Traversing difficult terrain with a roof top tent

Howdy Folks,

I've been unable to find information both here and on the web about 4wheeling with a roof top tent. Lots of info on RTT's, build-ups, expedition rigs, but very little that I can find on actually wheeling/traversing difficult terrain with the tent on top of the vehicle.

Anyways, I am looking for feedback from those who have wheeled with a RTT on top of their 4runners, specifically a 3rd gen lifted 4runner. How tippy is it with a RTT on top? Has anyone tipped over their lifted 3rd gen because of the RTT? Do you feel the RTT has little affect on the 3rd gen with off camber situations, heavy articulation situations etc.? How heavy is your RTT? etc.

I am considering a Tepui Kekunam which is 130ish pounds vs. a slightly lighter model which is 95ish pounds. If anyone has information on RTT's that are lighter, please provide some links. If you feel that the RTT on top of the 3rd gen. 4runner is no big deal while traversing difficult terrain, please explain why.

I've already got tons of information on highway driving, fuel mileage, etc. with a RTT. Please stick to providing info specifically on wheeling difficult situations with a RTT on top.

Thank you, I look forward to your responses.


Truck camping Infidel
I don't have a 4-Runner (anymore) but I have an ARB Simpson 3 on a bed rack on my Tacoma. Some observations I've had on off road driving:

-I am more aware of off camber situations than I was. I have decided on taking an alternate line to keep level even if it means using my skids and sliders more. More of a perception thing than actual problem. Note that I hate off camber trails and avoid them anyway. Now I'm even more hesitant to take a strange line.

-I am more concerned about over hangs and trees than off camber. I have spent more time worrying about dragging my tent on a rock or tree branch then rolling due to the weight and CG effects.

-Depending on how far to the rear you mount the tent you move the CG to the rear which affects weight transfer on climbs. This is an issue as you will have reduced traction on the front axle on climbs and can overload the rear.

Just my $.02
I know your looking for feedback from guys with 4Runners but I have an FJ with a rtt. So far I've wheeled a couple times with the rtt on and I haven't noticed any differences. The only down side for me is that I wheel on the east coast and we have a lot of hanging trees. Most times I'm in the clear but there has been some close calls.

Heres a pic of me coming down a pretty steep slope. I did this same slope before without my rtt and then this past weekend with the rtt. Notice no differences.



Expedition Leader
I have a Autohome Extreme (130#) in my lifted 4" XJ and JKU lifted 4". I do hard core trails (up to a 8 on a 1 to 10 scale). I have hit the RTT om many branches (hard top RTT) but never came close to a roll. When I wheel I generally have so much gear down low, the center of gravity is enough to off set the weight above. The XJ had a wider wheel base then stock by running different rims. I also ran on and off road with no sway bar. The JK rims and wheels are stock. I also have the Gobi rack weight and still no problem
I've never felt a tippy issue with the RTT on top running trails. One suggestion though, avoid mounting the tent on Yakima/Thule bars. It puts the tent probably close to 5-6" off of the roof and really does a number on drag and catching gusts on the freeway.

I built my own crossbars allowing the tent to be hard mounted to the bars themselves (removed aluminum tracks and bolt straight through RTT edging for solid mount). This allows it to be roughly 3" from the roof.

The wider stance of the 285/75's on 16x8 LC wheels also helps with stability.

Compared to the old setup, Yakima cross bars:

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I have wheeled with a RTT on a 3" lifted FJ Cruiser for almost 4 years now and have not had any issues, I always keep in mind that I have a RTT though and pay attention to what I'am doing. Trails that I have done with it in the past include the Maze (out to the Doll House), Kokopelli Trail (twice), Fins n Things, Seven Mile Rim (which has a very off camber section in it) every trail in the Ouray area and alot of stuff in and around SW Colorado/SE Utah. I agree with getting the RTT as low as possible on the truck, I use a Baja Rack which gets it about as close to the roof as possible. Rubbing tree branches is inevitable even here in the SW which is one of the reasons I ended up with a Autohome Airtop.
Echoing what @CYi5 mentioned about wheels, another option -albeit slightly controversial, is running wheel spacers? Every little bit of wider as you go taller should help.
I have 1.25" spacers on my 98 T4R with 265/75/16 on OEM 5 stars and the little extra does seem to help when pushing the rig off-camber. Just an idea
Thanks for all your input, I appreciate it. Seems like a RTT is not a biggie when on difficult terrain, but I need to be aware of the weight on top and use my own judgement. Was also thinking of getting some 1.25" spacers to help with widening my stance a little bit.
Thanks for your input on Yakima/Thule bars. How did you mount your own crossbars? Did you mount them onto the stock rails? If yes, how? I like your rig, nice set-up! That is the set-up I am almost at, minus the jerry can and RTT.
Thanks for all your input, I appreciate it. Seems like a RTT is not a biggie when on difficult terrain, but I need to be aware of the weight on top and use my own judgement. Was also thinking of getting some 1.25" spacers to help with widening my stance a little bit.
Yeah the 1.25" spacers will help and it also makes your rig look better too.


I'd like to bump this thread and restart the discussion if there are any takers out there. I have several upcoming trips where I plan to explore this topic on the trail (RTT, off-camber, low-hanging trees) and would love to gather advice.
I have no issues on rough terrain with RTT. Kukenam, Gobi, JKUR, 2.5”, stock wheels and tires. If you are within that marginal line where the tent causes or contributes to a flop, you were already too close to the edge of the envelope for my taste. This weekend I got into some rougher than preferred stuff, and ended up breaking a rear sway bar end link, but the tent being on top was no issue at all. I do avoid off camber to the extent possible, but as a driver I get uncomfortable long before the danger zone is reached. I also generally wheel slower than I can walk. If you want to be speed racer, all bets are off.

I have had one serious problem with the RTT... I got jammed in a parking garage in LA when traffic channeled in with no escape route... know before you go eh!


Thanks - I agree that off-camber situations are uncomfortable. The picture in my avatar is a memorial to one time when I nearly flopped. It made me realize that missing your desired line by just a few inches can have a major impact when you are navigating obstacles off-camber. I have a Maximus-3 rack (made by Rhino) that is bolted directly through my hardtop into the roll cage. My tent is mounted flush onto that platform rack with four channel nuts. I don't full trust the channel nuts on rough terrain (based on another story for another time), so I also use two 2,000lb cargo straps when in motion. I am hopeful that this setup is solid, but it sure feels uncomfortable getting tippy (even just a bit) when there is a 200lb tent overhead. The other factor that I keep reminding myself is that all of the skid plates, rock sliders, diff armor and AEV bumpers help move my center of gravity lower, even if they wreck my mpg in the process . . .

low hanging trees... I had my fair share of tight trails here in the midwest and I am surprised how well the cover has held up, although I am sure a well placed thick pointy branch can change my mind. Good thing is you can get a new cover when yours get really weathered. With that said, if i am just pure trail riding in this kind of trails, i would rather not do it with RTT.

I have a hard time how much the RTT has added to the tippiness, since 100% of time, i am fully loaded so it's heavy all over, up high and down low. So that probably helps balance things out. I've put the truck in heavy camber situations (especially when making room on single tracks!) and that gives me a positive impression that I will chicken out first before the truck rolls over. Now i call this as static leaning, on those dynamic cases where you truck is moving around, i can tell that the truck sways quite a bit more. So i adjust my driving a bit, making sure i minimize the off-camber, even if i have to back up and get a better angle. But this is just due to overall awareness that i am heavy. I drive it slow to avoid bumpy/jerky situations, no abrupt moves :D

I've done Utah (Lockhart Basin Rd), and trails all over CO with this setup. Especially in CO, a little off-camber can get your heart pumping easily, RTT or not :).
This is nothing crazy, but here the front slid sideways going uphill, so the truck is sideways. The front tire and rear tire lifted off the ground every small movement. I am sure i got plenty of room left, but with my family in there i am not risking it. I've been leaned over more than this on my other truck (Jeep) but this one raised my heartbeat to the roof.