DIY roof top tent and bears

We recently purchased a E350 van that was converted to a shuttle bus (similar to what you’d see at the airport hauling people around). It was low mileage, and we got a good deal, and our intent was to build it out while hauling a sailboat around. It’s been a lot more tricky getting things laid out than I expected, but I had a thought today I’d like to explore. The roof is relatively flat and wide, and we still have a couple kids at the house that will be traveling with us. There is a pop top escape hatch, and I thought it would be cool to put a tent on top. The headroom is a bit over 6’, and I don’t want anyone to fall off on the outside. Does anyone have a good idea for a frame? I’m not a welder, but someone gave me an AC/DC welder, so I can give a metal frame a shot. I’m hoping I might get some good ideas here.

Also, we expect to take this boat to Alaska for a sailboat race next June presuming things settle down and it’s not cancelled again. Looking out the great big windows last night, I can see a bear pushing one in and having a feast. Does anyone have an idea of how to secure the windows better?


Greetings & Welcome!

Security screening/grating should keep both people & bears out, while still allowing a view and opening windows.

I’d avoid a soft sided tent up top in bear country. The good news is that collapsible hard sided popups are even easier to make than soft sided ones and are much more durable to boot. Look up “folding milk crates” for design ideas. You could add opening windows and everything.


"They told me I'd save money with solar, and have free electricity.
Neither was true." ~ Disgusted in Dallas

Thanks, Van_Dweller. I wouldn’t have thought of that, but it’s a very interesting idea. I’ll see what I can work out. Take care.