Rooftop camping is a fun, new trend that’s been taking North America by storm for the last few years. Odds are, you’ve seen pictures of these tents perched on top of cars and would like to try it yourself. But finding the best rooftop tent is definitely not an easy task.
There are a lot of great tents out there to choose from, and finding the right one can be a job in itself.
Luckily, there are a few rooftop tents out there that stand out from the rest. All of these tents have their own particular qualities and features. With that in mind, it shouldn’t be too hard to find one that fits your needs. With a little research, you can find the best rooftop tent for you.
WHY SHOULD YOU BUY A ROOFTOP TENT?
Rooftop tents have a few advantages over the normal ground tents. The most obvious of these is that you can stay off the ground and away from any dangerous critters that lurk there. It’s a great choice if you love sleeping outside but don’t want to deal with snakes, spiders, or ticks.
Rooftop tents are also much easier to set up than regular tents. It might come as a surprise, but once you have a rooftop tent installed to your rack, you can actually set it up in about two minutes.
For most of these tents, all you have to do is take off the protective cover, remove the straps, and pull down the ladder. The tent will more or less pop up on its own.
Additionally, rooftop tents are surprisingly comfortable. Virtually all of them come with their own built-in memory foam mattress. It definitely beats sleeping on the cold, hard ground!
On the downside, rooftop tents tend to be more expensive than ground tents, and they have to stay on top of your vehicle once you put them up there. But for some campers, the benefits will far outweigh these minor negatives.
THINGS TO LOOK
FOR IN THE BEST ROOFTOP TENT
Naturally, there are a few things you need to know before deciding which tent is right for you. Here are some things you should look for when shopping for the best rooftop tent.
WHAT KIND OF MATERIAL DOES IT USE?
When it comes to material, you want to make sure you use something that’s breathable, durable, and weatherproof for the exterior. With that in mind, nylon is usually the best option.
It has all of the aforementioned qualities, and it’s also very lightweight. Ripstop nylon is even better. It’s just like regular nylon but even sturdier.
You should also consider the base. In this case, polyurethane is usually the best material to use. That gives the tent an optimal weight capacity while also creating a strong foundation.
Finally, there’s the frame and the ladder. Ideally, these parts should be made of aluminum. That will make the tent both very durable and very light at the same time.
HOW MUCH DOES IT WEIGH?
Obviously, weight is going to be an important consideration. You want to make sure the weight of the tent and the campers inside don’t exceed the weight of the vehicle. Otherwise, you could end up having some car trouble.
Generally speaking, the best rooftop tent will weigh somewhere between 100 and 160 pounds. Furthermore, you should expect the campers and their gear to have a combined weight of 500 to 650 pounds.
Before making a purchase, make sure you have a roof rack that can support this weight. If you don’t, you’re going to have problems later on.
HOW MANY WINDOWS AND DOORS DOES IT HAVE?
Another unfortunate downside to owning a rooftop tent is that they’re not very breathable. Durability usually takes priority, so it’s important to consider how many doors and windows your tent will have. That will go a long way towards improving the ventilation within the tent.
Ideally, your tent should have at least one window and one door. Also, meshed windows and doors are helpful since these help keep annoying bugs outside. Luckily, almost all quality rooftop tents have these features.
HOW WE REVIEWED
For these reviews, we used Amazon, the products’ official websites, and professional reviews as our main sources of information. Also, our opinions of these products were informed by a combination of professional reviews and customer reviews from sites like Amazon.
We took several things into consideration when reviewing these products. These include comfort, ease of installation, durability, and ventilation. Of course, price was also a major factor in these reviews.
The 7 Best Rooftop Tents
Now that you know what to look for in the best rooftop tent, let’s see what the market has to offer. Every tent on this list is a potential candidate for best rooftop tent.
Please note that these tents are not listed in any particular order.
Let’s start by taking a look at the Front Runner Roof Top Tent. This tent claims to have the lowest profile of any rooftop tent on the market. Not counting the ladder, it’s only 200mm. That means it could be the best rooftop tent if you want to cut down on wind resistance.
It also weighs only 93 pounds. It comfortably holds 2 people and has a 10,000 PVC tent cover. This tent uses a special Oxford tent fabric that’s strong, breathable, and waterproof.
Additionally, it has zippered privacy panels on all of the windows and doors, and a retractable, aluminum ladder. Also, it has an aluminum base. It has screened doors and windows, so you don’t have to worry about bugs getting in.
It has a removable HD fly-sheet cover that’s made from 200D Oxford weatherproof fabric. This tent features a roof ventilator for added ventilation. On top of all this, it has two interior pockets and overhead velcro loops that you can use for storage.
In terms of price, this tent is a decent midrange product. It’s the best rooftop tent if you’re looking for something light and easy to install.
Unfortunately, it’s not very durable, and there’s not much space in the interior. Customers still gave it 5.0 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
The Tepui Explorer Series Ayer 2 is the first product on our list from the legendary Tepui brand. This four season tent can comfortably hold two people at a time.
It weighs a mere 110 pounds. It’s made of a 600D ripstop ventilate coated polycotton material. That helps protect you from heavy rains and wind.
All of the windows and doors use a tight no-see-um mosquito netting to keep the bugs out. It also has 4 internal pockets for storing gear and a 2.5-inch high-density foam mattress.
This tent’s ladder is eight feet six inches long. It uses universal mounting brackets that make it easy to install on virtually any roof rack
The base and internal frame are both made of aluminum. Furthermore, its rainfly fabric is made from 420D Polyester Oxford, and its travel cover material is 1,000g heavy-duty PVC. You can buy an annex separately.
The Tepui Explorer Series Ayer 2 is another decent, midrange product. It’s very easy to install and very durable as well. This tent is capable of handling harsh weather very admirably. It could be the best rooftop tent if you plan on camping in extreme conditions.
On the downside, the bed is a little thin. Multiple reviews described it as being uncomfortable compared to other rooftop tents. Also, it’s a bit of a tight fit for two people. It currently has 3.9 out of 5 stars on Amazon. However, it made our list because it earned 4.75 gnomes out of 5 on the Tepui site.
- Standard size tent (sleeps 2)...
- Sets up and closes in seconds....
- Aerodynamically engineered to...
- 2 hanging shoe and storage...
- Net door rolls from the top...
The Raptor Series 100000-126800 is another potential candidate for being the best rooftop tent. It claims to be the lightest manual rooftop tent in its class. In fact, it has an official item weight of 159 pounds.
This tent can hold up to three people at one time, and it’s aerodynamically designed to withstand heavy winds and harsh weather conditions. It features two hanging shoe and storage pockets that can be rolled up.
One of its more interesting features is its built-in awning which creates a natural panoramic view. Additionally, this tent comes equipped with built-in air vents with a quick-adjust control feature. It also has a mosquito net door that increases airflow while protecting you from insects.
On top of all this, it has plenty of interior pockets and places to store your gear. It has an aluminum telescoping ladder.
This particular rooftop tent is a bit cheaper than most on the market. That means it’s potentially the best rooftop tent if you’re on a budget. It’s also very well ventilated and easy to install.
Unfortunately, the inside is pretty cramped. Also, some customers describe the bed as rather uncomfortable. This product has 5.0 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
Tepui makes another appearance on our list with the Tepui Explorer Series Autana 3. It's a four-season tent that can accommodate up to three people. One of its more interesting features is its extended canopy entrance with a removable annex. This annex has a PVC floor, side screened windows, and a rear door.
This tent also has a rainfly with quick release clips and two separate sky panels in the roof. These panels use no-see-um mosquito netting, and 260g ventilate coated canvas. There are also water-resistant YKK zippers in case of rain.
Furthermore, there are four internal pockets for storing gear. Like the previous Tepui product, it uses universal mounting brackets for easy installation. This tent weighs 130 pounds. It has an aluminum frame and a 2.5-inch high-density foam mattress.
This particular tent is pretty expensive compared to the other products on this list. However, many customers felt it was worth the extra price. It has plenty of interior space, and it holds up incredibly well during bad weather. It's also very easy to install.
Aside from the price, the one major downside is the bed. Some people simply felt it was a bit too firm. This tent has 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
The Smittybilt Overlander Rooftop Tent is one of the most popular rooftop tents on the market. This tent can hold up to 3 people and has a 142-pound item weight.
It also has a 60mm high-density foam mattress with a removable cover. It features a 600D heavy-duty waterproof top and rainfly. These will definitely help you stay dry when it starts raining.
Additionally, this tent has a sunroof and side windows with mosquito netting to keep the bugs out. It also has interior LED strips and a PVC cover that protects the tent when you're not using it. The tent has an aluminum frame and a telescopic ladder.
On top of all this, you can buy a ladder extension or an annex with a removable floor separately. Mounting brackets are included with the tent.
This tent is pretty cheap compared to most similar products. It could be the best rooftop tent if you don't have a lot of money to spend. Along with the price, customers loved the tent's sunroof. They also felt it was well ventilated, and it didn't leak during the rain.
Unfortunately, some people felt the instructions were confusing. That can make the tent more difficult to set up than it needs to be.
Also, several people complained that the straps used to secure the tent were low-quality. It currently has 4.4 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
- 300GSM Polycotton Canvas Shell
- 300D Oxford Polyester Flysheet...
- Super Strong Aluminum Base
- Foam Insulation Covered Base...
- .98 in. x .05 in. Super Strong...
The ARB Simpson III is another potential rooftop tent option. That's unique because it comes with its own annex for added space and privacy. The tent itself uses a high-quality poly/cotton fabric with an Oxford polyester flysheet. Its official item weight is 185 pounds. And it can comfortably fit two people at once.
This tent also has an aluminum base and a 2.5-inch high-density foam mattress. All of its doors and windows are screened to keep bugs out. The entry door has grab straps to help you get in and out of the tent.
This tent also features a unique bungee cord system that makes the packing down process faster. It comes with two shoe pockets for extra storage.
Because it includes an annex, this tent is a bit more expensive than most. Still, this tent uses very strong, durable material. It's also very well ventilated and easy to set up.
But once again, the instructions are not very clear. Although it's easy to set up, the installation process is a little more difficult. Also, the annex doesn't have a floor. That was an issue for some customers. This tent has 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
Finally, we have the popular Tuff Stuff Delta Overload Rooftop Tent. You can mount this tent on a wide range of vehicles, including pickup trucks, travel trailers, and SUVs. It’s a 2-person tent that weighs 120 pounds.
It comes with a 2.75-inch memory foam mattress with a washable cover. The tent also features four interior pockets and a waterproof shoe storage bag.
In addition, this tent has a rainfly that helps keep the tent dry while leaving the windows open. This rainfly is made of a water-resistant 420D Polyester/Oxford material. The tent itself uses 280g Poly/Cotton ripstop fabric with a waterproof polyurethane coating.
These features help keep the tent remarkably dry whenever it starts raining. Furthermore, you can buy an annex separately for added privacy.
The Tuff Stuff Delta Overload Rooftop Tent is a midrange product in terms of price. Most customers agree that this tent is incredibly durable. It handles harsh winds and rain incredibly well, and it keeps you dry in the process. It’s also very easy to install and set up.
On the downside, the mattress isn’t very comfortable. This tent currently has 5.0 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
WHICH ROOFTOP TENT IS BEST FOR YOU?
As you can see, there are several excellent options for you to choose from when it comes to rooftop camping. Any of the previously mentioned tents is a potential candidate for best rooftop tent. So which one is right for you? To answer that question, you really have to consider your needs.
Do you need a lot of space and a comfortable bed? If so, then you should choose the Tepui Explorer Kukenam 3. Do you need something that will hold up well in bad weather? Then you might go with the Tuff Stuff Delta Rooftop Tent.
Or maybe you’re on a budget and don’t want to spend a lot of money. In that case, the Raptor Series 100000-126800 is the best rooftop tent for you.
Regardless of which tent you choose, it will definitely be a worthy investment. All of these tents are quality products and are guaranteed to provide many years worth of adventures in the future. Rooftop camping is a lot of fun, and you certainly won’t be disappointed.
What about you? Have you ever gone rooftop camping? Do you have any experience with these tents? Let us know in the comments!
Featured Image from Amazon