At AREA BFE, we get a lot of questions about our rooftop tents. One of the most common questions is: Are Rooftop Tents Safe?

The short answer is yes, rooftop tents are very safe. The longer answer includes just how safe they are, the different situations rooftop tents protect you from, and how great they are for overlanding. Being able to set up camp in under 30 minutes and crawl into a large, comfortable bed while you’re camping is a luxury. And no, this isn’t glamping we’re talking about. 

As the world craves more and more time in nature, rooftop tents are the top choice for many adventures. Escaping the city and being able to get a good night’s sleep, feel safe, and park anywhere you please is like therapy. Humans need time immersed in nature, away from structured camping spots and strangers encroaching on camp fires.

The rooftop tent craze has exploded and with so many new models and options, it’s natural to wonder: are rooftop tents safe?

Let’s take a look at why rooftop tents are so safe and all of the ways they can help you enjoy your time in nature to the fullest.

Rooftop tent on truck

What is a Rooftop Tent?

Firstly, if you’re not exactly sure what a rooftop tent is, let’s clarify that. A rooftop tent is a camping tent that is attached to the top of a vehicle. There are two types of rooftop tents: softshell and hardshell. Softshell rooftop tents will generally open out to the sides of the car, by the doors. Hardshell rooftop tents will open lengthwise like a pop-up on a van or camper. Rooftop tents offer the same amount of space as most traditional tents, with ventilation, pockets, and the added benefit of being up off the ground. 

Rooftop tents have been around for about 50 years, but didn’t gain popularity in North America until the past 10 years or so. Most people are happy with campers or traditional camping in North America, but in places where toothy critters are abundant, like parts of Africa and South America, rooftop tents are the norm.

As popularity grows in North America, rooftop tents are becoming more creative, safer, and easier on your vehicle. Rooftop tent camping allows you to reach and sleep in terrain that car camping simply can’t. You’ll still have to find a flat-ish surface to park on, but if you have a 4×4 vehicle that is made for adventure, then rooftop tents are the way to go. You can camp in the middle of nowhere, outside of camping grounds crowded with people, dogs, and noise. 

As more people go camping in 2020 than ever recorded, they’re also looking for better ways to get outside and enjoy nature away from crowds and strangers, and rooftop tents are the perfect solution!

Safety Challenge: Are Rooftop Tents Safe?

Depending on your camping style and sense of adventure, rooftop tents are becoming the number one choice for thrill seekers and outdoor lovers. The conveniences of having a rooftop tent over a traditional tent are many.

Rooftop Tent Camping vs. Traditional Tent Camping

If you’re wondering: are rooftop tents safe, let’s take a look at rooftop tent camping vs traditional tent camping. There are many similarities, but the differences are where people really make the choice between rooftop tents and traditional camping tents. 

Rooftop tent camping is great if you’re worried about toothy creatures lurking in the dark. But ultimately, if something wants to get into your tent, like a bear, there isn’t much that can stop that, and certainly not a canvas tent on your car. Bears are huge and very strong, obviously. However, rooftop tents have many more benefits than just one more step for a ferocious animal. Rooftop tents are much safer than traditional tents in the sense that you’re off the ground and away from the threat of potential flooding, mud slides, ants and other insects, and rummaging creatures like racoons. 

If you’re not so worried about the wildlife and concerned with the stability of a rooftop tent, since it is attached to the top of your car, then that’s another story with a happy ending. Rooftop tents are incredibly secure. Purchasing an after-market roof rack, however, is necessary. The roof rack that comes with most cars and SUVs isn’t strong enough to even hold the rooftop tent, let alone you and your family. 

Purchasing a roof rack that is built to withstand more than the weight of the rooftop tent alone is what you’ll want to look for. And once you’ve found the best roof rack for your rooftop tent, then securing your tent and going on adventures is the easy part. 

While rooftop tents are very safe, they’re a bit cumbersome to install. So as long as you have some friends that can help you hoist and secure the tent, you’ll be good for the camping season. Once the rooftop tent is secured to your vehicle, you won’t want to remove it and reinstall it each time you want to go camping. A good way to manage this is installing the rooftop tent on a car that isn’t typically used for regular commuting. Other than looking a bit goofy driving around town, having that heavy tent on your car could also lower your in-town gas mileage.

But other than the slight hassle of uninstalling your rooftop tent at the end of camping season, this is the best way to spend time in the wild of nature and go where traditional tent camping simply can’t.

One of the biggest benefits of rooftop tents is that you can literally go to the middle of nowhere and set up camp. Without having to find soft, clear ground to set up a traditional tent on, all you need is to park on fairly level ground and pop the top up.