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Travelling with a Roof-Top Tent

Got your trusty Outback or Forester, maybe a Patrol or even a new Cherokee?  Then you’re likely ready for a bit of an adventure!  Haven’t we got the country just for you?  Australia is filled with many wonderful things to see, places to explore, and amazing wildlife and flora to enjoy.  It’s surprising how many decent vehicles we can actually use to get around Australia; space and practicality being the main factors contributing to the type of vehicle we end up using.

Of course, the other factor will be how 4x4ish and AWDish you’ll want/need the vehicle to be – because the further you go off-road, then the more likely you’ll be driving an SUV with 4WD ability or even a true blue 4×4 brute to get you anywhere.

Next question I’d be asking would be: Will you want to be staying in motels and B&Bs, towing a caravan, or staying in a tent?  If you want to ditch the vacancy/no-vacancy signs for a lot more freedom and a lower price tag, then caravanning and tenting are very decent options.

What I wanted to focus attention on was the types of tents that can be mounted on the roof of a vehicle.  Roof-top tents are a means of accommodation that are great while you’re on the move around Australia.  They keep you up off the ground and away from the creepy crawlies, or at least minimalizing their access!  A pop-top roof tent is a neat and inexpensive way of giving you your sleeping space while travelling around Australia.

Some of the advantages of having a roof top tent include:

You can camp in as many places as your vehicle can take you – think off-road and a rugged 4×4 vehicle!

The roof-top tent is usually designed to be fast and easy set up and store away at a campsite.  Usually, they can take as little as 1 – 5 minutes to set up.  This is a brief!

The roof-top tent is off the ground, thus keeping you off the wet ground and mud, and away from insects, snakes, and other animals.

Many pop out roof-tents are designed with the mattress already included in the fold out design.  This makes camping life even easier.

The biggest disadvantages of a fold out roof tent would include:

Older folk may struggle getting in and out of the tent via the ladder.

The tent’s maximum body capacity and height are limited, so there’s no way for you to stand up to your full height.  You also won’t be able to hold a party of any great number inside.

Lifting the tent to the roof of the car can be a little more challenging depending on the set-up and weight involved.

Unfortunately, not every vehicle is made for carrying a hefty weight on the roof, and some simply cannot handle the additional weight.  As a general rule of thumb, your car should have cargo racks and be able to withstand at least 80–100 kg of weight. They should accommodate for the weight of your tent and everyone inside.  However, if you’re thinking of buying a four-person roof top tent, you’ll need a sturdier SUV or a pickup truck/ute.  Some sedans and town cars may be able to handle one- or two-person pop-top roof tents.

Roof-top tents have been an Australia thing for many, many decades, but the first one was invented between 1957 and 1958 by Giuseppe Dionisio.  Roof top tents are now available right around the world, and the variety of roof-top tent models is staggering.

For your first ever roof top tent experience, a softshell tent might be the best choice.  It is lighter, cheaper, and more familiar to most people for setting up at a campsite. However, if you’re ready to go all in and have the money to spare, a hard shell roof top tent is a more luxurious (and usually more convenient) option.

Thule and Kings roof-top tents would be a great place to start if you want to take a look and try out the camping lifestyle with a view.  Camping life with a bit of freedom is hard to beat!