Without a doubt, one of the best parts of camping is being in nature. For some, the more remote and deeper into nature you go, the better your experience gets. If this is you, you have likely come across Roof Top Tent Trailers on your off road trips.
This guide will break down the pros and cons of Roof Top Tent Trailers to help you decide if it’s worth the investment for your camping lifestyle.
Roof Top Tent Trailer: Is an Off Road Trailer Worth It?
Can You Put a Roof Top Tent on a Trailer?
Yes! You can install a Roof Top Tent on a rack that is attached to your vehicle or a trailer.
Whether you opt for elaborate off road trailers that already come with tents included or purchase your roof top tent and trailer separately, roof top tent trailers can be an option for getting you to more remote and remarkable camping spots.
But does it make sense for you? Are Roof Top Tents worth it for your camping needs?
Let’s dive in and see. First, let us tell you a little about our experience with Roof Top Tents and how we came to these conclusions for ourselves.
Our Roof Top Tent Experience
We originally went off road camping with our Subaru Outback Roof Top Tent.
Let’s back up a little bit… Why are we calling this “off road camping”?
Some people call any kind of camping that isn’t in a paid campground “overlanding”.
Those who have been in the overlanding world way longer than we have are trying to protect the integrity of that term with this defintion.
We are with them. So, we don’t call what we do “overlanding”.
But we do go off road camping when we can. Some people call it “soft roading”.
Whatever you want to call it, for us – it just means you can’t pull a typical trailer to some of the spots we want to go.
So, we need a system to get us deeper into the wild and free camping places we love. Most often, this means taking rougher roads to recreation sites.
Why We Switched to a Roof Top Tent Trailer
So, why did we ditch our perfectly amazing Subaru Outback Roof Top Tent system? And what did we switch to?
Let’s get into the thicket, here.
We think our original off road camping system was amazing for 2-3 days. For longer trips, the three challenges we ran into were:
1. We wanted more freedom.
When we took our Subaru Outback into the woods with our Roof Top tent, that’s where we were stuck. If we wanted to go to a different spot, we had to pack down the tent.
But wait, don’t they claim fast set up / take down for roof top tents?
YES, yes they do. And they are fast. The tent itself is like 3 minutes. So if you are literally just dropping and sleeping for a night? Awesome.
But if you like to settle into a spot with a few more creature comforts, it can take longer to unload and load each time.
We wanted the freedom to set up a basecamp and explore the area around us. Sometimes, those places were more than an hour’s drive away.
While we were in Tofino camping for 9 days, we explored at least one new place that we needed to drive to every day.
2. We wanted more consistency/organization.
Not only did we want freedom while at base camp, but we also wanted a spot for all of our stuff to live, not just while camping.
Our Outback was our daily driver and everything had to be packed in and out every time we wanted to go camping.
With our roof top tent trailer, all of our camping stuff lives in the trailer. No packing in and out – hook it up and go!
3. We wanted more room.
We quickly realized we didn’t have enough room in our Subaru Outback for more than a 3-day getaway.
That doesn’t work when we want to venture off on extended trips of 3 weeks or more like we just did while exploring Vancouver Island.
Our portable refrigerator takes up quite a lot of space but we would never venture out on a short or long trip without it anymore.
We also have a portable firepit with an extra propane tank because our region is typically in a fire ban from June – September.
I could go on and on listing camping essentials for longer trips, but you can see most of our gear listed in our wild and free camping guide.
Does a Roof Top Tent Trailer Make Sense for You?
Maybe, maybe not. First, ask yourself these questions:
1. Where do you like to camp?
Are you someone who wants to be as far from crowds as possible?
► A Roof Top Tent Trailer will help you get back into the bush with a capable tow vehicle.
Or do you love the community of a campground?
► If you don’t need the capability of an off road vehicle, a tent or a trailer might make more sense.
Do you like the thrill of adventure and finding new spots that most people don’t know about? Or do you prefer to have a firm plan with your spot booked weeks or months in advance?
► Similar to the last consideration, you might not need the additional cost of a Roof Top Tent Trailer if you are booked into camping spots.
2. How many creature comforts do you crave?
Are you cool with some quick swipes of shower wipes before bed or do you crave a hot, steamy shower? What about digging a hole vs flushing it down?
► If you are like us and you mostly visit recreation sites, then there are usually pit toilets, but that’s it for amenities. No garbage, no power, no showers – nothing but you and nature. If you go further into the wild, then you are digging catholes.
How fussed are you about having an indoor living space? Are you ok sitting in an Annex or under a tarp during rainy weather or would you prefer to snuggle up to your pet on the sofa in a trailer?
► You cannot stand up in a Roof Top Tent. If you want indoor space to store your stuff or to cook and relax in rainy weather, this is not your best bet. A travel trailer might be calling your name.
3. How often will you go camping?
Are you the adventurous type who pretty much camps whenever they can? Or are you a camper who wants to get out more but can’t seem to find the time?
► This is a big one. If you head out occasionally, this is likely not a wise investment for you. Get a great ground tent and some awesome gear and you are set.
4. Does your Roof Top Tent Need a Trailer?
Do you go for shorter trips or longer adventures? How much gear do you want to bring with you? Are you comfortable with towing? Do you want a basecamp? Do you want to keep your vehicle as a daily driver, or do you want to mod it out as the ultimate adventure vehicle?
► For us, a Roof Top Tent on top of a car or truck works best for those who are going to mod out your vehicle to store all the stuff, or you are a minimalist camper and don’t need a lot of gear.
Roof Top Trailer: Pros vs Cons
Ok, now that we have covered why we switched to a Roof Top Tent Trailer, and a few points to consider if this type of camping even makes sense for you, let’s dive into a list of Pros and Cons we have noticed about our time spent camping in our Roof Top Tent Trailer.
PROS of a Roof Top Tent Trailer
CONS of a Roof Top Tent Trailer
You will have to make your own decisions on whether a Roof Top Tent Trailer makes sense for your camping lifestyle. But here is where we have landed…
After experiencing both a Roof Top Tent on top of a car, and a Roof Top Tent Trailer, we far prefer the trailer option.
Because we wind up spending more time in campgrounds vs the backcountry, we often find ourselves wondering if a small trailer would make more sense for us?
We camp a lot. It takes us up to 2 hours to set up and tear down camp. That’s substantial.
If we had a trailer where the sleeping quarters were part of the actual trailer, that would cut down on some time but decrease your storage space. Hmmm….
And if we are not headed out into the backcountry for camping and we don’t need that 4WD capability in a trailer, a small RV would make more sense for us. We could park the trailer and boot out to the bush with our 4Runner!
We have been drooling over this and this!
Then there’s the whole other world of living your Best Ever #VanLife…. Ah, a topic for another day!
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