How to Set Up a Roof Top Tent

How to Set Up a Roof Top Tent? Complete guide

In order to set up a roof top tent, you need to remove the travel straps from the cover, fully unzip the cover, remove the cover and, in the end, release the compression straps and the Velcro retaining strap from the base of the ladder.

Usually, there is nothing special in the set up procedure if you have some experience, but if you are a newbie, it can be a real headache and time consuming. According to my experience, even an experienced person can also make a mistake during setting up the roof top tent because not every roof top tent has the same setup procedure. 

Therefore, in this article, I am going to guide you on how to set up a roof top tent without any hassle and time wasting. No matter if you are a new or experienced over-lander, you should read this post at least once.

Let’s get started!

How to Set Up a Roof Top Tent?

Set Up a Roof Top

Here are the directions you need to understand in order to set up a roof top tent:

  • Be sure the vehicle is parked on a flat surface
  • Remove the travel straps
  • Fully unzip the cover and store it in a safe location
  • Release the Velcro retaining strap and extend the ladder
  • Install the extension hoop
  • Securely anchor the extension tie downs
  • Flip down the tent fabric corners and deploy the window covers
  • Deploy the rain fly
  • Install the snow pole

Be sure the vehicle is parked on a flat surface

It may seem that parking the vehicle on a flat and balanced ground has nothing to do with setting up the roof top tent but remember it is the most important step.

Well, I can tell you that later, but I will tell you right now that if you do not park the vehicle on a level surface, then when you position the ladder on the ground, it will not stand properly. And it will become unbalanced, and if you put weight on it, it can break or tilt to one side.

Moreover, when you sit inside the roof top tent, you will find that you cannot sit balanced. And you know its consequences, you will not sleep properly, your belongings will not be kept properly, and you may face many other problems.

Honestly, it takes me more time to park the vehicle than to set up the tent. Sometimes I even sacrifice good camping points just to park the vehicle at the right spot.

Remove the travel straps

No matter what type of roof top tent you own, it will come with travel straps so that it will not fly or make a noisy sound while the vehicle is running.

If you have a roof top tent that resides in boxes, it will also have locking straps

There are usually 3 or 4 travel straps Which are pretty strong in most roof top tents. However, you should be careful while opening and closing the locks because they are mostly made of plastic which can also break with stress.

As a side note I suggest you invest in a roof top tent with iron or steel strap locks. You won’t have to worry about it degrading for many years.

Fully unzip the cover and store it in a safe location

Although unzipping the cover is not difficult, it should be done carefully so as not to damage the zip in the process.

The cover can be placed against the vehicle or removed completely. In my opinion, you should take off the cover completely. Taking off the cover will prevent it from deteriorating as quickly.

To remove the cover simply slide it out of the cell track and store it in a safe location.

Release the Velcro retaining strap and extend the ladder

Again, this is also very easy, you just have to unlock the strap lock, but bringing down the ladder can be tricky.

Following is the step-by-step procedure to extend the ladder:

  • You can extend the ladder by pulling the ladder pins while sliding it out. However, ensure the ladder is locked into one of the preset positions before opening the tent.
  • Then, using the ladder as a lever, pull it down so that the tent opens practically, then pull it out so that the tent fully extends in one fluid motion.
  • The ladder should be placed at an ideal 30 to 40-degree angle for proper tent support for climbing needs.
  • Additionally, keep in mind that both spring-loaded pins are locked into one of the predrilled positions before ascending the ladder.

 Install the extension hoop

This procedure is very straightforward as well, but you need to follow the exact steps in order to execute it properly:

  • In order to install the extension hoop, you will need to slide it out of its travel position.
  • After that, place it correctly at the seam of the upper room.
  • In the end, insert both ends of the pivot into the metal pivot mounts.

Securely anchor the extension tie downs

Even though it may seem like a small thing, if you don’t tie the extension correctly, your tent could fly away from you in case of a heavy wind blow. I personally use wind stakes or sandbags to secure the extension ties.

The main purpose is to apply tension by sliding the tie-down and gesture gently pulling down on the extension.

Flip down the tent fabric corners and deploy the window covers

Ensure the tent fabric corners are flipped down for weatherproofing and the hinge area flaps adequately secured.

After that, deploy the windows covers by installing the spring rods. For that, first, release the cover toggles, then install the spring rods by locating the pre-drilled hole in the base of the tent.

Now, insert the straight end of the rod and firmly grasp the rod, and press upwards while inserting the hook into the grommet. Each window cover used two spring rods.

Deploy the rain fly

Now it’s time to deploy the rainfly. For this, insert two or three springs rods depending on the tent model.

Alternatively, you may serve the hook into the grommet first, then may only spring the rod as you insert it into the hole.

Install the snow pole

The snow pole is used to help support the tent extension in the event of snow or rain as the name implies.

In most tents, you will find that the locks used for extending the snow poles are made of plastic, which can easily break. It is therefore essential that you tighten it as much as you can.

When buying a roof top tent, you should ensure that the extensions’ locks are not plastic. However, these little things add to the weight, so they are made of plastic to keep the tent as lightweight as possible.

Therefore, if your vehicle’s canopy cannot bear much weight, you will obviously go for a lightweight roof top tent with some plastic components.

Final Thoughts

As you know, not all roof top tents are the same. Therefore, the installation procedure will not always be the same. But all you have to do is set up the roof top tent properly and carefully.

And the best way to do this is not to be late, so you do not have to do it all in the dark. After parking the vehicle at an appropriate surface, first install the tent before sunset.


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