Do you prefer a quick-to-setup roof top tent, so you could immediately cruise the uncharted territories of the Grand Canyon? Or would you like your valuables to be available instantly, the moment you need them?
Whatever your concern is, we’ll help you pick an ideal roof top tent that won’t get in the way of your next outdoor adventure. Not feeling the rooftop tents? Go for truck tents instead!
Rooftop Tents vs Ground Tents – Pros and Cons
The big disadvantage of rooftop tents is the cost (most are around $1000 or more) and that you need to get it mounted on the roof of your vehicle. If you can live with both of those things, a roof top tent is the closest you’ll get to RVing without an RV.
Roof Top Tents Have Been Around for a Long Time
Roof top tents have been very popular on the market these days. But before they’ve reached their height of greatness for more than a decade, they’ve been widely used in Africa and Australia.
This is mainly due to the countries’ geographical location that are inhabited by many animal species. Which is why, their elevation on the ground offers a huge advantage against harmful insects and beasts.
The oldest ground tents were made by the early humans 40,000 years ago, which is obviously the foundation of their modern-day variants. In fact, they continuously evolve where more features are being added to further improve camp life.
Today, they’ve remained to be very useful in traveling because of their compact size that instantly gives you the privilege to settle down, in any suitable place you prefer.
How Rooftop Tents Install
Roof top tents generally install on to your roof rack rails although they can also install in other situations such as on truck rails. Can you install a roof top tent on your car or SUV without a roof rack? Probably not, unless you’re really handy.
Most roof top tents are around 100-150 lbs so this means that you will need two people (or more) to help you install it. Installation is quite easy and can be done in well under 30 minutes and no mechanical expertise is needed.
The Top 6 Things to Consider When Buying a Rooftop Tent
Sleeping Capacity & Size
The biggest difference between rooftop tents often comes down to the size of the open footprint (the size of the tent when it is open). The largest tent we reviewed measured 56″W x 96″L when open. The smallest measured 48″W x 83″L. That’s a difference of nearly an entire foot in length.
Most tents will have a 1-3 person capacity (it’s very rare to find a 4 man tent or larger) and this will obviously be an important buying decision for you.
Roof Top Tent Type: Pop-up vs Fold-out
Next is considering the roof top tent type. There are two common types of a roof top tent; the pop-up and the fold-out.
The pop-ups are usually made from hard, clamp shells which sets itself up automatically. Whereas, the fold-outs typically require a bit of effort. Moreover, pop-ups have a small footprint (sleeping area). This means that if you’re only traveling alone or with a couple, pop-ups are a practical choice. But if you’re a family of three or more, opt for fold-outs.
Most rooftop tents will include a mattress with them. Mattresses typically range from a 1.5″ thickness to 2.5″ thickness with a 1.5″ being relatively less comfortable and a 2.5″ thick mattress being relatively more comfortable.
One thing you should always remember is that a rooftop tent is more expensive than a ground tent. Most rooftop tents will be around $1000-$2000. A ground tent is around $100-200. Big price difference.
When selecting your roof top tents, make sure that it includes the necessary mounting hardware to mount it to your 4×4. Does it come with brackets that you can adjust to make them fit into your roof racks?
This is arguably one of the most important things to look at as it can be difficult to change mattresses down the road due.
One of the great things about a rooftop tent are the number of (potential) accessories and add-ons you can get. One of the most popular add-ons is an annex extension.
If these are important to you, pick a rooftop tent from a reputable company that offers these accessories as most are not compatible with other models.
Our Favorite Rooftop Tents
We reviewed a number of rooftop tents in a variety of price ranges and sizes. Here is a summary of favorite tents.
Thule Tepui Explorer Roof Top Tent
Thule Tepui Explorer Ayer 2 Roof Top Tent has comfort written all over it.
With its mesh panels, it lets a huge amount of air to pass through to help you feel comfortable inside. Its fabric is even heat and mold resistant so it doesn’t easily crumble against nature’s forces.
When fully open, this roof top tent measures 84 inches long, 49 inches wide, and 39 inches tall.
Smittybilt Overlander Roof Top Tent
This Roof Top Tent is one of the most affordable tents and comes from the brand off-roaders either love or hate, Smitty Bilt.
This roof top tent is made from a waterproof material that effectively protects itself and you from the annoying leaks, as well as the possibility of getting drenched. Furthermore, it’s an excellent option if you’re a couple or a family of three because of its spacious design. In fact, it has a maximum weight capacity of 661 Pounds.
Offroading Gear Granville II Roof Top Tent
Offroading Gear’s Roof Top Tent makes sleeping in the comfort of your own bed possible, no matter where you are.
This roof top tent consists of a 2.25-inch mattress that conveniently supports your back for a restful slumber, especially when you need it the most. With it, you’ll feel energized and ready to take on new, challenging feats. Moreover, its durable waterproof rip-stop polyester fabric ensures it doesn’t literally rain on your parade.
This roof top tent is 83 inches long, 48 inches wide, and 49 inches tall, in its fully-open form. It comes with a 6.5-foot aluminum ladder to let you easily move in and out of the tent as well.
Overland Vehicle Systems Roof Top Tent
Yes, Overland Vehicle Systems makes Roof Top Tents too.
One of the things that make Overland Vehicle Systems’ Nomadic Roof Top Tent a stand out is it’s fold-and-go design. If you’re in a hurry, you can just pop it up in 1 minute and and is also easy to take down.
It includes memory foam pillows and other accessories to make you feel instantly right at home.
Roof top tents should make your next camping trip more enjoyable. It shouldn’t be the other way around. When you buy a roof top tent with its setup time, fabric, and ladder in mind, you’ll be spending more thrilling adventures with your friends and loved-ones, without sacrificing time and safety.