Best Rooftop Tent for Subaru Forester

Before we can look for the best rooftop tents for the Subara Forester, we must know the cargo limits of the rack. For the 2019 version, the maximum cargo dynamic load limit is 176lbs. That only applies to vehicles in motion. The static load limit is 700lbs, or 4x[dynamic load limit.] which applies while parked.

From the 2019 Subaru Forester manual:

Adding weight to the vehicle’s roof can adversely affect handling, braking, and rollover resistance. The vehicle must never be driven with a total roof rail load in excess of 176lbs (80 kg).

CAUTION. The roof rail load limit for stationary vehicles (700lbs (317kg)) applies only when the vehicle is parked and the load is evenly distributed left/right and front/rear and the roof crossbars and roof tent are tightly secured to the vehicle. If these conditions are not met, the load limit will be lower. – Source.

Even if you put a beefier rack on top, you should be paying attention to these limits.

What are other people doing with their Subara Forester?

Setting Up Yakima Skyrise Rooftop Tent on 2019 Subaru Forester Sport – YouTube

Yakima Skyrise Rooftop Tent (2-person)
Yakima Skyrise Rooftop Tent (3-person)

If you’d like to see how the Yakima Skyrise stacks up against some other tents, check out this article: Yakima Skyrise Rooftop Tent – Tenting2.

I tracked down the rack he is using:

1. Installing the Yakima Rack on a 2019 Subaru Forester – YouTube
2. TimberLine System – Tower System – Product Class

  • JetStream – Roof Rack Crossbars | Yakima
  • TimberLine Towers (Set of Four)

3. Yakima Rack Fit Configurator

The Yakima Timberline System has a maximum dynamic load capacity of 220lbs. In a Subaru Forester you’re maxed out at 176lbs due to the vehicle dynamic load limit.

The maximum static weights for the tents and crossbars (RoundBar, CoreBar, JetStreamBar) are;

  • SkyRise Small 400 lbs
  • SkyRise Med 600 lbs


The Yakima SkyRise tents are a good chose for the Subaru Forester because they’re relatively light, and they have a much easier rack installation system as compared to other tents. But there is the issue of cost: $1500 for 3-person version and $1009 for 2-person. Those are list prices from Yakima. Check out this comparison with other tents:

SpecSkyRise 3Kukenam 3OverlanderAyer 2
Sleep Capacity3332
Sleep Footprint56 x 96in56 x 96in56 x 95in48 x 84in
Load Capacity606lbs661lbs661lbs400lbs
Fabric210-denier nylon600-denier poly/cot600-denier poly/cot600-denier poly/cot
Peak Height48in52in51in39in

The main competition is the Smittybilt Overlander due to its very low cost at $930. The Kukenam 3 and Ayer 2 are from Tepui. These three are all very popular at Amazon.Com. They are all 4-season tents while the Yakima SkyRise is a 3-season tent.

A 3-person tent is more like 2 adults and one child. A 4-person tent is 2 adults and 2 children.

Here is a picture of the interior from Yakima of the SkyRise 3:

Tons of space, right? Now let’s look at another picture:

It looks like enough space for two adults. Maybe you could squeeze in a kid.

That last picture came from this review:

Here’s a review of the Smittybilt Overlander rooftop tent:

The main issue with Overlander is the installation. The installation process is not as smooth as with the SkyRise. I talk about that more here. Once you’re done with the initial installation process where you put the rails on the tent then there is the issue of putting the tent on and taking it off. This can go a lot smoother if you buy some tight-spot wrenches and build a very simple ramp so one person can put the tent on and take it off the vehicle solo.

Update 27-May-2020:

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.


The Yakima Skyrise is a good tent for the Subaru Forester. Smittybilt Overlander would also be a good option. Other viable options would be the Tepui Kukenam 3 and Ayer 2.