Camping is supposed to be just an activity done for leisure and adventure. However, it is less likely to be leisurely if our sleep inside our tents is not the most comfortable. Who else likes waking up to a soggy groundsheet anyway as tides keep coming in? Therefore, because of this, roof top tent camping has been gaining popularity. It’s just that; it is a bit expensive to spend on roof top tents, especially immediately on hard shells. However, we can find the best compromise on price and quality on the best soft shell roof top tent.
The best soft shell roof top tent must come, of course, with a sturdy frame. It also has to be quick to set up and packs neatly away on the roof. It should be fully waterproof and can stand up to strong winds. It is an additional point if it provides a cozy, comfortable place to sleep in while we explore the wilderness. Here are some soft shell roof top tents to consider:
1. Yakima SkyRise Roof Top Tent
2. Guana Equipment Wanaka 55 Inches
3. Smittybilt Overlander Roof Top Tent
4. Tepui Tents Kukenam Ruggedized Sky 3 Tent
5. Tuff Stuff Delta Overland Roof Top Jeep and Truck Tent
6. TJM Yulara Roof Top Tent
7. Cascadia Vehicle Tents Mt. Rainier Extended Stargazer Summit
With many factors to deliberate on along the wide variety of choices in the market, we can get quite overwhelmed. Of course, we want, if possible, only that which fulfills the compromise among our budget and desired quality. Apparently, though, even with these factors, there are quite several that we can come across during our research. However, we can narrow our options down through the following soft shell roof top tent reviews.
Features We Would Like to Consider:
Not all soft shell roof top tents are the same. There are quite a few differences between the entry-level ones and the experienced-level tents. It’s just that, entry-level tents are made practically to assist campers in transitioning into sleeping on their car tops. Either way, the following features should significantly be considered before we go ahead on our purchase.
Materials and Construction
We would not want to get dropped by rainwater while we take shelter inside our fabric homes. We should look for roof top tents with a rainfly that is a hundred percent waterproof. We should as well see to it that its fabric is at least 420D poly cotton ripstop. This is as this type of fabric has a good thickness to stand up on strong winds, rainstorms, and low temperatures.
The inner tent, on the other hand, should as well be made of a hundred percent waterproof fabric. Aside from that, it should as well be at least poly-cotton 280g. Then, we should want the base to be made of aluminum as well as the ladder and tent poles.
Moreover, the best soft shell roof top tent should as well have a foam mattress that is at least 2-inches thick. If we can find something thicker than that, we can guarantee a better sleep during our wilderness camping. Mosquito nets should be present as well for an insect-free tent interior.
Naturally, we should consider how many people can fit in the tent we purchase. Entry-level tents are ideal for 2 to 3 people, but never more than 4. If we want to fit our family or gang inside, then we will have to consider going beyond this type.
Perhaps, we know the frustration of mounting a tent on the ground that can take several minutes. Similarly, we also do not want the trouble in our roof top tents. Therefore, before purchasing, we should ask about the open-close time and make sure that it is not over five minutes. Aside from that, we might as well just also enquire about the zippers, and the time it takes to attach the rainfly. It’s just that there are some tents that have bad quality zippers, hinges, and poles. YKK zippers are something to look for.
Usually, soft shell roof top tents are quite lighter than hard shells, especially the entry-level ones. This is because their fabric is thinner, as well as their bases. They also typically have a smaller capacity, which explains why they should be light.
We can go for those with weights ranging between 120 and 135 pounds. They should be easier to mount on top of our roof racks, and they would not add too much weight to our car.
Best Soft Shell Roof Top Tents
The Yakima SkyRise tent is ideally a 2 to 3 person tent. It comes with a rainfly, aluminum ladder, and a thick 2.5-inch mattress with removable cover. It also has an SKS Lock Core and a travel cover.
Generally, the tent itself is lightweight to relieve our car of too much load to carry. It is also designed as a 3-season tent for most of our overland adventure. Its material is a durable 210T Nylon that is both waterproof and breathable. It is fitted with aluminum poles, and thus, guarantees to protect us from wind and rain. And speaking of rain, the tent also comes with a waterproof rainfly with a built-in sky roof for when we stargaze.
The tent, moreover, is fitted with multiple double layer windows that can either be unzipped or closed. This is depending on the weather during our stay, warm or cold. These windows are fitted with a mesh layer to enable ventilation while protecting us from mosquitoes.
Like many roof top tents, the Yakima SkyRise attaches to a roof rack. However, what makes it the best soft shell roof top tent is that it comes with the SKS Lock Cores. This provides us extra security so that we do not have to worry about thieving animals when we are away. And more than anything, this tent is also just a breeze to set up. We can just unfold it using the built-in collapsible ladder, and like magic, our outdoor shelter is ready. For all that, it is mildly-priced at around $1,099 for the small size.
Guana Equipment Wanaka 55 Inches
The Guana Equipment’s goal upon creating the Wanaka is the best soft shell roof top tent that is unlike others. For one, it is designed with an extra-large annex, the largest in the market, with three awnings. It comes with a removable floor and big enough to store anything in it and keep it dry. We can look at it as more of a room than an annex. Moreover, it has three doors that have to be opened up to become awnings. These give us extra shade and coverage for a full camping setup.
On top of that, the Wanaka is a 4-season tent, strong and durable for any weather condition. It can be opened and closed in just a few minutes for our convenience. Also, it has a comfortable, removable, 3-inch, high-density mattress as well as an anti-condensation mat. It also comes with two shoe bags to store our shoes safely and conveniently while keeping our tent clean. Lastly, it comes with an aluminum ladder, poles, and a LED light strip.
For all that, the tent weighs 139 pounds and is priced at around $2,200.
This tent is more on the lightest weight side, with specifically just about 120 pounds. Despite this, it can accommodate 2 to 3 people comfortably, even on top of smaller SUVs or cars. It is made of heavy-duty 600D ripstop polyester. Moreover, it comes with a hundred percent waterproof rainfly made of 420D oxford fabric. Its base, on one hand, is a 2.5-inch polyurethane and aluminum sandwich, which can hold about 661 pounds of weight.
Moreover, the Smittybilt Overlander is the best soft shell roof top tent made to stand up in all four seasons. It is fitted with a sky window with good zippers and a mesh mosquito net layer for ventilation. Other than that, it also comes with a wide 18-inch aluminum ladder, mattress with removable cover, and LED lights. It also has a 12V cigarette lighter power adapter and a travel bag.
Primarily, this tent is designed to fit on jeeps, but it can also fit other vehicles with its U-shaped clamps. On top of that, it also has a dual-track rack—all that for a price of around $845.
Tepui Tents Kukenam Ruggedized Sky 3 Tent
Tepui tents are one of the best players in the market for roof top tent camping. They provide a wide variety of tent models that suit our different needs. For one is this Kukenam Ruggedized 3 model, which can be called a beast in the soft shells category. It is built to withstand all four seasons with its strong and durable materials. It can fit three people comfortably on its heavy-duty diamond plate base.
This tent’s canopy fabric is a 360 poly-cotton with 600D ripstop fabric. In addition to that is a 420D rainfly for a total, extremely reliable rooftop tent. Its accessories include a 2.5-inch foam mattress with a removable cotton cover, a tent travel cover, and an aluminum ladder. It also comes with two sky panels in the tent roof for when we want to check out the stars at night.
Generally, this tent is on the heavier side though for soft shells, with a weight of 180 pounds. It is fairly priced as well at around $2,249.
Tuff Stuff Delta Overland Roof Top Jeep and Truck Tent
As the name suggests, the Delta Overland tent from Tuff Stuff is one versatile soft shell roof top tent. It can be used for almost any van, SUV, jeep, travel trailer, or pickup truck. We only need to get the correct crossbars, and then we are good to go in any of those vehicles. Its crossbars require only up to 38 inches apart.
Moreover, this tent has lightweight aluminum poles and a waterproof finish so that we are safe from rain. It can also be well-suited for the summer as it comes with a good ventilation system. It is fitted with upper air vents and mesh mosquito net layers so that the interior is significantly breathable. It comes with a rainfly that is made of 420D oxford fabric, which can also provide extra protection from UV rays. This means as well that we can sleep longer provided that it can block light in general.
This tent also comes with a mattress with removable cover, installation tools, and PVC travel cover. Lastly, this tent is more on the affordably-priced tents at around $1,444.
TJM Yulara Roof Top Tent
TJM is an Australian manufacturer for car accessories, as well as Overlanding and camping gears. Their roof top tents, in particular, have the Yulara as among the favorites.
Probably the greatest feature for this Yulara tent is its weight. This is perhaps one of the lightest soft shells, weighing only about 115 pounds. However, with that, it can only fit two people, but comfortably. Its length is about 126 inches, which we can hardly find among other tents. This length will allow us to throw in our luggage and other things while still providing us our own space.
Moreover, its features boast of its easy-open mechanism in literally just ten minutes less. We simply need to pull it open, pull down the ladder, climb on it, and then set up the mattress. To close it, conversely, will take a bit more time than that, but it should not be a concern during our weekends. For all that, it is probably one of the cheapest in the market at about $989 price.
Cascadia Vehicle Tents Mt. Rainier Extended Stargazer Summit
This tent is more on the pricier side but the best among soft shells anyway. It comes with an annex and various accessories, including LED lighting and USB ports. Also, for its price, it is a guaranteed heavy-duty model that can stand up against heavy rain, wind, and snow. This is as it is made of a thicker canvas than most soft shells with a 380g poly-cotton ripstop fabric. This will provide enough insulation to keep us comfortable even in sub-zero degree temperatures.
Other than that, this tent comes with a PVC heavy-duty travel cover and a mattress with a removable waterproof cover. It also has a reliable rainfly, telescoping ladder, and two shoe holders to keep our shoes in conveniently. For all that, it is priced around $3,095, almost similar to hard shell tents.
How are soft shell roof top tents different from the ordinary tents that are mounted on the ground?
Primarily, soft shell roof top tents will keep us off the potentially soggy ground during the rainy season. It can also keep us away from wild animals, insects, and scorpions. In terms of setup, the soft shells can take a shorter time than ground tents. It is also typically easier to unpack and to pack. Moreover, it is efficient when the campground is not level as the vehicle can be leveled using rocks. Upon use, we can just leave our mattress and sleeping bags inside the tent as we fold it away. This will save us a lot of space inside our vehicle.
Of course, on top of everything, soft shell roof top tents are made for a different use than ground tents. Ground tents can be used in a typically not too wild of a campground than overland tents. They can even be set up and used by kids for just leisurely camping. After all, roof top tent camping is pioneered by the adventurers that liked trudging the African safari. However, for any purpose, we can use either of the two depending on our preference. We just do not want to place ordinary ground tents on top of our cars, though.
Are there any downsides to roof top tent camping, either with soft shells or with hard shells?
If there is one major downside to roof top tent camping, it is the fuel it consumes from our vehicle. However, if it means that we can save space inside our car for our family, then it should be worth it. Aside from that, it’s not the most convenient when we have to get up to pee at night. Of course, we will have to climb down a ladder before we make a run to the toilet.
Moreover, roof top tents will need a lot of space on our roof rack. In fact, we might even have to upgrade our roof rack so that we will have one that is strong enough for the weight. We should expect roof top tents to be big and heavy and are a bit difficult to put on our car roof. Lastly, they are also naturally more pricey but for a lot of reasons. They can withstand almost any weather and temperature and can provide us more protection from the wild.