Best Rooftop Tent
For anyone that feels that desire to escape modern life and spend time outdoors, you don’t have to settle for just a basic camping experience. There are new ways that you can camp that are more comfortable and creative that does not require using cheap metal stakes or dealing with unwieldy tent poles.
Using a rooftop tent provides a less time-consuming way to sleep under the stars. Rooftop tents easily fold out and pop up into a comfortable outdoor hotel room that keeps you high above animals and provides a great view of your surroundings. Here are a few tips and reviews to help you find the best rooftop tent for your next adventure.
Considerations When Choosing a Rooftop Tent
Weight and Weight Capacity
One of your major considerations is the weight capacity of the tent. A good quality rooftop tent that uses a polyurethane base should have a weight capacity of about 500 to 650 pounds. With this weight capacity, it should be able to support two to three people along with their gear. The actual tent will typically weigh between 100 and 160 pounds, so you will need to make sure you have a roof rack that can hold that much weight.
Also, make sure you know how much weight your car will hold that won’t put too much pressure on the axles and wheels. The types of vehicles used for this type of experience should have a pretty good weight capacity when you consider how they are used. But, it’s still important to double-check to make sure everyone is safe as your travel and camp.
Aluminum is the most common material used in a rooftop tent frame. However, if you are choosing a hard-shell tent, you will find they use a fiberglass shell that gives you a lightweight and aerodynamic design. Also, make sure to look for steel hinges that give the tent a longer lifespan and will reinforce vulnerable and weak areas of the mechanism that folds.
Materials and Base
A combination of polyester and cotton is usually used for the sidewalls and canvas in a tent. Unless there is a reinforced area, you will generally see the polyester and cotton RipStop material used, since it is the industry standard. When it comes to the base, you want to find a base made of polyurethane that could be mixed with steel or aluminum for the most strength. This type of base also gives you a reliable and strong weight capacity.
Windows and Doors
Known not to be a super breathable tent, a rooftop tent is primarily thought of as durable and rugged. That’s why it's important to consider the number of windows and doors in the tent to help assist with circulation issues. You want at least one window as well as a decent-sized D-shaped door for the best circulation. Even better, look for a tent that has mesh windows and doors that allow for circulation without letting in insects and bugs.
If your tent is made of quality materials, it can protect itself once it is pitched. However, when it is packed down and your vehicle is moving, it will need a little protection. A good protective cover is usually included with a rooftop tent, but you really need a PVC travel cover that is heavy-duty to make sure your tent won’t suffer from weather damage as you drive.
An aerodynamic design is also a nice feature of a rooftop tent once it is packed down. It will help a lot when it comes to gas mileage, which can be a big savings if you travel a lot.
Best Rooftop Tent Reviews
Tepui Autana 3
Featuring an innovative design, the Tepui Autana 3 is a very versatile tent that even has a canopy that you can convert from open-air to a total weather lock-down. There is also an awning over the entrance as well as an annex that allows you to easily climb up the steps, even if they are wet or slippery. Plus, there is a button-free ladder that makes it super easy to convert to travel mode from camping mode with very little effort.
The Tepui Autana 3 features an internal bungee system that allows you to fold the canopy when you convert to travel mode while the sturdy straps hold down the cover as you make camp. There is also an easy to use cover and a very comfy memory foam mattress making this one of the best rooftop tents buys on the market today. Set up time is a little longer than other rooftop tents available, but the other benefits of the Tepui Autana 3 should more than make up for it.
The affordable Smittybilt Overlander comes with a bunch of features. It includes a super cool LED light that utilizes 12-volt extension cords allowing it to reach from your vehicle’s cigarette lighter to the tent. You can also use an external USB battery pack if you don’t want to drain your vehicle’s battery.
Included with the tent is a rubber boot bag that you simply hang outside of your tent. This is a convenient feature, especially in bad weather. The Smittybilt Overlander also comes with a sturdy and wide ladder that you can easily climb.
Keep in mind that this is a cumbersome tent that is pretty heavy. And, depending on how high the roof of your vehicle is, you may have to drill holes to allow your ladder to achieve the right height. You may have to put a little more effort into this tent, but it’s price tag definitely makes it worth it.
Mt. Rainier Extended Stargazer Pioneer
This is a huge tent that is perfect for a group of campers allowing you enough room to sleep or hang out with each other. The Mt. Rainier Extended Stargazer Pioneer is made of mold and water-resistant polyester and comes with an annex which hangs on the vehicle’s side. Once you have assembled the tent, it will measure six by eight feet, which is enough room for three or more people.
With several windows and a skylight, you have plenty of light inside the tent during the day and the ability to count the stars at night. The spacious annex gives you extra storage area while the aluminum ladder is super easy for anyone to climb.
The Mt. Rainer Pioneer also comes with a three-inch foam mattress and a PVC floor that is removable providing a safe and comfortable area for your feet. This is also a sturdy tent that features an aluminum frame and a polyester rainfly to keep you dry when it pours.
Yakima SkyRise Medium
One of the easiest tents to install and assemble, the Yakima Skyrise Medium uses bolts that only require an Allen wrench that comes with the tent. This is the perfect tent for someone that doesn’t know how to set up and install a tent. All you have to do is make sure the clamps are aligned correctly on the crossbars and that use the tool-free quick-release system that is included with the tent.
The Yakima features mounting tracks that you can either attach parallel or perpendicular to the vehicle’s roof. And the mounting system will lock the tent in place onto your rack to give you extra security.
There are a few disadvantages with the SkyRise, however. The length of the mounting system is limited and may not be compatible with some SUV racks and truck beds. It also sits rather high in comparison to other tents, which can affect your vehicle’s braking power, wind drag, and body tilt, plus the canopy material is not as durable as some other tents on the market.
The Roofnest Sparrow X
Easy to set up, the Roofnest Sparrow X is also affordable and convenient to use. With an appearance that is similar to a pop-up tent, the Sparrow X will fit two adults comfortably. Featuring a fiberglass shell that is reinforced, this tent uses its aerodynamic design to help improve your gas mileage.
Measuring 48 by 82 inches, this is a decent-sized tent for an outdoor adventure. Inside the shell, you will find a soft foam coating that is used to reduce noise. Mesh windows are found in both the back and front that include zip closures while doorways on each end allow you to enter two different ways.
Attaching directly onto your roof rack, the Roofnest Sparrow X this is an adaptable product that provides all that you need. With its fast 60-second set up makes it one of the fastest camping tent set-ups in the world, designed for those who really don’t want to mess around.
Featuring an innovative hard shell, the iKamper Skycamp was designed so you can lay and look at the stars. With an affordable price, this tent is very spacious and can fold out into a large area that can fit two adults and two kids. This is the biggest expandable hard-shell rooftop tent on the market.
The best part of the SkyCamp is the window made of see-through urethane pane. This way you never have to worry about the weather, you can still see out through the waterproof window. You also get three fabric options to choose from including mesh, 250 Denier polyester, and a polyester-cotton blend.
The SkyCamp tent also has a fast set up by just popping it open and sliding out the floor along with the ladder. It can expand to a pretty decent size of more than 82 inches. Other features include an aluminum floor with a honeycomb design, an inner storage shelf, a movie stand, shoe rack, wind deflector, vinyl canopy, awning, and annex room.
ARB Simpson III
With a streamlined and convenient design, the ARB Simpson III is super easy to unpack as well as easy to set up. This is an easy tent to travel with that measures 94 by 55 inches giving you a good amount of space to sleep in. This affordable model also features a 2 ½ inch foam mattress making you even more comfortable out in the wilderness.
All the windows come with insect screens allowing you to sleep without being bothered all night by insects. While this is an easy to assemble tent, it isn’t the heaviest tent available, so that will reduce stress on your vehicle. Made of durable poly/cotton fabric that holds up well in bad weather, this is a great rooftop tent for those that want a light vehicle load.
Gen3 Expedition Tent
Filled with features, the Gen 3 Expedition Tent is intended for someone that truly loves to explore the outdoors. With an aerodynamic design, this tent includes a durable aluminum frame allowing you to mount off-road equipment, awnings, and jacks. This spacious and wide tent is perfect for a small couple or a solo trip.
When you lift up the hardtop, you will find an awning and a canvas interior. It features a material that is waterproof and UV-resistant that comes with sealed seams to give you the best protection from the weather. Both the windows and doors come with polyethylene closed-cell foam and high-quality mosquito netting.
Easy to install, this tent comes with a mounting track and nut-slotted rails. It also comes with a high-density foam mattress that you can keep inside the tent when you travel. You can also buy optional kits including one that provides electricity inside the tent that includes stalk lights and a USB charge point.
A rooftop tent are not only convenient, easy to set up, and comfortable, they are just plain fun. They give you a great view of the stars while keeping you high up away from any animal or bugs crawling on you. Look for a durable rooftop tent that has a good weight capacity to make sure you have your tent around for years of adventures.