Cheapest Roof Top Tents? (8 Affordable Favorites)

cheapest roof top tents

Roof top tents (RTTs) are amazing for camping comfortably even while exploring rugged and remote areas, but they can be very expensive. Fortunately, we’ve rounded up some of the most affordable options available today and talked to some RTT owners about their tents and how to shop for inexpensive choices.

8 cheapest roof top tents:

1. Tepui Explorer Ayer 2 ($1,199.95)

(photo: @moveswithmak)

Website: tepui.com

The Ayer 2 is Tepui’s smallest and least expensive tent, but it still packs a punch. This tent is built for four-season use and can sleep one or two people. It is UV and mold resistant and has mesh panels built in for amazing views and excellent airflow.

I spoke with Makayla (@moveswithmak) about her Tepui Ayer 2 and here’s what she had to say:

How did you choose this particular tent?

I chose this tent because it was a perfect fit for my Subaru Crosstrek. I wanted something that could fit a friend or my SO and my small pup. This tent is one I see all over Colorado and I had the opportunity to test it out on friend’s vehicles. The memory foam already installed sold me as did the view to the stars.”

Also read: Tepui Roof Top Tents: Review and Owner QnA

What are some pros and cons?

“Pros: Easy to set up and take down; star roof is amazing; very comfortable and spacious; durable material.

Cons: The zipper gets jammed easily and is difficult to fix; the fly bars can shift; cleaning.”

Do you have any advice for people shopping for RTTs on a budget?

“There is a FB site you can take advantage of for a good deal: Used Roof Top Tents Bought & Sold – USA. I would also recommend looking at LetGo and Craigslist. A pro of buying new is the warranty – I got mine at REI with a sale and my dividends!”

2. CVT Mt. Bachelor ($1,375)

(photo: @phillip.keefe)

Website: cascadiatents.com

The Mt. Bachelor RTT is the smallest, lightest, and least expensive tent in Cascadia Vehicle Tents’ lineup. It can fit on any size vehicle and is designed to sleep two people.

Phillip (@phillip.keefe – featured photo top of article) shared his experience with his CVT Mt. Bachelor RTT:

How did you choose this particular tent?

“I chose the CVT Mt. Bachelor Summit because it’s typically just me camping in it and I wanted a smaller tent to keep the weight of my truck down, and I wanted the Summit editions for its upgraded tent material and telescoping ladder among other additional features.”

Also read: CVT Roof Top Tents: Review and Owner QnA

What are some pros and cons?

“Pros for the CVT Mt. Bachelor Summit include its more rugged tent material, telescoping ladder, and zipper cover compared to velcro covers on cheaper tents. Also, if you compare it to cheaper tents from other manufacturers, this tent is much more robust. It stands up to high winds no problem where other tents suffer. Another pro is that it includes an annex in the purchase price.

Cons for the CVT Mt. Bachelor Summit include its higher cost versus other options. It is also a small tent. It can fit two people relatively comfortably but it’s really optimized for a single person.”

Do you have any advice for people shopping for RTTs on a budget?

“When shopping for an RTT on a budget, keep an eye out for sales. I got my tent at a very reduced cost due to CVT liquidating some of their stock to make room for new products. Also keep in mind things like mattress material and condensation pads. Some cheaper RTTs cut corners in those areas and you may find yourself spending more money to get a cheaper tent set up properly.

Finally, keep an eye on the used market, it’s common to find good deals on lightly used RTTs.”

3. Smittybilt Overlander ($931.49)

(photo: @jg.hikes)

Website: smittybilt.com

Smittybilt’s Overlander RTT is another excellent inexpensive option. It includes many of the features that more expensive tents have, like a sunroof, screened windows, a heavy-duty rain fly, a shoe storage bag, and a built-in interior LED strip.

I talked with Jon (@jg.hikes) about his Smittybilt Overlander: 

How did you choose this particular tent?

“I chose the Smittybilt because it was within my price range. I researched a lot of information about the tent via YouTube and their website. It seemed very much like the same product most competitor companies were producing but at a lower price. I also watched it for many months seeing if the price would drop and last year in April it was on sale for $120 less than its norm.”

What are some pros and cons?

“Pros: easy set up after long nights of getting to your campsite. Really great airflow/ventilation system. Thick enough bedding.

Cons: some add-ons could be included like a netting option underneath the tent for storage. Having to pack up after a rain gives you no time to air out the condensation.”

Do you have any advice for people shopping for RTTs on a budget?

“I would say do your research and find what’s important for your needs. They make a newer version of the Smittybilt RTT and it’s really awesome with the color scheme. It is a little pricey but it would still be one of the most economical choices.”

4. Tuff Stuff Trailhead ($860.46 Sale Price)

(photo: tuffstuff4x4.com)

Website: tuffstuff4x4.com

The Trailhead RTT from Tuff Stuff Overland is rated for three-season use due to its lightweight and breathable 600D polyester material. The sale price for this model makes it very affordable, and the Tuff Stuff brand is highly trusted and reputed in the industry. This RTT is very sturdy with a weight capacity of 800 pounds, and it features strong aluminum poles and high-quality YKK zippers throughout.

This tent is designed to allow one person to easily set it up and pack it away in just a few minutes. Multiple screened windows and a moon roof allow for incredible views and excellent airflow. A heavy-duty rain fly keeps you dry and the mattress has a waterproof bottom layer to prevent condensation issues.

5. Front Runner RTT ($1,099)

(photo: frontrunneroutfitters.com)

Website: frontrunneroutfitters.com

Front Runner’s RTT sleeps 2+ and is designed to open in one smooth motion for super easy setup. It is quite light and built out of durable 260g poly cotton ripstop canvas, which is water-resistant on its own but the tent also comes with a fully waterproof rain fly that attaches easily with side-release buckles. 

The tent also has meshed skylights and windows for maximum airflow, and the windows zip up from the bottom so you can partially close them to keep rain out while still allowing light and air to pass through. Large awnings protect the windows and door as well.

Also read: Front Runner Roof Top Tents (Owner Review)

A built-in high-density foam mattress comes with a washable cover that is designed to minimize moisture and mildew. There are two interior pockets for storing personal items.

This tent can be mounted either front to back or side to side and it comes with a ladder that extends to six feet. The tent is designed for universal mounting, as long as your vehicle has a properly rated rack. A heavy-duty PVC driving cover keeps the tent safe even on rugged trails as you drive to your destination.

6. Overland Vehicle Systems TMBK 3 ($849.99)

(photo: overlandvehiclesystems.com)

Website: overlandvehiclesystems.com

If you are looking for the cheapest possible new RTT, this just might be it. As of the time of this writing, this was the most inexpensive tent that we could find new. It is a three-person tent and it features four internal storage compartments, anodized aluminum support poles, vents up high to promote airflow, and a screened skylight for killer views. 

This tent is designed for a universal fit on any vehicle that has a factory or aftermarket roof rack with a proper weight rating. The base of the tent has an insulated reinforced welded one-piece frame and stainless steel hinges for extra durability. It comes with a rain fly, a transportation cover, and a telescoping ladder.

7. 23Zero Weekender 56 ($1,099)

(photo: 23zero.com)

Website: 23zero.com

Another great entry-level RTT is the Weekender 56 from 23Zero. It is a 2+ person tent that’s designed for two or three-season use depending on the climate. It is also small enough to be installed on any vehicle that has an appropriate roof rack. This tent has a lightweight body but it’s built on the same insulated base that many of 23Zero’s premium models have.

The double bed sized mattress is made of three-inch-thick high-density foam that has a soft cotton top and a waterproof base layer, which eliminates the need for an anti-condensation mat or additional layer. This tent does not come with an annex, but one can be purchased separately to increase the living space.

8. Used RTTs

Buying a gently used RTT is also an option. You can often find tents for screaming deals, or at least get a fancier or larger tent for the price that you would pay for a new more basic tent. As Makayla and Phillip both mentioned, there are many different places where you can find used RTTs, like the Used RTT Facebook group, LetGo, or Craigslist. You can also check places like Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, and eBay.

Some RTT manufacturers also have ding and dent sales, where tents that have minor cosmetic defects are sold at steeply discounted rates. These tents have usually been damaged in the production or shipping process, so they aren’t technically ‘used’ but they are another good option if you are shopping on a budget.

The main benefit of purchasing a used RTT is that you can find some really good deals, but there are a few cons as well. You don’t know how much the tent has actually been used, and it’s possible that some less scrupulous sellers could hide defects or not give you all the facts.

Also, you will not be protected by a warranty and you will not be able to return the RTT if a problem arises. However, if you are comfortable with those terms, a used RTT can be a great way to score a bargain!

 

Up Next In Roof Top Tents:

What is the Largest Roof Top Tent?

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How do you Make a Roof Top Tent? (9 Clever DIY Builds)

Are Roof Top Tents Safe from Bears?

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