Factory Rack & Roof Top Tents

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New Member
Apr 16, 2024
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I found some discussions on this but I'm hoping to get updated information specific to my model and tent! I ordered a Naturnest RTT and have since gone down a rabbit hole of confusion trying to figure out what to do about the rack. In some places, I'm reading that my factory rack is sufficient. I have a 2015 Ford Expedition EL and my factory rack has a dynamic weight limit of 200lbs. The Naturnest is supposedly 83inches by 51inches, 172lbs, and looks like about 6 inches high with the hard shell closed. Many of the cross bar systems that people are using for RTTs max out at 165lbs, so that would lead me to believe my rack is better due to the higher weight limit and not needing to install those flimsy towers that people need to use to add cross bars to their factory racks. But then, there's a large group of people saying to NEVER install a RTT on a factory rack. I was told on another forum that the best option would be a platform rack, but I'm having trouble finding one that would fit my vehicle. I asked the "experts" at Rack Attack and they said my factory rack is fine due to the type of tent that I have. I would really love to hear from those of you with roof top tents on your expeditions. What is your set up? How's it going? Have any of you used the factory rack, with or without modifications?


Active Member
Jun 26, 2021
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newport beach
I used my factory cross members but found it very bouncy since those aluminum cross members dont take a lot of weight.

Im looking to get a new overlander full roof rack for my 2007 EL. The only one i found is made by Kingdom offroad in Arizona.


Well-Known Member
Jan 17, 2022
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The factory side rails are rated for the weight, but the crossbars are not. I have a 2017 EL without sunroof, which gets you that 200lb factory dynamic rating.

Tent: CVT Mt Washington "medium", 75x47x10" when closed, and around 185lbs.

It spent roughly 18 months on the top of my car with just Thule square crossbars using the correct Thule feet. This seemingly worked well up until last month when the tent met an unmarked low clearance overhang for a building...sigh. Good news is it was very low speed and the aluminum exterior doesn't appear damaged, but it did shear the factory side rail at the rear mounting points....this is where things get interesting.

I got home two days after hitting the overhang and removed the tent, along with taking the Thule bars and factory side rails off to find both rear rivnuts were pulled out and there was rust around the cracks. This meant the rivnut damage had been there for some time as there was no rain on my drive home since the incident.

Currently in the process of building a new rack using aluminum extrusion that will be bolted directly to the roof, with a few extra attachment points added for more strength. Similar-ish to a Prinsu rack, but not quite as polished appearance. Those racks use 2x1" cross bars, where I'm using 1.5x1.5" which does result in more strength at least.

To sum it up, use Thule/Yakima mounting feet and crossbars at a minimum, but I'd seriously consider doing a full rack with extra attachment points for an RTT on an Expedition after this whole ordeal.


Full Access Members
Aug 8, 2017
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As far as I can tell, the rivnuts are just in the roof sheet metal, not in a frame piece. I had an issue with kayaks and J-hooks that crumpled the crossbar and ripped out the side rail. I "repaired" it, but use a trailer for kayaks now. I'm not putting anything up there.

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