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4x4 Buying Guides - How To Choose The Right Roof Top Tent

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4x4 Buying Guides - How To Choose The Right Roof Top Tent

Thursday, May 10, 2018

While the roof top tent has been around for many decades, they’ve only recently become popular in countries like Australia, the United States, and Europe. Considering all the dangerous animals that inhabit our beloved island, I’m surprised it’s taken this long! The roof top tent is a wonderful addition to any camper’s arsenal, allowing for a seamless setup and a soft, comfortable bed that keeps you safe at night. While they are a bit bulky, they’re certainly a worthwhile investment if you spend a lot of time under the stars in the Australian outback. 
There’s something very primitive and comforting about sleeping on an elevated surface. Maybe it’s our primal instincts from when we used to sleep in trees, or maybe it’s just a really soft bed! In any case, there are many benefits of buying a roof top tent: they’re engineered for a quick setup, they’re robust and can withstand adverse weather conditions, and you can use them just about anywhere your 4WD takes you. If you enjoy camping in comfort, then the roof top tent is ideal for you.
Finding the right roof top tent for your 4WD isn’t as straightforward as it seems. There are several factors that you need to take into account, and this blog will discuss some key points that you must consider before making any purchases.
Roof Racks
Most roof top tents weigh upwards of 50 kg, so having a suitable roof rack on your 4WD is essential. If you already have roof racks set up on your 4x4, then you’ll need to ensure that the tent you purchase is compatible with your roof racks. It’s not always easy to find the specs you need, so contacting your vehicle manufacturer and rack manufacturer may be the only way to find out. Of course, you’ll need to know the total weight of the tent you’re interested in first.
Vehicle & Rack Dynamic Weight Capacity
Both measures are needed to ensure your 4WD can support the weight of the tent while you’re driving. The greater the load capacity, the more weight your 4WD can safely support while driving. You’ll need to check that your vehicle’s dynamic weight capacity and your rack’s dynamic weight capacity can support the weight of your tent. Some people find that their factory roof racks don’t support the weight of their tent and therefore have to purchase custom racks.
Static Weight Capacity
Since you’ll be sleeping on the roof of your 4WD, you need to ensure that your roof and roof racks can support the weight of all the people and gear in the tent. Almost all 4WD roofs are designed to withstand the loads associated with a rollover, so this generally isn’t an issue. The load distribution provided by the tent’s platform coupled with extra support from the ladder typically makes a very sturdy structure. In any case, you’ll still need to ensure that the static weight capacity of your roof racks and your roof will support the total weight of your tent, the people sleeping in your tent, plus all your gear.
While setting up your roof top tent only takes a couple of minutes, you need to ensure that your tent is installed correctly on your 4WD. If you’re not comfortable with bolting the tent to your roof racks, it’s best to ask a professional to do this for you. If you decide to do this yourself, however, it’s important that you follow the instructions and have a strong friend that can help you lift the tent to the top of your roof.
Hard shell or Soft shell?
Roof top tents are available in either hard shell or soft shell. Hard shell tents are manufactured from aluminium or fibreglass and are stronger, easier to setup, and last much longer. On the other hand, soft shell tents are generally manufactured from poly/cotton fabric and weigh considerably less than hard shells. You’ll need to decide whether you want a hard shell or soft shell tent, however if it’s your first roof top tent, soft shell is generally the best option considering they are significantly cheaper and can be detached from your 4WD much easier.
At TJM Australia, we have a wide variety of roof top tents that are both mould and waterproof and fits neatly onto most 4WDs. With fully screened windows and doors, our range of roof top tents incorporates a pull-out veranda and optional zip-on annexe for extra comfort. For more information about our roof top tents, simply speak with one of our friendly staff by phoning 07 3865 9999.