Can You Install A Roof Top Tent On A Camper Shell?

If you are an outdoors kind of person, utilizing the truck bed space for all your stuff is crucial.

Taking everything out just so you can sleep there for the night is tedious and time consuming, which is why many consider mounting a roof top tent up top.

One thing for sure is that normally a tent of this nature has to rest on some sort of ladder rack, but what about doing the same only on a camper shell? Can it support the weight of the tent with you there or more people?

Possible, however

If or not will your type of truck cap handle this sort of weight entirely depends on its static load capacity.

Finding this sort of information can be tricky depending on the brand, but it is best to check the product’s information on its website, if possible.

If you cannot find anything regarding this topic there, chances are the manufacturer does not recommend you to place a roof top tent, or really anything heavier for that matter, on that cap.

In this example, the tent is actually braced more by the cab rather than the cap itself.

This helps distribute the load on the vehicle more evenly, which only ensures the camper shell doesn’t fail too soon.

Image by u/AceOfClubzs via Reddit

But everything is not lost, as long as you are keen on doing some modifications.

Reinforcing the camper shell

In case you want to try out your luck and see if the cap indeed can support the load you want to put there, i would highly suggest reinforcing the structure first.

The main way to do so is by welding an inner frame that prevents it from spreading. The cage can rest on the rails, be bolted to the bed itself, it’s just that the goal here is to give the camper shell more top wide support.

The images here should give you an idea of what i am talking about.

Get a proper topper instead

Image by u/AceOfClubzs via Reddit

Instead of trying to make the thing not collapse when you are sleeping up there, consider purchasing a camper shell that’s made with durability in mind.

Some manufacturers make them exactly for this reason, or in short, they are able to withstand weight capacities of up to 500 pounds or more, which is more than enough if you ask me. The SnugTop caps with the Sportsman package is one example.

A cheaper solution to this is installing a ladder rack that can work in conjunction with the topper. It acts exactly, if not better than any other rack you would want to put up there, though in this instance it doesn’t rest on the actual cap itself – all of the load sits on the bed sides.

Many of these racks can handle loads of 1000 pounds or more, and that’s more than enough for a roof top tent with even three people.

In summary

To be honest, there a lot of owners who mount the RTT’s on the most standard, common shells you can find on the market, and never get into any issues in regards to them breaking in one way or the other.

Having said that, there are also those who do indeed go for it and crack them up in just one night.

Maybe it’s the weight, perhaps the specific camper shell, but one thing for sure, if you want to reduce the likelihood of that happening, you have to make sure to at least strengthen the build, or buy a suitable cap to begin with.

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  1. I have a 2011 Sung top hi liner which is 4″ over cab height on a 2011 Ford F150. I have a Yakima 58″ track system on the camper shell which was installed at the Sung Top Factory. It has 78″ round bars. The shell had the outdoors mans package which means it is 1″ thick fiberglass vs 1/2″ on the standard. It has a static load capacity of 500 lbs. I bought the lightest 4 season roof top tent I could find which was the Yakima skyrise HD 3( 115 Lb). I had to get the 3 vs the 2 because of the cross bar height on the hi liner was 82″ off the ground. The Yakima mounting system for the skyrise boosts the floor height another 4″. The 3 has a longer ladder with it. The 2 person version ladder was to short for my application. I am glad I did due to the comfort of additional deployed height and space. Most RRT’s use 280 to 320 denier ripstop poly cotton and a 130 lbs and up. The skyrise HD used 600 Denier ripstop polyester. This accounts for the lighter weight difference. There is plenty of mesh underneath the fly so condensation is not a problem. In cold weather you can leave the top windows open and use a Tepui thermal liner of the same size tent to add warmth. For my situation I felt it was the best way to go. I think your article is spot on but It took a lot of research on my part to find the best fit. I might add that I have a mega warrior on the super cab using Yakima Q-towers and the gear is easily reachable from the front window of the tent. Due to the height of the shell I carry another 10′ collapsible aluminum ladder to facilitate deploying the tent, the Yakima slim shady awning mounted on the opposite side of the tent on the shell and the gear on the mega warrior on top of the cab. Since I already had all of the other gear except the tent this was the way I went. I might add it takes a few minutes longer to facilitate setting it all up due to the use of the ladder. If you are 6.5 foot or taller with long arms, you might not need it. Someday I might move the tent to a trailer.

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