A Quick Guide to Installing a Roof-Top Tent by Yourself

A Quick Guide to Installing a Roof-Top Tent by Yourself

Outdoor activities, such as off-roading, camping, or overlanding, are great ways to spend time in nature. You’ll always need a place to sleep, though. A tent is a viable option, but finding a place to set it up may take some time. Luckily, you have the chance to set up your tent on your vehicle with a roof-top tent. Here’s a quick guide to installing a roof-top tent by yourself.

The Difference Between a Roof-Top Tent and a Regular Tent

A roof-top tent mounts on top of your vehicle and remains there for the drive duration. Using this tent will save time and energy, as you won’t have to spend time carrying the tent to the campsite.

A regular tent stands on the ground. As a result, it requires nails to stay secured and poles to keep the interior open. The ground tent is a timeless structure but isn’t always the most efficient way of camping when you have a truck.

Start With the Roof Rack

Setting up the roof rack is one of the most important parts of installing a roof-top tent by yourself. The type of roof rack you have determines the amount of weight the roof will bear and how secure the tent will be. A slim roof rack, such as the Toyota Tacoma cab rack, generally holds a maximum of 75 pounds when you distribute the weight evenly, which works well for the luggage but probably not for an adult human.

Make sure you have a roof rack with a higher maximum capacity. Measure how much weight the car will have on top of it while idle and on the move, as the vehicle will handle more weight while still, which works well for roof-top tents.

Getting the Tent on the Rack

A ceiling mounted hoist is the easiest way to handle a rooftop tent by yourself. These can be purchase on amazon or other online stores and making lifting and lowering the tent a breeze. 

On the Sherpa Rack Systems we recommend mounting your tent to 2 or 3 crossbars prior to placing it on the rack. Make sure the crossbars are centered and spaced to drop into the rack system in the location you want the tent to sit.

Make sure all hardware is tight and use Loctite if you want to ensure the hardware will not loosen, unless nylock nuts are used.

Once the crossbars are attached you can drop the tent onto the rack and attach the crossbars from the side of the rack system avoiding reaching under the rack and fighting tight clearances with tools.

Balance Out the Weight

You want to ensure that the tent and its contents distribute evenly throughout the roof. When you park and attempt to climb into the tent, you add weight to the car and cause uneven distribution. And if the tent has irregular positioning, this weight will put pressure on the rack on one side, and could overload the rack system.

Practice Putting It Down and Up

Once you have the tent secured and all features equipped, you should practice folding it down and up to understand the movement of getting it ready for your trips. The repetition will make the process easier on the road or off the trail and could make a speedy pack up easier.

Camping in a tent is a fun way to enjoy the outdoors. But to make the experience better, you can learn to set up a roof-top tent.


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