Roof Tent With Kayak On Top? Not A Problem!

If you ever wanted to put a kayak or a bike on top of a roof top tent, you must have realized that it is not that obvious as it should be. For some reason, roof top tents with kayaks, with surfboards, with bikeracks – or carrying anything on top, they just simply don’t work.

The hard shell variants have streamlined outer shell, and its difficult to secure another rigid fibreplastic body on top.

It may be easier to shove some stuff on top of the box of a soft-shell roof tent and then strap it down, but it just does not feel right, not on the motorway anyways.

Here’s where a specialist roof top tent could serve you very well…so bear with me if you are looking for the best roof tent that you can use with a kayak, with a surfboard, with a bike, or with some other stuff on top.

I have reviewed 6 (well, it’s only 5) roof tents that either have a built in roofrails, so you can add extra cargo on top of them; or they can be retro-fitted with extra crossbars.

What you’ll find:

If you are not sure about tent fabrics, acronyms and abbreviations: Tent materials, fabrics, specifications and all the acronyms. FAQ.

If you don’t know what’s the dynamic load capacity of your car, you can give it a go here: Roof Top Tent Weight Limits

I must admit, I struggled to find any more roof tents that you could use with anything stacked on top, so this going to be a somewhat comprehensive review of all roof top tents with additional roof load cargo capacity.

1. iKamper X-Cover – The Best All-Rounder

iKamper X-Cover
iKamper X-Cover

The iKamper X-Cover’s design eliminates the bulky PVC cover of traditional soft-shell roof top tents, the cover is the skin of the tent itself. It saves some time getting the cover off, and looks better than the heavy duty tarps of other models but the X-Cover is not just a pretty face.

iKamper X-cover interiors
iKamper X-cover interiors – light and airy, plenty of space

It won Overland Journal’s coveted Editor’s Choice Award, and was also a finalist in Outdoor Retailer’s Innovation Awards. In 2019, the X-Cover won the Red Dot Design Award.

iKamper X-Cover
iKamper X-Cover

I must admit, it’s an ingenious design. It’s as large as the iKamper Skycamp 4X / 2.0: 3 adult can comfortably sleep in it, or an entire family of 2 adults and 2 kids/dogs. Still, very lightweight, only 55 kgs, no other tent will beat the X-Cover in space / weight.

It has a relatively low profile; however it’s only true if we compare the X-Cover to other soft shell tents. In fact, the X-Cover is the only soft shell tent on this list.

Thanks to its clever mechanism and smart design, there’s not just plenty of space, but there’s plenty of light inside too. The fabrics used have nothing to be ashamed of either, they hit right at the middle of average: good quality polycotton with some PU coating. Thankfully, it seems that iKamper got rid of that ridiculous polyester flysheet that they threw on top of the iKamper Skycamp 2.0.

iKamper X-Cover
iKamper X-Cover

As for cargo capacity: we have 30kgs load capacity on two, relatively small, fixed crossbars that are set 75cms apart from each other. They are perfect if you are in need of a roof tent with a kayak on top, or you want to fit a bike-rack onto it

I picked the X-Cover as the perfect all-rounder: it’s not the most expensive, it provides good value for money, provides A LOT of space for the money, and has some cargo capacity. Ideal for weekenders, families, friends, and can cater all needs with the plenty of accessories available.

2. Roofnest SandPiper – The Cheapest

Roofnest SandPiper - The Cheapest Rooftent with kayaks on top
Roofnest SandPiper – The Cheapest Rooftent with kayaks on top

Second on the list is the Roofnest SandPiper. And it is actually the cheapest on the list too! The Roofnest SandPiper has been around for a while now, and as I am writing this review the white SandPiper is on sale in the US, $300 off the retail price. Regardless of the sale price, the normal price is under $3k.

The SandPiper is not big, but it’s comfortable for 2 people, if we stretch it, 2 adults and 1 child. Headroom is less than in the X-Cover, however it’s down to the difference in the design.

Roofnest SandPiper
Roofnest SandPiper

You can rest assured that the 3,000mm HH polycotton tent wall won’t let any water through, and you can sleep comfortably on the thickest memory foam mattress on the list, supported by an anti-condensation mat.

Opening and closing is a piece of cake thanks to the gas-assisted opening mechanism, so you can set camp in literally no time.

Unlike the X-Cover, the SandPiper can serve you as a storage, so you can leave your bedding inside when the tent is closed.

The SandPiper also allows you to keep some stuff on the roof while the tent is open! And even then, it has a very impressive load capacity!

The rails are built-in, and they run along the longer side of the tent – this somewhat limits the distance between the crossbars you may fit across them.

Fun fact, if you order your SandPiper from Roofnest UK, you are still getting it hundreds of dollars cheaper than if ordered it from your local retailer or from Roofnest US. So UK buyers WAY TO GO!

Also, if you have a Nectar Card and don’t want to miss collecting 2100 points, have a look on eBay: the Sandpiper may pop up from time to time.

Related post: TOP 10 Cheapest Roof Tents 2020 UK

3. Alu-Cab Gen 3 Expedition

Alu-Cab Gen 3 Expedition Roof Top Tent
Alu-Cab Gen 3 Expedition Roof Top Tent

The Alu-Cab Expedition III is a heavy player. Literally. I don’t know how the Roofnest Falcons (below) managed to keep their weight that low, but hey-ho…the Alu-Cab is massive.

The interior ceiling and floor are insulated with polyethylene closed cell foam, dramatically helping control the temperature inside the tent. Dual-side entryways and a massive covered rear door all help provide great ventilation, though if you use the Alu-Cab with the 270 awning, then you can only use one of the sideway accesses as entrance / exit.

Alu-Can Gen 3 Expedition RTT - Not for the weekenders
Alu-Can Gen 3 Expedition RTT – Not for the weekenders. With 270 awning on this picture

ExpeditionPortal tested the Alu-Cab out in the fields, and what Basil Lynch highlighted is worth considering: the mechanism did not lock in to position to keep the clamshell open, and after getting some 6 inches of snow overnight, the Alu-Cab started to close down.

Apart from this, the Alu-Cab is for seasoned overlanders. The load capacity on the roof tent is outstanding, and you simply need to fit crossbars into the mounting tracks on the side of the RTT.

The extras like the USB port and the interior book lights are more common in this price range, still, it gives you the impression that the Alu-Cab Expedition was designed by people / for people who like spending nights in it over a longer period, away from the noise of civilisation.

4. Roofnest Falcon & Falcon XL

Two very similar roof tents that can be fitted with a pair of crossbars. The Falcon is the smaller, 2 person version, while the Falcon XL is slightly wider, but I am a bit reluctant to say that it is a 3 person roof tent.

Both are aluminium ‘clamshell’ roof tents, so you can’t keep the load on the rack when the tents are open, unless the load is secured tightly.

Roofnest Falcon & Falcon XL fitted with crossbars
Roofnest Falcon & Falcon XL fitted with crossbars

On the other hand, they have the slimmest profile I have ever seen on roof top tents, plus it is extremely easy to set them up.

Thanks to their design, there’s plenty of headroom, so they feel much bigger than they actually are.

Another great feature is that they have a completely flat, ruggedized surface and two accessory channels on all four sides for mounting light bars, fairings, awnings, etc.; although you need the extra brackets for that. That’s what I call a design with the end user – YOU – in mind.

The matching crossbars are sold separately, so make sure you put them in the basket!

The fabrics used are identical to the one on the SandPiper: completely waterproof polycotton tent fabric; and you can enjoy the 3″ foam mattress with the added anti-condensation mat too.

Sadly, the Roofnest Falcons are only available in the US at the moment.

5. TentBox CARGO

TentBox CARGO
TentBox CARGO

The information is somewhat limited on the TentBox Cargo, and it’s only available in the UK for pre-order (although, at a discounted price with the early-bird coupon).

Update: the NEW Tent-Box website has launched in March 2020, and the Tent-Box Cargo is available to order in the US, UK, and Australia and anywhere in the worlds. And with Free Shipping!!

Bear in mind, that TentBox are still quite a new company, yet, they have already earned some name and reputation thanks to the high quality products they manufacture. I liked the TentBox hardshell very much, and would recommend it to anyone who’d like to start overlanding and looking for a reasonably priced, reliable roof top tent.

TentBox CARGO - versatile and strudy
TentBox CARGO – versatile and strudy

The TentBox CARGO fits perfectly in the line of TentBox roof tents: it’s a clamshell roof tent with a pair of pre-fitted crossbars on top. You can carry up to 40 kgs worth of cargo, and it will still pop open.

The clamshell is made of honeycomb aluminium with a matte finish, and thanks to the design, it is the thinnest TentBox so far.

Access is 3-ways, you can choose whether to access from the sides, or the end.

The mattress and a telescopic ladder are included.

Sadly, there are no accessories whatsoever for any of the TentBox roof tents, but I am pretty sure that there’s something in the pipe already and TentBox will come out with awnings and other accessories very soon.

Update 2: You can attach an Awning onto the Tent-Box Cargo, and there are loads of accessories available like a Solar Power Station, Solar Panels or a bespoke roof rack for the Cargo. It’s worth checking all of them out! 

How To Select Your Roof Tent For Carrying Stuff on Top

Regardless of which part of the world you live in, if you are looking for a comfortable yet reliable RTT that you can carry stuff on the top of, the iKamper X-Cover is unbeatable in space and versatility.

Unless you have loads of heavy stuff to carry, the iKamper X-Cover will probably suit most of your needs.

If you are looking for something heavy duty, the Alu-Cab Expedition is the way to go. It’s not without faults, but exceeds every other roof tent on this list in durability and comfort.

Let me know what you think!

Until then, have a look at this comparison table below, I hoping that it makes it easier to compare the different roof top tents with roof load capacity!

What you must consider – especially if you have a smaller car – is the maximum gross weight.

Add the weight of the roof tent to the weight of the crossbars you fit the rooftent on. Normally, this is what you look for when trying to figure out if your car can carry a roof tent. But this time, you need to consider the weight of the load you would carry with your roof tent, any extra crossbars, fittings etc.

If you are planning to maximize the cargo capacity, then compare the maximum gross weight to the dynamic load capacity of your car to see, if you can carry as much stuff on your roof top tent as you really want.

As most family cars have a dynamic load capacity of 75 kgs or 100 kgs, even with the lightest iKamper X-Cover your practically reaching that 100 kg limit.

Which roof tent fits your car? Find out by checking the dynamic load capacity of your car first.

Roof Top Tent Weight Limits

Comparison Table for Roof Tents With Extra Load Capacity

The lightest of the 6 is the X-Cover, but this has the least crossbar load capacity, only 30kgs. The SandPiper looks like a solid choice, with 100 lbs / 45 kgs load capacity, yet, keeping the maximum gross weight under 245 lbs. Searchable table just below, shareable (!!!) mobile-friendlier image at the bottom.

Roof Tents with Kayak? Not a Problem!

Roof Top Tents with additional cargo capacity.
 iKamper X-CoverRoofnest SandpiperRoofnest Falcon + CrossbarsRoofnest Falcon XL + CrossbarsAlu-Cab Gen 3 Expedition + CrossbarsTentBox Cargo
Cover TypeSoft-shellHard-shell (box)Hard-shell (clamshell)Hard-shell (clamshell)Hard-shell (clamshell)Hard-shell (clamshell)
External Size (closed)75" x 45" x 15"
190 x 115 x 38 cm
85" x 50" x 11.8"
216 x 127 x 30 cm
85" x 50" x 6.5"
216 x 127 x 16.5 cm
85" x 60" x 6.5"
216 x 152 x 16.5 cm
90.5" x 55" x 11"
230 x 140 x 28 cm
84.2" x 49.2" x 11.8"
214 x 125 x 30 cm
Profile14.2" / 36 cm11.8" / 30 cm6.5" / 16.5 cm6.5" / 16.5 cm8.26 " / 21 cm11.8" / 30 cm
External Size (open)90.5" x 75" x 45"
230 x 190 x 115 cm
85" x 50" x 37"
216 x 127 x 94 cm
85" x 50" x 71"
216 x 127 x 180 cm
85" x 60" x 71"
216 x 152 x 180 cm
90.5" x 55" x 78.7"
230 x 140 x 200 cm
84.2" x 49.2" x 39.4"
214 x 125 x 100 cm
Internal Size90.5" x 75" x 45"
230 x 190 x 115 cm
82" x 48" x 36"
208 x 122 x 91.5 cm
82" x 48" x 63"
208 x 122 x 160 cm
82" x 58" x 63"
208 x 147 x 160 cm
82.5" x 51.2" x 63"
210 x 130 x 160 cm
82.6" x 48.8" x 37.4"
210 x 124 x 95 cm
Comfortable for3 or 2 (+2)222 (+1)2 (+1)2
Tent Fabric300gsm polycottonPolycotton, PU coated 3000mm HHPolycotton, PU coated 3000mm HHPolycotton, PU coated 3000mm HH400 gsm UV-resistant rib-lock waterproof canvas with sealed seams320gsm rip-stop poly-cotton, PU coated
Mattress6.5 cm7 cm7 cm7 cm7.5 cm6 cm
CrossbarsBuilt inBuilt inOptionalOptionalOptionalBuilt in
Crossbar Load Capacity65 lbs / 30 kgs100 lbs (50 lbs when open) 45 kgs (22.5)100 lbs / 45 kgs100 lbs / 45 kgs110 lbs / 50 kgs88 lbs / 40 kgs
Net Weight120 lbs / 55 kgs145 lbs / 65 kgs130 lbs / 59 kgs150 lbs / 68 kgs194 lbs / 88 kgs155 lbs / 75 kgs
MAXIMUM GROSS WEIGHT185 lbs / 85 kgs245 lbs / 110 kgs230 lbs / 104 kgs250 lbs / 113 kgs304 lbs / 138 kgs243 lbs / 115 kgs
Extras
AnnexYesNoNoNoNoNo
AwningYesNoNoNoYesYes
OtherNoNoNoNoShower Cube
2 Stalk lights, USB charge point, 12v point & power lead
Storage
6 Internal storage bags for books, shoes, toiletries etc.
Solar Power Kit, Roof Rack Kit etc.
Availability
USAYesYesYesYesYesYes
UKYesYesNoNoYesYes
EUNoNoNoNoYesYes
AUSYesYesNoNoYesYes
Rest of The WorldYesNoNoNoYesYes

 

iKamper vs Roofnest vs Alu-Cab vs TentBox comparison table of tents that can carry stuff on top
iKamper vs Roofnest vs Alu-Cab vs TentBox comparison table of roof tents that can carry stuff on top
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