Camping on the roof of your car? It’s possible with the top-rated rooftop tents. If you and your family are up for an adventure, there are several great tents to choose from. Whether you need a tent for two, or a tent for a family of three or four, annex features and additions are available with the top-rated tents, allowing you to enjoy the great outdoors from above ground level. Enjoy the view a little higher up and make the most of your next camping trip with these great options!
The 5 Top Rated Rooftop Tents
When it comes to purchasing a rooftop tent, it can be a pretty pricey investment. Therefore, it is important to take the time to research and compare the best products to make sure you make the right decision. Let’s review five of the top-rated rooftop tents available for outdoor use and take a look at what we love about them.
Tepui Explorer Rooftop Tent
The Tepue Explorer Rooftop Tent is a popular, high-quality tent built for the roof of your vehicle. This four-season tent can withstand the elements, UV rays, rain, snow, sleet, and hail. It’s perfect for any season and all climates, and the tent can comfortably accommodate up to three people.
Several features make this a great rooftop tent. Some of the pros consumers will appreciate are
- It has a removable canopy for year-round use, to keep you comfortable in hot/cold weather extremes
- The tent’s fabric is UV-resistant and mold/mildew resistant, allowing you to utilize it in rain or shine
- It features a 600D ripstop and 260G cotton-blend fabric to keep you dry in the wettest, stormiest conditions
- The sleeping area is about 56” X 96”, allowing every camper to sleep comfortably at night
- The tent features four large internal pockets for storage and mesh-ventilation, to keep you cool regardless of how warm conditions are outside
There are a few key problems/complaints customers have discussed that consumers should consider before investing in this tent including
- Users claim the tent can’t withstand more than 175 to 180 pounds
- It isn’t made in the US (Made in China)
- Some users also indicate it’s not a four-season tent; temperatures below 40 degrees F are difficult to withstand the cold in this tent
Overall, the quality is reasonable, the tent’s easy to set up, and it has a large internal capacity. However, for the price, you’d expect superior design, insulation, and great weight capacity than this tent delivers.
Danchel Outdoors Hard-Top Rooftop Tent
The Danchel Outdoors Hard-Top Rooftop Tent is a heavy-duty beast. The 280G exterior canvas material of this hard-top tent is not only durable, but also highly breathable. You will feel cool when it gets warm out, and with a PU 200mm waterproof exterior, you will also stay dry. The tent is also UV-50 rated, so it will not fade or become discolored when you are out camping in bright, sunny conditions.
- The tent features four large windows and door zippers to keep the bugs out.
- It includes a 3.15” mattress for sleeping comfortably atop your camping grounds.
- The tent includes a ladder mattress and floor mattress, and the tent floor is made of environmental synthetic wood board.
- The weight capacity is 300 KG (about 661 pounds).
- Large interior capacity can comfortably fit two adults or two adults and a minor child.
- The shell clips are a little shallow/difficult to fit in place when affixing the tent to the rooftop.
- It doesn’t include a wind protector for use on highways/open roads.
- The tent doesn’t feature any windows, so it can get a little muggy in warmer conditions.
This tent is large, easy to set up, and includes most of the accessories you will need while camping. It is highly rated for UV-protection, is waterproof, and features a comfortable place to lay on the sturdy wood board. Overall, its quality is in line with other tents for a similar price.
SmittyBilt 2883 Overland Rooftop Tent
The SmittyBilt 2883 Overland Rooftop Tent features a coyote tan exterior 600D ripstop polyester finish. It is durable, can withstand high wind ratings, and is going to keep you dry in rainy conditions on the road. The tent also features stainless-steel hinges and anodized aluminum frame poles, for max stability, while being lightweight and easy to set up.
- It features an LED strip interior lighting so you can see in the dark.
- It is waterproof, wind-resistant, and UV-rated.
- The tent includes a telescoping aluminum ladder making entry/exit from the rooftop easy.
- You receive a 60 mm foam mattress with a removable cover.
- The tent also includes a mosquito screen to keep bugs out while you enjoy the fresh outdoor air.
- The tent’s only for trailers and isn’t compatible with SRC cages.
- The 770 load capacity is higher than most, but the interior floor/sleeping area isn’t as comfortable as other tents.
- Some customers complain of poor quality and missing parts upon receiving their tent.
It is a little cheaper than comparable tents and the weight capacity is a little higher. If you want an affordable rooftop tent, this is a great entry-level model to consider.
Tuff Stuff Ranger Overland Tent
The Tuff Stuff Ranger Overland Tent is a great option for a dependable rooftop tent. This model features 280G cotton/poly fabric exterior and a 420D polyester rainfly to keep you dry in wet or rainy conditions. It also features a 1000 PVC driving cover, which is durable for everyday use while camping. This tent distinguishes itself from others due to the size and ease of expansion with the annex room included for camping.
- The annex space affords users an additional 56” X 96” interior
- Almost 100 square feet of livable/usable space for camping
- A four-season design, with weatherproof exteriors capable of withstanding winds up to 70 MPH
- The Oxford rainfly will keep you dry in rainy weather during your camping trip
- The fact that the annex leaks in wet/rainy conditions
- There is only one zipper for the floor/annex portion of the tent
- The annex can’t be adjusted (height)
The concept is great and the additional space the annex affords owners gives you room for an additional camper. However, the issue with waterproofing in the annex and lack of adjustability, do detract from the overall quality of this tent.
SmittyBilt 2783 Overlander Tent
If you are looking for affordability, the SmittyBilt 2783 Overlander Tent is an excellent buy. It is the top rated rooftop tent on our list, and the most affordably priced model you’ll find when choosing your new rooftop tent for your next camping trip. The standard-sized tent comfortably sleeps 2 to 3 campers and has excellent features for year-round camping enjoyment.
- The affordability, it is the only sub-$1000 tent on the list.
- The interior space of 92” X 56” is comparable with others on this list that are over $1200 in price.
- The ladder capacity is 265 pounds, so most people can easily enter/exit the tent safely.
- It features a 600D heavy waterproof top, a rainfly, sunroof, and mesh screening to keep bugs out.
- The tent includes a removable cover to keep campers dry, and the PVC material is UV-rated so your tent will not fade in sunny conditions.
- The extension ladder can’t hold as much weight as other tents on the list.
- The track beading that’s meant to hold the tent in place slides/moves on certain roofs.
- Some customers indicate they didn’t receive metal poles to hold up the awning and other parts were missing for assembly.
If you are looking for the most affordable, and durable finish, look no further. Although this SmittyBilt tent does not have as many features and is a bit smaller than others, the price is right for budget campers.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Rooftop Tent
What should you look for when shopping for a rooftop tent? Below are some important options and features you should consider to help you choose the best rooftop tent for your vehicle.
Ease of Setup
Rooftop tents are usually designed to be set up and packed up quickly at the end of your camping trip. You can find installation and setup videos on manufacturer’s websites. Additionally, you will receive included instruction manuals for setting up the tent that you purchase. Many companies might offer assistance with installation as well, depending on your location, so check with the manufacturer when you’re choosing the rooftop tent to invest in.
Size of Rooftop & Tent
Your vehicle is going to play a large part in your decision-making process when selecting new rooftop tents. So, for many campers, you are only limited by the size of your vehicle’s rooftop. For instance, pickup truck owners would be better off with a truck bed tent, due to the smaller rooftop area.
If you are traveling alone, there are tents which sleep one or two. If you plan on bringing a companion (or two), make sure you can accommodate these campers comfortably. And, remember, with more elbow room and sleeping space, also comes a higher price tag. So, keep this in mind when comparing your rooftop tents.
When camping with the whole family, it may be best to consider a large family camping tent instead. While they are not rooftop tents, larger tents provide a much more comfortable camping experience for a larger group of travelers.
When selecting your rooftop tent, make sure you know what accessories are included and what is optional. Some tents features worth considering are:
- Built-in bedding.
- Lighting attachments.
- Annexes for additional campers.
- Space for water tank/heater for cooking and bathing.
Depending on the camping tent you choose when purchasing a rooftop tent, most of these accessories are optional. However, if you are willing to spend a little more on the rooftop tent, you will find many companies include several additional features, ladders, ventilation systems, and comfort-features with your new tent.
Do not assume every truck or SUV with a roof rack is capable of holding a rooftop tent, this isn’t the case. Make sure you check the requirements for setting up the tent including
- Coverage space/rooftop space
- Clearance space necessary for hanging ladders
- Whether your rooftop can hold several hundred pounds (depending on how many sleepers are up there)
It is also important to check your vehicle’s payload capacity before installing the tent. Remember, you need to account for the body weight, as well as any accessories, the weight of the tent itself, ladders, and other items you plan on taking up there with you.
For motorcycle owners who also with to use their vehicle as a mobile home base, we recommend considering a motorcycle camping tent.
Rooftop Tent FAQs
Why should I buy a rooftop tent?
Rooftop tents are excellent for sleeping above ground and camping from atop your vehicle’s roof. They are great if you are camping in dangerous areas or regions where there might be bugs or dangerous animals that come out at night. If you want a unique camping experience, this is also a great investment. These tents are durable, allow you to enjoy the great outdoors while you are on the open road, and give you a different perspective of your campsite than traditional tents do.
Are rooftop tents easy to set up?
Yes, for the most part, you receive all the pieces necessary to get your tent propped onto the rooftop of your vehicle. They include hanging ladders, poles, and aluminum parts to set the tent up. For most of these tents, the larger size might require two people for setting up and it may take a little longer than a pop-up tent. With this being said, it is relatively easy to get the tent up, and if you have help from a fellow camper, the job shouldn’t take too long to complete.
What comes included with a rooftop tent?
Most rooftop tents from well-known manufacturers will include the following:
- All parts for assembly
- A rainfly, mesh ventilation, waterproof exterior
- Windows, screens, and openings
- Ladders to get in/out of the tent
Furthermore, some will also include a mattress with a removable cover for you to sleep in your tent. These tents are quite expensive in comparison to standard tents. So, you wil usually receive all the parts and pieces needed for assembly, as well as some optional parts.
The SmittyBilt Overlander Rooftop Tent is our favorite and our top pick as the best rooftop tent. It is the most affordable option, and for about $400 less than the next lowest-priced rooftop tent, you are getting the same clearance room, interior space (a couple of inches less), waterproofing, four-season design, and quality 600D exterior fabric. The main area you are compromising is the weight capacity for the ladder is about 50 pounds less than the others, and the interior clearance room is a little shorter. Apart from this, the features, design, and quality, seem to be on-par with the other tents which are priced at a much higher price point.
Is there a rooftop tent that you love? We want to try it out! Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.