Rooftop tents first started as something for overland adventurers. They needed a way to stay above the ground and stay safe from predators while exploring the Australian Outback. With time, their convenience and simple setup have made rooftop tents a great choice for campers all over. With the best rooftop tent, all you have to do is attach it to the vehicle’s roof rack and deploy instantly by unfolding the tent and opening its ladder.
There are several great rooftop tents available in the market. As you go out to search one for yourself, you will be overwhelmed by what the market has to offer. However- there is an easy way out of that. We will help you with our collection of rooftop tent reviews and what to look for as you search for the ideal rooftop tent for your adventures. Let’s first talk about some of the best ones in the market and see what they offer.
Best Rooftop Tents Comparison Chart
Overlander Tent from Smilttybilt
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Tepui Explorer Autana Rooftop Tent
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Raptor Series OFFGRID Voyager Jeep Truck SUV Camping Rooftop Tent
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Tepui Explorer Kukenam Rooftop Tent
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Front Runner RoofTop Tent
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Yakima SkyRise Rooftop Tent-S
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Best Rooftop Tent Reviews – Top-Picks
1. Overlander Tent from Smilttybilt
This rooftop tent by Smittybilt is ideal for 2-3 people and a maximum weight of 661 lbs. It is a standard-sized tent housing a 92” x 55” full-sized mattress. The top is 600D, fully waterproof and heavy-duty. It also has a sunroof and side windows equipped with mosquito netting. The tent has been tested for severe weather conditions. It has been water column tested at 1500mm, giving you enough strength to safely get through heavy rains when inside it. The tent’s frame poles are made of anodized aluminium.
The tent offers a versatile deployment. You can access it from both the passenger and the driver’s side of your vehicle. An external shoe storage bag is also there with the tent. For interior lighting, it is equipped with an LED strip. It also has a telescopic ladder for climbing, which has a maximum height of 6.5 feet. The mounting brackets are included along with the tent.
2. Tepui Explorer Autana Rooftop Tent
This tent is made to be used in all seasons. It is spacious enough to accommodate 3 people. There is a private canopy entrance which comes with a removable part. The tent has a 600D ripstop and 260g poly-cotton fabric mix. This is useful in protecting the occupants from extreme rain and winds. The fabric of the tent is resistant to mold as well as UV rays, apart from being resistant to all types of weather. It also has a welded aluminum tube and cap sheet with insulation.
The mesh panels help in providing ventilation and enough airflow inside the tent. A high-density foam mattress is also there inside the tent for comfort. The sleeping area is 56×96 inches. The tent also has 4 large pockets inside that you can use to store any camping accessories and gear.
3. Raptor Series OFFGRID Voyager Jeep Truck SUV Camping Rooftop Tent
This tent from Raptor takes just a few seconds to set up without any complicated steps. It has enough sleeping space for 2 people, equipped with a 78×48 inches full mattress. The tent can support a maximum weight of 759 lbs. The design of the tent incorporates aerodynamics to enable it to withstand heavy rain and wind. The heavy-duty cover ensures that no water penetrates inside.
The air vents inside the tent have a quick-adjust control mechanism. There are also 2 storage and hanging shoe pockets to accommodate your gear. An aluminum heavy-duty ladder with a maximum height of 8-feet is also there with the tent. Inside the tent, you get a large living area along with space for hanging your gear. The tent has a net door rolling from the top that prevents you from dangerous elements without compromising on airflow.
4. Tepui Explorer Kukenam Rooftop Tent
If you are looking for a rooftop tent that goes with compact SUVs and smaller vehicles, then this may be it. This tent is ideal for accommodating 2 people. A 2.5-inch foam mattress with cotton cover is included with the tent. The sleeping area inside it is 48×84 inches. It is made of a high-quality 260g poly-cotton blend fabric with 600D ripstop. This fabric blend protects you from the most extreme of winds as well as rains. Its internal frame is made using 5/8” thick aluminum tubes.
The tent has mesh panels allowing for ventilation. You can also completely open the panels to increase airflow. It has 4 large pockets inside to store your camping gear and accessories. You can also swap out the canopy depending on whether you need it. An 8ft 6in telescoping ladder is also provided with this tent.
5. Front Runner RoofTop Tent
This rooftop tent opens in 1 motion to give you one of the easiest set up of a bedroom. You get a 2.25” mattress included with it. All the doors and windows of this tent have c panels. The base is made of aluminum base and sheeting to give you a sturdy surface. 2 hanging pockets inside the tent are enough for storing your camping gear. The mounting tracks that come with this tent can be mounted side-to-side or front-to-back as required.
With the tent, you also geta PVC coated 650g nylon cover it, thus making sure that your tent is protected when stored or in transit. All hardware that you may require to set the tent including universal mounting plates is included. The maximum load rating for this tent is 595 lbs. You also get an aluminum ladder along with this tent.
6. Yakima SkyRise Rooftop Tent-S
If you are looking for a small yet sturdy rooftop tent, then Yakima’s rooftop tent is one worth considering. The tent provides enough space for comfortably accommodating 2 people. It has a wall-to-wall 2.5” foam mattress for extra comfort. The design ensures that it is extremely easy to pitch. The tent is made using 210D nylon as the primary material, thus giving you a well-ventilated tent. Every window of this tent and its skylight have solid as well as mesh panels that you can open to enjoy the view or the ventilation.
It has strong, preset and lightweight aluminum bars. All the hardware required to set this up including the ladder is included. The maximum weight limit supported by this rooftop tent is 400 lbs. You also get SKS Lock Cores with the tent for locking the tent to roof racks for additional security.
Rooftop Tent Buying Guide
The market has several rooftop tents to choose from. The first step is to shortlist the best ones from all those. To help you with just that, we have compiled a set of questions/considerations that you can go through.
5 Important Considerations When Buying a Roof Top Tent
How Many People do You Need a Tent for?
This is the starting point of your search. If only 1-2 people are going to sleep in the rooftop tent, then most small/medium-sized tents are ideal. However, if 2 or 3 people need to be accommodated, you will need a larger tent.
Further, rooftop tents also have a maximum weight limit. Along with the number of people, it can accommodate, you must also keep that in check to ensure that the maximum weight does not exceed its rating.
What is the Static Weight Capacity of Your Vehicle’s Roof?
In addition to adhering to the capacity of the tent, you plan to buy, you also need to consider the static weight capacity of your car’s roof. It must be equal to or greater than the tent that you choose. This is not generally an issue as most manufacturers design the roof to withstand high loads.
What Type of Weather are You Planning to Use the Tent in?
If you are not expecting extreme climates, then a good quality rooftop tent that offers decent protection from snow, rain and sunlight should suffice. However, if you expect to encounter extreme conditions like high rainfall or winds, then you need to ensure that the tent construction and material will protect you fro them.
How Much Storage Space do You Have Available in Your Vehicle or on The Roof?
Remember, a rooftop tent will take up space during your travel. You have to take into account the weight of the tent when folded as well as space it will occupy into account. This is an important consideration for long trips when all luggage is equally essential.
Does Your Vehicle Have Roof Racks, and are Those Compatible with RoofTop Tents?
Roof rails are necessary to use rooftop tents. If your vehicle does not have one, you may need to explore getting roof rails installed so that you can use rooftop tents. Also, you need to check for the compatibility of roof rails with rooftop tents. Certain models specifically mention that they are not compatible.
7 Most Important Rooftop Tent Features & Specifications
The tent size is among the 2 most important features that you need to look at. The size here not only decides the amount of space you get for sleeping but also how much area the tent will take when stowed in your car. A large tent can be too big for a smaller car.
Soft-Sided v/s Hard Sided
This is the 2nd most important feature. A hard-sided tent is simpler to set up and gives you more safety. However, it will be heavier and may cost more. On the other hand, a soft-sided tent is lighter and more affordable. However, their setup can take longer and will provide comparatively less protection from outside elements like harsh weather.
The weight of the tent must be less than the vehicle’s dynamic weight rating. Also, it should be safe on the vehicle and its rack. Lighter rooftop tents are easier to install and worth with as compared to heavier ones.
Ease of Setup
Ideally, a hard-sided tent should take no more than 5 minutes to go up, while a soft-sided tent should be done in around 10 minutes. No point in going for a tent that you must wrestle with for 20 minutes every time you need to set it up or pack it.
Quality of Construction and Material
The quality of material and construction is of utmost importance. This will be your lodging when on the road. It should be made of a strong fabric, rugged and uniform seams, a heavy-duty frame and a stable & safe ladder. This is one aspect of your rooftop tent that you should not compromise on.
In any rooftop tent, adequate airflow and ventilation is a must. Summer months can get hard to bear in a tent, so you must go for one that offers enough windows/panels with mesh covers to ensure airflow.
Accessories such as a canopy or awning can help you to create a living space under its floor. Any other accessory that you would want can help you pick further from your shortlisted models.
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4 Benefits of Owning a Rooftop Tent
A rooftop tent gives you several advantages as you plan your outdoor adventure. Some of them are highlighted ahead.
- Simple Setup
A rooftop tent is easier to set up as compared to regular tents. Also, taking down a rooftop tent and packing it is hassle-free.
- Better Sleeping Surface
As you read in our reviews above, rooftop tents offer you a nice mattress for sleeping. In regular tents, you need to sleep on the floor or carry something extra to sleep comfortably.
- Save Vehicle Space
With a rooftop tent, you save on that precious space inside your vehicle. You can utilize that for other things required during your journey.
- Increased Safety
With a rooftop tent, you are kept off the ground. Not only does it save you from cold or wet ground, but it also offers protection from any snakes or rodents that may be around.
Benefits of A Rooftop Tent with an Annex
With an annex in your rooftop tent, you get an additional room and more space in it. It can be your changing room, a place to hang clothes, etc. Let’s see what some of the benefits are that you get with a rooftop tent that has an annex.
- A private changing room: An annex doubles up as an extra changing area. This gives you both comfort and privacy in the outdoors.
- Removable floor for more safety: Most annexes also come with a removable floor. This protects you from dirt, dust, water and mud. The annex can be a dry and clean place for changing.
- Storage room: An annex acts as a storage room where you can safely store your luggage and gear in an accessible place. You do not have to leave the safety of your tent to grab your gear.
- A room for your pet: Are you travelling with a pet? The annex can be the perfect place for your pet to sleep safety.
Surprising Uses for Your Rooftop Tent
A rooftop tent is something that every outdoor adventure lover must-have. Here are some of the best and most surprising uses for a rooftop tent.
- A free Room on Our Road Trip
Road trips can be quite long, and you will end up spending quite a bit to get a room for getting adequate rest. With a rooftop tent, you have a place to catch up on some sleep without spending exorbitant sums on a hotel room. You can easily find free campsites online and park there.
- Camp in Style at a Music Festival
One of the biggest worries while attending a music festival is finding a place to stay. With a rooftop tent, you are sorted. Simply park and go enjoy the festival- no worry about setting up or finding more space to set up the tent. It also gives you a view above the hustle of the festival, thus giving you another place to enjoy the festival from.
- Enjoying the View
With a traditional tent, you are limited in areas where you can setup. However, a rooftop tent gives you the freedom to pull over anywhere and enjoy the view. This can be the ideal setup for enjoying a perfect sunrise or sunset.
- Waiting in Lines
When your entire group is waiting in line, a rooftop tent gives you the freedom to make it more entertaining. You can take places waiting in the line for that new iPhone, a limited-seat screening or anything else- and everyone else can rest, party and chill in the rooftop tent.
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6 Tips on How to Thrive in a Rooftop Tent
Living in a rooftop tent can be fun- but there are a couple of things that you must know to make your stay easier. Here are a couple of tips to help you with that.
- Park your vehicle on a level surface
This will help you to avoid a slow roll-out during the night. Carry a couple of wood blocks or plastic levelling blocks to ensure that your vehicle does not roll-off at night.
- Opening your tent the right way
When you open your rooftop tent, roll up its cover and wedge it under the tent’s base. You can install some straps to keep this in place. The cover, when rolled up, is away from any elements and is also does not hinder your access to the tent.
- Lighting inside the tent
You can install LED lights inside the tent if it is not equipped with them. You can also use solar lights that have a soft-glow.
- Align the vehicle to ensure minimal issues from wind
If the wind is causing an issue, move your vehicle while the tent is open, and ladders lifted so that the wind can favor you.
- Dealing with bad weather
Dealing with bad weather is something that you must always be prepared for. If it is raining or snowing in all directions, then staying put and waiting it out is your only choice. In such cases, the tent will be damp with dew in the morning. The tent will dry out as you go about your morning tasks but waiting for some time to let it completely dry out is advisable.
- Going to pee while in the tent
This can be quite a dilemma while sleeping in a rooftop tent. You can have a designated pee bottle inside the tent to avoid venturing out at night.
Your Safety Guide to Roof Nesting with Kids
Camping with your kids can be fun and with a rooftop tent, they will enjoy the experience even more. However, you should follow a couple of extra safety tips as you roof-nest with your children.
- Securing the ladderThe first tip is to ensure that the ladder to the rooftop tent is secure before your kids climb on it. The ladder should securely attach to the tent and must not shake or move when someone is climbing it. Telescoping ladders allow for easier access to the tent from any angle.
- Keep All Doors and Windows SecureOnce your kids are inside the tent, ensure that they are safe by keeping all the mesh windows closed. With infants and young children, you need to be extra cautious about this as the tent is elevated above the ground. The mesh windows ensure that enough ventilation is there inside the tent.
- Adequate LightingThe most important aspect of preventing any accidents is to have adequate lighting. When kids need to move around or go up/down the ladder at night, you should have a LED or solar-powered light to illuminate the way for them. Light the way so that they can safely climb down using both hands.
- Store All Trash Outside the TentNo matter what sort of outing you are having, keep all food and trash outside the tent. Food and other items with a strong scent can attract bears and other animals. Such items include shampoos, toothpaste, deodorants, etc.
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FAQs & Answers
- Q: Are rooftop tents compatible with all cars?
A: No, before you buy a rooftop tent for your car, you will have to research to see if it is suitable with your vehicle type. A roof rack is a necessity while using a rooftop tent. For larger vehicles like SUVs and light trucks, mounting a rooftop tent is not an issue provided the weight ratings are taken care of. For smaller vehicles, there are many rooftop tents available- but you will have to see what models work for your car.
- Q: How safe are rooftop tents?
A: If you properly install a rooftop tent, you need not worry about safety. These tents have weight ratings that you must comply with. Rooftop tenting is safer than conventional tent camping in several aspects. You are safe from rodents and snakes, and the vehicle’s tires act as rubber contact points to keep you safe from lightning.
- Q: How much load can a rooftop tent hold?
A: The most accurate way to answer that is to check the load rating of your rooftop tent to see how much weight it can support. Additionally, the weight rating of your vehicle must also be given equal importance.
- Q: Does a rooftop tent affect my vehicle’s performance/driving?
A: A properly installed rooftop tent has a negligible impact on your vehicle’s driving at low speeds and on good roads. When driving at higher speeds, you may hear some wind/road noise. Gas mileage can be impacted by 1-2 mpg, depending on what type/size of tent you have.
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With the best rooftop tent, you can get rid of worries about where you will sleep at night on your road trip. No need to spend money on a hotel room or hours of effort setting up a tent. Simply get a rooftop tent to take care of all your accommodation needs. This guide should serve as the perfect starting point to get you your road-trip companion.
As you go through these rooftop tent reviews, you will get an accurate idea of what the market has to offer, and which features will best serve your requirements. This rooftop tent will be your lodging on the road, so spending time and effort to buy the right one is important. Go through the features and requirements, check out our shortlisted models, and compare those to find your trusted on-road companion that will be ready within minutes.