Life outdoors is not all about an adventure-filled day, but also it’s a form of relaxation. After long treks and mountain climbing, it is just fair for you and your friends to sleep and rest in comfort. The real deal, however, is that conventional ground tents may mean a not so restful night. On most camping trips, ground tents are subjects to rocks and sticks that make sleeping extra uncomfortable. This is the reason why many campers decided to reshape their camping experience by shifting into roof top tents for camping.
These tents have been around for decades in Australia and Africa but have recently gained massive popularity in other counties. This is mainly due to the influence of social media as campers document their exciting lives outdoors.
As roof top camping enthusiasts, we’ve come up with this guide that discusses a comprehensive breakdown of the best roof top tents for camping available in the market. Our list includes:
● iKamper Skycamp 2.0
● Roof Nest Sparrow
● Roost Explorer
● AutoHome Maggiolina Extreme
● Go Fast Camper
● BunduTec BunduTop
● Alu-Cab Expedition 3
● Tepui HyBox
● ARB Simpson III with Annex
● 23 Zero Walkabout 87
● iKamper X-Cover
● James Baroud USA Nomad
● Tepui Ruggedized Series Kukenam 4
● Treeline Outdoors Tamarack Constellation 4 Season
● Smittybilt Overlander
● Tuff Stuff Ranger
These roof top tents are assessed based on critical criteria and several price points.
Just like other products, it’s hard to identify a roof top tent with the best quality from the hundreds of roof top tents. Evaluating the flaws in design and issues in the durability of such tents would be impossible without trying each. We understand that campers like you do not have all the time, and others may not have that budget to put each tent through extensive testing. Thus, this guide extensively discusses the best roof top tents for camping that comprised the list.
PROS OF USING ROOF TOP TENTS
- Roof top tents are created with durability in mind. The best ones can be used all-year round and can withstand nasty weather elements such as rain, wind, and snow. Contrary to traditional ground tents, roof top tents perform better for specific reasons. Uninvited animals and creepy crawlies cannot disturb the campers from their rest as they are elevated from the ground. The same reason is responsible for why roof top tents are good at keeping out sand, dust, dirt, and mud inside the sleeping space.
Without having to worry about these camping disturbances, you can enjoy the rejuvenating fresh air and stress-reducing sights without reservations. You can also sleep well into the night. Camping outdoors works primarily by reducing stress, but you cannot do your over-stressed brain a favor if you have the wrong camping tents.
- Roof top tents can be installed on the roof rack of both SUVs and trucks. Included upon purchase is a ladder that is used to climb inside the tent. Most roof top tents have a minimum capacity of two sleepers, but the sleeping space can be maximized using an annex.
- As long as there is someone to assist you during set-up, your roof top tent is set for the night within minutes. Roof top tents are expertly designed for easy and quick installation to lessen the time campers spend on wrestling and trying to get the roof top tent set up. Additionally, roof top tents are relatively easy to take down. When folded, mattresses and everything inside is self-contained.
- You do not need to sleep on uneven surfaces and rocky terrains, unlike when you are on ground camping. You can park your vehicle on a bumpy road and just put a wedge under the tires to level it out.
- You can sleep with maximum comfort because the best roof top tents for camping have high-density foam mattresses that make the tent feel like a home away from home. With that in mind, sleep deprivation at the camp is never an issue.
CONS OF USING ROOF TOP TENTS
- When it comes to cost, roof top tents are considerably expensive. The budget can range from $800 to $4000.
- If the campsite is somewhere that cannot get a car, truck, or SUV, then roof top tent camping would be downright impossible. Otherwise, you should stick to traditional ground tents.
- As roof top tents are mounted on the roof rack of the vehicle, some roof top tents may not be compatible with the vehicle’s roof rack. The need for a roof rack of some kind requires additional cost.
- Sure, roof top tents save you from the anxiety of getting attacked at midnight by bears, lions, snakes, and other creepy animals. But as a ladder is needed to be able to get inside the tent, it can be hard to get up and down the tent if there are health limitations and physical disabilities.
TWO TYPES OF ROOF TOP TENTS
Roof top tents for camping come under two main types: hard shell and soft shell.
Hard shell Roof Top Tents are made from aluminum, fiberglass, and plastic. Their rigid and bottom pieces essentially sandwiches beddings, mattresses, tent, walls, and other soft parts in between to create a protective barrier.
The two basic designs of hard shell roof top tents are wedge and pop-up. The wedge design has a hinge at the ends of the tent that creates a lot of headroom. Often, wedge-styles roof top tents have a usable space at one end, unlike the other style. Additionally, they operate more effectively in times of inclement weather.
Pop-up style roof top tents involve a roof portion that is responsible for the tent’s box shape. Though shorter in length, this style can still feel spacious for two sleepers.
Soft Shell Roof Top Tents have optional additional vestibules and platforms that fold out. They tend to expand and triple their original size and only require manual-folding.
As with hard shell roof top tents, there are two main styles of soft shells: bi-fold and pull-up. While bi-fold works by sandwiching the entire tent to create a half-sized footprint, the pull-up style functions like a wedge-style where the poles for support are pulled up into place. Compared to bi-fold options, they are simpler to set up and pack up.
BEST HARD-SHELL ROOF TOP TENTS
iKamper Skycamp 2.0 Roof Top Tent ($3,899)
iKamper is a South Korean company that provides elaborate roof top tents. One unique roof top tent called iKamper Skycamp 2.0 Roof Top Tent comes with a locking double-layered FRP top and bottom panels. In times of extremely windy conditions, you don’t have to worry about the tent collapsing around you. This tent pretty much resembles any other hard shell roof top tents; however, it opens lengthwise with the hinge along the driver’s side of the car or SUV.
Like a soft shell roof top tent, iKamper Skycamp 2.0 folds out over the side of the vehicle and doubles the floor space. Essentially, it allows four campers to sleep comfortably. As long as you park strategically, you can set up this tent in less than a minute. Though this tent is primarily made of insulating poly-cotton canvas, you can install fans whenever you feel too hot in warm weather. This tent is sturdy enough to support an overhead or window fan that brings in the breeze you’ve been craving for.
For a more convenient purchase, you can get the iKamper Skycamp 2.0 Roof Top Tent online with no shipping fee.
Roofnest Sparrow Roof Top Tent ($2, 795)
Roofnest Sparrow Roof Top Tent is a pop-up style hard shell tent that suits small to medium cars. It is coated with a layer of insulation inside and covered with quilted fabric. Two adult sleepers can fit inside and enjoy the tent’s 3-inch foam mattress. During warm nights, you can zip up the canvas and mesh-layered doors and windows. You can also convert the doorways into shade awnings. Additional tent features include an anti-condensation mat, an 8.5-foot telescoping ladder, and stainless steel gas struts.
Roost Explorer Roof Top Tent ($2, 998)
This wedge-style roof top tent has dual-functionalities. Aside from being a sleeping space, it can also function as a roof top cargo carrier by just removing the mattress and the tent material. This tent has 3 doors, and each has a screen door layer. You can get inside through the 8.5- foot telescoping ladder. It has an inside height of 59 inches when deployed, providing enough room for two to three campers. The high-density mattress is a 2-inch foam, but it can be upgraded to 3 inches for additional comfort.
AutoHome Maggiolina Extreme Roof Top Tent ($3,299)
Autohome Maggiolina Extreme Roof Top Tent is a major breakthrough for roof top tent camping because it is expertly designed not to allow disruptive wind noise during sleep. It features a crank design that allows the sleeper to tension the sides of the tent and lessens the flapping of wind. Similarly, this tent does not allow rain noise because of its thermal and acoustic-insulated roof panels.
Notable features of this roof top tent are two adjustable load bars for additional camping gears, double-layer fiberglass, and removable 3.5-inch closed-cell foam mattress.
Go Fast Camper Roof Top Tent ($3,499)
If you are looking for thin roof top tents, this 6-inch hard shell is perfect for you. Just like the Autohome Maggiolina Extreme Roof Top Tent, this one also has a wedge style. It opens to an impressive interior height of 4 feet and weighs 150 pounds. Also, it has a 2-inch multi-density foam mattress with a removable cover.
This tent is manufactured in Bozeman, Montana, but all its component materials are sourced from other states. Included upon purchase of this tent is a special mounting kit that will work nearly with any crossbars.
BunduTec BunduTop Roof Top Tent ($3,775)
Roof Top Tents manufactured by BunduTec are mostly best-selling for their quality materials and stylistic designs. BunduTec BunduTop Roof Top Tent is one of these tents. It is a pop-style hard shell that is available in standard, king, and super king sizes. If, for instance, these sizes do not fit your vehicle, you can opt to customize the size of this tent up to 118 inches long and 63 inches wide.
This tent is creatively designed to let you enter from any side of the tent. Once set up, this tent provides a 360-degree view of the campsite. The roof of this tent is a raw aluminum sheet that reflects heat well and keeps you comfortable during sunny days. Moreover, a 2000-pound winch motor raises and lowers BunduTec BunduTop using a pulley and rope.
Unique features of this tent are two pockets for storage, LED light, cigarette lighter plug, and solar wiring.
Alu-Cab Expedition 3 Roof Top Tent ($3,999)
Alu-cab is one of the leading suppliers of roof top tents for camping. Since 2002, they have been building high-quality aluminum products in Cape Town, South Africa. Their Expedition 3 Roof Top Tent is created entirely of aluminum. It is a wedge-style hard shell that features LED reading lights, high-density foam mattress, internal storage pockets, gas-pressure springs, well-insulated roof panels, and mosquito netted entrances.
The tent’s upper shell is wider than the whole tent itself. This design keeps the rain out, aside from the slightly undercut entrances that keep the rain from dripping in. Additionally, all of the seams of Alu-Cab Expedition 3 Roof Top Tent are waterproofed, and all of the entrances are secured with padlocks.
Tepui HyBox Roof Top Tent ($2,899.95)
Similar to Roost Explorer Roof Top Tent, this one serves dual functions. Aside from being a pop-up tent, you can convert this tent into a cargo box by simply zipping on and off the tent portion. Depending on which suits your needs, you can either open both ends of the tent or just pop one end.
This tent is highly praised for its universal mounting system, so this can go with almost any vehicle. It also features an 8.5-foot telescoping aluminum ladder and a 3-inch foam mattress with washable cover.
BEST SOFT-SHELL ROOF TOP TENTS
ARB Simpson III with Annex Roof Top Tent ($1,537)
From the leading provider of overlanding equipment, ARB Simpson III with Annex has all the best features- heavy-duty telescoping ladder, pull-out veranda, and attachable annex, high-density foam mattress, internal storage pockets, insect mesh over all the windows and doors, and rain fly.
This soft-shell roof top tent is designed with a bungee-assisted closure system as well as rigid and water-resistant materials. The kit comes with a large annex that can be used as a changing room, small dining area, or additional sleeping space.
23 Zero Walkabout 87 Roof Top Tent ($2,099)
23 Zero Walkabout 87 Roof Top Tent is not the most expensive tent on the list, but it is the most massive. Ideally, it can fit five or more occupants inside, depending on how cozy the sleepers are willing to get. Because of its design and construction, it weighs 198 pounds. It is recommended that this tent be paired up with a heavy-duty roof rack. You can choose to stay inside even with the sun rising outside because this tent features a light suppression technology that blocks over 90% of sunlight.
iKamper X-Cover Roof Top Tent ($3,199)
The X-Cover Roof Top Tent is the only current soft shell roof top tent from iKamper. It features a king-sized mattress that can fit three to four sleepers. It also features double, aluminum cross bars on top of the closed tent and window awnings. You can use this roof top tent with a separately sold vehicle awning in case you want a much larger shade.
James Baroud USA Nomad 160 Roof Top Tent ($2,422.41)
Most quality roof top tents come with a rainfly, but what sets James Baroud Nomad 160 apart is its absence of rainfly. Even without a rainfly, you can still get the maximum protection from elements. Thankfully, this tent is designed with breathable, waterproof, and UV resistant aluminized fabric. When deployed, you can get inside the tent through an 8.5 telescoping ladder.
Tepui Ruggedized Series Kukenam 4 Roof Top Tent ($2, 499.95)
This 210-pound tent from Tepui can sleep three to four people inside. It comes with half-inch-thick anti-condensation mat, 2.5-inch-thick high-density foam mattress, two screened sky panels, added raw aluminum diamond plate panels, beefed-up hinges, dual rods to support the rainfly, quilted tent insulator, and heavier-duty internal frame elements. Since this tent is intended for heavy-duty roof racks, review the weight rating of your vehicle to see if it can handle this tent.
Treeline Outdoors Tamarack Constellation 4 Season Roof Top Tent ($2, 603.87)
Designed in collaboration with Goal Zero, Treeline Outdoors Tamarack Constellation Roof Top Tent comes in a variety of colors. It can accommodate two to three sleepers inside. The mattress is not only waterproofed but 2.5 inches thick as well. Other noticeable features of this tent are oversized windows with awnings, utility net on the underside of the tent, extremely rugged and lightweight aluminum base, rubber latches for storing gears, and double skylights.
Smittybilt Overlander Roof Top Tent ($869.99)
Smittybilt Overlander Roof Top Tent is the most affordable on this list. It comes in both standard size and XL options, with corresponding annexes for extra space. While the standard size has a full-sized bed that can sleep two or three sleepers, the XL tent has a king-sized bed for three or four sleepers. Both of the sizes come with heavy-duty rip-stop polyester, 6.5-foot extendable aluminum ladder, anodized aluminum frame poles with steel hinges, and built-in mosquito nets. Other great features are interior LED light strip, cigarette lighter adapter, external shoe storage, and optional annex with a one-year warranty.
Tuff Stuff Ranger Roof Top Tent ($1,378.65)
This 135-pound tent from Tuff Stuff is built from high-quality materials. It is not as budget-friendly as the Smittybilt Overlander Roof Top Tent, but its cost is still reasonable. Included in the package are a second queen-sized mattress, telescoping ladder, outdoor shoe bag, rainfly, storage hammock, annex room, and window awnings, and vents.
How do I know the permissible roof load of my vehicle?
The permissible roof load refers to the weight that you can put on your vehicle in addition to the mandatory roof rack. You can find it in the operating manual of your vehicle’s manufacturer.
Where can I purchase roof top tents?
You can purchase them online and in select camping stores. To evaluate which roof top tent suits your vehicle, review the tent, vehicle, and rack specs carefully.