Monday, 18 June 2012

A roof tent or ground tent? A tough decision:

What’s good about a roof tent:

·      Secure from wild animals, to a point.
·      Secure from scorpions. Insect security varies with quality.
·      Takes a shorter time to erect than a ground tent, perhaps by 20%.
·      Some are awkward to pack up and return to its cover. Some are easier.
·      If the ground is not level, the vehicle can be made level with rocks etc.
·      If you move around a lot, the vehicle rocks to and fro.
·      The mattress and sleeping bags can be left inside as the tent is folded away, saving space in the vehicle. A huge advantage.
·      Some models of rigid (boxed) roof tents can be extremely easy to erect and pack away. Others are not, so insist you practice it in the shop!

What’s NOT good about a roof tent:

·      Must be collapsed and packed away fully before the vehicle can be moved, for a game drive etc.
·      You have to be a bit of a contortionist to get dressed and undressed inside.
·      Heavy. Reduces remaining weight permitted on roof. Lifts the centre of gravity.
·      Even the large ones can only sleep two adults, and even then it’s cramped. Leave the bags in the vehicle.
·      If you are getting on in age, you have to climb on the rack to unpack and repack, which on a slippery ladder in the early morning can be hazardous. Over 50s’ – take this seriously!

What’s good about a ground tent:

·      Tents advertised as 3-man bow tents can easily accommodate three adults and their bags. Others can barely fit two people, so don’t judge a tent by its packaging.
·      Often less effort to pack away, depending on the make.
·      Self-standing which means far more convenient.
·      You can almost stand up.
·      By comparison, far less weight and can be carried anywhere.

What’s NOT good about a ground tent:

·      Less secure from wild animals although they are not a real danger, more a perceived one.
·      Scorpions - keeping the flap zipped up is more important.
·      Tent must be emptied when packed away.
·      If there is no level ground or it’s covered with rocks, too bad! The ground can be very hard and cold.


  1. You missed one bad point of roof-tents; if you decide to take it off your vehicle when you're not on your travels you need somewhere spacious to store the thing. I recently when tent shopping and this is the one factor that prevented me from getting a roof-tent.

  2. There are advantages and disadvantages of ground and roof top tents. One of the things that wasn't discussed about the roof top tent was the ability for extra coverage underneath the tent itself which provides additional area to accommodate more people or can be used for other functions. The ARB Simpson III roof top tent provides this option. Coupled with an awning this roof top tent solution provides an excellent Tourer solution for a small family.

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  4. rolling over at night rocks the entire vehicle and anyone also sleeping on it.

    A Roof top tent is a lot of headache if you prefer to remove it when not in use. Mine is an all-in-one module that is bolted to the drawer system, and getting that 100kg bulky unit onto the back of the truck's load area is an issue.

    Remember it increases the fuel consumption and also prevents you from entering a lot of basement parking areas.

    Personally I use both.