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Best Rooftop Tents for Car Camping Comfort

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A few years ago, we only saw rooftop tents on rugged-looking overland vehicles designed for expedition travel. Flipping through National Geographic, there were fascinating images of four-wheel-drive trucks setting up camp in remote, wilderness of the Namib desert or Andean foothills.

2 person rooftop tent

We created a guide on how to choose the best rooftop tents for car camping 2022.

Camping with cartop tents is now easily accessible since it no longer requires a Range Rover or a safari guide to go camping! These rooftop tents can now be mounted on many different types of vehicles, and used from relaxing family vacations to extreme expeditions.

At-a-Glance:

Best Value
Smittybilt Overlander Tent
Raptor Series 100000-126800 Offgrid Voyager Truck SUV Camping Rooftop Tent...
Overland Vehicle Systems Nomadic 3 Extended Rooftop Tent RTT - Dark Gray...
Budget Friendly
Napier Backroadz Truck Tent
YAKIMA, SkyRise HD Small
Rating
-
-
-
Sleeps
3
2
3
2
2
Season
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Spring, Summer, Fall
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Weight (lbs)
48
159
165
8 lbs
101.4
Warranty
1 year
1 year
4 year limited
1 year limited
2 year limited
Best Value
Smittybilt Overlander Tent
Rating
Price
-
Sleeps
3
Season
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Weight (lbs)
48
Warranty
1 year
Raptor Series 100000-126800 Offgrid Voyager Truck SUV Camping Rooftop Tent...
Rating
Price
-
Sleeps
2
Season
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Weight (lbs)
159
Warranty
1 year
Overland Vehicle Systems Nomadic 3 Extended Rooftop Tent RTT - Dark Gray...
Rooftop Tent
Rating
Price
-
Sleeps
3
Season
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Weight (lbs)
165
Warranty
4 year limited
Budget Friendly
Napier Backroadz Truck Tent
Rating
Price
Sleeps
2
Season
Spring, Summer, Fall
Weight (lbs)
8 lbs
Warranty
1 year limited
YAKIMA, SkyRise HD Small
Rooftop Tent
Rating
Price
Sleeps
2
Season
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Weight (lbs)
101.4
Warranty
2 year limited

Best Value Rooftop Tent: Smittybilt Overlander Tent

Smittybilt Overlander Tent
  • Use: All Seasons
  • Sleeps: 3
  • Warranty: 1 Year
  • Weight: 48 lbs.
  • Base: 2.5cm aluminum/polyurethane sandwich base with 660lb load capacity
  • Material: 600D Heavy-duty ripstop polyester, waterproof and polyurethane-impregnated
  • Tent Poles: Anodized aluminum 
  • Flysheet: 420D Oxford 
  • Mattress: High-density fire-retardant foam with removable cover 
  • Installation: Dual aluminum track for universal installation using U-clamps 
  • Annex: purchased separately

The Smittybilt Overlandter is one of the best waterproof rooftop tents because it’s both the rainfly and inner tent are treated finish that is perfect for keeping out even the most aggressive rain, making sure no water enters the living space. 

What’s more, the opening within the roof of the tent allows for decent airflow. Certainly a nice touch for those dry, starlit nights. 

If you want extra space and your car roof is taller, then an annex can be added. You’ll need to purchase the Smittybilt 2788 annex since it isn’t included.

Smittybilt 2788 Tent Annex by Smittybilt

The Smittybilt Overlander Tent stretches your dollar even more by including a few extras with its base model. It comes with a comfortable mattress and plenty of space for two adults and a child. Another extra is the rubber boot bag to hang your grubby, dirty shoes outside. No more complaints about crusty dirt inside your rooftop tent. 

This tent comes with integrated LED lights that are bright enough to read books in the darkest of nights. 

Smittybilt 2788 Standard Size Tent Annex

If your Jeep Wrangler has a suspension lift, chances are you’re going to need one of these Smittybilt Overlander tent ladder extensions.

What We Like:

  • Quality durable material
  • High waterproof properties
  • Comfortable mattress
  • Integrated LED lighting strip

What We Don’t Like

  • Zippers are not the best quality we have seen
  • Not for cold weather
  • Installation is a bit difficult

rooftop truck ten over truck bed
Raptor Offgrid Rooftop Tent for Trucks
  • Use: All Seasons
  • Sleeps: 2-3
  • Weight: 150 lbs
  • Warranty: 1 Year
  • Dimensions: (Open) L: 83.5 inches, W: 52 inches, H:48.5 inches. (Closed): L: 83.5 inches, W: 52 inches, H: 11 inches.
  • Base: 750lb max load
  • Material: Waterproof cloth
  • Tent Poles/Ladder: Aluminum
  • Flysheet: Waterproof cloth
  • Mattress: High-Density “84 x 54” Foam Double/Full Mattress 
  • Installation: All hardware included to fit roof bars

The Raptor Voyager is one of the lighter rooftop tents on our list. And, it’s also one of the easiest and fastest to set up and disassemble.

The Raptor Series company makes products with SUV and truck enthusiasts, which are seen in their Voyager Rooftop Camping Tents, designed to easily mount on your stock or aftermarket roofrack.

Basically, this suv tent tent is designed to eliminate water pooling and encourage rain to flow off quickly. It also has a built-in awning / porch for panoramic views and a door that rolls from top down. All of these design details, provide more weather protection from windy or stormy weather, while allowing air to flow in and out.

Inside the tent, pockets to hang your gear, electronics, and other camping car essentials . No more feeling around the tent for your headlamp, multitool, or phone.

As a result of the rooftop tent’s low-profile design, it minimizes fuel consumption when driving. When closed, the Voyager Raptor Rooftop truck tent is 85 inches long. Specifically, beware of overhangs on your vehicle with objects around you.

best rooftop tents for camping Raptor Series
Raptor Series Voyager Rooftop Tent low profile

Tip: Always check both your vehicle’s make, model, and roof rack brand to determine the weight limitations, since these vary from vehicle to vehicle. Truck bed racks will need to be taller than the cab in order for the tent to fit properly.

What We Like

  • Feels and looks very high-quality
  • Both easy to set up and tear down
  • Lower profile design when closed
  • Handles well in high wind/rain conditions
  • Good value for money

What We Don’t Like

  • The instruction leaflet is not the easiest to understand
  • Realistically sleeps 1-2 adults comfortably, not 2-3

Best Softshell Fast Set Up & Tear Down- Overland Vehicle Systems Nomadic 3 Extended Roof

Overland Vehicle Systems Nomadic 3 Extended Rooftop Tent RTT - Dark Gray...
  • Use: All Seasons
  • Sleeps: 3
  • Dimensions (inches): ClosedW:63″ x L: 47″ x H: 14″; OpenW:63″ x L: 122″ x H: 51″
  • Warranty: 4 Year Limited
  • Base: Heavy-duty reinforced diamond plate base
  • Material: 600D premium double ripstop polyester-cotton canvas
  • Tent Poles: Anodized aluminum
  • Flysheet: 420D Heavy duty rain fly
  • Mattress: High density 3 -inch memory foam mattress with removable cover
  • Installation: Requires no drilling or modification to your vehicle if equipped with factory or aftermarket roof rack

The Overland Nomadic 3 shape makes it feel very spacious and once you factor in the the fold-and-go design, both of these features are reasons why this is one of the best rooftop tents on the market.

If you want painless set up, then the Nomadic 3 roof top tent fits the bill with its quick, easy pop up and tear down process. You’ll certainly appreciate not having to bring extra tools to assemble this.

That said, Overland Vehicle Systems goes above and beyond with their Nomadic 3 tent, by providing plenty of extras from features to accessories.

Firstly, there is plenty of storage inside the cartop tent, including 6 internal pockets for shoes and clothing. Secondly, this OVS Nomadic 3 Extended Rooftop Tent comes with 2 ground stakes, 2 paracords, power bank pouch, because who doesn’t love more gear? Lastly, they provide memory foam pillows, additional storage pockets, dustpan with a brush, and laptop table.

The Nomadic 3 comes with fantastic LED lighting strip, secured by a Velcro. Also included when you buy this rooftent, is a handheld LED flashlight with clip and magnet.

When spending this kind of money, all of these nice touches to gives a homey feel, whether you are backcountry or beach camping.

To sum it up, the Overland Vehicle Systems Nomadic 3 Extended Roof Top Tent comes in 2 colors: Artic and Grey and plenty of car camping accessories, However, keep in mind that the awning, awning wall, car side shower, and annex are sold separately.

Best rooftop tents car Camping
Overland Vehicle Systems Nomadic 3 Rooftop Tent in Artic White

What We Like

  • The double-insulated floor and memory foam mattress create excellent insulation
  • Excellent internal storage
  • High-quality materials used throughout
  • Easy to set up / dismantle
  • The extras pack is a nice touch

What We Don’t Like

  • Rainfly is a little noisy during windy or rainy weather
  • Condensation can occur at low temperatures

Best Value RoofTop Camping Tent: Thule Tepui Autana Rooftop Tent with Annex

Overland Vehicle Systems Nomadic 3 Extended Rooftop Tent RTT - Dark Gray...
  • Use: All Seasons
  • Sleeps: Up to 4
  • Dimensions (inches): Closed- 72 x 48 x 12; Floor- 96 x 72 x 56 (W x L x H)
  • Weight: 190 pounds
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Base: Welded aluminum tube with insulated aluminum cap plate
  • Material: Coated 600d ripstop and 260g polyester cotton blend
  • Tent Poles: Aluminum
  • Flysheet: Breathable treated fabric
  • Mattress: High-density foam mattress
  • Installation: Recommended for aftermarket roof racks
  • Included: Annex

One of the larger tents on our list, the Thule Tepui has plenty of room for two adults and two small children. The removable annex is a great addition by creating a perfect space for eating, storing equipment, and removing wet clothing before entering your tent.

If you want to snooze during the day or get a good night’s sleep, it’s high-density foam mattress will keep you comfortable.

A few tech specs to factor in: The ladder provided with the Thule Tepui Explorer Autana 4 Rooftop Camping Tent extends to 8.5 feet. Also, this tent has a static weight capacity of 650 lbs for camping and gear using Thule branded racks. Make sure you weigh your gear before loading it into your SUV.

The whole tent is treated with a UV and mold-resistant coating, which certainly prolongs the life of the fabric. It’s very well-ventilated with the inclusion of plenty of mesh panels. These panels can open entirely for even more airflow.

The Autana Floor weighs 30 pounds, is held in place by a zipper, and can be removed.

As always, you’ll want to check the weight capacity of your roof rack.

What We Like

  • Lots of space and lots of storage
  • High-quality materials and fabric coatings
  • The annex is both large and very functional
  • Ventilation is fantastic
  • The tent feels very well insulated from the cold

What We Don’t Like

  • The size of the tent and the annex make it one of the heavier options
  • Recommended for aftermarket racks not factory fitted
  • The annex is not adjustable, which means it does not fit lower vehicles

Best Rooftop Tent for Truck Bed Camping: Napier Backroadz Truck Tent

Napier Backroadz Truck Tent - Full Size Regular Bed (6'4' - 6'7') sleeps 2,...
  • Use: Spring, summer, fall
  • Sleeps: 2
  • Weight: 8 lbs.
  • Warranty: 1 year limited
  • Base: Polyethylene flooring
  • Material: 68d polyester taffeta
  • Tent Poles: Fiberglass
  • Flysheet: Full rainfly
  • Mattress: none
  • Installation: Stores in the truck bed

Another best of rooftop tents is the Napier Backroadz Truck Bed Tent 19 series. Rather than being placed on the roof, the tent sits on the truck bed.

While this does limit the usage to owners of pickup trucks, this three season tent is a viable option if you own any size bed. Napier sells camping tents for pickup trucks in 5 bed sizes; compact short bed, full size short, compact full regular, full size regular, and full size long.

Overall, the truck tent is relatively quick and easy to set up. But, you get what you pay. Especially in price with the difference ranging between a $1,000 and $200 tent, material, and features. You can immediately feel that the materials aren’t as high quality as the other car tents on this list. These are more similar to conventional tents as opposed to the other heavy-duty rooftop versions, which is reflected in the price. 

That said, the Napier tent for pickup trucks sits on the truck bed, with the sides offering a bit of protection from the elements. Additionally, it features both waterproof material and a gull tent foor, which keeps your bed clean and dry.

Napier Backroadz Truck Tent

What We Like:

  • Very lightweight and transports in the bed of the truck without taking up much room
  • Makes the most of the space available in the back of a truck
  • The tent feels both secure and strong
  • Good weather protection
  • Decent ventilation

What We Don’t Like:

  • Limited to pickups only
  • It takes 30-40 minutes to set up
  • No floor insulation means a very thin barrier between the metal truck bed
  • Fiberglass poles do not feel hugely strong

JoyTutus Pickup Truck Tent Waterproof

JoyTutus Pickup Truck Tent, Waterproof PU2000mm Double Layer for 2 Person,...
  • Use: 4 season
  • Size: 90.5 x 62.9 x 66.9 inches
  • Best Fits truck beds:  5.5-6 ft
  • Sleeps: 2
  • Weight: 15.8 0z
  • Warranty: 1 year
  • Fits: F150, Ram, Silverado, Tundra, Sierra, Titan 
  • Material: Water-resistant fabric with taped seams
  • Tent Poles: Fiberglass
  • Flysheet: n/a
  • Mattress: none
  • Installation: Stores in the truck bed

Don’t let the price fool you because the overall qualith on this affordable pickup truck tent is nice.

That said, for being a budget truck bed tent, it has a double layer wall and waterproof coating to keep you warm and dry during the colder months. This pickup truck tent material is made of 150D polyester oxford, with PU2000 water-proof coating.

In addition, the vehicle tent floor has a waterproof layer to prevent water from seeping in, three windows, and 4 mesh bags to keep your gear organized. That said, we recommend spraying a few coats of Scotchguard water repellent spray for extra protection from sudden rainstorms. If you are looking for a pickup-specific and affordable truck tent option for four season camping, then this is a viable choice. 

The car camp tent material is lightweight while showing good weather resistance and waterproofness. The fiberglass rods are well-made, and offer a good amount of support. Set up is relatively painless (though I’d argue that no tent set up is truly 100% painless), with a good number of tie-down points o to the body of your truck.

All in all, the Joytutus pickup truck tent is an all-around great tent. Just remember to set it up on the ground before putting in on your truck bed.

What We Like

  • Both Lightweight and easily transportable
  • Fast set up
  • Low cost
  • Waterproof- Add a few more layers of Scotchguard water shield for that extra peace of mind
  • It fits different truck models

What We Don’t Like

  • Quality control issues on a few tents
  • Poles are a bit tricky-Follow manufacturer’s instructions carefully otherwise poles will break

Best Rooftop Tent for Smaller Cars: Thule Tepui Low-Pro 2 Tent

Thule Tepui Low-Pro Rooftop Tent
  • Use: Spring, summer, fall
  • Sleeps: 2
  • Warranty: 2 year manufacturer
  • Dimensions: Closed– 50 x 43 x 8.5 inches, Open: 84 x 50 x 44 inches
  • Weight: 105 lbs.
  • Base: Cellulized thermoplastic honeycomb fiberglass
  • Footprint included: No
  • Material: 3000wp breathable ripstop polyester
  • Tent Poles: Wrapped aluminum
  • Flysheet: 3000wp PU coated polyester
  • Mattress: 2.5 inch high-density foam
  • Installation: Easily fits most standard roof bars

This tent’s low profile and compact design make it appropriate for most vehicles with standard roof bars.  If you have small SUV or car, then the Thule Tepui Low Pro is designed to fit these as well as larger vehicles.

The No-see-um mosquito mesh, which provides excellent bug protection and enables you to thoroughly ventilate the tent while keeping out unwanted visitors. 

The Low Pro is under nine inches high when packed, which is up to 7 inches thinner than other manufacturers. Despite the lightweight nature of this tent, it still has impressive weather-proof properties. There is an optional thermal lining that would improve the weather comfort.

Wellness Trufood Baked Blends Natural Grain Free Dry Raw Dog Food, Salmon,...

The base is made of a recyclable material which is an excellent step towards encouraging the sustainability of rooftop tents.

What We Like

  • Suitable for many different types of vehicle
  • Lightweight, low profile, and aerodynamic design minimizes the changes to handling and fuel economy.
  • Excellent weather protection and optional thermal liner
  • Customizable with extensive spares and accessories catalog 
  • Easy to install 

What We Don’t Like

  • Taller people may have to lay diagonally
  • D-ring straps are a little bit fiddly when unpacking or packing

Yakima SkyRise 2 Tent Rooftop Tent

YAKIMA, SkyRise HD Small
  • Use: All seasons
  • Sleeps: 2
  • Dimensions (inches): L 58.00 x W 48.00 x H 17.00
  • Weight: 114.64 lbs
  • Warranty: 2 year limited
  • Base: Abrasion resistant with textured finish
  • Material: 600D ripstop polyester fabric with 3000mm wpc
  • Tent Poles: Aluminum
  • Flysheet: 210D ripstop rainfly with 3000mm wpc
  • Mattress: 2.5 inch foam mattress
  • Installation: Easily fits most factory fit and aftermarket roof systems

Previous versions of this Yakima Skyrise tent suffered from water leakage issues, so it’s great to hear when abrand listens to their customers and makes improvements.

The Yakima Skyrise 2 rooftop tent comes with a PU waterproof coating, water-shedding rainfly, which ensures that even the harshest rain shower, is dealt with comfortably. What’s more, this rooftop car camping tent feels reliable and weatherproof.

Zipping up the flap creates a well-insulated space and opening the flaps allows for plenty of ventilation, great for cold and warmer days. The large rainfly also enables ventilation windows to remain open, even if there is a risk of precipitation, ensuring condensation is minimized. 

Overall, the tent feels solid in strong winds. It doesn’t make too much noise or movement, giving you that extra bit of confidence that the tent will hold up, when the weather takes a turn for the worse. 

Both set up and tear down is quick and efficient.

What We Like

  • Warm and weather-proof tent
  • Bug nets are very effective
  • Lightweight and easy to install/remove
  • Quality materials and design

What We Don’t Like

  • Mattress is a bit too firm for some people
  • Installation connections are not universal
  • Sky window could be a bit clearer for stargazing

Roofnest Sparrow XL

best rooftop camping
From the Roofnest customer image gallery
  • Use: All seasons
  • Sleeps: 2+
  • Weight: 145 lbs
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Base: ABS fiberglass
  • Material: ABS fiberglass shell/polyurethane-coated polyester walls
  • Tent Poles: N/A
  • Flysheet: N/A
  • Mattress: 2.75 inch custom shape foam mattress
  • Installation: Roofnest mounting kit attaches to most roof bars

A very high-quality rooftop tent which is reflected in it’s price.

The hard-shell design comes with a multitude of benefits. If you’re too lazy to pack up your bedding, it is possible to leave your bedding in the tent during transportation and storage. There are rumors of users running their vehicles through car washes with no water entering the hard shell.

Roofnest Sparrow tent has a hard floor and it’s ceiling has an insulating, quilted material for added protection from the elements. Additionally, the tent’s base includes a condensation mat which prevents moisture from being absorbed by the mattress for drier sleeping.

Three awnings can be opened at various levels to act as windows or ventilation openings, creating outstanding airflow throughout the tent. The tent’s vertical walls allow for more head room which feels less claustrophobic when compared to the tapered walls of non-popup versions.

The RoofNest Sparrow XL includes a few nice features, such as a designated area for solar panels, mesh storage, and a ladder base mat. Dirty shoes can remain outside. Don’t forget, to shake out any scorpions or critters that may have crawled into your hiking boots. Now, where exactly is that First Aid Kit?

What We Like

  • The most comfortable space of any rooftop tent on our list
  • Quality design and materials throughout
  • Warm and dry in all weather conditions
  • Safe and secure mounting
  • Multiple awnings allow for the customization of openings and ventilation according to wind direction
  • Very stable in windy weather

What We Don’t Like

  • High cost
  • Quite a large, heavy box to handle when it is delivered

Best Hardshell Rooftop Tent: iKamper Skycamp 2.0

iKamper hardshell rooftop tent
iKamper Skycamp 2.0 Hardshell Rooftop Tent
  • Use: All seasons
  • Sleeps: Up to 3 (adults)
  • Weight: 155 lbs
  • Warranty: 2 years (extended 3 years with reduced parts costs)
  • Base: Honeycomb Aluminum
  • Material: 300gsm polycotton canvas
  • Tent Poles: N/A
  • Flysheet: Waterproof 150d rainfly
  • Mattress: King size 1.8 inch memory foam mattress
  • Installation: Universal mounting system

Everything about the Ikamper Skycamp 2.0 suggests quality from your initial experience with their beautifully designed website when ordering the product, all the way to the first night under the stars. 

These guys have been in the rooftop camping game for a while. They took the original Skycamp, a hugely successful and popular rooftop tent, and improved it. 

The heavy-duty and breathable canvas material is waterproof to a very high level, offering protection from heavy rain and condensation. The rainfly and waterproof zippers make for dry and comfortable conditions, regardless of the weather, so you’ll never have to wonder if that one drop of water will lead to more. 

Without a doubt, camping is much more fun when the tent sets up in less than one minute, and tear-down takes no time. 

https://youtu.be/lijSostwOvk

iKamper SkyCamp 2.0
iKamper Skykamp 2.0 comfortably sleeps 3 adults

The accessories catalog is fantastic. You can also purchase all sorts of accessories, from extra storage options, add an annex, to an impressive internal insulation gear. If you have many camping adventures in the future, then you can replace the tent skin without buying a whole new rooftop tent.

best rooftop camping tent
Keep warm in the winter with iKamper tent insulation. Sold separately

What We Like

  • Very high-quality product
  • Spacious and comfortable
  • Performs very well in rain and high winds
  • For the size of the tent, the rooftop storage is relatively small and aerodynamic
  • Sets Up in 1-minute

What We Don’t Like

  • The universal mount can be slightly fiddly to install
  • Expensive

Advantages of a Rooftop Tent

Mobility

Rooftop tents are the ultimate road trip accommodation. They are perfect for touring and (subject to permission and regulations) can be set up wherever you can drive your vehicle. Weekend trips are easy and fun. Longer adventures are even more appealing since you can quickly move from site to site since you won’t need to sent up a tent footprint and drive tent stakes into the ground. 

If you struggle with overpacking gear, a rooftop tent may be an ideal solution for you. Backpackers can have a panic attack over the thought of a couple of extra pounds, and the weight debate has been the defining factor in whether to bring or leave gear at home.

best rooftop tent
Mobility of Rooftop Tent Camping | McKayla Crump

Comfort

For novice campers, the thought of sleeping in a tent is quite off-putting. Tent camping has long been synonymous with uncomfortable, cramped, and often damp conditions. But with rooftop tents, camping can be more comfortable with a mattress for car camping, camping quilts, and a foam camp pillow, all of these help to get a good night’s rest. Most manufacturers include a comfortable and insulated mattress as part of the base package.

The designs also include excellent ventilation to ensure airflow. That said, condensation is the tent camper’s worst nightmare, with the only answer to this problem is high-quality materials (which we are about to discuss) and adequate airflow. 

Durability

Using the most suitable materials means the tents are built to last. Rooftop tents are generally made with long-lasting, weather-proof materials, focusing firmly on function and durability rather than weight and transportability.  With car tents, manufacturers can ensure they use the very best materials for the job.  

Traveling Space

Removing the bulk of the camping equipment from the car, and placing it on the roof, frees up space in the vehicle, making a journey safer and more comfortable, as well as creating space for equipment you may otherwise leave at home.

Security

The elevation of being located on the car roof makes for increased security, especially if you are camping alone. There will be a retractable ladder you can pull up at night. For an added layer of security, you can add a motion detection sensor system, which is very reassuring when camping alone.

one person rooftop tent

Disadvantages of a Roof Top Tent

Fixed location

Once your rooftop tent is set-up, it is impossible to drive the vehicle, restricting your movements more than a conventional tent or camper van. 

Removal

Without a doubt, rooftop tents are large and heavy. If you are looking to install and remove your tent every time you go on a camping trip, then you’ll need a friend to help and a suitable storage area. Most users will fit their rooftop tent at the start of the camping season and remove it after their final trip of the year.

Vehicle performance 

Having a rooftop tent installed on your car could potentially affect both handling and fuel efficiency, depending on your vehicle type. You’ll want to check your vehicle’s manufacturer rooftop load limit before purchasing a roof rack and tent, since a top-heavy load will affect the its center of balance and its suspension.

The heavier your load, the more fuel your vehicle consumes. You’ll want to factor in the weight of your roof rack, gear, and bedding into your vehicle’s load limit.

man assembling rooftop tent

Weight

Even the best rooftop tents are bothbulky and heavy. While the lightest of the rooftop tents (we aren’t counting the truck bed tents) above, starts at 45 pounds, they can weigh up to a whopping 155 pounds! Grab a strong friend since these tents easily require two people to install and remove, mainly due to their size.

Height

Rooftop tents are straightforward to mount on the car, albeit, slightly hazardous since you’re balancing on a ladder in order to install it. Measure the height of both the roof rack and tent shell and check for any overhead obstacles that would prevent you from leaving your campsite or garage, before you start to mount them. Nothing worse then hearing that crunching and scraping noise as your drive out.

Large families or groups

The largest rooftop tents accommodate up to five people. There are minimal options for the largest of families or groups of people. While it is easy to find 8-10 person conventional tents, there aren’t any rooftop tents for a party of this size. That said, even the best rooftop tents will only accommodate 5 people.

Rooftop 4 person tent

Cost

Rooftop tents are far more expensive to buy than conventional tents, however, they’re cheaper than buying or even renting an RV. 

Take your time to review the advantages and disadvantages. There are many factors to consider, cost is just a part of it. Hopefully, the points listed above will give you an insight into topics to consider.

Accessories, Awnings, and Annexes

Tepui Insulator for Rooftop Tents

Most rooftop tents base model package will come with a standard set of accessories, such as awnings, aluminum ladders and mattresses. Premium models will include bonus accessories. Overland Vehicle Systems Nomadic 3 offers memory foam pillows, lap table, & mini-broom and dustpan.

As for annexes, you’ll want to check whether an annex comes with your rooftop tent base model.

Other rooftop tent brands, like iKamper, Overland Vehicle Systems, and Yakima can offer insulation lining, shoe bags, sheet sets, hammocks, LED light strips, 3-wall enclosures, and shower enclosures to add onto your base model.

Installation and Tools Required

The manufacturer or supplier you purchase your rooftop tent from will potentially offer an initial fitting service. There may be additional fees charged for this. Despite the extra cost, we highly recommended using this service. If the service is not provided, it is sensible to seek the advice of a professional who has experience of fitting roof racks and tents.

Remember that the demands placed on the fixtures and fittings are both camping but also when driving. You will need to make sure the roof bars are adequate to support the weight of your rooftop tent.  Do your research before choosing a roof rack or truck that will support the weight of your rooftop tent and YOU (and loved ones)!

If you are knowledgeable and experienced with the fitting of rooftop tents, most of these require just a few tools for installation, including wrenches and Allen keys. Manufactures supply each tent wit comprehensive instructions and safety procedures.

Setting up and tearing down

One of the appealing things about rooftop tents is how easy they are to set up. It only takes a few minutes of work once you arrive at your destination to have the tent ready to go. Setting up an awning and annex will take approximately 20 minutes. Is is time for that beer?

Although the process varies slightly according to the manufacturer, the set-up usually involves the following steps.

  1. Releasing the straps connecting the travel cover and removing it completely.
  2. Releasing any straps that connect the tent and ladder.
  3. Levering the tent open and correctly securing the ladder to the frame and floor.
  4. Inserting and securing any poles, rods, and lines.

Dismantling is relatively straightforward. Practice tearing the rooftop tent down at home a couple of times, before trying it in the backcountry.

The following is a fantastic instructional video on the set-up and tear down of rooftop tents.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2pwNNUnJBw

Seasons for Car Tent Camping

Although seasonal weather is a factor in any type of camping, car tent camping has its unique benefits that make coping with adverse conditions a little easier. There are also situations where a rooftop tent could be slightly less advantageous. 

There is nothing worse than arriving at your campsite, looking to set up your conventional tent, and all you see is wet, muddy ground. Even the most robust of tent liners / groundsheets will only create a barrier for a limited amount of time. Despite the best of design, mud gets walked into the living/sleeping space, and comfort levels are heavily compromised.

Rooftop Tent camping Muddy boots Outside of Tent

Rooftop tents eliminate this issue because they are set up a long way off the ground and not affected by surface conditions. Equally, it is possible to set up the rooftop system when the ground is baked hard or a bit rough. Wet and muddy gear can be removed at the bottom of the ladder and easily stored in or under the car to dry out. 

Although there are reports of the Expeditions West guys comfortably sleeping in their rooftop tents in 40 below zero temperatures during an Arctic trip, it is sensible for most people considering buying one to think about conditions they are usually happy to camp under.  Also, you should purchase a camping mattress for trucks, so you can sleep more comfortably.

Even though a rooftop tent will eliminate some of the discomforts of traditional camping in adverse weather, it won’t make winter camping feel like a summer vacation. If you enjoy winter camping and are suitably equipped with high-quality sleeping and mess kit cooking equipment, you’ll undoubtedly enjoy the added benefits of the rooftop tent.

Rooftop camping, with the right car camping accessories, can be enjoyed through all the seasons. That said, camp comforts like a comfortable insulated sleeping pad will help you get a good night’s sleep.

A quality rooftop tent will enable you to extend your camping season. but won’t necessarily change your opinion of winter camping, if you weren’t already a fan.

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Last update on 2022-12-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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