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.
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.