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Is it safe to sleep in a roof top tent?

Intrigued by what all the fuss is about with roof tents? You may have seen tons of them over the summer and wonder how they work. But safety comes first, and we need to know whether or not they are safe to sleep in. 

Femkes Miles Starling

They look bulky, seem heavy and they will be balancing on your vehicle's roof. You must have thought to yourself; can my roof take the weight of me, my partner, this bulky roof tent and heck, throw in my dog in that equation too.

Don’t worry, we’ll get to all of that in this article and you’ll find out that roof tents are very safe to sleep in. But there are a couple of things you need to know before you dive straight in and no we’re not talking about the small chance of encountering a grizzly bear because we are in the UK!

#1. What makes roof tents safe to sleep in?

What makes roof tents safe to sleep in

A. Roof Tents are built robustly

Roof tents are built with durable materials. The base of the roof tent is typically made from aluminium giving it structural security and providing a solid foundation for you to sleep in.

Additionally, strong or thick tent canvas materials are used to ensure that the roof tent can withstand wind, rain, and other weather conditions.

And if you go for a hard shell roof tent the outer case are typically made out of ABS plastic or steel-reinforced aluminium giving you a lot of protection.

B. Weather Resistance

Rooftop tents are designed to withstand the majority of weather conditions you will face in the UK. And if you purchase a 4 season tent you can also withstand the colder winter months.

The aerodynamic design of roof tents allow for better wind resistance too.

Typically roof tents come with rainflys to help when there is heavy rain. Combined with waterproof seams you are much safer from the elements in a roof tent. Only if you’re in sub-zero temperatures will you need some extra precautions to make sure you are safe.

C. Elevated Sleeping for Above Ground Comfort

One unique safety aspect of roof tents is that they are above the cold, wet ground.

Also, if you’ve installed your roof tent the correct way then they are securely fastened and won’t budge in high winds.

By keeping you off the ground, you also don’t have to worry about water seeping through into the tent overnight.

D. Strong ladders for entry & exit

A strong ladder is designed to withstand the weight of occupants, providing a stable and secure means of getting in and out of the roof tent. This stability is particularly crucial during the night or adverse weather conditions when safe entry and exit become imperative.

Adjustable length
​​Roof tents are mounted on various vehicle types, each with its unique height. A strong ladder often comes with adjustable length features, allowing it to accommodate different vehicle configurations. This adaptability ensures a proper fit, minimising the risk of uneven or unstable positioning.

#2. In what ways make roof tents unsafe?


What can make roof tents unsafe?

A. Not using the right roof racks 

This is the most important factor for safety whilst sleeping in a roof tent. You don’t want your roof tent to break your roof bars whilst you’re sleeping in your roof tent because you chose the wrong ones. 


#1. Find out the weight limit of your roof bars

#2. Is your roof tent within this weight limit? Yes? Then you’re good


Research roof racks that are specifically designed to support the weight and size of your roof tent is paramount.

Other precautions & guidelines:

  • Ensure that the roof racks are suitable for your roof tent dimensions when it is closed.
  • Follow Manufacturer Guidelines: Adhere to the guidelines provided by both the roof tent and roof rack manufacturers for proper installation and compatibility.


B. Proper installation of your roof tent

In terms of importance this is just behind buying the appropriate roof racks or roof bars. There is no point in purchasing the right roof bars if you don’t install it correctly. 

If they are not screwed in and bolted correctly to roof bars then over time they will simply fall off causing your vehicle damage, your roof tent damage and worst of all physical damage to you or anyone inside. 


  • Read the Instruction Manual: Thoroughly go through the installation manual provided by the manufacturer for step-by-step guidance.
  • Secure Attachment: Double-check all attachment points to guarantee a secure fit to the roof racks.
  • Tighten Straps and Fastenings: Ensure all straps, buckles, and fastenings are tightened properly to prevent any movement during use.

C. Having your awning or annexe out in high speed winds

Awnings & annexes paired with roof tents are an amazing accessory for the scorching sun (being in the UK there is a hint of sarcasm there..) and cover for the rain (ah yes.. That’s more like it.)

But if you keep them out overnight sometimes winds really pick up overnight and awnings can turn into a sail under high speed winds. So whilst you’re tucked in at night with your awning or annex out this can rip off your roof tent or roof bars and potentially cause damage.

Safety Measure tip:

  • Retract in Adverse Conditions: If strong winds are anticipated, retract the awning or annexe to prevent wind resistance and maintain stability.
  • Use Windbreaks: Position your vehicle strategically or use natural windbreaks like hills or other structures to minimise wind exposure.


D. Sleeping near trees

While camping near trees offers a picturesque setting, it comes with potential risks. Falling branches or other natural elements can pose threats to you and your roof tents. Follow these precautions for a safe night's sleep.

Safety Precautions:

  • Choose Clear Spaces: Position your roof tent away from overhanging branches or dead trees to minimise the risk of falling debris.
  • Inspect Surroundings: Before setting up, thoroughly inspect the area for any potential hazards, such as unstable trees or dead branches.
  • Emergency Awareness: Be aware of emergency exits and have a plan in case of unexpected situations.



Roof tents make camping so easy & convenient but first & foremost safety is paramount. By being away of the potential pitfalls listed in this article and addressing concerns related to installation, weight limits, you can enhance the safety of your roof tent adventure, ensuring a secure and enjoyable night's sleep.