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Roof Top Tent & Roof Rack For Camping on Jeep Wrangler | 9 Things to Consider

A roof rack is an essential piece of equipment if you have some things that you would want to carry around in your wrangler but they wouldn’t fit or you just need to maintain that interior size of your vehicle.

Roof racks have been existent for a long time and they have been used for a couple of purposes ranging from just carrying light stuff to carrying heavy luggage and even going to an extent of being modified for recreational purposes.

Most vehicles that will have roof racks are off-roading vehicles that need extra equipment when going for off-road activities. Roof racks can be modified to cater for a couple of uses when off-roading.  In this article, we’re going to see things to consider when selecting Roof Top Tent & Roof Rack for camping.

things to consider when choosing Roof rack for Camping in Jeep Wrangler

  • First, you need to check if the roof rack is compatible with your wrangler, failure to this will lead to fitment issues, and if you try to force it to fit you might damage your vehicle. 
  • Another thing is that you can’t install a roof rack on your wrangler if it has a fabric top. This is because holes for fitment can’t be drilled on a fabric top so you will need to get a hard top if you want to have a roof rack on your vehicle.
  • Some roof racks don’t require being drilled into a hardtop but having it is much better as things might slip through the roof rack and damage your fabric top. 
  • Purpose of the roof rack. Some roof racks are limited to a certain weight that they can accommodate so if you are going to carry some heavy stuff on your roof rack, a heavy-duty one would do.
  • They are made of different materials too such as plastic and others are made of metals. Those made of metals tend to last longer than those made of plastic since they do not get damaged easily and can withstand the battering.  
  • When drilling holes for your roof rack you’ll also need to use the same drill bit size as the nuts and bolts that come with the roof rack.
  • Not all roof racks need to be drilled into the hardtop though, some are attached to the body frame of the wrangler for added stability and such roof racks usually carry more weight as compared to those that are drilled into the hardtop. 
  • Length of the roof rack. Some roof racks cover the entire top of your wrangler while others cover just part of the top. You should choose the length that is most compatible with what you are going to carry on your wrangler but those that cover the whole top are much better since they have a wide range of usability.
  • If you have a sunroof on your wrangler, the shorter roof racks are better if you want to keep the sunroof operational.
Roof Top Tent & Roof Rack for camping

Most wrangler owners put roof racks on their vehicles mostly for carrying around off-road equipment and accessories such as kayaks, trail bicycles, and also rooftop tents that are fully equipped if you’re planning on spending some quality time enjoying nature while off-roading.

But all of these need heavy-duty roof racks due to the weight of such equipment. Below are some of the designs of heavy-duty roof racks that can handle such weight. 

Body frame roof rack 

This type of roof rack covers a huge part of your vehicle with some even coming with a few extras such as bumper extensions and lights.

Most of these are made of strong steel and are the ideal roof racks if you need to carry heavy stuff on it, you can also put a rooftop tent if you want to but you’ll need a ladder that sometimes acts as a support structure for your tent in it is extendable.

They also can be modified to carry extra stuff such as gas cans, shovels, and extra spare tires too and since they cover almost the whole vehicle, they protect some vehicle components when you find yourself in an easy rollover.

Advantages 

  • Made of heavy-duty steel that enables it to carry heavier equipment and also increases its durability. 
  • Most of these usually come with a few added extras so you do not need to buy some of these extras. 
  • Can easily be modified.
  • They protect some vehicle components. 

Disadvantages  

  • These are usually heavy and this will negatively impact your wrangler’s mpg depending on the total weight of the roof rack. Though this is a small price to pay when you put into consideration that the service that you get from having such a roof rack. 
  • Expensive to acquire compared to other types of roof racks.

Can this roof rack be suitable for rooftop tent?

Yes. This is the strongest roof rack you can have on your wrangler and you can be assured that it will hold the weight of the roof tent, other equipment, and also the people in the roof tent. Since this type of roof rack will be most likely attached to a part of the chassis, there is reinforced support for the roof rack.

You can also opt for this type of roof rack with crossbars or a flat surface on the top. If you have something you can place on the crossbars when pitching your tent you can opt for the one with crossbars and if you have just a tent you have to go for the roof rack with a flat surface. 

Hardtop roof rack 

This is the type of roof rack that is drilled into the roof rack of a vehicle. This is the most common roof rack. Such types of roof racks usually come in different sizes and shapes.  

  • Bars.
  • Basin-like roof racks. 

Bars 

Some come designed as bars that you independently attach to the hardtop and others as joint bars. These do not usually hold a lot of weight and most people put them on their wranglers for looks.

There are some strong ones but they cannot carry as much weight as compared to body frame roof racks. These are usually very light and they might have little or no impact at all on your vehicle’s mpg. 

Advantages 

  • They’re the lightest roof racks you can put on your vehicle.
  • Cheap as compared to other types of roof racks.
  • Easy to install and remove.
  • Ideal for attaching ground tents for extra space and support.

Disadvantages 

  • Very light and cannot carry heavy equipment and can be easily damaged if put under stress.
  • You’ll need some tie-down equipment if you are planning to carry something using this type of roof rack.  

Can This Roof Rack Be Suitable For Rooftop Tent?

This entirely depends on the type of tent that you want. The best tent suitable for use with such roof racks is the one that comes with a hard shell but to use this you’ll have to equip bars that are made using stronger materials to cater for the weight.  

Cargo roof rack 

As the name suggests, such roof racks have a shallow depression in them. This feature helps in holding things in the roof rack into place. Most commonly used for carrying around baggy luggage. They usually have tie-down points that help in securing luggage into place. 

Advantages 

  • It is not that heavy.
  • Can carry more equipment or luggage as compared to bar roof racks but not as much as body frame roof racks. 
  • Stronger and more durable than bar roof racks.

Disadvantages 

  • Some of these do not come that cheap.

Can This Roof Rack Be Suitable For Rooftop Tent?

Yes, this type of roof rack comes with either a mesh base, crossbar base, or a flat surface base which are all suitable for tent pitching.

It does not cater for large tents though as it is attached to the rooftop of the wrangler only but if you have an extendable tent, it can work as long as you have support poles or ladders that act as support structures.

Hardshell rooftop tents 

Some roof racks come as complete roof tents. If you are only looking to have a roof tent on your wrangler, this is the best option for you. These usually come as a compact package but can double as a storage space for small equipment such as mini toolboxes, cutlery, and small luggage that are essential for off-roading.

Such tents are usually spacious as compared to other tents and are easy to install and remove when you need to travel. They can either be attached on a roof rack or to the vehicle itself, but when you attach it to a roof rack there is no space left to put other equipment but in doing so you reinforce the tent’s surface and also protect your wrangler’s top from getting damaged 

Advantages 

  • Easy to set up and uninstall.
  • Lightweight.

Disadvantages 

  • Expensive to acquire.

Adding Roof Top Tent & Roof Rack For Camping

Roof Top Tent & Roof Rack for camping

Some may think that roofless wranglers and wranglers with fabric tops cannot be equipped with roof racks but they actually can. Such wranglers are usually equipped with body frame roof racks as these are the only compatible roof racks. 

Equipping your jeep wrangler with a roof rack and adding a rooftop tent on it has both advantages and disadvantages as explained below 

Advantages 

  • Roof racks provide extra space for storage when you have passengers thus there is enough room in your vehicle for passengers.
  • Rooftop tents are much safer and comfortable as compared to ground tents. Wild animals won’t invade and insects won’t crawl in when you are in a rooftop tent. 
  • Most rooftop tents are made for either 3 season or 4 seasons usability thus they can withstand different weather conditions.
  • Easy setup and removal as compared to ground tents. 
  • With rooftop tents, you are not limited to camping sites, you can drive your wrangler anywhere and set up your rooftop tent. 

Disadvantages 

  • The weight that comes with installing such equipment is immense and this will negatively affect your wrangler’s mpg. 
  • Rooftop tents are not as spacious as ground tents and cannot hold as much equipment as ground tents. They are also not as comfortable as ground tents. They are also limited to accommodate a maximum of two people thus less fun. 
  • Rooftop tents are more expensive than ground tents and the price increases if the tent needs a roof rack for it to be set up.
  • Mounting a roof rack and a rooftop tent can be a tiresome process.
  • When you add a roof rack and a rooftop tent, you raise the overall height of the vehicle thus raising your center of gravity. This makes the vehicle unstable when off-roading and when driving at high speeds.
  • The raised height may also be unfavorable if you want to park in some slots which have a minimum height requirement.

Conclusion

Body frame roof racks are the best type of roof racks that you should equip your wrangler with. Not only for rooftop tent pitching but also for other uses. For casual off-roaders, a basin-like roof rack is the better option since it is less sophisticated than the body frame roof rack.

Also for wrangler owners that prefer driving to some random locations and setting up a barbeque picnic, the bar roof rack is a good option. A bar roof rack is also a good option if you have a hard shell roof tent but you’d prefer only using it once in a while and you have no need for a sophisticated roof rack.