Choosing the Best Roof Rack for a Roof Top Tent: A Comprehensive Guide

roof top tent on top of the best roof rack for jeeps, 4runners, tacomas, rav4s, and subarus!

First off, don't just set up your tent on top of your car.

I know, it seems silly, but we can guarantee that someone reading this RIGHT NOW was thinking about it...if that's're welcome.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's talk about the right way to do this.

You need a secure attachment. Whether with a simple set of roof bars, or whether you go the more robust route of getting an entire roof rack, we've got you covered.

When looking for the right a roof top tent (RTT) setup for your vehicle, there are several factors to consider to ensure safety, compatibility, and convenience.

Here’s a detailed guide to help you pick the best roof rack for your rooftop tent.

Understanding Roof Racks and Roof Top Tents

Roof top tents are an excellent way to enjoy camping with the convenience of a mobile base camp (just think...camping, but without all the hastle! Heck, you don't even have to sleep on the ground!). However, selecting the right roof rack is crucial for staying safe and having a good time (also, check out some drones that can take your outdoor adventure experiences to the next level! . The main types of roof racks suitable for RTTs are crossbars and platform racks.

Key Factors to Consider

  1. Vehicle Compatibility: Not all vehicles are suited for roof racks, especially for the heavy loads of a RTT. Check if your vehicle has the necessary mounting points and roof strength. Websites like Yakima’s "Fit My Car" tool (for Yakima products only) can help determine compatibility​.
  2. Load Capacity: Ensure that the roof rack can handle both the dynamic (while driving) and static (when parked) weights. Crossbars generally need to be at least 30 inches apart to provide stable support​. The Front Runner Slimline II, for example, supports up to 660 lbs static load​.
  3. Rack Type:
    • Crossbars: Ideal for lighter setups. Brands like Thule and Yakima offer durable options like the Thule AeroBlade Edge and Yakima LockNLoad bars, known for their strength and aerodynamic design​.
    • Platform Racks: These offer greater flexibility and strength, suitable for heavier tents and additional gear. The Front Runner Slimline II and Rhino-Rack Pioneer SX are popular choices that provide ample mounting options and ease of installation.
  4. Ease of Installation: Opt for racks that are easy to install and remove if needed. Non-drilling options are preferable for easier setup and vehicle preservation. The Gobi Stealth Rack, for instance, is renowned for its no-drill installation and robust design​.
  5. Additional Features: Look for features like wind deflectors, modularity, and accessory compatibility. For instance, the Front Runner Slimline II includes options for attaching tables and other gear, enhancing its utility beyond just carrying an RTT​.

Top Recommendations

  1. Thule AeroBlade Edge: Known for its strength and ease of installation, this crossbar is ideal for lighter RTT setups and includes wind diffuser technology to minimize noise and drag​.
  2. Yakima HD Heavy Duty Cross Bars: These heavy-duty bars are perfect for off-road conditions, with a robust build and excellent corrosion resistance​.
  3. Front Runner Slimline II: A versatile platform rack that supports a variety of vehicles and is ideal for heavy RTTs and additional gear. Its low-profile design and multiple mounting points make it a top choice for overlanders​​.
  4. Rhino-Rack Pioneer SX(bars): This lightweight yet sturdy platform rack (all parts included for attachment to the bars) is suitable for most RTTs and includes features to reduce wind drag and noise. It’s easy to install and compatible with various accessories​​.
  5. Gobi Stealth Rack: This rack provides excellent strength and a no-drill installation, making it a great choice for those looking for a durable, versatile roof rack for their RTT. Note that you will need to select the right rack for your car.

The Bottom Line

Choosing the best roof rack for your roof top tent isn't easy! You'll need to carefully consider your vehicle’s specifications, the type of roof rack, load capacities, and additional features that suit your camping style. By selecting a high-quality roof rack that meets these criteria, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable overlanding experience

Check out our load capacity calculator (coming soon) here.

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