How Heavy Are Roof Top Tents?
This is a difficult question to answer because there are so many different types, styles and brands of roof top tents. At Roof Top Wanderer we have found that there is much more to this question. Not only are our customers wanting to know how heavy roof top tents are, but they are asking for more than one reason.
- Will a particular tent work on my vehicle?
- How easy is it to install and remove?
- Can I install it on my own or will I need another person to help?
- The roof top tent is supposed to be able to sleep 3 people, but will that much weight damage my vehicle?
So, asking “How heavy are roof top tents” is a bit of a loaded question. Let’s try to answer this question as well as the unspoken ones.
How heavy are roof top tents?
Let’s start with the main question. At Roof Top Wanderer, we try have the best roof top tents in three categories: small and lightweight (Weekend Warrior), 2-3 person tents with a larger footprint (Backcountry Wanderer), large tents for long treks (Monthly Migrators).
Light-Weight Tents (90-110lbs)
There are 4 brands that make a great small, light-weight roof top tent. The lightest of the bunch is by Front Runner. Their roof top tent weighs only 93lbs! The next lightest is the Skyridge Pike 2-person roof top tent by Body Armor, which weighs 108bs. Even thought the Front Runner roof top tent is lighter, it has a more usable sleeping area. 51”(W)x96”(L)x52”(H) vs. 48”(W)x110”(L)x50”(H). We have found that a wider tent is a little more comfortable to sleep in than a longer one.
The final brand that makes a light-weight tent for the Weekend-Wanderer is by a newer brand on the trail, ROAM. Their Vagabond Lite comes it at only 110lbs.
Medium Tents (130-180lbs)
Most tents fall into this category. These range between 130-180lbs. There at too many in this category to list them all so I’ll just mention the best on the list.
One of the most popular in this category is the Smittybilt Overlander roof top tent. Smittybilt has also just released their update, the Gen2, to their classic tent. The Gen2 Overlander roof top tent weighs 132lbs and comes with a Full-sized sleeping area. The length of the tent makes it comfortable for 2 adults and a child.
Next up, we again have the Eezi-Awn tents. The Fun and Series 3 come in a variety of sizes. Here’s how they measure up:
- Eezi-Awn Jazz 1600 – 130lbs
- Eezi-Awn Series 3 1400 – 130lbs
- Eezi-Awn Series 3 1600 – 149lbs
- Eezi-Awn Series 3 1800 – 172lbs
Eezi-Awn also offers the Blade hard shell tent that weighs 175lbs. Hard shell roof top tents have a much larger footprint because they don’t fold in half like the soft shell tents do. But they are also even quicker to set up and are typically better in poor weather. The thing to be careful of with hard shell tents is that there a lot of cheap knockoffs out there. It’s best to stick to reputable brands that have been around a while, like Eezi-Awn and Smittybilt. The verdict is still out for the Overland Vehicle Systems tents. Some of their tents seem pretty good, others not as much. What do you all think?
Large Roof Top Tents (180-260lbs)
Now we come to the big guys! These are tents that sleep 3+ people and for rugged wandering adventures.
This category is pretty much dominated by Eezi-Awn Tents.
The XKLUSIV also comes in 4 sizes. The smallest weighs 192lbs and the largest 255lbs. These are great tents, but I think they will slowly loose popularity in the States with the addition of the Jazz and Fun tents. But if you are looking for a MASIVE tent then the XKLUSIV 2200 is your tent. It has a double twin sized sleeping area. That’s larger than a California King! Awesome!
The Stealth roof top tent by Eezi-Awn is one of the most popular hard shell tents on the market. Because of that, they are also hard to get ahold of. If you can find one in stock somewhere then you had better buy it! It has a double sized sleeping area and weighs 220lbs. The weight comes from the build quality. This is one of the few tents that comes with a roof rack on top straight from the factory. So, if you have a kayak you can just throw it up there.
Will a particular tent work on my vehicle?
This is a great question and one that really needs to be addressed.
When you look up the load capacity of your vehicle, you’ll find that most small and midsized vehicles can only hold around 150lbs on their roof.
Then you might ask, “HOLD ON! If my new roof rack weighs 25lbs and the roof top tent weighs 110lbs, how am I supposed to sleep up there!?!?!”
Another great question.
There are two different types of load capacity for every car, Static and Dynamic. Most manufacturers will list the smaller of the two (Dynamic) for safety reasons.
The dynamic number (usually around 150lbs) is the amount of weight your car can carry on it roof while traveling on the road.
As you can imagine, this is not very much weight. There are three things you must take into consideration when loading up the roof of your vehicle. A lot of weight on top can (1) damage the frame, the (2) suspension can be overloaded (especially when going off road), and it will (3) change the center of gravity.
So, if you have a stock Subaru Outback, you’ll be fine with the manufacturers roof rack and a Front Runner Roof Top Tent, but not much else. If you need to put more up there, then you will need to upgrade the suspension and roof rack.
The static load is the amount of weight your vehicle can hold while parked. For most small and midsized vehicles that is around 600lbs. At that capacity you can open your roof top tent and safely sleep a couple people and your sleeping gear.
SUVs and trucks (both midsized and heavy duty) will typically have a much higher dynamic and static weight limits, but that is always something you will want to check when loading up your vehicle or buying a new one. Even some very popular Overlanding vehicles have surprisingly poor load capacities (I’m looking at your Toyota Tamoca!).
How easy is it to install and remove?
It depends on the brand. Most will come completely assembled and ready to mount on your rig. Others take a little bit of assembly. You may need to put the bottom load bars on depending on the direction you want to mount the tent. Most can open either to the side or to the rear of your vehicle.
Pro Tip: I usually recommend that people install their tents so they will open to the driver’s side. This is because when you back into a camp site you usually will have the fire pit on the left side of the vehicle.
Front Runner has some mounting brackets that make it much easier to mount your tent. They have a short and tall roof top tent mount as well a quick release if you don’t want to store your tent on your vehicle. If you have a hard shell tent there is also a mount for those.
Can I do it on my own or will I need another person to help?
The short and answer to this question is “not really.” That is a lot of weight for one person to push up on top of a vehicle. It is always better to have at least two people to install your roof top tent.
The roof top tent is supposed to be able to sleep 3 people, but will that much weight damage my vehicle?
We addressed that when we talked about static weight capacity. Most vehicles are able to hold about 600lbs when parked. If you have an SUV or truck then that number will probably be higher. If you install an overlanding rack then you can carry much more. Some good brands to look at are Cali Raised LED, Eezi-Awn K9 racks, and Front Runner. The Front Runner and K9 systems are modular and highly customizable.
No matter what type of Roof Top Wanderer you are, there is a tent for you. If you have a smaller vehicle and only one or two people, the Front Runner or Body Armor roof top tent is for you. Both of these weigh just around 100lbs.