When traveling Australia, many choose to tow a camper trailer, but this comes with some drawbacks that may be important to you, something that a rooftop tent (RTT) may provide a solution for. Here are some pros and cons to consider before purchasing one:
- PROTECTION AGAINST CROCS AND OTHER CREEPY CRAWLIES
Like a kid in a tree house, roof top tents get you off the cold ground and offer the warmth and security many look for. High up means you have protection from creepy cawlies. Crocodiles can be a concern for those traveling to the Cape. Sleeping high off the ground gives you peace of mind at night that you wont be attacked by one, but you will also be off the ground, away from snakes and spiders too.
- FAST SETUP TIMES
Set up takes just a few minutes as opposed to camper trailers and standard tents – this has to be one of the fastest camping setups out there!
When compared to anything you tow, a huge advantage is the mobility you have. You can go more places such as remote beaches that others can’t, which really is the essence of freedom camping and traveling.
- MORE CAMPING SPOT OPTIONS
Not having to try to find flat ground means you don’t have to waste daylight hours looking for one or a spot big enough to fit your 4WD and camper trailer. Just find that perfect spot, park the car and set up in minutes.
- NOTHING TO TOW
The rooftop tent means you don’t have to tow anything. Finding somewhere to store it when not in use can be a pain, allowing you to go into cities or more off road locations. Towing causes more fuel consumption and limited visibility in your mirrors. It also requires some advanced knowledge of the road rules.
- NO ANNUAL REGO FEE AND LOW MAINTENANCE
Just install it on your roof rack and away you go.
- IT CAN SLEEP A FAMILY OF FOUR
With an annexe attached, a rooftop tent has more than enough space to sleep a family of four. Mum and Dad sleep up the top of the tent and two kids sleep in the annexe below. If you are concerned about snakes or spiders with the kids, you could either convert the car to a bed if the car space allows it or you can set up swags inside the annexe, the kids would love it!
- THE VIEW IN THE MORNING IS UNBEATABLE
when you wake up to million dollar views from the top of your car, you’ll feel a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of normal life. This can make some of the best memories of your trip.
- GREAT IN HOT WEATHER
Up high you get the wonderful night breeze that other camper trailers or standard tents don’t get.
- COST OF PURCHASE
When compared to a standard tent, a cheap roof top tent can a similar price to a very good quality quick pop-up tent. But compared to a camper trailer, it is far cheaper.
- GOOD USE OF SPACE
If you have aren’t towing anything with your 4×4 (well, this really is the idea of having a roof top tent!) then you will probably struggle to find space inside the car. A roof top tent takes care of not only carrying your sleeping quarters but also your bedding and sleeping mattress. Some travelers also put some clothes inside as well. The roof top tent allows you to pack it up with your bedding left in place. This means when time comes to hit the hay, everything is already set up and all the bedding stays clean, away from the dust and dirt below.
- HELPS KEEP YOUR CAR AND BELONGINGS SECURE
Being heavy and secure on your roof makes it harder to steal so it is a good option to put on your roof, rather than something that is easier to steel. Speaking of stealing, sleeping on your roof while free camping will deter the thieves from targeting your car, as you will be near it to protect it agains break-ins.
- MORE COMFORTABLE THEN A TENT
The mattress that comes usually comes with a roof top tent is similar to a camper trailer so would be better than a standard tent and similar or better than a camper trailer. Although, the Jayco campers have inner-spring mattresses!
- WONT GET FLOODED OUT ON RAINY DAYS.
You won’t get flooded out like a standard tent could, but I would definitely prefer to be in a camper/trailer when torrential rain hits.
Roof top tents are great and have so many pros, but there are also a few reasons why you might want to consider a fast pitching tent or camper trailer instead:
- NIGHT TIME CALLS OF NATURE
You need to climb up and down a ladder to go to the toilet and in the middle of the night, so if you are someone who pees frequently at night, you may not like this much. They do make an option for a pee tunnels attached to a hose that runs outside – hmmmm….
- SMALL IN SIZE
Roof top tents are normally a double bed size or bigger, but thats it. The ceiling is low and you are generally only able to kneel in them and the space is entirely bed. There is limited space for anything else. If you have an annex, this can somewhat solve this issue, but can cause other issues as well such as longer set up times, prone to flooding, you are on the ground so need to find a flat surface.
- EXTRA HEIGHT ON YOUR CAR
Having a roof top tent on top of your car is not very aerodynamic! It adds quite a bit of wind resistance and you might notice a small change in the way your car handles. It can also effect your gas mileage. Apparently 30% more for petrol and 10-15% for Diesel cars. But, if you go for anything other then a traditional tent, you will find that they all use more fuel to tow.
Without a doubt, one of the biggest drawbacks of a roof top tent is once your set up, you can’t drive you vehicle anywhere without breaking camp down. This isn’t a problem if you are staying in one place longer than a few days but if you forget something essential from the store or want to explore the area, it can be really inconvenient.
Plus, if you want to return to the same location later in the day after touring the area, you may miss out on your camp site.
Although this is the biggest drawback of the roof top tent, I think there are a few ways around it.
If you have a spare small pop-up tent in the car, you could set this up early in the morning to save your camp site.
Make sure you have a list and be really organised and stock up before you reach your campsite – make a list and just don’t forget anything!
I wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving all my belongings lying around for the day in a camp site anyway so with a camper trailer or standard tent, I still feel compelled to pack everything up as well.
There really is no perfect solution when it comes to the options available for camping and touring. There is different options based on your personal preferences and desires. How long do you intend to travel? Where do you intend to travel to? How many people and gear do you have with you? What is your comfort level?
If you do make the decision to purchase a roof top tent and you find it is right for you, you can enjoy years of cost-effective, comfort-packed camping.