Written By Car Bibles Staff
Published Dec. 14, 2018

Glamping has grown in popularity in recent years thanks to the outdoor industry’s bold plunge into luxury. Spending time outdoors isn’t just about exploration and conquering new places. It’s also about style and comfort. And there is one solution that perfectly caters to your need to stay in the comfort of your vehicle as you undertake that much-needed getaway: a rooftop tent. With the best rooftop tent, you’re not required to move out of your comfy vehicle. You can still have the best camping experience, explore your surroundings, and enjoy nature. Below, we provide a list of the best rooftop tents available.

The Best Rooftop Tents

Made with love from South Africa is the  Front Runner Feather-Lite Rooftop tent. Front Runner Outfitters provides campers and travellers with comfortable and highly functional camping gear. The Feather-Lite tent is easily a top option as it has been crafted to withstand rain, heat and wind. It is a three-season tent that is excellent quality and sturdy.

This rooftop tent is manufactured from a strong, waterproof, heavy-duty, mold-resistant, breathable and OPVC-coated poly-cotton. Gain access to an instant sleeping palace above the ground in a single swift motion, and enjoy this space with one other person.

To make your way with ease into your sleeping space, the Feather-Lite tent features a sturdy, retractable ladder designed with foot friendly treads, and the main room comes with a mattress. With this hard shell roof top tent, you can enjoy the constant opening and closing of your doors without insects disturbing you while you sleep. This is made possible through the screens on all windows and doors, which also provide ventilation.

The Feather-Lite rooftop tent is just as its name describes, lightweight in nature. Weighing only 93 pounds, this truck top tent can be set up and transported with ease. It possesses additional features, such as storage pockets and a sky-facing window for celestial views.

Key Features
  • Retractable, sturdy aluminium ladder
  • affordable
  • Sleeps 2+ comfortably
  • Easily open-close mechanism
Specification
  • Brand Front Runner
  • Weight 133.4 pounds

The Smittyblit Overlander Rooftop Tent is the perfect match for adventurers and hikers who drive Jeep Wranglers. Developed by a company with over 50 years of experience in the industry, this unit offers high quality for an exceptional price. It is composed of feature-rich and durable elements that offer you comfort wherever you find yourself, be it in the depths of a valley or on the highest mountains.

You won’t lose all your usual comforts by opting for this tent. It is incredibly lightweight and can be mounted easily onto most roof tracks, making it a user’s favourite. It has been crafted from a ripstop polyester fabric and is accompanied by a rain fly that allows for the tent to be set up or dismantled with ease.

Other features include netted windows that allow you to stargaze during your leisure moments. The netting also keeps you protected against bugs and insects that might want to invite themselves in. And during the warmer months, this tent provides exceptional ventilation without the presence of insects thanks to the mosquito-proof mesh windows.

With a thick foam mattress that accommodates approximately two individuals, the Overlander tent’s bed is nearly a queen-sized bed. At the roof of the tent, a built-in LED strip acts as a bonus element to allow for visibility while you change into your pajamas or while you read a novel. There’s an annexe tent for campers in need of extra space, and this addition can be attached with ease below the shelter alongside your vehicle. 

Key Features
  • Easy to set up and take down
  • Mounting brackets included
  • Standard size tent
  • 600D heavy-duty waterproof top and rain fly
Specification
  • Brand Smittybilt
  • Model 2783
  • Weight 138 pounds

The TMB Motorsports Green Pop Up Roof Tent is an incredibly designed rooftop tent crafted with care and precision to provide users with ultimate comfort. Its design enables the TMB tent to fit most vehicles and is preferred by many hikers and campers. All that is needed to make use of this roof top tent is roof rails and cross bars. Upon purchase, users are provided with a package that includes an extra storage bag, a free flashlight, and a ladder for climbing into their sleeping space.

The TMB rooftop tent is constructed from a sturdy, durable and weatherproof material that keeps all elements of nature at bay and keeps you protected and comfortable for more extended periods. It features inner and outer zippers for secure closure, the use of snap straps for temporary closure, and a bungee net roof storage with side pouches. The main space comes with a pre-installed mattress that accommodates two people.

The mattress is made from memory foam, and this provides users with a higher level of comfort. The design feature that causes the TMB Motorsports tent to stand out from its competitors is its ability to directly fold out from the roof rack, providing you with an excellent sleeping area. This is a rooftop tent that is highly convenient and easy to install and use.

Key Features
  • Closed Dimensions: 84" x 49" x 13"
  • Fits most vehicles
  • Easy to open
  • Includes: free flashlight, ladder, extra storage bag
Specification
  • Brand TMB Motorsports
  • Weight 100 pounds

The ARB Simpson Annex is a great way to add a little more space to your rooftop tent during a camping trip. Designed with summer in mind, this rooftop tent keeps you comfortable through those uncomfortable, sticky conditions that occur during warm and humid weather. It has also been crafted to offer you maximum ventilation during the summer. With its lightweight nature, it is straightforward to build and dismantle.

The Simpson offers users a built-in single layer foam mattress that is meant to cradle you in comfort while you rest. With an awning that usually angles across the window exterior and large windows, this rooftop tent offers increased air flow as well as the addition of light into the space, increasing visibility.

In the event of severe rainfall, the Simpson rooftop tent features an extended fly sheet that protects the interior from water. All windows can be sealed during inclement weather to provide you with an enhanced camping experience. If you’re in need of a lighter vehicle load for your summer adventures, the ARB Simpson SUV roof tent is a great option.

Key Features
  • maximum ventilation
  • larger side windows
  • easier set-up and take-down
  • The tent is adaptable
Specification
  • Brand ARB
  • Model 804100
  • Weight 13 pounds

The next rooftop tent on our list is the Tuff Stuff Ranger Rooftop Tent, a unit that comes with an annexe room. The frame of this car tent has been constructed from sturdy and durable aluminium, with screened windows and awnings to enhance ventilation. This tent features a foam mattress with high-density cotton ripstop fabric, characterised by waterproof features.

The annexe room is big enough to accommodate a folding cot, queen-sized mattress, a mat and a small dining table or a set of chairs. The main sleeping area is large enough to accommodate to two full-sized adults. To increase the total interior space of the annexe room, the retractable ladder can be folded away.

Installation of this car top tent is straightforward and efficient. It normally takes approximately up to two hours to fully install, provided two people are undertaking this exercise. All hardware required for the installation are included with your purchase to enable the secure mounting of most roof racks. It is critical to note that the main tent must be fully installed before the annexe room is zipped on.

In general, the Tuff Stuff rooftop tent enables you to experience levels of comfort, convenience and ease. With a short installation time and easy to follow setup instructions, this is one valuable investment any adventurer can make.

Key Features
  • All aluminium frame
  • A 2.5"high-density foam mattress
  • 3 screened windows with awnings
  • Poly/Cotton Rip-Stop Fabric with a Waterproof coating
Specification
  • Brand Tuff Stuff

Are you a roof top camper who loves to explore no matter the season: snow, shine or rain? The Tepui Baja Kukenam is ideal for an all-year adventure series. This rooftop tent has been innovatively designed with an interchangeable canopy that adapts with ease in changing situations.

You can camp comfortably below this tent’s PU-coated canopy or atop its cushy foam base all night with no discomfort caused by rocks or the sound of rain to keep you up all night long. To withstand all the elements all year long, this rooftop tent is constructed from a heavy-duty polyester and cotton fabric that gives it a rugged frame and aesthetic.

All fabrics included in the design of this tent have been treated to keep the elements, including rain, snow and moisture, out. Also, ventilation is not a problem thanks to the inclusion of an all-around no-see-um mesh panelling system. These panels allow for extreme airflow as they’ve been designed to open with the waterproof zippers. The Tepui tent features universal mounting brackets for an easy and quick installation.

Many potential users find the installation process of the Tepui intimidating, and this shouldn’t be the case. You must attach the mountain brackets to your roof rack. There is an added ladder that enables you to enter your shelter. To dismantle your tent, you reverse the setup instructions and zip your tent conveniently into its PVC travel pouch, designed for the ultimate protection from the elements. 

Key Features
  • Poles: aluminium
  • Seams: taped
  • Capacity: 3-person
  • Season: 4-season
Specification
  • Brand Tepui
  • Model Tepui
  • Weight 99 pounds

The specifications of the Yakima Skyrise Rooftop Tent follow that of its predecessor, the Skyrise Tent. This flagship product had its design improved upon after Yakima decided to collaborate with world-renowned outdoor brand Poler. This partnership gave birth to a special edition version that many campers have grown attached to, thanks to its high quality and durability. This tent features signature elements from both the Poler and Yakima brands such as Poler’s branding and colors, as well as Yakima’s framing and structure.

Once installed atop your vehicle, the tent looks perfectly at home, like a bird perched on a branch. It can be connected anywhere you find yourself, from the beach to the forest and any other location your brave heart directs you to. Depending on a user’s specific needs, this tent comes in various sizes and colors to suit your personality and style.

The Yakima Skyrise tent is crafted from lightweight yet solid aluminium and requires only 15 minutes to complete an installation. All materials are similar to those used in the construction of backcountry tents as it’s both breathable and lightweight. Also pre-installed within this tent is a wall-to-wall mattress with a removable cover that makes cleaning easy. 

This mattress features a foam designed to cradle your body in comfort all night long. As for ventilation, the Yakima Skyrise is built with a mesh panel zip that opens up to allow the free flow of air. This pop-up roof top tent is an excellent option for both seasoned and beginner campers who love to explore their environment in the rain or under the rays of the sun.

Key Features
  • tool-free installation
  • several colour options
  • strong aluminium poles
  • lightweight and breathable
Specification
  • Brand Yakima
  • Model Yakima
  • Weight 101.9 pounds

Best Rooftop Tent Buying Guide & FAQ

Types of Roof Top Tents

When it comes to rooftop tent construction, there are generally two different types. Both types of rooftop tents are good for many different uses but will be better suited for certain conditions or personal preferences.

Hard Shell

The hardshell rooftop tent models are great for weather resistance as the tent body is made out of durable plastic. If you plan on camping in places where you need heavy duty weather protection from wind or rain, then this tent will be a great investment. There are a few considerations to keep in mind, though. The hardshell rooftop tent is naturally heavier than the softshell models. The weight of your camping tent can impact your overall fuel economy. If you regularly camp out in volatile weather conditions, then it may be worth the extra weight and fuel. But if you’re a weekend camper in the summertime, then it may unnecessarily add to the overall cost. It’s worth mentioning that it may seem like hardshell tents are more difficult to manage, but they actually have a relatively easy setup.

Soft Shell

Softshell models are built more like your traditional camping tent with soft materials, such as canvas or poly/cotton rip-stop fabric. This kind of tent fabric makes them lightweight and easy to use. The downside of softshell tents is that it doesn’t offer much weather protection against rain or thunderstorms and can be a little more challenging to set up.

Things to Consider When Buying a Roof Top Tent

Material

The tent material isn’t limited to only its exterior. It also comprises the material used for the tent’s frame, the ladder, and even the mattress. Before any purchase, make sure that all materials are durable and comfortable. Concerning the exterior material, the most preferred option is nylon as it’s a weatherproof material that can withstand mild natural elements. It is also used because of its lightweight nature and breathable qualities. Another lightweight tent material is ripstop nylon. This kind of nylon is more sturdy and durable than regular nylon. For more serious campers who need weather resistance, hardshell tents will have the most durable tent material available.

Sleeping Capacity

The dimensions inside the tent will determine how many campers can fit inside the tent (as well as what mattress size). Most of the best rooftop tents will be able to accommodate two adults easily, though many can accommodate three people. Others still can hold four and even five campers at a time. Some can even fit a queen mattress in them. The larger rooftop tents, however, also have large price tags.

Ease of Installation

Vehicle tents are about as easy to set up as a ground pop up tent, so you can generally expect that most will come with an easy setup. That being said, hardshell tents are slightly easier as many of them basically set themselves up with a little extra human guidance.

Types of Accessories and Add Ons

There are a few items you must have alongside your rooftop tent, as they help keep you comfortable and protected. Some of these additional accessories include a:

  • rainfly or canopy, which will hold all elements at bay 
  • An aluminum ladder for swift movement in and out of your sleeping space
  • an annex or additional space to increase the overall capacity of your tent.

There are many reasons why we think you ought to get a car roof tent, and these are a few:

Protection from Animals

Rooftop tents elevate you from the ground; thus, you are not disturbed by any animal.

In-Built Bedding

With the pre-installed foam mattress found in many rooftop tents, there’s no need for you to struggle to fit your camp mattress or sleeping pad into your trunk. After the installation of your tent, the next best thing you will do is to lie on your bed.

Simple to Dismantle

Once you’re ready to move to a new location and a new adventure, you can easily fold and unfold your tent. This will prevent you from having to consistently set up and dismantle every part, helping you save more energy for your exploration days.

Storage Space

With a rooftop tent, you can keep all the space in your vehicle that you would’ve otherwise used to store a sleeping bag and a regular tent. Enjoy the extra storage room in the back of your car and the convenience of having your camping tent up on the roof rack.

How to Install a Roof Top Tent

  • Loosen the cross straps to remove the tent bag, but be careful not to get the bag stuck on the board’s corners
  • At full length, lock the aluminum ladder in place and use this to raise the tent by pulling down on the telescoping ladder
  • To avoid the vacuum effect, make sure that air has access into the shelter when opening
  • Insert the steel rods included both in the center and board
  • To pack your tent, reverse the installation process

Top Brands

The best rooftop tent is the one that you use regularly and brands such as iKamper, Tepui, and 23Zero make that easy to do.

iKamper

iKamper is based out of Seattle, Washington and operates its own facility in South Korea. They get major bragging rights for their iKamper Skycamp 2.0 as being the original award-winning expandable hardshell.

Tepui

Tepui comes from Thule Group, based out of Sweden, and has set its headquarters in Santa Cruz, California. One of the best products they sell is the Tepui Hybox.

23Zero

23Zero prides itself on offering the best rooftop tent, awning, and overlanding gear on the market to Australia and the United States. Their name, however, is derived from a set of coordinates from the Australian Outback, claiming that it’s a reminder of how small we are in this massive expanse of land that we occupy. Their rooftop tents come with lots of storage space and customizable dimensions, making them one of the most popular brands for active people around the world.

Car Top Tent Care and Maintenance

Regular maintenance for your rooftop tent can be done by vacuuming and brushing the tent’s exterior with a stiff bristle brush. This is done to get rid of the dust accumulated from daily usage. For deeper cleaning, wet your canvas and clean it with a sponge and a mixture of soap and water. After washing, leave the shelter to dry in the sun completely.

Best Rooftop Tent FAQ:

Q: How much does a roof rack tent weigh?

Typically, rooftop tents weigh in at around 45 kg but they can often vary size.

Q: How many people fit into one of these tents?

The number of people found in a tent will depend on the kind of shelter purchased. At most, there are rooftop tents that accommodate four people, and the smaller ones that provide two people.

Q: What car type do I need for a rooftop tent?

The best vehicular candidates for rooftop tents are SUVs and trucks. Sedans, cars, and hatchbacks are not considered great options. When purchasing a shelter, be sure to never use it on a vehicle with a load limit under 165 lbs.

Q: What weather can rooftop campers stand up to?

The ability of a rooftop tent to withstand certain weather elements depends on the brand you purchase. Most brands utilize weatherproof materials which make their tents suitable for all weather conditions.

Q: What is the cheapest rooftop tent?

Brands like Front Runner and Tepui generally start at an affordable price point without sacrificing quality.

Q: What is the biggest rooftop tent?

The GT SKY LOFT claims to be the largest rooftop tent in the world and one of the lightest too, thanks to its inflatable infrastructure. It was designed to have a low profile yet be large enough for backcountry camping with the entire family.

Q: Do rooftop tents get stolen?

Yes, sometimes. For this reason, many people opt for a rack lock to secure the tent to the vehicle.

Q: Can you put a roof tent on any car?

Most brands keep rack compatibility in mind since that is the single greatest barrier to purchase for most people. Even so, you can easily install a rack that can handle both the roof tent as well as the weight capacity required for at least two adults. That being said, look for vehicle-specific tracks and do not use clamp-style attachments as they absolutely will not handle the weight capacity of your RTT.

Q: How much weight can a rooftop tent hold?

Generally speaking, most RTT models can handle up to 200 pounds per camper. So if the RTT can hold two people, then it can presumably handle a weight capacity of 400 pounds. If the RTT can hold five people, then it can handle a weight capacity of 1,000 pounds. Check the user manual of your chosen RTT before loading it up with the whole family.

Our Top Pick

Our top pick was the Front Runner Roof Top Tent, an additional accessory to a rooftop tent. Made from aluminum and ripstop cotton fabric, this is one of the exceptionally designed tents to carry waterproof features. It is suitable for two people and offers ultimate comfort to all campers and explorers.

Sources:

  1. Roof tent – Wikipedia
  2. How to Assemble a Tent – wikiHow

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