I Solved A Rooftop Tent's Biggest Problem Within Less Than An Hour

Getting this thing off my roof when it's not needed has changed everything.

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Photo: Jason Torchinsky/Rory Carroll/Jalopnik

As I mentioned in my earlier post about the Roofnest Sparrow, there are a couple of drawbacks to mounting a rooftop tent on your car. Chief among them is that the tent is still up there, whether you’re using it or not. This one only weighs about 130 pounds, and it’s more aerodynamically optimized than some other options, but it’s still additional weight in the worst possible place for weight, and it does create some fuel-economy reducing drag. Other tents come with a smaller frontal area, so leaving them up all year might not be as big a deal.

But what I convinced myself I needed, was a way to remove the tent that would allow me to quickly reinstall it when I wanted to.

Image for article titled I Solved A Rooftop Tent's Biggest Problem Within Less Than An Hour
Photo: Rory Carroll/Jalopnik
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My approach to this kind of thing is to stew on it for a long time, occasionally making little sketches and calculations until I have something that looks good on paper. Here, what I ended up with is four eyebolts mounted in the t-slots on the top of the tent’s upper shell. These slots are meant to hold crossbars, bike racks, etc. so I know they’re strong. Then, I bolted four pulleys to the joists in the barn (worth noting that this all works better if you have a barn), I bolted a fifth pulley near the wall, and a cleat right below it.

Image for article titled I Solved A Rooftop Tent's Biggest Problem Within Less Than An Hour
Photo: Rory Carroll/Jalopnik
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Then, I backed the Lexus under the whole setup, ran the rope through the pulleys and eye-bolts, unscrewed the little handles that held the tent to my roof rack and tugged on the rope. Because of all the pulleys and eye-bolts, it was easy to lift the tent with one hand and secure it to the cleat.

The Lexus now feels like a Ferrari faster and more aerodynamic, and I’m getting a little better gas mileage. Next time it’s time to go camping, I’ll drop the tent back on the roof, buckle it down and head out.

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Obviously this only works because I have an out-of-the-way space that I can drive into. It would also work in a larger garage, provided you don’t find a huge tent hanging over your head/car/children unnerving.