If you’re considering what kind of rooftop tent is going to be best for your camping adventures, you need to decide which features are most important for you.
Hardshell rooftop tents are sturdier than softshell tents and offer you better protection, but they come at a higher price. Some rooftop tents offer more interior space while some are quicker to set up and pack down.
When it comes to build quality, durability, and longevity, hardshell rooftop tents are usually the way to go. For more economical options that can give you a lot of space on a budget, a softshell tent may be your best bet.
The Roofnest Condor XL is a great example of a high-end hardshell rooftop tent that is versatile and practically luxurious, but with a price tag to match. On the other hand, the Thule Tepui Explorer Kukenam 3 gives a lot of tents for a much smaller price tag, and it is still high quality if not as durable.
There is a lot to consider when it comes to buying a rooftop tent, and it can seem like there are too many options out there to choose from, so you need to figure out what you want to get from your tent before you make any decisions.
Best Rooftop Tent? (Top 5 Picks)
Depending on what you are looking for, a different rooftop tent is going to be the best for you. Below is a list of some of the top options on the market right now.
- Great All-Rounder Rooftop Tent: iKamper Skycamp Mini ($3,499)
- Spacious Rooftop Tent for Families: Thule Tepui Explorer Autana 4 ($3,600)
- High-End Hardshell Rooftop Tent: Roofnest Condor XL ($3,495)
- Top Quality Softshell Rooftop Tent: Thule Tepui Explorer Kukenam 3 ($1,900)
- Well Built Budget Rooftop Tent: Smittybilt Gen 2 Overlander XL ($1,599)
Are Rooftop Tents Better?
The first question you may be asking yourself is whether or not a rooftop tent is a better option than a traditional ground tent, and if so, why?
Rooftop tents can give you more security, be easier to use, require less hassle, and even be more stable and protective, but which benefits mean the most to you as a camper?
One of the best things about a rooftop tent is the fact that you are raised from the ground, removing the threat of water running under the groundsheet and ruining your weekend. Being high off the ground also keeps you safe from insects and other creatures that may disturb you at night.
Because they have sturdy bases and can have strong, weatherproof roofs, rooftop tents can provide you with better protection from the wind and the rain as well.
Hardshell rooftop tents, in particular, are great for keeping you cozy and warm no matter what is happening with the weather. Rooftop tents are usually a lot easier to set up and pack away again than ground tents, and you never need to hunt for a suitable patch of ground.
This can make a big difference to the time that you waste while you are out on an adventure and is an important consideration when you are choosing which tent is best for you.
What Should I Look for When Buying a Rooftop Tent?
If safety and protection are what you are looking for, you definitely want to select a well-built tent that is made with sturdy materials, and the more expensive hardshell options will usually be the way to go. The plastic shell for these tents acts as a strong barrier to the wind which offers much better protection from the rain as well.
Build quality is important with any piece of camping equipment, but perhaps even more so when it comes to a rooftop tent. Because it is high up and requires a ladder to enter, you want to know for sure that your tent is stable and well built, so going for a trusted brand like iKamper is a safe bet.
You also want to consider how difficult it is going to be to put your tent up and take it down again because, when you’re using a rooftop tent, you can’t drive off without breaking camp. The larger your tent is the trickier it will be to put away, as a general rule, but some models are much simpler to operate than others.
Weight and size are also important considerations because you need to know that your car can handle having your tent attached to the roof. While most rooftop tents are designed to fit onto the roof rack of almost any car, it is worth checking the load capacity of your vehicle and the width of your roof rack.
If you’re looking for something that is lightweight and easy to deploy, but still sturdy and protective, the iKamper Skycamp Mini is a great all-rounder that highlights many of the benefits of rooftop tenting.
Are Rooftop Tents Safe?
There are many budget options out there for rooftop tents which are great for economical campers that are not too concerned with luxury, but you need to know that they are well-built and safe.
Almost all rooftop tents are reasonably safe when they are used correctly, but some have higher build quality than others.
The Smittybilt Gen 2 Overlander is a cheaper softshell option that doesn’t skimp on quality. It is not as durable as a hardshell tent, or even some of the more expensive softshell tents, but it is made with heavy-duty materials that guarantee safety.
There is always going to be a bit of ladder climbing involved with a rooftop tent, so you need to know that you can do that safely. As long as you are setting them up correctly, entering them, and exiting them sensibly, a rooftop tent is a safe option for most campers.
How Long Do Rooftop Tents Last?
The better-quality rooftop tents out there are going to last you a lot longer, so in some ways going for a cheaper option can end up costing you more in the long run. Most softshell rooftop tents are likely to last between 5 and 10 years, whereas hardshell rooftop tents usually last a bit longer at around 10 to 15 years.
If you don’t want to be buying a new one in 5 years, it is worth spending a bit more money for a decent tent now.
(featured image: roofnest.com)