Camping is one of the best ways to get close to nature. But how close is too close? While there is nothing better than pitching a tent and sleeping under the stars, it can also be a bit of a hazard. A torrential downpour can result in the ground beneath your tent becoming wet and cold. And what about the critters?! Those little creatures of the forest may look cute and cuddly from a distance, but once inside your tent, they can scavenge for food, destroy your gear, or bite and claw you when you want to get them out. And that’s just the little critters. The bigger ones can be a lot scarier!
So, why not get yourself off the ground?
Rooftop tents have become a new way of camping. Sleeping in an elevated tent that gives you a feeling of safety, and it’s drier too. The best rooftop tents are easy to set up and can make camping more comfortable and enjoyable.
The Best Rooftop Tent
The Smittybilt Overlander Tent sleeps two-to-three people quite comfortably. This amazingly well-constructed rooftop tent is accessible from both the diver’s or passenger’s side so you won’t have to disturb your roommate if you need to step out in the middle of the night. Stay warm and dry high on your perch in this tear-resistant and waterproof tent and be comfortable in any weather.
Standard size tent sleeps two-to-three
600D heavy-duty ripstop polyester
Waterproof and polyurethane-impregnated
Anodized aluminum tent frame poles
High-density fire-retardant foam mattress
Severe weather tested
- Weight48 pounds
Accessible from both driver’s or passenger’s side
CE-approved mosquito net
Includes mounting brackets
Some assembly required
Turn your pickup into the perfect campsite with this Guide Gear Full Size Truck Tent. This is a full-size truck tent that you can set up in a matter of minutes. Rooftop tents like this one offer fast, comfortable shelter off the ground, but still not too high. This one is made with high-quality materials and boasts excellent ventilation, and it’s also water-resistant for added comfort. It will fit in most full-size pickups, so all you need to do is park and set up camp for a great weekend away.
If you prefer to go to the beach, make sure to check out our list of the best beach tents.
Full-size truck tent deploys in minutes
Made from 190T polyester
1500mm water-resistant coating
High-quality construction with excellent ventilation
Sewn-in polyethylene flooring
Includes heavy-duty, weather-resistant polyester bag
- BrandGuide Gear
- Weight11.4 pounds
Fast, comfortable shelter off the ground
Large interior area with 5.25 feet of headroom
Lightweight and easy to set up
Fits most full-size pickups
Fiberglass poles susceptible to breaking
Next time you go camping or on a road trip, hitch this DragonLi Rooftop Tent to the roof of your car, and you’ll have a place to sleep wherever and whenever you need to. Rooftop pop up canopy tents like this are simple to set up and can be done by one person if necessary. It has a sturdy, flat patented base plate and is only 11 inches high when closed on top of your car. It comes with a 90-inch aluminum telescopic ladder, and it is entirely rainproof. It also comes with free LED lights and extra storage bags for roomy and comfortable accommodations that go where you go.
Rainproof rooftop tent
Strong and flat patented base plate
11 inches when closed
90 inch aluminum telescopic ladder
Includes free LED lights, extra storage bags
- Weight207 pounds
3.15-inch super-soft mattress
Ideal for long term campers
Easy one-person setup
Rooftop cross/holder required
Extend your SUV or minivan into a fully equipped large camping tent with this Rightline Gear SUV Tent. This is a freestanding SUV style tent that you can connect to the back of your vehicle or disconnect it for the day if you want to drive away for a few hours. It is made with quality weatherproof construction and a water-resistant design that can comfortably sleep four adults and even a couple of extra if needed. The bathtub floor ensures water and critters can’t get in, so you stay safe and dry in your little haven.
Freestanding SUV tent
Quality weatherproof construction
Hydrophobic fabric with tape sealed seams
Comfortably sleeps four adults
Includes rainfly, bathtub floor, and more
- BrandRightline Gear
- Weight19.8 pounds
Connects to the back of any SUV
Disconnects fast if you need to drive for the day
May not fit some vans
Your pickup truck is the ideal vehicle for a road trip, and with a Rightline Gear Truck Tent, it can quickly become a shelter as well. This tent allows you to set up without removing your gear from the bed as it has a unique floorless design and quality weatherproof construction. It is made with water-resistant fabric and tape-sealed seams to keep wind, water, and animals out of your sleeping quarters, and it all stays secure with protective straps and buckles. Sleep under the stars and enjoy the view with a Skyview vent before waking up and driving to the next leg of your adventure.
For extra comfort, make sure to bring one of these top sleeping bags from our list.
Unique floorless design
Quality weatherproof construction
Made with water-resistant fabric
Protective straps and buckles
Comfortably sleeps two
- BrandRightline Gear
Set up without removing gear from the bed
Sleep under the stars with Skyview vent
Color-coded poles and pole pockets
Zippers may catch or break
Rooftop vehicle tents don’t get much better than this Overland Vehicle Systems Nomadic 4 Extended Roof Top Tent. This shelter features a heavy-duty reinforced diamond-plate base with a comfy high-density foam mattress. The outer layer is Marine Grade 600D rip-stop polyester that is waterproof and windproof. Enjoy gazing at the stars with the skylight and keep everything tucked away with ample mesh pockets in the storage loft.
If you love traveling alone, check out these top solo tents that would be perfect for your next trip.
Made from marine grade 600d ripstop polyester
Waterproof body & rainfly
3-inch high-density foam mattress
Heavy-duty reinforced diamond-plate base
Large collapsible telescoping tubular ladder
- BrandOverland Vehicle Systems
- Weight185 pounds
Easy fold-and-go design
Overhead hanging mesh storage loft
Roof rack not included
Put that space on top of your vehicle to good use with this OFFGRID Voyager Jeep Truck SUV Camping Rooftop Tent. This tent is a standard size, sleeps two, and you can set it up and close it in seconds. It gives you heavy-duty protection from wind and rain and lots of comfort with a high-density foam camping mattress. It also comes with an eight-foot telescopic ladder with plenty of places to hang your gear and built-in air vents to prevent your accommodations from becoming stuffy.
SUV camping rooftop tent with ladder
Standard size tent sleeps two
High-density 78 X 48-inch foam mattress
Heavy-duty telescoping eight-foot aluminum ladder
Built-in air vents
750-pound max load
- BrandRaptor Series
- ModelOFFGRID Voyager
- Weight159 pounds
Sets up and closes in seconds
Heavy-duty protection from wind and rain
Plenty of places to hang your gear
Strong roof racks required
Work or play, you need to end the day with a good night’s sleep, and when you have a DAC Full – Size Truck Tent attached to your pickup, you’ll always have a cozy place to rest your head. This tent is a full-size truck cap tent that fits most trucks with camper tops. It is made with waterproof materials and is easy to set up to fit snugly against the body of your truck, so you stay tucked in while you sleep. Enjoy plenty of ventilation and comfort right on the back of your truck.
For a more comfortable sleep, make sure to have the right camping pillow, too.
Full-size truck cap tent
Fits trucks with camper tops
Designed with plenty of ventilation
Includes flexible shock cords/plastic hooks
- BrandDac Inc.-Vehicle Tents
- Weight3.8 pounds
The tent fits easily over the tailgate
Easy to set up
Fits snugly against the body of the truck
Lacks headroom for taller users
Give yourself plenty of space when you head for the great outdoors with this Smittybilt 2888 Tent Annex. Made from 600D heavy duty ripstop polyester and impregnated with polyurethane, the Smittybilt 2888 is durable enough to withstand all weather conditions. This tent annex is easy to set up and dismantle and is the ideal tool for your outdoor camping needs.
Our buying guide on best Eureka tents features some more reliable products like this, so make sure to check them out.
Made from 600D heavy duty ripstop polyester
Durable enough to withstand bad weather
Polyurethane impregnated outer layer
Roll-up side windows and doors
Inner door provides access to the vehicle
Easy setup and dismantling
- Weight15 pounds
Ideal extension for your outdoor camping needs
Great as a dressing room or for food prep
Allows you to camp anywhere with your Wrangler
Ground stakes not included
The Overland Vehicle Systems Nomadic 3 Extended Rooftop Tent RTT is the perfect rooftop tent for those who love to get away from it all and still sleep in comfort. The high-quality, water- and windproof materials offer complete protection from the elements. This quality backpacking tent boasts a solid base and a three-inch high-density foam mattress. This convenient rooftop tent features an easy fold-and-go design with lots of overhead storage so you can set up camp in a different place every night for the adventure of a lifetime.
Marine-grade 600d rip-stop polyester
420d polyester oxford waterproof rain fly
three-inch high-density foam mattress
Tubular telescoping ladder
1000g PVC travel cover
- BrandOverland Vehicle Systems
- Weight165 pounds
Easy fold-and-go design
Some assembly required
Rooftop Tent Buying Guide & FAQ
Features to Look for in Rooftop Tents
Comfort – Just because you're camping doesn't mean you need to compromise on comfort. Most rooftop tents come with a high-density foam mattress, which is comfortable without being too bulky. Protection from the elements is another crucial issue. A rooftop tent that does not protect you from wind and rain will leave you cold, wet, and miserable, so consider comfort a high priority.
Space – A rooftop tent should be large enough to accommodate all the people in your camping party without anyone feeling like sardines in a can. Many rooftop tents comfortably sleep three or more people, but if you are planning on camping with your significant other, a two-person tent is all you need. Keep in mind that you will also need to store some of your camping essentials and spare clothing, so make sure you have enough room for those as well.
Durability – You may only go camping a few times a year, but even so, you want a rooftop tent that is long-lasting and durable. In some weather conditions, your tent is going to take a bit of a beating, and you want the materials to be able to withstand any weather. Look for non-rip polyester that will stay intact for several years of happy camping.
Ease of Conversion - After a long drive to your favorite camping spot, the last thing you want to do is spend an hour or so setting up your accommodations. That's when you'll appreciate the easy setup of a rooftop tent that can quickly and efficiently convert from camping to travel mode. With some tents, you can even disconnect them from your vehicle and leave them as a freestanding tent while you drive off to a fishing spot or go for supplies.
Ease of Assembly and Installation – Another perk of rooftop tents is that most are easy to assemble and install. Look for something like a fold-and-go design that is easy to open and close as needed. Some rooftop tents may require two people to set up, while others can be set up by one. There will usually be some work involved in installing your tent on the roof of your vehicle, and, in many cases, you'll also need to install after-market roof racks or crossbars.
Cover Convenience – The cover of your rooftop tent may be permanently attached to the rest of the tent. In these cases, the cover comes with zippers that go around the packed tent, securing it to the tent while you camp. Then there are the ultra-convenient covers that lift and form part of the roof of your tent.
Weight – This is one of the tricky aspects of choosing a rooftop tent because there are so many factors to consider. Firstly, you need to know the weight capacity of the tent and know the weight of each potential occupant. You will also need to factor the actual weight of the tent as well as the load-bearing capacity of the roof racks. However, this is only really necessary with rooftop tents installed up on the roof of your vehicle. Weight concerns are less of an issue for truckbed configurations.
Compatibility with Your Rooftop Rack – This is where you must pay attention to the specifications that come with your rooftop tent. If you already have rooftop racks on your vehicle, you will need to make sure that the tent you purchase is compatible with those racks, or you will need to see if you can add other racks to the existing ones to accommodate the rooftop tent. If you don't have rooftop racks, then you can easily choose racks and a rooftop tent that is compatible with each other.
Types of Rooftop Tents
Hardshell – If you're looking for a rooftop tent that is easy to transport and easy to set up, a hardshell model is the way to go. A hardshell rooftop tent clamps down to just a few inches when you are transporting it, and this makes the top of your vehicle aerodynamic. Because the top is hardshell, you can be sure that it is not going to get waterlogged even during a downpour.
Softshell – Just like ordinary tents, a softshell can be expanded to accommodate more people, and you can also have extensions such as an awning or even a front area for storing gear or for food preparation. Softshell rooftop tents may take a little more time to set up, but if you need more space, they can be a better option.
Rooftop Tent FAQ
Q: What is a rooftop tent?
A: A rooftop tent is simply a tent that attaches to the top or roof of your car or SUV. These are becoming a popular alternative to traditional tents.
Q: Are rooftop tents and good?
A: Rooftop tents are an excellent alternative for those who like being outside but don't enjoy sleeping on the ground. Rooftop tents are just as durable as traditional tents, and, in most cases, they are easier to set up. Best of all, they have the added safety of being elevated, so you are less likely to have to deal with large or small critters invading your space.
Q: Can any car handle a rooftop tent?
A: Almost any car can take a rooftop tent, which is good news for avid campers who don't have SUVs or other all-terrain vehicles. The only consideration is your car's ability to be fitted with rooftop racks and the height of the car. However, if your rooftop tent comes with a telescopic ladder, then the height of your car is less of an issue.
Q: Where should I mount my rooftop tent?
A: This will depend on the type of rooftop tent you choose. While most are completely suitable for mounting on the roof of your vehicle, other tents may be better suited for mounting on the back of a pickup truck. Some rooftop tents offer freestanding capability, too. These are typically attached to the back or side of the vehicle. Check the types of rooftop tents and consider how you will be mounting one to your car.
Rooftop tents are infinitely more convenient than traditional tents. They are easier to set up and are ideal for those like to embark on camping road trips. Rooftop tents make it easy to move around and set up camp in different locations, and your camping site options are virtually unlimited as you will always have a clear ground surface. The elevated position of the tent is more pleasing than being on the ground, especially when you end up stuck in heavy rains. Turn your vehicle into a mobile hotel and start to enjoy camping like a king!