There are times when you just want to hop in your car, drive out to the middle of nowhere, and leave the worries of the workweek behind you. But once you’re out there, are you going to just curl up in your back seat?
Nope, not you… You thought ahead and checked out this guide on the best rooftop tents. Instead of curling up in the back seat only to suffer aches and pains in the morning, you pop open your rooftop abode and enjoy the fresh air and the stars. This is what camping should be all about.
Below are some of the best available on the market right now. Still, need help choosing? Make sure you also take a look at our buyer’s guide at the end, where we’ll show you how we evaluated these tents, and how you can evaluate them while making your purchase decision.
Top Choices For The Best Roof Top Tents
The two entry points and telescoping alloy ladders, allow you to enter from either side. Lay back and use the star-gazing windows to drift off to sleep on the 65mm foam mattress. Gas strut-assisted setup makes it a cinch to get cozy.
The Darche Panorama series also features star-gazing windows, 50mm foam mattress, and can sleep 2-3 people. The telescopic alloy ladder is made to fit higher aftermarket lifts. Built-in vents and a tropical fly to help prevent condensation inside. All seams are fully sealed and twin needle lock-stitched.
The built-in air vents and 180-degree side windows give this tent massive airflow, while the tropical mesh keeps the insects out. With the lightweight, airflow, and easy small vehicle setup, this is a great tent for exploring hotter desert and tropical climates.
The Dometic 4WD Rooftop Tent is made to fit any 4WD vehicle and includes a 50mm foam mattress large enough for two people to sleep comfortably. The two-layer fabric construction makes this an excellent tent for camping in cool or cold environments.
23Zero Dakota Roof Top Tents are available in four different sizes, the Dakota 1400, the Dakota 1600, the Dakota 1800, and the Dakota 2200. These massive, and massively durable tents will give ample room for the entire family to sleep soundly in the wilderness, on the 65mm open cell mattress. 4 comfortably, but up to 5 total. The special Light Suppression Technology helps keep the inside of the tent dark and cool, even on hot sunny days. The 600gsm tent easily stores away in the thin but robust alloy shell.
Our Buyer’s Guide
You might be wondering about the various criteria that we used to find the top rooftop tents. We set them all up and evaluated them all based on the following criteria. We first classify them by whether they are hardshell or softshell, then evaluate them on their size, storage capacity, weight, installation ease, setup & teardown process, overall durability, and finally, cost.
Hard vs. Soft
This is pretty straightforward. Hardshell tents will have a hard enclosure that protects them when stored and gives them significant stability when set up. They will usually consist of hard plastic or in some cases fibreglass shells or boxes and are in general more durable than other tents. They are usually really simple to set up, often just needing a few latches undone, and the opening mechanism does the rest. The drawback is that they are often the smallest of the options. If you need a place for more than two adults to sleep, it probably won’t be in a hardshell tent.
Softshell rooftop tents often resemble the tents you are used to seeing in a campground, just located on the top of your vehicle. They feature the standard tent fabric that will keep out most weather unless it gets too rough. They aren’t as simple as hard shells to set up, but they aren’t all that difficult either, often taking only a few minutes. Soft tents are usually around twice as large as hard tents, and can often sleep up to four adults with no issues.
Size is important, don’t let anyone tell you differently. If it’s too big, it won’t fit your vehicle, and you will need to make sure it is still small enough to transport easily. You want to make sure that you aren’t getting a tent that needs more roof area than your vehicle can provide.
Most tentmakers will recommend a maximum capacity based on the floor square footage. This is always a little subjective, and you will need to compare it to your relative size.
This is always important, particularly if you’re going to be on the roof of a vehicle. Making sure both the roof and cargo rack are rated for the weight of the stored tent while moving, and the expanded tent when stationary.
This is a big factor that a lot of people don’t consider before buying a rooftop tent. How complicated will it be to install it before a trip, and how difficult is it to remove it after you return home?
Setup & Teardown Ease
This is important to consider since a complicated setup can turn you off of using the tent entirely. Easy setup and teardown are crucial if you want to be able to move your vehicle easily between your camping sites and adventure.
There will always be some tents that have quality issues. Leaky seams, zippers prone to rusting, things like that. To ensure that there are no surprises, we’re made sure that all of the models in our list passed our basic durability requirements.
This can often be the make-or-break criteria for many buyers. The right tents don’t do anyone any good if they’re priced out of reach. We have made a conscious effort to make sure that all of the tents we’ve evaluated are on relatively even footing, price-wise, with other tents in their class.
We hope that this guide to the best rooftop tents gave you a rundown of the best tents out there, in an easily comparable and digestible list. There is a tent on our list for everyone, and if you take the opportunity to really think about what you want from your roof top tent, and consider the information in our buyer’s guide you should be equipped to make a well-educated choice that will give you a great place to lay your head on your adventures.
Exploring the Great Ocean Road?
You won’t see the best sights from your car. Get the definitive guidebook, featuring the 25 best walks in the area with detailed instructions and maps.