The 4×4 Tenting Pattern That is ‘Popping Up’ All Over Australia


The past 18 months have seen a kind of camping renaissance in Australia.

With national and international border closings tormenting the nation; Strict lockdown rules in many of our largest cities and most Aussies with a general need to get away from it all have made camping – as well as related activities such as bush walks, road trips, and off-road tours – the most popular form of vacation. We explored our own back yard like never before.

This newfound thirst for adventure has also fueled the fire in the Australian auto market. There’s a pronounced shortage of new cars at dealerships right now, and used car prices are hotter than a vinyl singlet, whether you’re looking for a minivan or a muscle car, but bushy SUVs like the Toyota Land Cruiser, Nissan Patrol, Ford Ranger and Land Rover Defender have seen exceptionally sharp price increases.

Of course, camping supply stores had a big day too – now that you have a rig, you need to charge it up! But there are car-related camping accessories that seem to be popping up in Australia more than any other … literally.

Car roof tents – sometimes called “pop tops”, based on how many can be carried in roof pods that you can mount on roof racks – will dominate Australian roads and campsites in 2021.

While they might not be the most beautiful thing in the world, there’s a good reason why pop-tops have become so popular, aside from a simple correlation between increases in car ownership.

RELATED: Toyota Land Cruiser ‘Blood Pact’ Shows Off How Crazy Australia’s Car Market Has Got

First, rooftop tents avoid the least popular aspect of camping: pitching a tent. Playing around with tent poles, fiddling with all the knots you learned to clear a place during your scouting days … It’s torture up your ass. Pop-tops are a much simpler offering with many literally just popping up, no assembly required.

A rooftop tent also has a strong safety advantage. When you are off the ground, you are less likely to be bothered by wildlife, be it caterpillars or crocodiles. In addition (or should I put it below), lifting the soil promotes ventilation – perfect during a hot Australian summer. A flat floor also makes them more comfortable than a tent on uneven ground.

After all, they are a great space saver. Living the #vanlife and sleeping in your car has gotten really cool lately, but a rooftop tent means you have more space for passengers and luggage in your vehicle. It’s also a bit more socially acceptable … We don’t recommend setting up the tent in the middle of a parking lot.

What is really interesting is the variety of sizes and setups on offer. Tent makers have solutions for everything from the popular pint-sized Suzuki Jimny (really, seeing one of those little 4x4s with a roof top tent is really hilarious) to full canopy modifications for Land Cruiser troops that have the actual roof of the car, instead of simply attaching a pop-up roof on top.

RELATED: Suzuki Jimny SUV suffers from ‘Rolex’ price hike in Australia

What we have not seen so often in Down Under (but would very much like to) are campers who operate roof tents on cars that are not large all-wheel drives. That’s something Americans are in pretty good shape, like the Porsche 911 built above.

We’re pretty sure you could fit a pop-top on an HSV Maloo. Just saying.

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