while driving, and improved fuel efficiency. However, these rooftents are usually big and bulky, which can impede in the aerodynamic flow of wind which may produce rattling and slight vibrations when speeding up. But hey, the pros of this? You can fit your whole family of 4-5 on it. Just look at the sample below: 

The Guana Equipment Wanaka 55" Soft Shell Roof Tent is a great example of an enormous outdoor tent. It is the perfect RTT when travelling with the whole family. This tent is lightweight but a bit bulky and may produce drag while maintaining your top speed. 

Hard Shell Roof Top Tents

Hard Shell Roof Top Tents on the other hand is more of the aerodynamic type but producing a heavier weight rating because of the materials used on its hard shell. These types of tents produce a more secured, more hollow frame for your tent, thus getting few pounds in your total weight. The hard shell tents also produces a quieter, less vibration and less rattle noise when cruising. 

iKamper is one of the leading brands when it comes to producing hard-shell RTTs. The Skycamp 2.0 is one of the best-sellers when it comes to this category. Want to know more? Click HERE.


Speeding Things Up

The top speed of your vehicle with a roof top tent installed still depends on your off-road ride's capacity. You may feel that there's something slowing you down, but generally it is okay to keep your maximum speed. However, there will be factors that need to be considered when you want a smoother ride with your RTT installed.

Among all other things, fuel consumption will be greatly affected with this instance, because of the aerodynamic capability that having an RTT entails. You can optimize this though to a worry-free travel.

There's no harm in trying to maintain your top speed. However, it is best to maintain a speed not over 65 mph for safety purposes. The reason behind this is that, additional weight or load are present on top of your car. These added cargo can affect the brake system reaction to your vehicle, requiring more effort to stop with a longer braking time. This also prevents your tires and brake system from "overstressing". Accidents can be avoided when in need of a sudden stop. 

Just try to be more careful as possible and obey traffic rules. Secure your cargo and tents properly to avoid accidents. Be smart and drive safely.

Looking for a roof top tent? Well, these are the best roof top tents.

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  • so no chanse of finding a model where its ok to drive around 130mph?
    i drive through germany alot so 60mph just isn’t an option, then a normal tent in the boot just makes more sense