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:
- Best all-rounder – iKamper X-Cover
- Best Newcomer – TentBox Cargo
- The Cheapest – Roofnest Sandpiper
- For heavy duty –Alu-Cab Gen 3 Expedition RTT
- US Only – Roofnest Falcon & Falcon XL
- How to select a roof roof top tent to use with additional load on the top
- COMPARISON TABLE with Gross Maximum Weight and the main specs
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
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.
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.
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.
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. Best Newcomer – TentBox CARGO
The NEW Tent-Box website has launched in March 2020, and the Tent-Box Cargo is available to order in the US, UK and Europe 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.
In fact, if you prefer the clamshell design (with the extra headspace), super-slim profile and the decent max. gross weight with low – only 64kgs – net weight, in the UK and Europe the TentBox Cargo is probably your only option.
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 3 metres long (!!) telescopic alu-ladder are included.
As for accessories: you can attach an Awning onto the TentBox 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!
The TentBox Cargo also comes with a complementary gift if you use my voucher. Just drop me an email at email@example.com or use this form below (strictly no spam).
You can buy the TentBox Cargo straight from the official website.
3. Roofnest SandPiper – The Cheapest
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.
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
4. Alu-Cab Gen 3 Expedition – Heavy Duty
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.
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.
5. 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.
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.
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. But it’s not an option if you have anything but a Landy with a rack.
For everyone else, the TentBox Cargo is the way to go: with free shipping in the US, UK & Europe, only 64kgs net weight, it fits on most family estate cars and you’d be fully able to use up the 40kgs load capacity. As the TentBox Cargo is almost a grand cheaper than the Alu-Cab, it really is a bargain. (official website: TentBox Cargo)
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.
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.
If you are based in the UK and you prefer the aluminium clamshell design with more headspace, then the TentBox Cargo is probably your most sensible choice. (Don’t forget to claim your gift from TentBox!)
Roof Tents with Kayak? Not a Problem!Roof Top Tents with additional cargo capacity.
|iKamper X-Cover||Roofnest Sandpiper||Roofnest Falcon + Crossbars||Roofnest Falcon XL + Crossbars||Alu-Cab Gen 3 Expedition + Crossbars||TentBox Cargo|
|Cover Type||Soft-shell||Hard-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
|Profile||14.2" / 36 cm||11.8" / 30 cm||6.5" / 16.5 cm||6.5" / 16.5 cm||8.26 " / 21 cm||11.8" / 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 Size||90.5" 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 for||3 or 2 (+2)||2||2||2 (+1)||2 (+1)||2|
|Tent Fabric||300gsm polycotton||Polycotton, PU coated 3000mm HH||Polycotton, PU coated 3000mm HH||Polycotton, PU coated 3000mm HH||400 gsm UV-resistant rib-lock waterproof canvas with sealed seams||320gsm rip-stop poly-cotton, PU coated|
|Mattress||6.5 cm||7 cm||7 cm||7 cm||7.5 cm||6 cm|
|Crossbars||Built in||Built in||Optional||Optional||Optional||Built in|
|Crossbar Load Capacity||65 lbs / 30 kgs||100 lbs (50 lbs when open) 45 kgs (22.5)||100 lbs / 45 kgs||100 lbs / 45 kgs||110 lbs / 50 kgs||88 lbs / 40 kgs|
|Net Weight||120 lbs / 55 kgs||145 lbs / 65 kgs||130 lbs / 59 kgs||150 lbs / 68 kgs||194 lbs / 88 kgs||155 lbs / 75 kgs|
|MAXIMUM GROSS WEIGHT||185 lbs / 85 kgs||245 lbs / 110 kgs||230 lbs / 104 kgs||250 lbs / 113 kgs||304 lbs / 138 kgs||243 lbs / 115 kgs|
2 Stalk lights, USB charge point, 12v point & power lead
6 Internal storage bags for books, shoes, toiletries etc.
|Solar Power Kit, Roof Rack Kit etc.|
|Rest of The World||Yes||No||No||No||Yes||Yes|
Great Review and post! I think I’m going go with iKamper for my next RTT
Thanks, I appreciate your comment
Do you know the model of RTT used in the first picture?
That’s a Roofnest Sandpiper in black.
You seem to have completely missed off UK company Tuff-Trek? I have a their full on expedition grade aluminium clamshell tent and its incredible! I think they’ve been selling them since 2015? I carry a canoe or my mountain bike on the roof bars and u
can actually fit your bedding inside. My friend has a new Tentbox aluminium one and you can’t fit the ladder in when you close the tent, or pillows etc?
I am not sure I 100% get your comment.
I know Tuff-Trek quite well, they have a hard-shell tent in their range that has cargo capacity, that’s available since 2014 and it’s called the Alu-Cab Expedition Gen 3. I wouldn’t have linked them directly, as Alu-cab has a network of dealers around the world. My readers from the US for example couldn’t care less about Tuff-Trek. Everyone can find their nearest retailer through the official Alu-cab website.
I omitted the James Baroud Extreme range on purpose, cause I found it strange that even the manufacturer won’t tell their cargo capacity. But that’s nothing to do with Tuff-trek either.
Know anyone who makes one of these like the I camper mini in aluminum that can mount bike racks on for a Tacoma short bed? The x is just too long. Wish they made a shorter flip out version!