Rooftop tents have become increasingly popular car and truck accessories, particularly among campers and outdoor enthusiasts looking to get out on the weekends and explore the unbeaten path. These tents are mounted on the roof of a vehicle and provide an elevated sleeping platform that is convenient, comfortable, and offers a unique camping experience. However, like any other camping equipment, rooftop tents have their own benefits and drawbacks that should be weighed before making the investment. Hop in and let’s explore the pros and cons of rooftop tents.

An FJ cruiser off-roading with truck accessories including a rooftop tent affixed to its roof rails.

Advantages of Rooftop Tents

Convenience and Ease of Set-Up

One of the main advantages you get with a rooftop tent is the ease of set-up. Unlike ground tents, rooftop tents can be set up in just a few minutes, as they are already pre-assembled on the roof of the vehicle. Some higher-end assemblies offer gas strut assistance, so the tent practically unfolds itself. Most models are built to leave the foam mattress inside, so once you pop the top and toss your sleeping bag inside, your shelter is ready. This saves a lot of time and hassle, particularly when camping in remote areas or when a storm is approaching. The versatility of rooftop tents could allow them to be fixed atop some camper shells, alongside your other truck accessories, such as a retractable awning or sun shade.

Elevated Sleeping Platform

Rooftop tents offer an elevated sleeping platform that provides an unhindered view, improved ventilation during warm nights, and protection from ground moisture. Whereas with a ground tent, you’ll have to lay the pieces out in the morning sun so it dries out the condensation accumulated during the night. The elevated position of a rooftop tent is particularly useful in areas with rocky or uneven terrain where it may be difficult to find a flat spot big enough to to accommodate a ground tent (like the rocky, uneven ground in our Northern Nevada Foothills).

More Room for Gear

Since rooftop tents are mounted on top of a vehicle, they free up space in your truck, SUV, or crossover. That means your passengers (and dog) will have more room in the cab, which is great for those long hauls. Or, you can use the extra space for other gear and supplies you may have been forced to leave behind in the past. This can be particularly useful for several-day camping trips where you need to carry a lot of supplies and trash on the way out.

Added Peace of Mind

Rooftop tents provide an added level of protection from wildlife, which can be comforting in areas with dangerous animals like bears or mountain lions. A bear or mountain lion will still hop into your tent if it wants to, but at least you’ll be at eye level and may be able to take a better swing at their nose. In reality, ants and other small wildlife are the real creepy crawlies that will find it harder to reach you in your rooftop fortress. Above all, your tent will get you up out of the bushes and provide a better view of the surrounding area, which is great for taking in the surroundings and identifying potential dangers.

Coolness Factor

Rooftop tent owners may not want to admit it, but a big part of their purchase was likely influenced by the shear novelty of having a portable shelter on top of their car. Is having an adult fort on your truck a necessity? Absolutely not. But it looks cool, is highly functional, and lets people know that you’re down for adventure. Heck, it might even be a conversation starter at the trail head, helping you to make new friends to roam with. With any luck, you’ll use the rooftop tent enough to justify your purchase. Until then, you can enjoy the cosmetic and social benefits of owning an awesome piece of camping equipment.

Disadvantages of Rooftop Tents


Rooftop tents are more expensive than ground tents. They also require additional add-ons, including roof rack crossbars, to mount them on your vehicle. And, since you’ll be adding weight and mass to the exterior of your car, your gas mileage will likely be affected. These costs add up, making a rooftop tent a sizable investment for occasional campers or those on a tight budget. For a more wallet-friendly option, check out our camper shellsand other truck accessories, which may be better options based on your camping needs.


Rooftop tents can be heavy, which narrows down the types of vehicles you can use to transport them. This is particularly problematic if you have a smaller car that is not designed to carry heavy loads on the roof. It’s critical to check your vehicle’s static weight limit for the roof, as well as the weight limit while in motion. Just because a car has crossbars, doesn’t mean it’s ready to accommodate a 150 lb rooftop tent on the highway. Additionally, the cumbersome weight of some rooftop tents makes them difficult to install and uninstall on your car. It’s best to grab a friend or rig up a garage hoist to get it on and off.

Limited Space 

While rooftop tents offer an elevated sleeping platform, they are generally smaller than ground tents and may not provide as much space for people or gear. This can be a challenge for families or those with a lot of equipment to transport. On the same token, if your garage has limited space already occupied by other truck accessories from TSA Custom Car and Truck, it is important to take this into account when storing a rooftop tent.

Wind and Weather 

Rooftop tents are just as susceptible to wind and weather conditions as ground tents. High winds can make it difficult to set up and take down the tent, while rain and snow can make the inside of the tent damp and uncomfortable.

Exploration Inhibitor

It’s counter-intuitive to think about rooftop tents actually inhibiting your yearn for exploration, but in certain situations, they can. Since your transportation and shelter become one in the same, you’ll have to take down your rooftop tent each time you want to venture somewhere in your vehicle. Especially on multi-day trips with various destinations on your list, setting up and taking down your shelter every time can get tedious. But then again, any time spent in the outdoors is rejuvinating.

TSA Custom Car and Truck: Rooftop Tent Supplier in Carson City

Rooftop tents offer a unique and convenient camping experience, particularly for those who enjoy traveling and exploring remote areas. However, they do come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages, and it’s important to weigh these factors carefully when deciding whether or not to invest in one. Ultimately, the decision will depend on your personal camping style, budget, and the type of vehicle you drive. Reach out to our custom truck shop if you’re seeking advise on whether a rooftop tent is right for your next adventure!