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What kind of roof racks are do you need for a roof top tent?

Posted by Allie McFadyen on

Roof racks now come in all shapes and sizes. We get lots of questions about roof top tents and one of the most common is “what sort of roof racks do you need for a roof top tent?”

Not hard to see why people love the idea of roof top tents - adventure, fun, freedom, nature, comfort, convenience ... awesome!

But then there are some practical things to think about.

Orson roof top tent SAB2

A few quick pointers on roof racks.

  • Square bars are easier to work with than the oval shaped whisp bars. The width of square bars is narrower and most mounting plates supplied with a tent will fit them. Whisps are wider and not all plates will be suitable for them and you may have to look around for some alternative to the supplied ones.

mounting plates for roof top tents

  • You need about 85cm of clear, straight bar to work with. For Orson roof top tents the mounting tracks under the tent are about 80cm apart and you need clear bar to bolt them onto – no plastic fittings or curves in the racks that will get in the way.   
  • Check weight ratings on roof racks. A roof tent can weigh 60+kg so best to get racks that have a load rating of 75kg at least or 100kg even better. These ratings are for dynamic weights when a vehicle is moving to cope with braking and turns. The static weight on the racks is usually much higher.
  • Try to get racks that will leave a reasonable gap between roof and the racks. You have to get your hands in there to fasten/loosen the bolts. The more room the easier it will be.
  • Make sure that the height from ground to the top of the roof racks is within reach of the roof top tent ladder and annex you’re after. Most ladders are around the 2m mark and annexes fit a set up around 2m in height or XL ones around 2.2m. When the racks are set at 2.4m then something’s gotta give.
  • Get advice from a roof rack retailer. You can fit a set of racks (and a tent) on most vehicles but you should seek advice and also check the load capacity of your vehicle roof with the manufacturer. 

Other options

  • Ute back frames – some guys are building racks and frames over the ute trays to sit the tents on. We hope to have a frame that can be fitted to ute backs in the near future.
  • Rooftop baskets – need to check that the bars will hold the weight as weren’t really made to take the weight of a tent. And also check that the roof top tent ladder is tall enough with the extra height that baskets add to the set up.  
  • Trailers – some are setting up the roof tents on a trailer. Gear underneath, frame and bars with roof tent and then using removable H bars over the packed tent to carry kayaks etc.
  • Awnings – vehicle awnings are a cool and easy way to add a massive living area to add to your bedroom upstairs. You might want to think about a roof rack that can handle both a tent and an awning.

Sorted! Yeah nah? If you still have any questions we can help out with then give us a call 0210405991


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