Roof Top Tents and Load Ratings

Roof top tent on a vehicle. There is a man sitting in the tent.

Roof Top Tents and Load Ratings

Exploring Roof Top Tents – Is It The Right Gear For Me?


Considering a roof top tent? We have what you need to know about Roof top tents and load ratings.

Roof top tents have gained immense popularity among adventure enthusiasts in Australia. They offer a unique and convenient way to experience the beauty of the great outdoors without worrying about creepy crawlies invading your sleep. Before you take the plunge into the world of rooftop camping there are some essential considerations, particularly regarding the load ratings of your vehicle and roof rack system.


Is a Roof Top Tent Right for Your Vehicle?

First and foremost, it’s important to note that not all vehicles are suitable for roof top tents.

Your vehicle should have solid gutters, a track system, or raised/solid rails. You also need to have minimum 2 cross bars but can also be connected to platforms, to support the weight of the tent.

Not all styles of roof racks are compatible with roof top tents. Most tents come with connecting U-bolts and longitudinal supports that may not work with certain rack designs. It’s also not recommended to install a tent on a roof rack system that clamps into the top of the door frames, as this could compromise safety.


Understanding Load Ratings: Dynamic vs. Static

One of the most critical considerations when installing a roof top tent is your vehicle’s maximum load rating, this is specified by the car’s manufacturer.

The maximum load rating includes the self-weight of the tent and the self-weight of the roof racks, along with any additional gear stored on or inside the tent. This is to make sure you never exceed the max load rating while travelling.

This total load is known as the ‘dynamic load rating‘, which is relevant when your vehicle is in motion. However, when driving on dirt roads or rough terrain, a 33% reduction should be applied to the vehicle’s roof rack load rating to ensure safety.

In a stationary position, it’s crucial to follow the general rule of keeping the total weight of the tent, occupants, and any gear within three times the vehicle manufacturer’s maximum load rating. For example:

A roof top tent on a Toyota Hilux with text explaining load ratings.

Safety First

It’s essential to be aware of exceptions and guidelines provided by responsible roof rack manufacturers so staying up-to-date with the latest information on their websites is crucial and load ratings should never exceed those outlined by the vehicle manufacturer.


Roof top tents provide a convenient way to explore Australia’s stunning landscapes while avoiding the ground-level inconveniences. However, understanding the load ratings of your vehicle and roof rack system is paramount for a safe and unforgettable adventure. Always prioritise safety, and you’ll be well on your way to embracing the beauty of the great outdoors from the comfort of your rooftop oasis.


Acronyms explained:

  • OR – On Road, or bitumen, sealed roads allowance
  • OFR – Off Road, Dirt, Unsealed, Sand etc allowance
  • VLL – Vehicle Roof Limit Load (must check vehicle owners manual/handbook/log book for specific figure)


Need roof racks to fit your new rooftop tent? Try our Roof Rack Selector to find the right fit for your vehicle!

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