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How much wind can a roof top tent withstand?

This is a common concern with roof tents especially as they would be attached to your vehicle. You don't want any damage to your roof tent whilst you're inside trying to enjoy yourself in choppy conditions. 

Roof tents are designed to handle the majority of strong winds you will encounter on your camping trip but there are some easy tips to know to make sure you're prepared. In this article we answer how sturdy are roof tents, if they are any good in the wind and best practices in the wind.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Wind Thresholds for Rooftop Tents: Most rooftop tents can comfortably handle winds up to 20 mph. High-end models, especially some hardshell tents, may withstand winds of 30-38 mph.

  2. Material and Design Importance: The durability of the tent's fabric and its aerodynamic design are crucial for wind resistance. Hardshell tents typically outperform softshell tents in windy conditions due to their robustness and streamlined shapes.

  3. Mounting for Stability: Properly tightening the roof tent to the vehicle's roof bars or roof racks is essential for stability, as the weight of the vehicle or trailer acts as an anchor against wind forces.

  4. Safety and Preparation Tips: Always check weather forecasts before your trip. In cases of strong gusts or high winds, consider seeking shelter or taking down the tent to prevent damage.

  5. Enhancing Stability in Wind: Positioning the vehicle correctly, using all anchor points, and ensuring tight fittings can significantly improve a rooftop tent's wind resistance.

Overview of Rooftop Tents and Wind Resistance

When you're exploring, your rooftop tent will be your sanctuary against the windy weather. Generally, rooftop tents can cope with moderate winds, but it's crucial to understand their limitations and the factors that affect their wind resistance.

  • Material: The fabric's durability and the tent's design play a large role in wind resistance. Heavy-duty materials and aerodynamic shapes fare better.
  • Design: Hardshell roof tents, due to their hard outer case, can often withstand higher wind speeds than soft-shell roof tents.
  • Mounting: A securely mounted tent to a vehicle or trailer adds stability, as the weight of the car or trailer acts as an anchor providing resistance against wind forces.

Most rooftop tents can handle winds of up to 20 mph with relative ease, but beyond that, you should exercise caution. High-end models perhaps manage winds of 30 mph or more. In the case of sustained high winds or gale forced wind speed which are 39 mph winds or more, you may face the risk of damage to your tent. If you find yourself confronted with such conditions, seek shelter or consider taking down the tent to prevent any harm.

For peace of mind, choosing the right tent that is designed for high wind conditions is essential, especially if you venture into unpredictable weather areas. 

Remember to always check weather forecasts and prepare accordingly, ensuring a safe and comfortable outdoor adventure.

How sturdy are rooftop tents?

Rooftop tents must be robust enough to endure varying weather conditions while mounted on a vehicle. They are specifically engineered to resist wind, a primary concern for campers.

Structural Design Factors for Wind Endurance

The structural integrity of rooftop tents against the wind primarily hinges on their frame design and mounting system. Hardshell rooftop tents, known for their ability to withstand higher wind speeds, potentially exceed 30 MPH (Roam Vine) due to their aerodynamic shape and rigid exterior. Their design often includes built-in wind deflection and secure vehicle anchoring, which contribute to their stability in wind.

Conversely, softshell variants, while lighter and more economical, may only safely endure up to 20 MPH. They rely on flexible poles and reinforced guy lines for their wind resistance, necessitating correct setup and regular maintenance to maintain their wind endurance capabilities.

Material Considerations for Windproofing

The materials used in rooftop tents are also key in combatting wind forces. High-end roof tent manufacturers will produce them with durable materials. Heavy-duty fabrics, frequently polyester or canvas, are coated for water resistance and improved windproofing. These textiles are characterised by their tear resistance and ability to reduce flapping noises in high winds, thus providing a more secure and quieter experience.

Moreover, the quality of the zippers, the density of the mesh for ventilation, and other closures are essential to prevent the wind from penetrating the tent. It is imperative that these materials, together with the design, are checked against the wind rating specified by the manufacturer to ensure your safety and the tent's longevity.

Are rooftop tents good in wind?

WildLand Roof Tent

When considering rooftop tents for your outdoor adventures, their performance in windy conditions is an important aspect. 

Aerodynamics and Shape Optimisation

Your rooftop tent's ability to withstand wind hinges significantly on its aerodynamics and shape. Manufacturers often design rooftop tents with winds in mind, featuring sloped sides and streamlined shapes that allow wind to flow over them, reducing resistance and the chance of damage.

Hardshell roof tents are more wind resistant than soft shell roof tents

Hard-shell rooftop tents are generally better equipped to handle high winds. Their rigid exteriors not only offer improved aerodynamics but also enhance stability in windy conditions. Soft-shell rooftop tents typically have rainflys and additional features that extend outwards that can be picked up by the wind.

Wind noise from a roof tent

When your rooftop tent is exposed to strong winds, you'll likely experience wind noise, which varies depending on tent design and the wind's intensity. Despite the noise, a significant advantage of rooftop tents is their anchoring to your vehicle, considerably reducing the chance of blow-over compared to ground tents.

Are roof tents better in the wind vs traditional tents?

Compared to traditional ground tents roof tents have the added benefit of, if properly installed, being secured to your vehicle and the roof bars. This is better than having ground tents pegged to the ground.

Additionally, if you position the roof tent in the right direction away from the brut force of the wind and with the more durable materials e.g. used in hard-shell roof tents, then roof tents are more resistant in stronger winds.


Best Practices for Enhancing Stability in Wind

When setting up a rooftop tent, it's crucial for your safety and comfort to maximise its wind resistance. Here are some effective strategies:

  • Positioning: Arrange your vehicle so the tent's broadside faces away from the prevailing wind. This small adjustment to the wind direction reduces the surface area exposed to gusts, thus enhancing stability.

  • Aerodynamics: Take advantage of the aerodynamic features, such as sloped walls, which help divert wind over and around the structure. Close flaps, remove rain flys and certainly do not leave your awning out.

  • Tent Maintenance:

    • Check for wear: Regularly inspect your tent's structural components for signs of stress or damage.
    • Tight fittings: Before any trip, confirm that all bolts and fittings are tight and replace any that are worn or rusted.
  • Pack away accessories
    • If you have car awnings or annexes then its best to have them unassembled during strong winds. Pull-out awnings act like a sail and pick up wind easily. Since they are typically attached to your roof bars which also hold your roof tents this may cause damage and reduce the stability of your roof tent.

By adhering to these steps, you can significantly enhance the wind resistance of your rooftop tent. Remember that it's always best to avoid extreme weather conditions, but if you get caught out, these tips will help keep you secure in extremely windy nights.

Frequently Asked Questions

When considering a rooftop tent, understanding its wind resistance is crucial to ensure safety and durability in various conditions.

What are the wind resistance capabilities of lightweight rooftop tents?

Lightweight rooftop tents are often suitable for moderate wind conditions. Most can handle wind speeds up to around 30 miles per hour. For specific figures, it's worth checking the manufacturer's specifications.

At what wind speed should I be concerned for my truck roof tent?

Concern generally arises at wind speeds beyond 32 km/h (20 mph). High-quality hardshell rooftop tents may withstand higher winds, but it's best to consult your tent's guidelines and take precautions as wind speeds approach 48 km/h (30 mph).

Can a rooftop tent with a rain fly cope with high-velocity winds safely?

A rain fly can offer added resistance to rooftop tents, yet in high-velocity winds, it’s important to ensure it is properly attached and the tent's overall structure is made to withstand such conditions. Seek tents designed to manage adverse weather.

What considerations should be made for securing a large rooftop tent against strong winds?

For large rooftop tents, reinforcement using guy lines, proper anchoring, and a position sheltered from the wind can improve stability. Confirm that the tent's materials and design can handle the additional stress of strong winds.


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Gary Cheung

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Owner & Director at Outdoor Roadie in the UK. Passionate about helping people get outdoors and travelling. Knowledgeable in all things roof tents, caravan awnings and camping gear.