in Camping / by Toby Israel
Safety & Etiquette for Rooftop Camping Anywhere
This is the dream. Go anywhere you want, whenever you want, stop when you’re tired. The whole world is your home, because you carry it with you—literally, on top of your car.
Park at the beach, and wake up to a view of the sunrise and the sound of waves crashing just a few feet away. Park in the mountains, and fall asleep to the sound of wind in the trees. Park at a festival, your best friend’s driveway, national parks, abandoned lots—anywhere, everywhere. A rooftop tent gives you the ultimate freedom to sleep wherever your heart desires.
This is the rooftop camping fantasy. But can you really sleep anywhere in a rooftop tent? We’ve pulled together a comprehensive checklist to make sure you sleep soundly—as well as legally, safely, and respectfully—wherever your wanderlust carries you.
We love our Roofnest tents because they are easy to use, extremely comfortable, and endlessly adaptable, among many other qualities. Follow these tips to ensure your camping trip is as effortless as your tent.
7 Tips for Rooftop Camping Anywhere
1. Know the rules.
We know, we know. Research is boring. However, a bit of research ahead of time could save you the stress of scrambling to find a new spot at the last minute when you realize that your desired campsite doesn’t allow vehicles, or that the park you’re visiting doesn’t allow camping. Check the rules at your destination—the campsite, the state, the country, etc—before you go, and make sure your rooftop camping adventure has a green light.
2. Have a backup plan.
Some towns or countries may not be familiar with rooftop tents, guards or police might give you trouble, your neighbors might be too noisy, certain campsites have a maximum capacity that fills up quickly, and any number of unpredictable challenges may foil your original plan. So while our guide to find places to sleep in your Roofnest is a great place to start, make sure you have a plan B, too.
3. Be prepared.
Can you camp in all seasons? Yes. Do you need to be prepared? Heck yes. As with any adventure, having the right gear makes all the difference for rooftop camping. Check out our guide to winter-proofing your Roofnest, and get your nest in order if you’re planning any cold weather excursions.
4. Respect the environment.
If you are going primitive with your campsite, be a good guest in those wild lands that are hosting you. Carry out everything you carry in, leave no trace, and take nothing with you. Remember your Boy Scouts training! Dig a hole for your bathroom, and cover it back up before you go. Be careful with water sources. Respect the locals (leave the animals alone!). Control your campfire, and if it’s wildfire season, don’t make one.
5. Practice awareness.
The most dangerous animal just about anywhere you might want to sleep in your Roofnest is… other humans. Stay aware of your surroundings, and especially any other people in them, to ensure a safe and comfortable rooftop camping experience. Our guide to self-defense for solo travelers is a good place for any rooftop camper to start, solo or otherwise, to gather some basic tools for staying safe no matter where your adventure takes you.
6. Watch out for extreme conditions and regular camping hazards.
While Roofnest tents are extremely durable, it is advisable to choose a more sheltered camping location if you are looking at extreme conditions like strong winds. As with any campsite, you should be aware of potential hazards such as falling trees in a storm, flooding or surges near rivers during heavy rains, or aggressive or poisonous fauna in your region.
7. Be flexible.
The best laid plans… it will never turn out exactly how you imagined, but you know what? It will be so much better. Accept that factors beyond your control—weather, site or road closures, car troubles, other people—might impact the adventure you planned. The adventure you didn’t plan, however, the one you actually have, is the story you’ll want to tell your friends and family.
We want to know about your rooftop camping wins and roadblocks! Where do you love to sleep in your Roofnest? What words of caution would you offer first-timers? Tell us in the comments!
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