In order to find the best roof top tent for the FJ Cruiser, we first have to talk about weight and racks. Once those are squared away we can talk about the best tents. Throwing a 200lb roof top tent on a vehicle that can only handle 165lbs might be a problem. You should know about that before you purchase your tent.
The FJ Cruiser factory roof rack has a maximum weight limit of 165lbs. So you will want to limit your tent weight to 165lbs or less. That would most likely be the on/off road weight limit. But what is the static weight – for use at a campsite? Generally, vehicle factory rails (excluding the crossbars) can handle somewhere around 1000lbs or more while parked.
For reference, note that the 4Runner also has a ground clearance of 9.6in, and it’s maximum roof weight is only 120lbs. The RAV4 is 176lbs.
How does it work to put a tent on the roof that weighs 120lbs and then proceed to add bodies that weigh 400lbs for a total weight of 520lbs? That’s what will happen at the campsite. How is the rack going to handle that given its max weight capacity of 165lbs?
The 165lbs is weight while driving. When you’re camped out the 165lbs goes out the window. Now we’re looking for the maximum static weight of the factory rails and crossbars. We know that factory rails can hold a huge amount of weight, so they’re not a problem for the FJ Cruiser. Generally, you would mount the tent on the crossbars right next to factory rails. This puts most of the stress on the factory rails. That means you should be good with a rack that handles 165lbs. Another option is to mount directly to the factory rails. Just make sure your motion weight is not more than 165lbs on the top of the vehicle.
Due to center of gravity issues, you should not ignore the 165lbs limit even if your rack can handle more. A higher center of gravity increases handling problems and rollover risk regardless of the rack.
What are other people doing with their FJ Cruiser?
In the following YouTube video the couple loads up an FJ Cruiser with about 200lbs of tent and gear. one of them said the tent alone weighs 185lbs. It’s some kind of Tepui Ruggedized tent. Based on the weight that would mean the Tupei Ruggedized Series Kukenam 3 which sells for about $2,300. I assume they bought a rack that can hold that weight. The wife said something interesting, “when it’s windy you will feel it [driving].” So there are some handling issues with so much weight on top. Here is their video:
The Pros and Cons of a Roof Top Tent – YouTube
Instead of the Tepui Ruggedized Series Kukenam 3 at 185lbs, you could get the Explorer Series Kukenam 3 ($1,700) at 130lbs. It’s pretty popular at Amazon.Com. They are both the same size and sleep 3. The ruggedized version is just more rugged and heavy. The Smittybuilt Overlander is only slightly smaller than the Kukenam 3 base: 56×95 vs 56×96. And it’s significantly cheaper ($900) and lighter (117lbs.)
This next video is an FJ Cruiser with Smittybuilt Overlander rooftop tent. He’s using the Warrior Products 3860 Roof Rack. The maximum weight capacity of the rack is as follows.
Off-Road: 150lbs [This should be your maximum weight on vehicle while driving.]
Static: 600lbs [This is your maximum campsite weight.]
How to live out of your car// FJ Cruiser Overland Rig Walk Around – YouTube
The Smittybilt Overlander is a good tent for this vehicle. It sleeps 2 to 3. It’s the most popular rooftop tent at Amazon.Com. Read more here.
Now Smittybilt has come out with another model: Smittybilt GEN2 Overlander Tent – 2583. Check out the video:
This tent is available at 4WheelParts.Com for $1,150. This next generation tent has solved the crappy ladder problem. The fabric is the same but the color is different. Overall, this tent looks to be very similar to the prior model, although there may be some minor issues addressed like the poor straps.
Take a look at this 2012 FJ Cruiser photo with a Raptor Voyager rooftop tent:
“The Raptor Series Jeep Tent is designed to mount easily on your stock roof rack system or on an aftermarket rack/crossbar system.” – Source.
This is a really good option to consider. The Raptor Voyager is unusual in that the base doesn’t bend. You just sleep along the full roof of the vehicle. It’s about $850 at Amazon.Com. Sleeps two. Full shipping weight 160lbs, so the net weight is going to be less. Read more here.
From a post at fjcruiserforums.com:
Can you mount a RTT with the [FJ Cruiser] factory rack?
Yes you can, I did for two years before switching over last spring to the BajaRack MG rack for my Maggiolina.
IMO the tent sits to high on the stock rack, and it lets to much wind underneath to make it stable on the highway.
It sits several inches lower on the new rack.
The factory rack can take over 600 lb sitting on it when sitting still.
Most racks including aftermarket ones can take 150 lbs when the vehicle is moving.
So you can mount a rooftop tent onto the factory rack but there might be stability issues while driving. That’s why you need to pay attention to the weight added to the rack.
The FJ Cruiser factory rack can work but watch the weight. Try not to exceed 165lbs on the rack while the vehicle is in motion.
I recommend four tents for this vehicle. You can find out a lot more about them here. Here they are: Smittybilt Overlander, Tepui Kukenam 3, Raptor Series Voyager and the little brother of the Kukenam 3 – the Tepui Explorer Ayer 2. They are all popular at Amazon.Com.