This is a very fair and important question. It is important for you to know that roof top tents can and will work on any car, however that doesn’t mean your car is ideal for one.
There are funny stories, for example Evan, Tepui Tent’s founder, can tell you how he saw during a trip to Venezuela a bunch of cars with RTTs on top of them (Read HERE interview with Tepui), and not all where 4x4s or even SUVs. Nonetheless, if you own a sedan, or a very compact vehicle such as a hatchback, no matter how much you are attracted to a rooftop tent, our advice is for you to get a ground tent.
Wanaka Roof Top Tent by Guana Equipment
The reason being is that roof top tents are an additional weight on top of your roof, plus they aren’t exactly aerodynamic. We are talking about tents that are 120 lbs the lightest, and they need to be set up on a set of roof racks (more weight), so if your car is low and small, the suspension can be affected, the speed will be affected, the acceleration, the power and in the end even the fuel consumption.
Of course there are tents such as the Baja Series from Tepui that can be suitable for sedans, and we have seen it, but it’s not common. In the end it is down to you, and if you don’t mind all the other factors, you just want a good place to comfortably sleep at night while you are on a cross-country trip on your Corolla, go ahead.
On the other hand we advice you to buy one if you have an SUV or upwards.
Yes, they will. There are a few recommended brands for roof racks: Yakima, Thule and Rhino Rack, but others will work just fine. Roof Top Tents can be installed on flat racks, cross bars or a canopy.
Just make sure that your racks have a Dynamic Weight Capacity (DWC) of at least the weight of the tent. For example, if the tent weighs 130 lbs, the racks MUST have at least that same DWC. You can simply call your manufacturer; look at the specs of your racks to know.
The DWC is the weight that the rack can physically carry while the vehicle is in motion. When the tent is in use, the weight of the tent plus the weight of it's occupants is effectively dispersed over the entire frame of the vehicle, so it doesn't matter that you're adding some extra pounds as long as the vehicle is NOT in motion. This is also known as the Static Weight Capacity (SWC). This is a much much greater capacity, as the frame of the vehicle will be strong enough to hold the weight of the occupants.
With all that said, you do not want to just put your RTT on top of any rack. Let us explain, take as an example Rhino-Racks, their Fixed Mounting Point, Backbones, Gutter Mount and Trackmount (see image below) systems will all work with RTTs, but the 2500 systems are NOT recommended since extreme weight increases can alter the engineering of the product. Meaning that before you purchase an RTT, make sure you have a good rack system in place that can hold them.
Rhino-Rack RLT600 Trackmounts
One of our preferred rack systems is the Rhino-Rack Backbone system, because it’s one of the safest and strongest. They are specifically designed for an increased Static Weight Capacity, ideal for RTTs.
Another good thing to know is that stock-mounting hardware will on average fit rack bars with a cross-section of 3.25" width x 2" height. Be sure to mount your racks 32"-48" apart on your vehicle!
Most of the tents that we offer at Off Road Tents have a weight fluctuating between 100 lbs and 220 lbs, so what model tent you decide on will depend on how much weight your roof rack can carry. The positive thing is that because we have many different brands and styles of tents, your rack will probably be able to hold at least one of the models in our collection. Racks from Yakima and Thule, have systems that are specifically for most vehicle makes and models, and generally have a higher Dynamic Weight Capacity than most factory racks.
In regards to tent weight capacity, RTTs average 200 lbs per occupant. In the case of the two-person, the total weight capacity would be 400 lbs. A three-person tent, has a capacity of 600 lbs, etc It is also worth noting that the ladders have an average weight capacity of 320 lbs.
FINALLY, if you would like to share info, pictures or anything roof top tent or overland related, please feel free to do so Joining Our Facebook Group HERE.