The All-You-Need-To-Know Roof Top Tent Guide

The All You Need To Know RTT Guide
Many campers and overlanders are already familiar with iKamper roof top tents which are renowned for their  innovative designs. But how does one get started with a roof top tent, and how do they work? If you are considering buying a roof top tent for your adventures, there are some things you need to know before making a purchase. This guide will help you learn the  basics, like vehicle requirements, mounting a roof top tent, opening and closing a roof top tent, pros and cons of roof top tents, and useful accessories. For more information, check our other blog posts for further reading on roof top tent basics.


Vehicle Requirements


Roof top tents mount onto your vehicle via crossbars or a roof rack, and it's important that these bars and racks support the proper weight required. Many vehicles come with crossbars by default, but these stock crossbars often cannot accommodate a roof top tent's weight; iKamper owners purchase aftermarket crossbars or roof racks such as the ones by Front Runner, Thule, or Rhino Rack as they are much stronger and can support much more weight. 


There are two distinct types of weight required by a roof top tent, dynamic and static. Dynamic weight refers to the weight supported by your vehicle when it is in motion. In this case, your roof top tent will be closed and not in use; this weight is essentially the weight of the roof top tent and mounting hardware, as there are no occupants inside of it. The Skycamp 2.0, for example, weighs 160 lbs / 73 kg but has a dynamic weight load requirement of 165 lbs / 75 kg to factor in mounting brackets and any locks. Static weight refers to the weight supported by your vehicle when it is stopped and your tent is open. The static weight limit of your vehicle is significantly higher than the dynamic weight limit because the weight is more evenly distributed over the entire frame of the vehicle. This allows for the weight of the tent and its occupants to be safely supported.

In addition to weight requirements, the crossbars must be at least 30" / 76 cm apart from each other to evenly support the weight of a roof top tent and its occupants. The exception to this length requirement is the Skycamp Mini, whose minimum crossbar distance is 22" / 55cm.

For roof top tents with fold-out panels, the ladder also acts as a support for the tent and its occupants. iKamper's redesigned High Comfort Ladder features angled steps for a more comfortable experience, and is able to support up to 330 lbs / 150 kg.


Mounting a Roof Top Tent to Your Vehicle


Roof top tents have mounting rails on the bottom which accommodate mounting hardware to attach the tent to your crossbars or roof rack. Please note that some roof racks have raised outer perimeter rails, which can prevent a roof top tent from correctly mounting, so ensure that your roof rack is compatible with a roof top tent before making a purchase. iKamper uses the new Mounting Brackets for faster installation, which come with the purchase of every tent. You can see how the Mounting Brackets are used in this video below:

Opening a Roof Top Tent


For iKamper hardshell roof top tents, opening them up is one of the easiest and quickest parts of the entire experience. Once the hardshell is unlocked, all you have to do is push it slightly and the gas struts will do the rest of the work by raising the tent up. Once the hardshell is completely open, you extend the ladder to use it as a lever to extend the fold-out panel. All that's left is to put the tension poles in place to support the tent's canvas, and you're done!


For the hybrid roof top tents (the X-Cover), the process is similar but takes  slightly longer. Instead of a hardshell with latches, the X-Cover has a  zipper. Once it's unzipped and the cover is flipped up, take the ladder out and mount it to the tent. Similarly to how the hardshell roof top tents are opened, you use the ladder as a  lever to extend the panel. The last step is to put the tension poles in place and you are ready to camp.


Closing a Roof Top Tent


iKamper hardshell roof top tents close just as quickly as they open. Once the tension poles are removed, all you need to do is pull the canvas in and the hardshell down with the convenient straps (and make sure to remove the locks for the gas struts if you have them affixed). The last step is to secure and lock the hardshell latches, and the process is complete. You can see a video demonstration below:


To close the X-Cover, remove the tension poles and close the tent using the ladder. Make sure to tuck the canvas inside the cover so that you can fully zip it closed. Remove and close the ladder so that you can store it between the mattresses, and finally zip the cover shut. A video of this is shown below:


For more information on mounting, opening, and closing a roof top tent, please visit this page.


How Many People Can Sleep in a Roof Top Tent?


Do you like camping alone, with a friend, or with your entire family? There are roof top tents on the market to accommodate all of these camping styles. For solo campers or pairs, the Skycamp 2X and the Skycamp Mini are great options. Both of these tents are made for two people, with the key difference being that the Skycamp Mini has a fold-out panel. The Skycamp 2X functions similarly to traditional clamshell roof top tents and has more room for storage when its hardshell is closed. The Skycamp Mini has a smaller footprint which makes it ideal for smaller vehicles, saving rack space, or being mounted on truck beds and cabs. The Skycamp 2X's 1.8 inch / 4.5 cm thick foam mattress is 51 x 77.5" / 129 x 197cm, while the Skycamp Mini's 1.6 inch / 4 cm thick foam mattress is 80.7 x 50.4" / 205 x 128 cm.


For campers who like to bring along their family members or more friends, the Skycamp 2.0 and X-Cover are the most ideal. Both of these models have a larger capacity to accommodate three adults, or two adults and two children. The Skycamp 2.0 is an expandable hardshell roof top tent that has a fold-out panel, while the X-Cover is a hybrid, coverless roof top tent with crossbars for mounting gear. Both of these tents have foam mattresses which are roughly equivalent to a king size mattress, with the Skycamp's 1.6 inch / 4 cm thick foam mattress being 80 x 77.5” / 203 x 197 cm and the X-Cover's 2.3 inch / 6cm thick foam mattress being 89.3 x 68.9” / 227 x 175 cm.



How Do I Choose a Roof Top Tent?


To determine the best roof top tents to choose from, carefully consider which factors are important to you. Are you looking for a tent with quick setup and closing times? Do you need to carry gear or cargo on top of your roof top tent while it's closed? Are you going to be camping with other people who will also be sleeping in your tent? Do you still need space on your roof rack even with a roof top tent mounted? Do you want room inside the tent to store your bedding when it's closed? Once you've determined the answers to these questions, then you can check out the options that iKamper has available.

Hardshell roof top tents allow for the quickest setup and closing times out there. The Skycamp 2.0, Skycamp 2X, and the Skycamp Mini are all hardshell roof top tents that set up in 60 seconds, and close just as quickly. Soft shell roof top tents take much longer to set up and close, much like traditional ground tents. iKamper does not sell soft shell roof top tents, but has the X-Cover which is a hybrid roof top tent. This takes about 3 minutes to set up and take down, but also has the added benefits of crossbars for storing gear, more windows, and the largest and thickest mattress.

Tent capacity is important when planning your camping trips with other people, particularly if they aren't bringing their own! If you are looking to share your tent with others, the larger tents like the Skycamp 2.0 and the X-Cover will allow for up to four people inside. If you are camping solo or with one other person, the Skycamp 2X and the Skycamp Mini are ideal as they are made for two people.

Many campers have gear on their roof racks such as solar panels, camping showers, or light systems that require some space leftover even after a roof top tent is mounted onto their vehicles. In these cases, tents with smaller footprints are needed; the Skycamp Mini's small footprint provides the perfect solution for this.

If you want to leave your bedding inside your tent when it's closed, then the Skycamp 2X is the optimal choice for your needs. Because the Skycamp 2X lacks the fold-out panel that the other Skycamp models have, there is more room inside for storage when the hardshell is fully closed.



Roof Top Tent Accessories


For campers who are looking to upgrade their roof top tents and achieve an even more comfortable camping experience, iKamper offers many useful accessories. Some of the most common roof top tent accessories are awnings and annexes; both of these products provide a sheltered area for spending time in your camping spot around your roof top tent. There are also accessories that provide security, such as mounting bracket locks to prevent anyone tampering with your tent while it's unattended. For customers who want to keep their tents clean, the shoe rack is a great option that keeps the dirt away from the inside of your tent while keeping your footwear within reach. You can see all of these iKamper accessories and more on this page.


We hope this article has been helpful and informative. If you have any questions for us, iKamper customer support is ready to assist you however we can. Feel free to reach out to us at support@ikamper.com, and check out the iKamper Community!


Stay In the Loop!