LAST UPDATED: December 20, 2020

The Best Van Tents (Review and Buying Guide) in 2021

Best Choice Backroadz SUV Tent Backroadz SUV Tent
Best Value Versatility Teardrop Awning for SUV Versatility Teardrop Awning
Premium Pick Sportz Full Size SUV 82000 Tent Sportz Full Size SUV 82000 Tent

Getting out into the wilderness is a great way to get out of the house and go on an adventure. However, not all of us are ready to invest in a trailer, camper, or RV. Or maybe the idea of hauling your tent and gear into the woods on a long hike isn’t your style either. So why not combine these two options and camp in your car? A van tent gives you additional space while also giving you the freedom of camping in your vehicle. These tents work with a wide variety of vehicles to directly hook on and provide you with more enclosed living space. This guide will help you to understand your options and find the perfect tent for your needs and vehicle.

If you own an SUV, CUV, or minivan, then this van tent will serve you well. It’s designed to fit all of these types of vehicles. This tent’s design is a traditional 10 x 10-foot tent with a tunnel on one side that connects to the vehicle’s back or side. The tent is large enough to sleep five adults comfortably. The tent has plenty of ventilation with three mesh windows and a large door. There’s also an additional rain fly with taped seams to provide you with weather protection.

Unfortunately, this tent can be difficult to set up by yourself. You’ll also want to be careful because the fabric can rip, especially when the wind is strong. You may also find that some of the seams can leak during heavy rain.

Key Features
  • 10 x 10-foot tent
  • Sleeps five adults
  • One large door and three mesh windows
  • Full rainfly with taped seams
Specification
  • Brand Napier Enterprises
  • Model 19100
  • Weight 2.2 pounds
PROS

More than 7 feet of headroom

Fits all CUV’s, SUV’s, and Minivans

Gear pocket and lantern holder

CONS

Difficult to set up

Fabric can rip

Seams can leak

This large awning will give you 60 square feet of shade. The fabric is a ripstop 210T polyester to give the tent durability and strength. There are air vents in the peak to create ventilation and help the awning to be windproof. On the front side of the awning, there is a large mesh window to aid in increasing the flow of air through the tent. To set up the tent, you’ll attach straps to either side of the vehicle and put up poles on the opposite side. There are two included sandbags to stabilize the tent. You can adjust the height of the far side to give yourself privacy. 

Unfortunately, this awning can easily catch the wind. There are also no sides to enclose the tent completely.

Key Features
  • 60 square feet of shade
  • Ripstop 210T polyester fabric
  • Air vents in the peak
  • Large side mesh window
Specification
  • Brand Hasika
  • Model ABCD
  • Weight 9 pounds
PROS

Stable structure

Able to adjust the height

Included sandbags

CONS

Catches wind easily

Not an enclosed tent

Need two people to put it up

This 9 x 9 tent looks like a traditional tent with an additional tunnel connecting to your vehicle. There’s an impressive 7 feet of headroom in the center peak of the tent. This makes it ideal for taller campers who get tired of crouching in smaller tents. You can comfortably sleep four to five people in the tent. What’s nice about this tent is that it’s sturdy with steel and fiberglass poles. It’s also durable and protective with a bathtub style floor and GoBe Dry ultimate rain protection system. 

The downside of this tent is that it takes two people to set it up. However, the tent is designed for multiple people, so you’re likely to have someone else with you when using it.

Key Features
  • 9 x 9-foot tent
  • Sleeps 4-5 people
  • More than 7 feet of headroom in the center
  • Steel and fiberglass poles
Specification
  • Brand Napier Enterprises
  • Model B0094FMCTE
  • Weight 30 pounds
PROS

Easily adjust the vehicle sleeve

Bathtub style floor

GoBe Dry ultimate rain protection system

CONS

Takes two people to set up

Difficult to get the rainfly on

Included stakes are too lightweight

This large 10 x 10 tent gives you plenty of space. When standing in the tent, there is more than 7 feet of headroom in the center of the tent. You can also convert this tent into a 7 x 6-foot floorless screen room. As many as five to six people can comfortably sleep in this tent. There are large mesh panels on each side of the tent for plenty of ventilation. The poles are made of steel and fiberglass for strength and durability. 

The downside of the tent is that it’s large and heavy. But this isn’t too big of a deal since it isn’t meant for hiking. The zippers aren’t as durable as the rest of the tent, so you’ll want to be careful with them.

Key Features
  • 10 x 10-foot tent
  • Sleeps five to six people
  • Over 7 feet of headroom
  • 7 x 6-foot floorless screen room
Specification
  • Brand Napier Enterprises
  • Model 84000
  • Weight 53 pounds
PROS

Sleeve attaches to your vehicle

Steel and fiberglass pole structure

Includes an expandable carrying bag

CONS

Large and heavy

Leaks in rain

Zippers not durable

Attach the vehicle sleeve to the back of your SUV and set up the 8.5 x 8.5-foot tent. You’ll now have space for four people to sleep. There are two large entrance doors to make moving about easier. Covering the doors and three windows is a no-see-um mesh. This protects you from insects while also allowing for airflow. The outside of the tent has a large awning to provide protection and coverage to the tent entrance. Inside of the tent are two pockets and a gear loft. 

The downside of this tent is that it’s difficult to set up, especially by yourself. This is because the zippers can be hard to use. It can also gap around some vehicles depending on how it’s shaped.

Key Features
  • 8.5 x 8.5-foot tent
  • Sleeps four people
  • Removable vehicle sleeve
  • Shock-corded fiberglass poles
Specification
  • Brand Napier Enterprises
  • Model 86000
  • Weight 25.15 pounds
PROS

Two large entrance doors

Three large no-see-um mesh windows

Two Inside pockets and gear loft

CONS

Difficult to set up

Zippers are hard to use

Can gap around some cars

If you’re looking for more than just a tent, then consider this screened-in room. It measures 2,500 x 2,500 millimeters. It’s made from 300 denier Oxford polyester fabric. The mesh is tight enough to prevent insects and bugs from coming in and still large enough to allow for plenty of airflow. The outer material is also UV treated to protect you from the sun. The floor is made from a polyethylene waterproof to keep you clean and dry. This tent stands out because it’s designed to attach to the side of your vehicle. 

One drawback of this screened-in room is that it doesn’t come with everything you need for the complete room. It’s also difficult to set up on your own.

Key Features
  • 2500 x 2500 millimeters
  • Made from 300D oxford polyester
  • Midge-proof mesh side panels
  • Heavy-duty nylon hooks
Specification
  • Brand ARB
  • Model 813108A
  • Weight 3 pounds
PROS

Outer UV treated

Crossflow ventilated mesh roof

Polyethylene waterproof floor

CONS

Not a complete setup

Hard to set up alone

Not sturdy

Unlike other tents on this list, this isn’t a completely separate tent from your vehicle. Instead, it’s an awning and rear-end enclosure. This gives you airflow while also protecting you from no-see-ums with a tight weave mesh. There are plastic coated hooks and bungee cords to secure the tent to your vehicle. You’ll find this cover quick and easy to set up with convenient roll-up panels to fold it out of the way when you don’t need them. Sleep soundly knowing that this tent meets AFAI-84 specs for flame resistance. 

Unfortunately, this tent doesn’t give you additional space. This means you’re limited to sleeping in your vehicle. You may also struggle to get the straps tight against your vehicle, depending on the model of SUV you drive.

Key Features
  • Bungy cord with plastic coated hooks
  • No-see-um insect screen
  • Inverted 'T' layout
  • Two-way zippers
Specification
  • Brand DAC INC
  • Model DA-E2T
  • Weight 4.49 pounds
PROS

Outer door panels fold up

Sets up in less than five minutes

Meets AFAI-84 specs for flame resistance

CONS

Only fits specific vehicles

Straps don’t keep it tight against vehicle

Not durable

This hatchback style of tent attaches to the backside of your small to a midsize minivan, SUV, or CUV. The tent will create a polyester taffeta and mesh seal so that you can leave the door open for plenty of airflow while also being protected from insects. There’s an integrated storm flap to give you a tight seal and keep the rain out. What makes this tent stand out from similar setups is the large awning that extends over two feet out. This gives you better sun and rain protection. 

The downside of this tent is that it isn’t universally compatible. You’ll want to make sure that it works with your vehicle before purchasing it. If you’re not careful, the tent can rub against your vehicle if the tent isn’t tightly secured.

Key Features
  • Fits small-to-midsize CUVs, SUVs, and minivans
  • More than 2 feet of awning
  • Made of high-quality polyester taffeta and mesh
  • Integrated storm flap
Specification
  • Brand Napier Sportz
  • Model B01MUEGMLR
  • Weight 7 pounds
PROS

Universal-fit

Included storage bag

Mesh screen keeps bugs out

CONS

Doesn’t fit all vehicles

Fabric can rip

Can rub against the paint

Camp anywhere that has enough space for your vehicle with this hatchback-style tent. It’s a generous size and able to fit onto most mid to full-size SUVs, CUVs, and minivans. The tent is made from high-quality polyester taffeta and features a large mesh screen that covers the opening to your vehicle. The solid awning extends over two feet beyond the rear of your vehicle and comes down the sides to give you increased privacy while in your vehicle. When not using your tent, you can pack it neatly away into the included storage bag. 

One drawback of this tent is that it doesn’t give you additional space outside of your vehicle. It also only fits larger vehicles. You’ll also need to strap it down to the outside of your vehicle, and wind can cause it to flap.

Key Features
  • Fits mid-to-full size CUVs, SUVs, and minivans
  • More than 2 feet of awning
  • Included storage bag
  • Made of polyester taffeta and mesh
Specification
  • Brand Napier Sportz
  • Model B01NA6NXB3
  • Weight 7 pounds
PROS

Universal fit

Mesh screen keeps bugs out

Integrated storm flap

CONS

Doesn’t fit all vehicles

Fabric can rip

Not durable

This 100 percent polyester tent is a three-in-one design. It features heavy-duty 96-inch steel poles, 10-inch steel stakes, and a 68 denier polyester fly. There are three possible positions that you can choose from to give you more versatility and functionality out of your tent. There’s the A-frame setup, dual pole awning with a vehicle, and dual pole A-frame without a vehicle. You can connect this tent to most SUVs, Jeeps, and trucks. Included with your ten is a carrying bag. What makes this tent stand out is that it’s made in the USA. 

The downside of this tent is that the poles aren’t adjustable. This means you’re limited in how the tent gets set up and the height of it. It’s also not universally compatible, so you’ll want to make sure that it works with your vehicle.

Key Features
  • 100 percent polyester
  • Made in the USA
  • Three-in-one tarp
  • Connects to most Jeeps, SUV's or trucks
Specification
  • Brand Slumberjack
  • Model B0861SGB1G
  • Weight 14.1 pounds
PROS

Heavy-duty steel poles

68D polyester fly

Included carry bag

CONS

Poles aren’t adjustable

Not compatible with tall vans

Fabric can rip

Best Van Tents Buying Guide & FAQ

This buying guide will help you to understand your options when it comes to buying a van tent. You’ll quickly realize that the type of tent you buy is a more complicated process than buying a traditional tent style. This is because not only does the tent need to fit your space needs and climate, but it also needs to be compatible with your vehicle.

While you may want a side door or rooftop tent to create a full room on the side of your vehicle, you may discover that a hatchback tent off the back will work better with your vehicle. 

The Advantages of Owning a Van Tent

There are several advantages to using a van tent when you go camping. The first is that you can sleep anywhere you want, as long as you can park your car. This gives you more freedom in where you go since your car is smaller and can fit in more places than a trailer, camper, or RV. 

You’ll feel more confident sleeping in your vehicle. There’s an increased level of security with a can tent because you can lock the vehicle and know that no one can sneak up on you. The only vulnerable spot is the entrance of the tent. 

Finally, sleeping on the ground isn’t comfortable. In your car, you can use an air mattress or specially designed mattress for your car. This helps you to stay warm and wake up without a sore back. 

  • Camp anywhere that your vehicle can go. 
  • Feel more confident with greater security. 
  • Enjoy more comfort by sleeping off the ground. 

Different Kinds of Van Tents

enjoying the nature with the best van tent
Van tents come in a variety of sizes and shapes

The type of tent that you buy will depend on the type of vehicle that you own and how much space you’re looking to have. Some tents simply create a covering for your open door. Others connect and create a separate room. Others are simple and merely provide overhead coverage. 

Hatchback

This style of van tent is the most common as it has the greatest compatibility with a wide range of vehicles. The tent will attach to the back of your vehicle and either close in the open back or add room in a tent. This lets you move from your vehicle to your tent without going outside. 

A minimal hatchback tent will provide you with a small awning and tent style door to the back of your vehicle. A more elaborate tent will create a tunnel from the back of your vehicle to your tent, which will be a complete traditional tent. 

Side Door

This style of tent attaches to the side of your vehicle. A few will look like traditional tents. However, most of them look more like a cube or room. They will have a flat top awning that extends out from the roof of your vehicle. Then there are three sides to close the space in.

This style works well with a van that has doors that glide open or a jeep that has open sides. These vehicles won’t have a swing open door that takes up valuable space in your tent room. The downside of this style is that it’s bulky and can be complicated to set up. 

Awning

These are open-air tents that don’t have sides, or the sides are detachable. They will be attached to the back or side of your vehicle and provide you with overhead coverage. These work best for day trips where you don’t plan to sleep overnight. They are the easiest to set up and takedown, are the most affordable, and the lightest weight. 

The downside of an awning is that it provides the least amount of security and protection. They are also the most susceptible to wind and will let the rain in. If you choose this style of tent, look for one with removable sides and UV protection on the top. 

What to Consider When Buying a Van Tent

camping using best van tent
Van tents can be handy whether you on a van or not

When buying your van tent, consider when, where, and how you plan to use it. This will help you find a tent that will both fulfill your needs and work in the climate that you’ll use it in. Your second consideration is to figure out how the tent will work on your vehicle. 

While many tents claim to have broad or universal compatibility, this isn’t always the case. No matter what tent you buy, test it out on your vehicle before you go camping. That way, you know how it works before you’re setting it up and depending on it for your night’s sleep. 

Care and Maintenance for Van Tents

Always clean and dry your tent after use. Finish by packing it away in the included storage bag. This removes dirt, salt, and grime that could cause your tent to deteriorate. 

Check the components of the tent before you use it if it’s been in storage for a long time. Parts can age in storage, and you’ll want to know that they need replacing before you get to your campsite. 

Reinforce areas that see the most wear and tear. If there’s a part of your tent that experiences more wear and tear or stress, then you’ll want to reinforce it. You could attach stronger material or use additional straps for support. This will prevent premature aging. 

  • Clean and dry the tent. 
  • Check your tent before you go camping. 
  • Reinforce the most worn areas. 

The Best Van Tents FAQ:

You can easily get confused when comparing van tents. There are countless types, and they all have their advantages and disadvantages. How do you know how much you need to spend? Then once you get your chosen tent home, you need to figure out how to set the thing up. 

Q. How much does a van tent cost?

You can get a quality tent for a couple of hundred dollars. 

Q. How does a van tent work?

The tent hooks into your vehicle to create an additional enclosure. 

Q. Which van tent is the right one for me?

The right tent is compatible with your vehicle and large enough to provide enough room. 

Our Top Pick

Our top pick for the best van tent is the Backroadz SUV Tent. It’s a nice size at 10 x 10 feet and is large enough to sleep five adults. The three mesh windows give you plenty of ventilation, while the taped seams and full rainfly protect you from the inclement elements. 

Final Thoughts

The Backroadz SUV Tent is a high-quality tent that gives you plenty of additional room. For a more affordable option, the Versatility Teardrop Awning for SUV gives you the basic amount of coverage for minimal investment.

Sources:

  1. How to Camp Safely – WikiHow