Camping is a popular activity that is starting to have a resurgence this past decade. With new technologies making camping more convenient, manageable and accessible, more and more people have been attracted to this hobby as of late. One unique style of camping that is starting to get popular on social media platforms such as Instagram is roof top camping where tents attached on the roof of the car serve as temporary shelter. Due to popular demand, we decided to make an article on the best roof top tent on the market right now.
What are the different types of roof top tents?
Different types of roof top tents fit different weather, climates and situations. Here are the most common types of roof top tents that you can choose from:
- Soft-shelled Roof Top Tent – a soft-shell roof top tent has fabric on the sides and it also uses fabric for its roof. These are great when you are looking to cut off some weight and if you are sure that rain wouldn’t ruin your camping experience. A hard roof might protect you from the rain, but it is very heavy and harder to setup too.
- Hard-shelled Roof Top Tent – these tents are made up of fabric on the sides too. However, they have a hard shell on top that can protect you from things such as falling branches and rain. The only downside? Because the roof is hard shell and not fabric, setting it up requires a bit more effort and manpower – so you should think carefully if you really need a hard-shelled roof top tent.
- Integration Roof Top Tent – these tents use the actual pop up roof of some vehicles as it’s hard-shell top, which means that they are quite easier to setup. However, not all vehicles can be used as the base for an integrated roof top tent, so your choices might be quite limited on that end.
Things to Consider In Buying a Roof Top Tent
- Easy to deploy
This is probably one of the most important things that you should look out for. You don’t want to waste hours reading the manual and ruin your camping trip because you can’t seem to deploy your roof tent properly. Make sure you choose one that you can handily deploy even when you are working alone.
- Roof Top Type
First thing that you should consider is the roof top type. Are you going for the rigid hard top? Or are you simply going for the soft-shelled roof top type? Hard-shell tops are sturdier and can protect you from rain, but they are also harder to setup compared to the more common soft-shelled tops.
- Rack compatibility
Aside from having the best roof rack for roof top tent, one thing you need to consider is rack compatibility. Make sure that your rack works with the roof top ten that you are going to purchase, or it will just become unusable.
- Weight capacity
While most car roof are engineered to support weight on top and provide the proper weight distribution, knowing the exact weight capacity of your own roof top tent is highly advisable to ensure the safety of your sleepers. The sturdy tent platform and the ladder can help in supporting the load of the car roof, but you also have to consider the gears and other things that you might want to put inside your tent when camping.
- Weather protection
How well can your roof top tent protect you from the elements? Remember, a quick spray of rain is something that fairly happens up in the mountains – you have to consider your tent’s weather and element protection before jumping on a purchase.
Our Top 10 Choices For Best Roof Top Tent
Best for small groups
1. Yakima Skyrise Rooftop Tent
Why sleep on the cold ground if you can elevate your tent and sleep comfortably, right? Yakima believes that you should enjoy your next car camping trip, which is why they created the Yakima Skyrise Rooktop Tent. This rook top tent is a soft-shelled rooftop that can accommodate up to two campers with 28 feet of sleeping space. Its very own plush mattress eliminates the need for sleeping pads too, which means less weight and less packing for you.
It has mesh screen windows which offer great ventilation and a built-in ladder that you can use for easier access to and fro the tent. It is also compatible with most factory and aftermarket crossbars.
2. Roofnest Roof Top Tent
Made out of fiber-reinforced ABS shell that is reshaped and updated for modern car camping standards. The Roofnest Roof Top Tent offer durability and strength even for its size. We really loved its interior fabric lining that makes it much more comfortable to sleep, even in cold weather.
Another thing that we really love about the Roofnest Roof Top Tent is its anti-insect mesh with full-zip closure. You can easily look out of the window to enjoy the scenery with this feature. It also comes with a full 7 cm thick mattress that makes sleeping even more comfortable and manageable.
Best mid-sized tent
3. Tuff Stuff “Delta Overland” Rooftop Tent
If you are traveling with a mid-sized group, smaller rooftop tents just won’t cut it. The Tuff Stuff Delta Overland model gives you just a little bit more space compared to other single or double roof tents, and it is also very easy to assemble and disassemble. With a standard cross bar roof rack, the Tuff Stuff Delta Overland can be deployed in under 5 to 10 minutes.
What we love even more about the Tuff Stuff Delta Overland is the rainfly that covers the whole top of the tent – it is a great tool to keep your protected not only from the rain but from harsh direct sunlight as well. It is crafted from a waterproof polyester and durable rip stop fabric.
4. Smittybilt Overlander Tent
Smittybilt is a trusted name when it comes to outdoor camping car tents, and the Overlander Tent is proof to that. With a 600D heavy-duty, waterproof top, comfort and durability is already secured. It has a rainfly to protect your from direct water or sunshine, and it also has a sunroof that you can pull down anytime you want. It also comes with an optional annex that you can install under the tent for more space and extra maneuverability.
We really love its built in foam double mattress that makes sleeping such a breeze. The anodized aluminum tent poles are really durable and lightweight. You won’t have problems setting it up even when you are just by yourself. We highly recommend the Smittybilt Overlander Tent for mid-sized groups.
Best Hard-shelled Roof Tent For Rain Protection
5. DANCHEL OUTDOOR Hard Shell Rooftop Tent
Hard-shelled rooftop tents are great for camping out in places where weather can be prickly. Yes, they might be a bit heavier to set up, but they also provide a sturdier roof and better protection from the rain. Danchel Outdoor Rooftop Tent comes with a roof that is crafted from heavy-duty ABS plastic, which means it won’t easily be broken like most glass reinforced plastic. All of its windows and doors also come in bug-repellant screens to give you breathability while protecting you from insects.
We highly recommend the Danchel Outdoor Rooftop Tent for groups of 2 to 3 people. It can fit 2 adults and a child inside with extra space to place all of your camping gears. It also comes with free flashlights, mattress, ladder and a storage bag.
6. TMB Motorsports Pop Up Roof Tent
The TMB Motorsports Pop Up Roof Tent is probably what we would recommend if you are a solo traveler who is looking for a hard-shelled roof top tent – it is very easy to assemble and it comes around in a pop-up luggage that you can easily setup on your own. Since it closes via snap, you don’t have to spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to close the tent in between.
What we really love about this rooftop tent is how easy it is to assemble – just open the trunk it comes with and set it up on top of your roof rack. The ABS plastic will make sure you are protected from drizzle or failing branches too.
Best Rooftop Tent with Annex
7. Camco Vehicle Roof Top Tent with Annex
Rooftops tents with annex are really convenient and flexible – you can use the annex as a storage unit or a dressing place with privacy. Which is why we also love the Camco Vehicle Rooftop with annex. With multiple options and configurations on how you want to assemble and install your rooftop annex, there is so much space available for you and your gears.
This Camco rooftop can fit people up to 3 inside the tent – which also comes with a high density mattress for a much more comfortable sleep. Its built in air vents also reduce air condensation which can cause frosting in cold weather. We really recommend this tent if you are looking for a spacious tent that can contain 2-3 people inside.
8. RB Simpson III Rooftop Tent With Annex
If you are living on an RV and you want some extra space for your gears, you should check out the RB Simpson III. Designed to provide a little more extra space not only for campers but for recreational vehicles as well, this roof top tent can extent your living area and even give shelter to things that would otherwise clutter your RV.
It has a great window ventilation with a rain cover and sunscreen to protect you from the elements. The annex can double up as a changing room too, with ample space for you to move around. If you love traveling with your RV and you need to have some extra space, we recommend this roof top tent for you.
Best Four-Season Rooftop Tent
9. Tepui Kukenam Ruggedized Tent
The Tepui Kukenam Ruggedized Tent is made to withstand Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall – it is the perfect 4 season tent. With a spacious interior, it can fit up to three people inside comfortably. It is made from 600D ripstop material which is very durable and can withstand most wear and tear. And with poles made out of pure high-durable aluminum, you won’t have to worry about it breaking down.
Its heavy-duty fabric can repel heat, and there is ample ventilation if you keep the windows open and rain cover off. If the weather suddenly gets cold, just put down the rain cover and zip in the internal closures and you are good to go. Definitely a recommended product that we recommend for active campers who travel all-year round.
Tips And Tricks That You Should Know
- Easy access window pegs and aluminum stakes
This is a common problem when camping. Losing your peg can really drive you mad looking for it, so to make sure that you won’t lose them, put them in a can or a small box and place it beside the entrance of your tent so you can easily see them.
- Slipper and shoe rack hack
It is not good to put dirty shoes and slippers inside your tent. Create a make shift “shoe rack” to store your foot wear by tying up a plastic container on the highest leg of your tent’s ladder. This way, you can easily take them when you need them and store them inside when it starts to rain.
- Hacking your indoor tent light
Rooftop tents don’t come with indoor lights, and it can be problematic when night comes. A simple and easy hack that you can do is to bring glow sticks and put them inside a can or a bottle – the light from these glow sticks can last you throughout the night and it creates a nice ambience for sleeping too.
Roof top tents are great outdoor innovations that allow you to camp conveniently even if the terrain is uneven, rocky or too muddy for your own good. The best roof top tent allows you to camp wherever your car can park – giving you more chances to enjoy nature and expand your camping locations. Hopefully, this article has helped you in finding the best rooftop camping tent for your needs. Be sure to check our list and see which one suits you best.