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Best DIY Rooftop Tent Designs for Resourceful Travelers

Rooftop tent with sun setting in background

Here at Wide Open Roads, the things we value more than almost anything are cars and trucks, camping, travel and DIY. So, the idea of a car camping DIY rooftop tent immediately stuck out to us as something that warranted further investigation.

If you feel the same, here are the top three DIY rooftop tent tutorials for your DIY-ing pleasure.

Why Build a DIY Rooftop Tent?

Many campsites these days are drive-in, which makes the pop-up or fold-over rooftop tent a super convenient set up for most camping locations. Of course, roof tents are also perfect for off-road trips. In addition, if you take a lot of road trips, rooftop tents are great since you can make a campsite out of almost any location. They’ll also save you hotel money on road trips; And hey, you’ll probably be more comfortable than at the Super 8, too.

1. Patrick Remington’s Hard Shell Rooftop Tent

Our absolute favorite DIY rooftop tent comes from Patrick Remington’s YouTube channel. This strapping gentleman gives you everything you’ll need from detailed instructional videos to links to the best materials.

His hard-shell rooftop tent includes a lot of well thought out but simple tricks to increase the structural integrity and aerodynamics of his pop-up design. As long as you have a roof rack, Patrick’s tutorial is one of the best out there and the finished product should last quite a long time.

You can’t even tell the difference between this DIY design and a commercial product.

2. Homemade Softshell Popup Rooftop Tent

If you’re looking for a softshell, this DIY rooftop tent uses materials that are very easy to work with, even if you don’t have a large shop at your disposal. The main ingredients for this softshell human meat taco are two pieces of plywood, a used thrift store tent, and some Home Depot conduit. You’ll also need some sealant and other supplies.

You’ll have a bit more room in this option, which is designed to fold over and balance on a stand, allowing it to be around the same size as a ground tent. You’ll want to be a bit more careful with this pop-up tent as the soft shell is a bit less durable, but overall it seems structurally sound and easy to use.

3. The Clamshell Rooftop Tent

If you’re looking to keep things super simple, this is probably the easiest DIY RTT design to construct on the internet. It essentially involves mounting two pieces of well-sealed plywood to a roof rack. The pieces fold out much like in the last design.

Other than that you’ll just be attaching a standard ground tent to the base. The plywood folds over the top to protect the tent when driving or not in use. Keep in mind that this is not a pop-up RTT, so you’ll need to set it up with poles for each camp much like an ordinary ground tent.

Don’t forget your rain fly!

Time to Get Building

Now that you have a few options, all you need to get started is your automobile and some spare time and cash. These rooftop tent DIY designs could potentially save you over a $1,000 if you’re building rather than buying, since commercial rooftop tents and rooftop campers are usually pretty pricy. That’s especially true if you’d rather go all-in on the up-and-coming vanlife trend!

Whether you’re souping up a Land Rover or prepping your Toyota Tacoma truck bed for an adventure across the United States, taking care to prep the top of your car with everything you need from camping tent to an awning can save you a lot of time looking for hotels or other places to stay.

If you’re still feeling overwhelmed by these builds, don’t! Learning is all part of the process DIY process, and this is an awesome project to start your DIY career. It might be a challenge, but it’ll be a healthy one for sure!

Ever built your own DIY rooftop tent? Show off your skills on our Wide Open Roads Facebook!

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