If you're looking for a convenient way to camp, then rooftop tents are for you. Rather than having to meticulously stake out and assemble your tent and sleep system once you arrive at camp, these designs pop up or fold out from the top of your vehicle and come equipped with comfortable mattresses for a good night's sleep. Designs range from budget-friendly softshells to premium hardshell and Overlanding models built to take a licking, but all of the designs below keep you off the ground, are relatively easy to set up and stow, have rugged builds, and free up valuable storage space in your vehicle.
The CVT Mt. Shasta is a rooftop tent with a pop-up design that allows for a super simple setup. It's 4-person and weighs only 66 pounds, making it an ideal option for families looking to camp in their RVs.
The tent's voluminous interior offers enough space to comfortably sleep four people, or two adults and two children if you're camping with your family on your next road trip. And its polyester fabric makes it waterproof, so you can keep your belongings safe from rain or snow while sleeping under the stars on your roof!
The Yakima SkyRise is a rooftop tent that is easy to install and use. It is made of a durable material, which means it can withstand harsh weather conditions. It also has a lightweight design, so you won’t have trouble carrying it around when you need to go camping or hiking.
The SkyRise has one main compartment where you can store your belongings, plus an additional rainfly that protects the tent from rain, wind, and snow. This tent has enough space for two people or three children (or maybe four small dogs).
The James Baroud Evasion is a lightweight and easy to carry tent, with a one-second pitch system that makes it ideal for any situation. The tent also has an ingenious feature that allows you to set it up while inside the vehicle itself; this saves time and effort when you're in a hurry or just want to camp quickly and efficiently.
The Evasion is easy to take down as well—simply unzip the door, roll up your sleeping bag and clothes, collapse the tent poles and roll it all into its storage bag. This can be done in less than a minute! Once everything's packed away, there's no hassle about transporting either: just throw it into your car or truck and you're good to go! You won't have any trouble fitting this baby in there because its compact design makes sure of it (and if there are some other things taking up room in your vehicle too).
There are a few key features that make the Eezi-Awn K9 one of the best rooftop tents in its category. It has a large, square door, which makes it easy to enter and exit. It also has a large, square window that provides plenty of natural light during sunny days. Finally, it has one large roof skylight for ventilation purposes during warm weather months.
If you're looking for a rooftop tent that can be installed quickly, the CVT Mt. Shasta is the one for you. It's durable, spacious and easy to use. The Yakima SkyRise is also an excellent choice if you need something that can be mounted on your car or truck easily and comes with plenty of ventilation options. If you want your tent to be more stylish, check out the James Baroud Evasion model with its light-colored exterior and high-quality materials. If space is what matters most in your tent experience, look no further than Heimplanet Cave: this model offers enough sleeping space for four people!
Rooftop tents are available in a variety of sizes, from the minimalist two-person Sparrow to the massive 6-person Skycamp 3.0. The manufacturer's recommended capacity is a good place to start, but take note: these specs are often rather generous. For example, the Sparrow is 5 inches narrower than a double mattress, and the Skycamp 3.0’s mattress—listed as suitable for four people—is just a little bigger than a standard king-sized mattress. In the end, families with young children likely can get away with smaller floorplans, but many campers will choose to size up or opt for XL versions (an option with Roofnest’s tents). In our experience, the added comfort and livability are almost always worth the bump in price.
It's important to keep in mind that tent dimensions can vary from brand to brand, including the size of the mattress. For example, while the Floornest Sparrow has a peak height of just 36 inches throughout, AutoHome’s Maggiolina AirLand features a taller peak height of 60 inches. And remember that even though most tents list a given dimension like “86 inches wide by 88 inches long,” they don't exactly mean that your mattress will fit into this space—some tents feature wider floors than others.
Rooftop tents are designed to be used in inclement weather and are built with thick body fabrics (usually a polyester cotton blend) and fully waterproof rainflys. If you plan to use your tent in rough conditions, look for full-coverage awnings on all the windows and doors so air can keep moving while keeping moisture out.
Pop-top and clam shell models like the James Baroud Evasion and CVT Mt. Hood use their shells as roofs, with clam shells providing the strongest structure (as long as you park with the shell facing into the wind) and quieter sleep in blustery conditions. In fact, one of our testers upgraded to a hardshell because he'd grown tired of his softshell flapping in the wind.
One of the biggest benefits of a rooftop tent is ventilation. Because it sits on top of your vehicle, air flows underneath the body between the tent and your vehicle. This means that even if you’re camping in a rainy spot, it will still breathe better than a ground tent. And many models come with generous windows, mesh panels and bug nets that can be completely unzipped - all protected by waterproof awnings.
If you like biking, skiing, paddling, and/or surfing, there are a few options for toting your extra gear along with a rooftop tent. The Thule Tepui Foothill measures 24 inches in width and leaves approximately half of your rooftop available for standard racks and gear. If you want more sleeping space (the Foothill offers around 27 sq. ft. of floor area), you might consider a rooftop tent with external storage compatibility.
There are several hardshells that allow you to attach gear to their top including the iKamper X-Cover 2.0 and Roofnest's Sparrow. The X-Cover even comes with integrated cross bars that are compatible with aftermarket racks, while the Sparrow has a designated area for a solar panel (attached via Velcro) and includes attachment points for an included waterproof cargo bag.
Before purchasing a rooftop tent, it is important that you have the right vehicle for the job. Most vehicles can be paired with a roof rack if they come with factory mounted racks or aftermarket additions from companies like Thule and Yakima. The first step is to purchase an appropriate rack (many manufacturer websites provides interactive fit tools, like Thule's Fit Guide). Next, you'll want to make sure your rooftop tent is compatible with your vehicle. Most tents are highly adaptable and come with an array of adjustments and adaptor options.
Before you make such a big investment, it’s important to consider the downsides: rooftop tents are expensive, will impact gas mileage and handling of your vehicle, and are heavy pieces of gear that are onerous to move around. Further, unlike a ground tent, you’ll have to pack up camp every time you choose to move your vehicle, and getting in and out via ladders can get old quickly. In the end, it’s important to evaluate your camping preferences and needs. If convenience and comfort are the biggest factors for you and less worried about the logistics of carrying it on your car, a rooftop tent makes a lot of sense.
Family camping is all about spending time together and reconnecting with nature, so why not make it as easy as possible? With a rooftop tent, you can keep the kids happy and lower your stress level. This is especially important if you are traveling with young children or inexperienced campers who might be afraid of sleeping close to the ground. You may even find that the height allows for better views of stars at night!
For those looking to get a roof tent, there are several options available on the market today including Cabela's Outfitter Series which offers two styles: hardshells which allow for storage underneath them (and greater weather protection) and softshells which can fit in smaller spaces like cars trunks when folded down flat against your vehicle's bodywork or roof racks without taking up too much space.