Jimny Roof Load Weight 😱

The Jimny has a reported 30kg roof load limit, some quote official figures of 40kg. I’m not certain what the official stance is but regardless you need to be abundantly aware of roof weight.

In this article I’ll share my experiences and personal opinions to date.

I changed my view

I’ve recently changed my views on roof weight and the Jimny. Those of you who have read my previous blogs will know that I said you don’t notice less than 60kg on the roof. Well this is true to an extent and under certain conditions.

What I failed to make clear is when off-roading, not just driving well maintained paths into woodlands, you will not want to have this amount of weight up top.

It’s very easy to start hitting some big figures once you start configuring your set up. Roam Overland made reference to this in his final videos before selling his Jimny. Another example closer to home is my fellow Jimny pal, Denis from @last_seen_exploring. He ran his Jimny with a significant roof load of 100kg and after hitting some decent tracks in the UK he noted that it did impact the driving experience, to a point that was described as scary. He has the same suspension and the same tyres as me, only bigger. Here’s his set up at that time.

Here’s what he’s changed it to now that he’s built his own DIY off-road trailer. I can’t wait to see that in action soon.

Obviously zero roof weight is best but that’s not what I’m trying to highlight with this article. The goal is a micro, lightweight overlander/camper/tourer, whatever you want to call it. Complete with all the creature comforts of the bigger overland style vehicles.

As Jimny owners we need to adopt the viewpoint of Ultralight Backpackers.

It’s perhaps a bit hipster and frankly if you want good kit it can get expensive too. The best way to reduce weight is to take less kit though and that’s the cheapest way to get out there enjoying nature.

For the serious off-roaders.

You need to watch this video.

There’s a term called off-road load limit that some rack and load bar manufacturers give capacity limits for. I reached out to Front Runner to ask what their load bars off-road weight capacity was. I wasn’t given a figure and instead was asked to refer to my vehicle manufacturers load limit. So this doesn’t shed any light on what they’re capable of. Ultimately, for Jimny owners the weakest link in the chain is going to be the load capacity of the vehicle.

I can’t see how running a roof tent, full front runner rack and storage boxes makes sense if you’re doing the kind of tracks that guys like @the_little_rig and @da_zooka_ do, give these guys a follow and check out Darren’s new YouTube channel.

This is hopefully a fairly obvious statement, but I’ll reiterate it anyway for people like me who aren’t experienced off-roaders. Roof load capacity while off-roading is far less than the load limit of your vehicle on-road.

I’m starting to see more Jimny owners opting for a lightweight trailer to deliver the camping experience they want after hitting the trails for the day. This can sometimes be expensive but in my view it’s the best option if you want to do what the Jimny was made for and still enjoy a superb camping experience. One day I’d love to have a basecamp style set up using an off-road trailer.

There’s also swags and ground tents but you’re eating into the storage space keeping large camping equipment in your Jimny. This is why smart storage solutions are essential, optimising every square inch of the vehicle and paying close attention to the payload of your kit. Every kilogram matters.

For the light off-roader and camper.

You should be aiming for less than 60kg roof load (that includes the rack or load bars). You will see some Jimny owners with 70kg+ but I can’t recommend it. Even running my own lightweight setup you will feel it. If you want to load it up with a ton of gear, roof tents, metal bumpers, recovery gear, fridges, sliders, drawers, etc, this is not the car for you.

Even 60kg up top isn’t ideal. I’ve been running 52kg for most of 2020 and it feels good on road and on the easy off-road tracks. However, before you buy anything please be aware that initially, I’m fairly certain that you will feel conscious of the added weight, I did. I’m not risk averse so if you are that way inclined (i.e. sensible), it will make you nervous until you settle into the feel of the car.

Recently I increased my roof load to 57kg since upgrading to the Darche Eclipse 180 Rear awning. My goal is to modify my roof tent in 2021 to reduce the weight. The target is -7kg, bringing my total roof load to 50kg.

I’ll post how I did it if I succeed and I’ll release a full breakdown of the mods, equipment, total payload and prices of the optimised set up. A weight nerds dream.

What changes I’ve made to help handle roof load.

Firstly, I changed the stock tyres to a wider 215/75R15. The Toyo Open Country A/T Plus tyres have a stiffer sidewall than the stock tyres and this helps reduce some side to side wobble. BF Goodrich KO2’s have an even stiffer sidewalls but they are a heavier tyre.

I upgraded the stock suspension to a stiffer OME set up. This further increased the stability and feel of the car with roof weight on.

Rightly or wrongly I added 30mm wheel spacers to widen the stance of the vehicle and this has helped stabilise the car better when cornering. This isn’t a sensible modification if you plan to go off-roading as it will increase the stress on your wheel bearings.

I pay a lot of attention to overall payload focusing on eliminating every piece of unnecessary kit and/or replacing anything with lighter weight options as I discover them. I still take too much kit with me when camping and will continue to refine it. It’s not the cheap way of doing things but at least I can share the results so you can make better informed purchasing decisions in future.

Final thoughts

If you’re like me and don’t do anything challenging off road, instead opt for enjoying the great outdoors and the occasional camping trip, then the roof tent on a Jimny concept does work. Within its limits.

I’m sharing my personal experiences, research from many conversations with other owners as well as tests carried out myself over the months we’ve had our Jimny. Your experience and expectations may vary. I share a lot of content on social media, my website and YouTube so it’s important that I make the reality clear for anyone stumbling across it:

  • Going heavy on roof load will make the Jimny less capable off-road (obviously!).
  • You will get less fuel economy.
  • You will need to drive more carefully at speed, lowering the top speed you would naturally travel at.
  • You will need to increase your breaking distance.
  • You will want to check your rack before, during and after each trip.
  • If you carelessly add roof load without serious consideration it’s a bad idea! Please be safe.

Hope this article helps you, comment below if you have any questions I can try to help with.

26 thoughts on “Jimny Roof Load Weight 😱

  1. Thanks for the update

    Recently got the front runner roof rack and have been looking and the optimal weight of weight control and attachments for storage

    1. Best way yeah 👍 nicely balanced distribution of the weight. Definitely worth putting the planning and effort into it.

  2. I have an order in for a Jimny at the moment and am going through the planning stages for everything. Out of interest, do you ever sleep two people in your roof top tent? I’m concerned that the gutters couldn’t handle the 60kg of equipment and 150kg of two people.

    1. Static weight we’ve slept 2 people no problem similar weights. It’s the load while moving that’s the concern. Less than 60kg is the goal in my opinion.

  3. This is a great summary of what little jimny can do with its roof, especially when we are looking for the roof system to go with our jimny and fit our needs. thank you so much for posting!

    Also there is one thing to share as what we came across in the market here in Australia, ARB makes a full size roof rack (1545mm x 1285mm) for jimny which weights only ~17kg, as well as a 3/4 size roof rack (1255mm x 1285mm) around 14kg. These would be good alternatives vs. heavier frontrunner racks but still good built quality.

    However after I read your article I now decided to go with the roof bar system just for its lighter weight. 🙂

    1. Hi Chang, those arb racks sound good. ~10kg saving on both versions is great! Thanks for the share I’ll try find links and add them to the article.

      Cheers 🍻

  4. Thank you for your continuously informative posts!

    Dreaming of taking my Jimny for long-distance road trip around Europe and Central Asia. What are your thoughts on having rooftop tents for such trips? I am guessing the roads would not be extreme off-road style…

    1. You’re welcome, I enjoy writing them 🙂

      If you keep as much under 60kg roof load as possible then a roof tent for long-term travel is great. We’ve been driving around with the tent on 24/7 for over a year as we have nowhere to store it.

      It’s just proper off-roading where it’s going to cause major safety issues. Those nice hard shell tents are much heavier so I would avoid turn on a Jimny unless you use load bars only and consider the SkyCamp mini. But I’d definitely keep the ladder in the boot instead of up top.

  5. Hi there,

    We have the 2019 model Jimny and looking to get a roof tent. Thinking of the Tentbox cargo but note what you have said about the weight issues which are very helpful. We don’t drive the Jimny off road and would really only be driving on grass verges etc to park up in places like Scotland and the islands where we see a good spot.

    From your experience do you think the weight (circa 64kg) would represent an issue for this type of use?

    Thanks in advance.


    1. Hi nick if you stick with using load bars to avoid the extra weight of a roof rack then you can probably get away with it. If you can keep the ladder and bedding in the car that would help too.

      70kg is at the cap of the weight that we felt was nerve racking at times. You’ll need to keep below 65mph in my opinion, but it’s doable. No more than 60mph would be more sensible.

      Again this is all personal preference. If you have a lift kit and stiffer suspension and wider tyres then it’ll feel different.

  6. Hey guys. Considering buying a Skypcamp Mini and use 2 x Frontrunner loadbars. Does anyone have experience with this set-up? I won’t go off-road. I would have the tent on my new Jimny 24-7 from April thru October. Would you deem this irresponsible or a bad solution? Would 3 loadbars be preferable? Any counsel for these intensions of mine?

    1. Hi mate,

      If I had the budget for one I would buy that or wait for the x-cover mini. Hardshell will be better though given all the reviews I’ve watched.

      Skycamp Mini = 57 kg
      Front Runner Load Bars = 7 kg
      TOTAL 64kg

      If you’re adding an awning you’ll need to factor in anything from 8 kg to 13 kg (approx)

      If you’re running stock suspension you’ll definitely feel 64kg on the roof and have to lower top speed and just drive more carefully. In my opinion, at least that was my experience.

      I’ve seen a Japanese jimny with a skycamp mini on and a huge 270 awning. You’ll notice the clearance on the wheel arches is greatly reduced so you can see the weight bearing down. It obviously works as they’re posting some great content on Instagram while camping across Japan.

      You could keep the telescopic ladder from the skycamp mini in the boot to lower some of the weight on the roof and that will reduce the roof load by approx 6kg. However that is assuming their weight estimates are including the ladder on their website.

      It’s a lovely tent and it can work for sure. I’d just very carefully consider other items you might want to mount on the roof too.

      Again this is all my own personal opinion and imagine people who do ride with 60+ on the roof would disagree with me.

      Hopefully someone might be able to contribute in the comments. 🙂

  7. Hi Geordi,
    Just watched the vlog of Ronny Dahl, a 4×4 expert in Australia. Hes just posted a very honest and quite moving blog entitled ” I stuffed up”. Its all about roof top maximum loads. Well worth watching. If the Jimny max is 30K the full length frontrunner rack is 27K ! So whats the point. I still think your sleeping inside arrangement is the way to go (or a groundtent).
    Appreciate all your postings. Great information

    1. Hi yeah I’ve been following that too. It does beg the question as to what the off road capacity the Jimny has. On road I’ll still aim for 50-60kg max with my setup. If I can get it lower I will though.

      It’s not worth the risk doing all this pack horse style roof loads if you’re off-roading in my view. There’s definitely arguments for going lightweight on-road too and maybe it’ll transpire that 50-60 kg isn’t great either. There’s always some element of risk/reward people will take, myself included.

      Interesting stuff and certainly isn’t great news for some companies out there.

      1. Awesome site. Great article.

        I agree, this is proving to be quite a hot topic, understandably for such a controversial key limitation to any ‘on or off’ road overnight adventure.

        Seriously thinking of repurposing my rack by possibly travelling whilst storing everything inside and then setup camp and either sleep inside or see if something like this becomes a light weight alternative roof space.


        1. Certainly is! There’s a few inflatable Roof Tents I’ve seen they certainly hit the weight targets.

          It’ll be interesting to see where this all leads.

  8. Thanks for that article who shows, that we have to talk too about, what offroad really means! I like your blog and have set too a link back to you (follow), would be nice to see the same 😉

    I did compare the offroad cargo capacity issue for a ford range ute and a land cruiser:


    Personally I didnt see a lot of broken roof racks, but did see a lot of Utes with RTT Setup who was doing some serious offroad. Do you know some examples of impact?

    1. Hi, I’m not a big off-roader myself. As far as I know there’s been no reports of failure on the gen 4 Jimny with an RTT, yet. I am still a firm believer in not pushing our luck, I know I’m over the recommended capacity for roof load and will be taking steps to reduce my set up further 🙂

  9. There is a roof rack available in germany that safely extends the roof load capacity up to 85kg. I have not tried it myself, but laws in germany are very strict and they have a components certificate. You also have to register it. The website is only in german though.


    I have also already seen Jimny Videos on youtube using it in combination with hard shell rooftop tents. But only in german as well.

  10. Great information here.
    I’m wanting to get more out of my Jimny, currently light off road only to get to some trout streams..

    Looking at carrying a canoe , weight approx. ~30kg , 3.0 M length.
    Is this possible with a JImny, and what roof rack system would you recommend?

    Alternatively a light trailer – again any recommendations?

    Cheers, Gerard

  11. Hi Geordie;

    Ive just purchased a 2012 Jimny in very good conditions. I live in Western Australia, summer is going to be around in a few months so Id like to get ready for camping. I’ve been reading all the comments, seems like owners have jimnies way newer than mine. Does that change anything about load on the car ? Im confused about the load on the roof, is it less than 60kg when driving ? Because I have read 30kg. But what about when the car is parked and 2 adults gets in the tent to sleep, will it damaged the car over time ? what’s the safest weight ? Do you know what’s the lightest roof top tent on the market ?

    Thank you very much for your time.

    1. Hi Loriane, yeah anyone adding roof tents to their Jimny’s are exceeding the recommended roof load limit. I only have experience of the gen 4 model personally but there are a number of gen 3 Jimny’s with roof tents on. I believe there are some modifications you would need to make to the load bar roof mounts among other things. I will add that while it’s possible it doesn’t mean it’s safe and I would seek the advice of someone who has loaded a roof tent on your model. Perhaps http://www.bigjimny.com forum might shed some light for you. I’m fairly certain the consensus will be ‘don’t do it’ by the more conservative Jimny enthusiast but like everything it’s all about risk/reward and certainly subject to where and how you will be driving the vehicle.

      Myself, I would never do any of what you would call proper off-roading with such roof loads on the car but for my light usage on mainly well maintained woodland and farm tracks it’s ok.

      Good luck.

  12. Hi Paul,
    great blog post. I just read an article on another website about roof load.
    If you are interested: https://gentletent.com/en/blog/rooftop-tent-roof-load

    I understand that driving and handling are very important factors for the driver and others on the road.
    But there is still the issue of insurance. That is, if something happens on the road, you have to pay heavy tickets and in addition you have no insurance coverage.

    For me, it’s really hard to decide which way to go.

    Kind regards,

    1. Yeah I agree. I hope my articles are clear that it’s exceeding the recommendations and done at the owners risk! I think I’ve added that to all blogs regarding roof tents and roof loads. It’s just about sharing my experiences and experiments. What feels ok for me to drive might be a terrifying experience for others so it’s all hopefully being taken with a pinch of salt. I’ve actually seen a lot of people run way heavier setups than I do but I’d not recommend it!

      It’s definitely not a decision to take lightly, pardon the pun 😉

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