Best Rooftop Tents | 2021 Reviews & Buying Guide

Rooftop tents are becoming increasingly popular as more and more people discover their utility. No one wants to have to get out and set up a tent when you’re trying to enjoy the outdoors while camping, hiking, or even just a simple road trip. If you have a rooftop tent, you can easily fold it out or let it pop open from atop your vehicle.

They usually come with a suitable mattress for a comfortable night of sleep. There are all different kinds of rooftop tents to choose from, but how do you know which is the best for you?

Do you go with the budget-friendly softshell option? Or should you spend a little more cash and get the durable hardshell tent? We’ll answer these questions and more as we provide pertinent information on what to look for when buying a rooftop tent and a few quality products.

Top 5 Rooftop Tents

These five rooftop tents are some of our favourites, as they incorporate nearly all of the crucial components you should have available when you have a rooftop tent.

Different tents are better suited for small cars, large cars, durability, and so on. We’re sure that you’ll be pleased with at least one of the sections listed below!


1) WLDQ Roof top Tent for 1 Person

The WLDQ Rooftop tent has a hard shell design, and it’s perfect for SUVs. The hard exterior prevents leaks and rips that may occur when you use a canvas rooftop. It should also last longer than your standard soft shell does.

WLDQ Rooftop Tents Pop Up Roof Overland Tent Universal for...
  • Save time and energy during outdoor excursions, fits most SUVs,...
  • Setup time is 1 minute and takedown time is 3 minutes. This is...
  • This is a versatile clam shell car roof top tent with ample...
  • All your gear is stored in the tent shell making setup a breeze...
  • Unlike a soft-shell tent, a hard shell one is a bit heavier and...

It has gas springs attached so that the tent pops into shape once you release the straps. The whole tent weighs about 132 lbs when no one is inside. This tent comes with a cotton pad that is reportedly thick and comfortable.

There is enough space for one adult to sleep inside. Lastly, one door and two zipped windows allow air to flow through. However, when these openings are closed, you may start to notice condensation accumulating inside.

Pros
  • The hard-shell exterior is durable and prevents leaks and rips
  • You can set up this tent in one to two minutes
  • A thick cotton pad comes in the package
  • The zippers are electroplated and they do not rust easily
Cons
  • The tent is much heavier than soft shell tents, which means it’s more difficult to move
  • It only fits one person
  • Condensation may occur when the windows or doors aren’t open

2) Amaom Box Roof top Tent

If you enjoy getting out and taking trips with friends and family throughout the year, this is the perfect rooftop for you. Able to withstand harsh climates, the Amaom folding tent accommodates up to two people. This medium-sized tent has a quick and easy setup time of less than one minute.

Box Rooftop Top Automatic Folding Cover Car Tent Roof 1-2...
  • Area:210*125*90cm
  • Pole Material:Aluminum alloy
  • Fabric:210D oxford
  • Type:1-2 persons
  • Weight:67kg

This tent also has multiple pockets that are large enough to carry your accessories and gear when traveling. The canvas is mold resistant and protects you from dangerous UV rays as well. It is also waterproof and will keep you dry at night in case of rainfall. It’s very sturdy and durable, so you don’t have to worry about it succumbing to the elements. The ventilation system consists of windows that open with a zipper and mesh side panels.

Pros
  • The tent accommodates one to two people
  • You can use it in any season
  • It’s constructed of durable materials
  • It has excellent ventilation
Cons
  • It is not as spacious as some of the other options
  • You have to purchase an anti-condensation mat to keep our excessive moisture
  • It’s easy for the sides to get wet in the rain unless you use a weather hood

3) XPHW Roof top Tent for 2-3 People

XPHW has various models for the rooftop tents that they produce. All are top quality, and some have additional boosts to make your camping experience unforgettable.

XPHW Car Roof Tent - Automotive Rooftop Tent , Waterproof...
  • [2 person space] Maximum load, roof tent is large enough to...
  • Pneumatic lifting system: automatic thin and light roof tent, no...
  • Material: The frame is made of aviation aluminum. The tent fabric...
  • Ergonomic design: mesh doors and windows provide good...
  • Applicable places: Suitable for outdoor activities such as...

This tent is made of heavy-duty materials such as aviation aluminium that can stand tall in any environment. The tent fabric is 210D Oxford cloth that won’t rip. The screened windows give you a decent amount of airflow, and it keeps moisture out of your tent.

A flame retardant foam insulated mattress comes with the tent as well, and it is high density which means you’ll be comfortable as you sleep. You also have multiple pockets built-in for storage space, a power bank pouch, and a storage loft.

The manufacturer adds more treats to this deal by giving you LED lights, a ladder extension, and a mosquito net. This tent is super simple to set up, and you don’t need any drills to get it up and onto your car.

Pros
  • The company gives a lot of bonus items with your purchase
  • You can fit two to three people inside
  • You don’t need a roof rack modifier
Cons
  • It is heavier than some of the other choices
  • It takes a lot of storage space to put it up when not in use
  • The rain sounds loud on the fabric

4) WLDQ Roof top Tent for 2-3 People

This WLDQ roof top tent is more spacious than the previous version. It is also a lot heavier and more durable. It has a waterproof Oxford cloth exterior that keeps you dry no matter the weather outside.

WLDQ Rooftop Tents Safe and Firm, Waterproof Fabric Outdoor...
  • Closed size 216X 130*33CM, Opening size 216X130*105CM.7.6ft...
  • The 280G exterior canvas material of our hard shell roof top tent...
  • Save time and energy during outdoor excursions, fits most SUVs,...
  • This is a versatile clam shell car roof top tent with ample...
  • All your gear is stored in the tent shell making setup a breeze...

The tent weighs around 150lbs so it is quite heavy and solid, but it also has a low wind drag while you’re driving. Two to three adults can fit comfortably inside the tent, and it also has a synthetic wood floor board design.

The WLDQ unfolds with a single motion, and it also has a retractable ladder. Enjoy the zippered panels on the screened windows so that you can still have your privacy out in the open. Additionally, it’s perfect for casual campers that want to enjoy the road and still feel safe and secure. The 280G canvas material is very breathable and it provides shade throughout the day and keeps out condensation overnight.

Pros
  • The tent is durable
  • It offers good ventilation throughout the tent
  • This tent can get mounted on all types of trucks, vans, and SUVs
Cons
  • Some report that it’s hard to zip the protective cover
  • It’s hard to keep moving the tent around due to its size
  • You can feel the cold through the base of the tent

5) DUTUI Fully Automatic Hard Shell Tent

If you want a lightweight and durable tent that offers plenty of space and is waterproof, the DUTUI is a great option.

DUTUI Fully Automatic Hard-Shell Side-Opening Roof Tent,...
  • [1] The travel car roof tent is made of engineering-grade ABS...
  • [2] After the roof tent is stowed, the overall height is low....
  • [3] Weight: 70KG, construction situation: free to build and quick...
  • [4] It turns on extremely fast, even a girl can turn it on...
  • [5] If you are not completely satisfied with the purchased goods,...

You’ll also find the anti-mosquito screen useful to keep bugs away while you’re camping. These panels also provide optimal ventilation in the tent. A rain cover comes with the tent so that when it starts to sprinkle you can strap it on whole leaving the panels open for air.

Additionally, the DUTUI hard shell tent has large pockets on the inside of the tent so that you get a lot of extra storage space for your personal belongings.

The setup for this tent is simple and it doesn’t require much time. Since the tent has a low height, it won’t change the height of your car very much after it has gotten installed. This tent has enough space for one person to fit inside comfortably.

Pros
  • It has a mosquito net to keep pesky bugs at bay
  • Excellent ventilation
  • It is also windproof
Cons
  • The zippers get stuck easily
  • It is made from plastic
  • The sleeping mat is somewhat stiff

Rooftop Tents: Softshell vs. Hardshell

Aside from the obvious feel, what are some of the main differences between soft shell and hard-shell tents? Let’s explore them below.

Softshell Tents

Most people who are shopping for rooftop tents pick the soft-shell version first. Not only is it less expensive, but it offers a nice waterproof cover and can fold out onto your car roof. The body of the tent is usually nylon or canvas.

Furthermore, soft shell tents come in different shapes, are more spacious, and they accommodate awnings and annexes. The shortcomings of a soft-shell tent are its durability, longer installation time, and they’re noisier than hard shells when they get set up. Soft shells are also more susceptible to excessive moisture.

Hard Shell Tents

Hard shell tents, on the other hand, use plastic, aluminium, or fiberglass covers as opposed to nylon or canvas. The soft canopy inside the tent gets housed by one of these materials.

Your typical hard shell tent opens via hinges or it pops open on the sides, similar to a box. Most hard shells are situated solely on the roof of the car, but there are some that fold out to an extent, allowing for more floor space and add-ons, such as an awning.

Be prepared to spend more on a hardshell because they’re more durable and they are also heavier. The protection that you get and the convenient setup are oftentimes worth it to those who opt to go for the hardshell. Mould and mildew are less of a concern with a hard shell because they’re not as vulnerable to moisture.

Lastly, hard shell designs also mean that you can put extra things like bedding, kayaks, bikes, skis, surfboards, and even a solar panel on the tent. You get more headroom, wind-resistance, and more comfortable mattresses with a hard shell in comparison to a soft shell.

Campers who like to move around and enjoy nature typically prefer the hard shell because of its versatility and optimal protection.

Factors to Consider When Purchasing a Roof Top Tent

How much space or extra features you need in a tent is purely up to your discretion in terms of why you’re purchasing a tent. If you don’t camp out much but you just want something simple that can get the job done, then a basic model rooftop tent will suit you just fine.

Alternatively, if you travel frequently, and maybe even in groups, you want something that has extreme durability, offers good protection, and preferably with a decent amount of space inside. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most important aspects of a rooftop tent so that you can make the best choice for your needs.

Integrated Mattresses and Comfort

One of the best parts of a rooftop tent is the integrated mattress. They can be about 1.8-3.5 inches; of course, the thicker the better, but it costs more as well. Hard shell tents usually offer better quality integrated mattresses (memory foam/gel foam), so keep that in mind when shopping around.

Make sure the mattress is a breathable material so that it doesn’t collect moisture when it rains or from sweat. Sometimes you can get lucky and the manufacturer will offer mattress upgrades every few years.

Closed Size, Aerodynamics, and Gas Mileage

When packed the size of rooftop tents can vary widely. With that being said, if you keep the footprint of your tent within the parameters of your roof’s dimensions, you should be ok. Moreover, if you have a small car or truck you should pay special attention to the footprint of your tent.

Another factor to consider is the packed height. This variable can significantly impact noise during your drive and even the gas mileage on your vehicle if it’s too heavy. Also, be sure to remember the additional height of your vehicle when entering parking garages and traveling under bridges, and so on.

Fortunately, the majority of manufacturers list the closed dimensions of each tent on the product page. So, take a few moments to learn about the size of your prospective tent before you make a purchase.

Weight

Rooftop tents are bulky and indeed heavy pieces of equipment. Due to their sheer size, these tents present some difficulty when installing or taking them off. Moreover, it will take at least two people to mount or remove the tent from the vehicle.

Unsuspectingly, the most important reason to consider the weight of your tent has to do with your vehicle. Your vehicle’s hauling and handling capacity will have something to do with what tent you will ultimately choose. Every vehicle has a rooftop load limit which is documented by the manufacturer of the vehicle.

SUVs typically max out at around 70 kilograms (around 160 lbs). So, keep in mind that a top-heavy load will have drastic effects on your car’s centre of balance. Furthermore, overloading your suspension can have detrimental ramifications.

Before you set out to buy a tent check out the specs of the tent and the top load limit of your vehicle to avoid dangerous situations.

And remember to factor in your bedding, the weight of the rack, and any additional gear when assessing the load limit

Features and Accessories

Usually, rooftop tents will come with a standard feature set which includes window awnings, an aluminium ladder, and a hanging gear hammock. However, with the higher-end tents, you can expect a bit more; you can expect to see USB ports, shoe bags, and even LED lighting.

Moreover, some tents go beyond that with a ventilation fan that’s solar-powered coupled with dust filters and air vents. Even if you begin with the base model, you’ll still have the option of adding accessories to your purchase. You can add accessories such as sheet sets, inner insulation tents, retrofit canopy windows, and even a shoe rack.

Annexes and Awnings

If you’re camping for an extended time, then having an awning or an annex is a good idea. These items will increase your liveable space without compromising your privacy.

They will also protect you from insects, sun, and rain. An annex will attach to your tent’s extended platform to make an enclosed area underneath.

You can then make this area into whatever you need, whether it’s a camp kitchen, shower, toilet, or simply additional living space. Virtually all annexes will enclose the ladder, which gives you the feeling of having a separate downstairs and upstairs.

Awnings offer something different, however equally useful. These are simple roofs that extend out from your tent, it’s held up with poles to give you an open area that gives you additional coverage and provides you with much-needed shade.

While awnings and annexes typically come with the purchase of your tent, many awnings are sold separately. If you are someone who’s buying their tent and awning separately you will need to make sure that they are compatible. To make this easier, manufacturers will usually list which tents are compatible with which accessories.

Lastly, keep in mind that annexes are not compatible with clamshells or pop-up tents that don’t fold out further than the footprint of your vehicle. So, if you wish to add one later, make sure you have the correct model and style

External Storage

If you’re someone who loves to take advantage of what the great outdoors has to offer-which usually involves having a lot of equipment in tow-then you may invest in a rooftop tent with external storage compatibility. Having external storage can be the difference between feeling cramp or feeling like you have plenty of space to sleep.

Durability and Maintenance

For the most part, rooftop tents are built with robust materials that can withstand the rigors of frequent use. The weight of the materials generally doesn’t factor in so you can expect to see sturdy zippers and very thick fabrics. Everything in the tent is designed to last including the floors which are built to support heavyweight.

When it comes to resisting the elements, hard shell tents will perform much better in this regard. Hardshells last longer because the material that they are made with is stronger than the nylon coverings of softshell tents.

However, if there comes a time when you need to replace your softshell, almost all models use zippers to attach the tent canopy to the frame. So, you can simply replace the canopy without having to buy a brand new set-up.

It does not matter which kind of tent that you choose, there are measures that you can take to increase the life of your tent. One such thing that you can do- make sure that the tent is completely dry after each outing and store it in a shaded and dry area.

Finally, if your tent walls or your rainfly begins to lose its ability to repel water, you can use a marine-grade spray-on protector to revitalize the waterproofing.

Vehicle and Rack Compatibility

Before you go out to buy a rooftop tent, you must be sure that your vehicle is compatible. A general rule of thumb is that if your car, SUV, van, or truck can attach a roof rack then it is highly likely that a rooftop tent can be attached to it.

Some vehicles have factory roof racks already installed; however, many people have placed them on after they purchased their vehicle. First, you’ll want to buy a rack that is compatible with your vehicle. Next, make sure that your rooftop tent will fit the rack.

If this is any consolation, this is not as difficult as it seems, most rooftop tents are very adjustable and can fit a variety of setups.

Finally, think about how you want your tent situated. Of course, it can go on the roof of your vehicle but it can in an empty truck bed, over your truck canopy, or a hitch rack. Just be aware of where you want to place your rooftop tent.

Final Thoughts

Rooftop tents offer a level of convenience when you’re out camping that’s unrivalled. So, while mounting it to the top of your vehicle can at times feel quite cumbersome, the payoff is that you get to enjoy a spacious tent that is easier to set up than a traditional tent, once you unmount it from your vehicle.

Hopefully, we’ve provided you with all the information that you need to choose the rooftop tent that is just right for you! So, take your time and choose from any of the great rooftop tents that we’ve listed here for you.


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