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The 7 Best Rooftop Camping Tents for Off-Grid Excursions

Best Rooftop Camping Tents 00 Hero
Photo: iKamper SKYCAMP 2.0

When most of us think of camping, sleeping on the ground is the first thing that comes to mind. It’s how we’ve likely been spending our outdoor trips since our youth, and of course, it’s the most primitive way to get some shuteye. Nowadays, however, there are a plethora of alternatives that have become more and more accessible from trusted companies that go beyond your traditional ground tents. Like, for example, rooftop tents.

Most people aren’t familiar but the reserved few that are have sworn by these above-ground camping options. Here, we outline the best of the best when it comes to vehicle rooftop tents for a heightened sleeping experience.

Best Rooftop Tents

Benefits Of A Rooftop Tent

Aside from the energy that comes from a totally different camping experience, sleeping above your car or truck in a rooftop tent has some practical benefits as well. Not only do many of these options set up significantly quicker than your stake-in-the-ground tents, but the higher elevation will also help you evade the occasional moist terra firma and the more-than-occasional nocturnal critter.

And then there’s the unique vantage point provided by a rooftop tent that you just don’t get when waking up on the ground. Of course, the taller the vehicle, the higher your view, so take that into consideration before heading out to your destination.

What To Look For

Your Vehicle: Before you commit to making any purchase, you need to check to see if your rooftop tent of choice is even compatible with your vehicle. While most models will fit onto popular adventure vehicles, it never hurts to check.

Interior Space: Perhaps the most obvious spec to check is how much room there is inside your tent. If you’re planning on camping with a significant other and/or children, you’ll need to make sure it can accommodate everyone, especially if this rooftop tent will be your only sleeping option. The max capacity for most tents is anywhere from 2 to 4, so if your party size is larger than that, consider bringing along a second tent for the ground.

Type: There are soft-shell and hard-shell rooftop tents. While hard-sided are typically easier to open, have a more consistent head clearance, and are more durable against weather, they’re also heavier and more expensive than soft-shell options. Your budget and camping conditions will determine which one you pick. There are also hybrid options, which store like hard-shell tents but open out to the side for more space and less weight.

Size/Weight: Most rooftop tents will remain on your vehicle, so you’ll want one with optimal aerodynamics, low clearance, and less weight so that you don’t lose much gas mileage when driving. On the other hand, if you’re planning on taking the tent off when not in use, you might want to pick one that’s not as heavy to remove.

Mattress: One more thing to note is whether or not your rooftop tent has a built-in mattress and if it can remain inside when closed. Likewise, invest in some mattress pads in case the stock model is on the thinner side.

Front Runner Roof Top Tent

Photo: Front Runner
  • Low profile when driving
  • Easy opening
  • Comes with sliding ladder
  • Installation is a bit of a pain
  • Thin mattress

Best Budget Tent: Standing at only 330mm tall when folded down on your car’s roof, Front Runner’s Roof Top Tent has one of the lowest profiles of any rooftop tent available, making for a much more aerodynamic driving experience on the way to the campsite. Weighing 93lbs, this sleeper opens up in one quick motion for an immediate setup and comes with a sliding aluminum ladder for easy access. However, don’t let its lightness fool you: This tent is super sturdy, made with heavy-duty, PVC-coated 650g nylon fabric that will stay protected whether upright or stowed away.

Type: Soft-shell
Shell Material: 260gsm 600D poly/cotton ripstop
Capacity: 2+
Weight: 93lbs

Smittybilt Gen 2 Overlander Tent XL

Photo: Smittybilt
  • Includes king-size bed
  • Comes with atmospheric LED lighting strip
  • Velcro cover isn’t super reliable

Best for More Space: Smittybilt is known for its high-quality, yet affordable camping gear, and the Gen 2 Overlander Tent XL is no different. Extremely spacious, sleeping 3 to 4 adults on a king-size bed, this rooftop tent won’t break the bank and is built with heavy-duty ripstop polyester and a waterproof and polyurethane top for added protection. Anodized aluminum poles and stainless steel hinges offer worry-free sleep at night, and the mattress remains inside the tent while it’s collapsed for an even easier setup and takedown. The LED lighting strip provides an excellent atmosphere after the sun dips down, as well.

Type: Soft-shell
Shell Material: 600D ripstop polyester with waterproof polyurethane-impregnated top
Capacity: 3-4
Weight: 170lbs

Yakima SkyRise HD Small

Photo: Yakima
  • Tool-free mounting
  • Incredibly waterproof and wind-proof
  • Mattress needs additional pad for those who don’t like it firm

Best for the Rain: Utilizing a unique frame geometry, the Yakima SkyRise HD makes up for its smaller floorplan with great headroom and clear, large, angled rooftop panels for a view of the night sky when you’re lying down to go to sleep. Thanks to 600D ripstop polyester and 3000mm waterproof PU coating on the outside, this tent will keep you warm and dry in any weather. The 2.5″ thick foam mattress sleeps two to three campers (there’s a medium size also available), and the easy, tool-free setup makes this a great choice for those who aren’t partial to manual labor.

Type: Soft-shell
Shell Material: 600D ripstop polyester with 3000mm waterproof PU coating
Capacity: 2
Weight: 101.41lbs

Feldon Crow’s Nest Extended

Photo: Feldon
  • Crow’s nest design is great for taking in views
  • Hardware features Marine-grade stainless steel
  • Plenty of storage pouches and pockets
  • Included cargo net for airing out wet shoes and gear
  • Setup takes slightly longer than others

Best for Larger Vehicles: With extra points for being the best-looking rooftop tent around, Feldon’s extended rooftop sleeper is designed to fit larger cars and has incredible aerodynamics. Offering a 360° view of your surroundings, the Crow’s Nest pairs well with the most beautiful of landscapes. Resistant to denting, Feldon’s proprietary aluminum honeycomb-cell base construction is five times stronger than that of your average rooftop tent and its Marine-grade stainless steel hinges and hardware ensure that you’ll have this sleeper for years to come. And so you never leave anything behind if you wind up cooped up in this tent, the Crow’s Nest also has plenty of storage pouches and gadget pockets, including a heavy-duty cargo net and a vented bottom panel for airing out wet shoes and clothes.

Type: Soft-shell
Shell Material: 360gsm poly-cotton ripstop
Capacity: 2
Weight: 132.28lbs

Roofnest Condor

  • Folds out instead of up, allowing for more space
  • Can accommodate solar panels
  • Comes with interior LED light
  • Expensive for solo camping

Best Hard-Shell: With plenty of high-quality, bird-named rooftop tents to choose from, Roofnest has perhaps the best hard-shell sleeper in the industry with the Condor, the brand’s first fold-out style tent. When closed, the Condor folds down to just 12″ and when opened, has a max headroom of 50″. Sleeping two or three people, the tent is constructed of ABS plastic —with ASA plastic for added weather resistance — and features an annex space, an awning, and a detachable interior LED light that plugs into a USB charger. The tent has recently even been redesigned to accommodate solar panels, allowing for even more of an off-grid experience.

Type: Hard-shell
Shell Material: ASA/ABS plastic with 3000mm waterproof coated poly-cotton canvas
Capacity: 2-3
Weight: 135lbs

iKamper SKYCAMP 2.0

Photo: iKamper
  • Really easy setup and takedown
  • King-size mattress
  • Great insulation for colder weather; Ventilated for warmer weather
  • Floor panels are insanely strong
  • Mattress a little thin
  • Tricky installation

Best Hard-Shell for Families: iKamper has won the Red Dot Design Award for its rooftop tent, and for good reason. The SKYCAMP 2.0 boasts a unique geometry that allows for easy setup and, even better, easy takedown. Its king-size mattress sleeps either 3 adults or 2 adults and 2 children, and the hybrid construction provides both durability and comfort. Insulated with quilted lining for less condensation, the tent also features three-layer canopy windows for versatility in your ventilation. What’s more, the aluminum honeycomb floor panels are strong enough to hold a 1.8-ton Jeep, so you don’t have to worry about the kiddos getting too rowdy.

Type: Hard-shell
Shell Material: Double-layered fiber-reinforced plastic with 1″ insulation and 300gsm poly-cotton canvas
Capacity: 3-4
Weight: 160lbs

James Baroud Evasion

Photo: James Baroud
  • Enough headroom to sit up comfortably
  • Automatically opens in seconds
  • 360-degree views
  • Has a built-in solar fan
  • Four-week wait period due to high demand
  • Larger models are especially expensive

Best High-End Tent: If money is no object, look no further than James Baroud’s Evasion, the ultimate high-end rooftop tent. Hard-shelled with a 360° panoramic window, this tent has enough headroom for adults to sit up comfortably. These sleepers can also be customized with add-ons, such as the Isothermic Barrier Kit for added insulation in colder climates or the James Baroud Comfort Pad for extra cushion and ventilation on your mattress. The company’s website has a disclaimer that, due to demand, a four-week wait period may prevent you from getting your tent right away, so make proper adjustments when planning your upcoming trip (it will be worth it).

Type: Hard-shell
Shell Material: Triple-layer reinforced fiberglass
Capacity: 2-4
Weight: 200lbs

Essential Camping Gear For Your Next Adventure

Photo: BioLite

Once you have your rooftop camping tent in tow, stock up on everything else with the help of our guide to the best camping gear for your outdoor adventure.