Frequently Asked Questions
If you don't see your question below, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office at 541-306-3812. We are happy to help!
Q: WILL A ROOF TOP TENT WORK WITH MY PARTICULAR VEHICLE?
A: The best way to answer this question is to say yes, technically you can put a roof top tent on anything with a roof rack. Whether it’s a car, truck, SUV, trailer, etc. as long as there is are basic cross bars spaced accordingly, you can mount the tent. As a consumer, the most important thing to consider is that every roof rack has a dynamic and static weight rating. The dynamic rating is what car manufacturers and rack manufacturers always list. The dynamic rating is the maximum weight rating for gear while the vehicle is in motion. You need to check your roof rack’s user manual to get this rating, or contact your local car dealer to find out what the factory roof rack rating is. Most of the time you can find this information online. Also, keep in mind that by adding a 3rd cross bar you increase the roof rack rating by 50%. This only works if your roof rack system allows for a 3rd bar. The static weight rating is the maximum weight allowed on top of your roof when the vehicle is stationary. This rating is typically found in your vehicles owner’s manual, or you can contact your vehicle manufacturer.
While the factory roof rack will work in most cases, some make it a little more difficult to mount a roof top tent to because the cross bars are so close to the roof. This makes getting your hands underneath a little more challenging when installing or uninstalling the tent. The other thing to be aware of is that most of the roof top tents today use mounting bolts that are 2” long and could potentially scratch the roof of your vehicle. In those cases, you would need to replace them with shorter bolts. Typically, we recommend replacing your factory roof rack with an aftermarket one. Roof rack manufacturers such as Rhino Rack, Thule, and Yakima, make it easy to find an aftermarket rack by simply entering your vehicles make, model, and year.
The last thing to consider when choosing a roof top tent is how it will look on your vehicle. Be sure to check the exterior dimensions of the tent in the closed position and measure the roof space on your vehicle. This will give you an idea of how much overhang there could be from front to back or side to side.
Q: WHAT IS THE RECOMMENDED SPACING ON CROSS BARS?
A: The spacing on your cross bars is dependent on the model and size of tent you have. See the below chart:
High Country 55”: 32” – 36”
High Country 63”: 36” – 42”
All other tents (approx. 85” long): 42” – 48”
In some cases, especially with the High Country 80” that could hold 4 or more people, it’s recommended to use a 3rd bar for better weight distribution on your vehicles roof. Always check you vehicles owner’s manual to see what your static weight rating is.
Q: IS THE HARDWARE FOR MOUNTING THE TENT INCLUDED?
A: Yes. The mounting kit is typically located in the front pocket of the tent along with a tool kit and a few other replacement parts. In some cases, it may be necessary to change out certain hardware depending on your rack system. For example, if you have a fabricated rack that only allows you to drop one bolt through it, we recommend replacing the hex head bolt with a square head bolt or t-slot bolt. The standard mounting kit does not require any tools to put it on. We’ve replaced the standard M8 nut with a knob style nut that you can put on and tighten by hand. Be sure to use the included flat washer and lock washer to ensure the knob stays secure, and check it periodically to make sure it’s tight. Our rubber coated U-shaped mounts work with just about any round or square bar, and fits blade style bars up to 3 ½” wide. For thicker bars, you may need to replace the 2” hex head bolts with a longer bolt.
Q: CAN YOU CARRY GEAR SUCH AS PADDLE BOARDS ON TOP OF YOUR TENT?
A: This one can be tricky because it all depends on the type of tent you have and the type of gear you want to put on top of it. In most cases we would say no because there’s always a risk of damaging the tent and especially the PVC cover. The fold out style tents have a ladder built in so this creates an uneven surface. The Adventure Series tents have u-poles that can get bent if you cinch gear down to tight. If you do decide to attempt this you need to make sure to put some type of protective foam down to prevent damage to the poles and cover. Certain models like the Odyssey Series (coming in Q1 2020!) are designed for a rack system which allow you to carry gear. In all cases, always know how much weight you have on top of your roof rack so you stay within the limitations set by the manufacturer.
Q: CAN YOU LEAVE BEDDING INSIDE YOUR TENT?
A: The answer to this depends on the tent. While there’s not much room in the fold out models, you really should just experiment to see how much can be left because bedding comes in all different shapes, sizes, and thicknesses. However, the Adventure Series tents with the PVC cover allow you to put some stuff inside the tent and close it, but once in the closed position, you can stack 5 times more on top of the tent before you put the cover on.
Q: WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO SAFELY STORE YOUR TENT?
A: There are several recommended ways to store your tent, but first off, you always want to make sure the tent is completely dried out. If you have to close your tent wet when you leave camp, always open it up and dry it out immediately upon returning home. Mold and mildew can form if left for too many days. When removing your tent always get another person to assist you. This will help prevent you from injury and possibly damaging your vehicle. If you have to remove the tent yourself, a hoist system of some sort is recommended. There are several kayak hoist systems that would work great for this. If you have to take the tent off and store it in your garage, make sure you never set the tent down on the cement which could damage the exterior PVC cover. Always use a foam pad to set the tent on, and yes, it’s okay to set most models on their side. One thing people don’t think of, is wrapping the tent up in a tarp to prevent rodents from damaging the fabric. Ideally, it’s recommended to wrap the tent in stretch wrap to protect the fabric from moisture, dust, and critters.
Q: WHAT IS RECOMMENDED FOR CLEANING OR TREATING THE TENT?
A: The most vulnerable part of a tent are the models with a PVC cover. The cover is exposed to the elements 10 times more than the rest of the tent. It is recommended to use a treatment such as 303 Protectant which is readily available online or where boat maintenance products are sold. We recommend treating the cover at least twice a year. Gently wash the cover with soap and water then follow the instructions on the treatment bottle. As for the body fabric, most of the tents are made from a synthetic fabric so make sure to use a cleaner/waterproof treatment designed for that type of fabric. We recommend cleaning and treating your tent at least once a year. Also, be sure to clean out any of the fabricated components using a soft brush and/or air compressor. The extruded aluminum frames can be made to look like new using a mild to medium scotch brite pad.
Q: HOW DO THE TRI-LAYER TENTS PERFORM IN THE SUMMER?
A: The Tri-layer technology was designed to perform in year-round extreme conditions. First off, and all of our rainflys are coated with a special silver coating. This coating repels the sun’s rays and gives you a U/V protection factor of 50+. Secondly, we’ve designed the tents so that the rainfly doesn’t touch the body of the tent. By leaving a gap in between the body and the fly prevents the heat from the rainfly affecting the body fabric of the tent. This coupled with the silver coating give you exceptional protection from the heat and sun. When it comes to humidity, the most technical fabric in the world is useless if you don’t have good air flow. All of our tents are designed with oversized doors and windows and both the screens and doors completely open up giving you the airflow needed to keep the tent cool. In hot, dry conditions, the inside of our Tri-layer tents are actually cooler than temperatures directly in the sun.
Q: ARE REPLACEMENT PARTS AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE?
A: Yes! We typically stock most replacement parts for all current tent models. In some cases, those parts may not be available online. We are working to get these parts added to our website so if there’s something you need but don’t see it online, just call our office (541-306-3812) and we’ll see what we can do.
Q: DO THE TRI-LAYER WALL SYSTEMS WORK IN ALL TENT MODELS?
A: No. You need to check inside your tent for the attachment loops. The first versions of these were simply a fabric loop, but newer models have a black ring attached to them for easier fitment. These loops or rings will be found around the floor, up each side, and across all the peaks of the tent. If you’re still not sure, simply snap a picture and send it over to us and we’ll help identify if your tent is compatible. Even our Tri-layer tents come with these loops. Now if you want to make your tent ready for an arctic expedition, it’s possible!
Q: DOES FREESPIRIT CHARGE FOR INSTALLS IF WE COME TO BEND, OREGON TO PICK UP THE TENT?
A: Most of the time Freespirit will install your tent free of charge! Our general rule of thumb is the first two hours are free, which covers about 98% of all vehicles and rack types. We recommend you call ahead so we can get you on the schedule. We also ask that you send us a picture of your roof rack so we can determine if any unique installation requirements are needed that would require additional work or potential charges.
Q: DO THE VEHICLE AWNINGS COME WITH MOUNTING HARDWARE?
A: All of our vehicle awnings come with very basic L brackets. These L brackets only mount to certain types of cross bars, specifically the type that have a track in the top of them. In MOST cases, you’ll need to pick up additional hardware that is unique to your type of cross bars. For example, the included L brackets will work with a square or round bar, but you’ll need to pick up the round or square U-bolts to secure the bracket to the bar. In some cases, we recommend picking up an after-market awning bracket designed specifically to work with your rack or cross bars.
Q: DO YOUR TENTS MOUNT TO A RHINO RACK PIONEER PLATFORM?
A: Yes, but you’ll need to purchase additional accessories to do so. If you purchase the Pioneer Accessory bars, you’ll still need to drill in your platform to drop the mounting bolts through. If you pick up any of the tent mounts from Frontrunner, you’ll still need to drill in your platform to install the tent mounts. There are other solutions available, so check with your local rack company or give us a call.