New style of camping: Roof tents for cars offer unique experience

Setting up a tent on the roof of a car seems to be one of the new trending travel styles.

In roof tents, campers are protected from mud and uneven ground. But does every tent fit on every car? Here are a few things to consider before your first trip.

In principle, campers can mount a roof tent on any model that allows a roof load, according to the General German Automobile Club (ADAC). The vehicle specifications should outline the maximum load permitted.

Anyone who wants to mount a roof tent on their car should calculate the roof load in advance. Expect 5 to 10 kilograms (11 to 22 pounds) for the basic frame, the ADAC says.

If your car’s total allowed roof load is 75 kilograms, for example, the roof can be loaded with a further 65 to 70 kilograms, which includes the weight of the people sleeping in the tent.

For some models, a roof railing – a strut that is attached along the entire length of the roof – or at least a screw-on point for roof crossbars is necessary. The tent is then attached with four clamps.

Those who already have roof racks for a roof box or a bicycle rack can also use these to set up the roof tent.

Hard shell or folding?

If your car is suitable for mounting a tent, the next question is whether to get a model with a hard shell or one that folds up.

Hard-shell models resemble a very large roof box. They are more weather resistant and can be set up within seconds, the ADAC says.

Folding tents, on the other hand, usually offer more sleeping space and interior height, are lighter and, when folded, are generally smaller. In addition, these models are usually cheaper.

The most expensive model may not necessarily be the best. However, you should expect to spend much more than you would on a conventional tent.

The ADAC has tested seven models costing between 2,000 euros and 3,000 euros ($2,100 and $3,165), rating six as good and one as very good. The testers’ advice is that before buying a roof tent you should borrow one and try it out.

You should also keep in mind that it takes two to four people to assemble a roof tent as they’re quite heavy.

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