The introduction of the rooftop tent significantly changed the way we see camping. Instead of having to pitch your tent on the ground, you can set up your tent next to or on top of your truck. These tents are notorious for being easy to set up, and once you have the best rooftop tent, your camping trip will be significantly enhanced.
Since the advent of these tents, there have been numerous versions that hit the market. However, you will probably need to do some research to ensure you find the right one for your needs. This is where we come in, and the following article is centered around helping you find the best rooftop tents to improve your camping experience.
|Roofnest Falcon||140 lbs||2-Person||Online||$$$||5/5|
|iKamper Skycamp 2.0||160 lbs||4-Person||Online||$$$$||5/5|
|Roofnest Sparrow Eye||130 lbs||1-2 Person||Online||$$||4/5|
|Alu-Cab Gen 3.1 Expedition||172 lbs||2-Person||Dealer Only||$$$$||5/5|
|James Baroud Explorer||145 lbs||2-Person||Dealer Only||$$$$||4/5|
Best Hard Shell Rooftop Tents
Before we dive into some of the intricate features, we must consider which tents make the cut. Below, you will find a short buyer’s guide to show you which features we used before selecting these tents. But before we get to that, let’s get started by looking at the best hardshell rooftop tents on the market today:
Best Low Profile Rooftop Tent: Roofnest Falcon Rooftop Tent
The first one to make it onto our list is the Roofnest Falcon Rooftop Tent. It is one of the largest tents, but surprisingly, it has an efficient low-profile design when it is not in use. The clamshell setup is effective for all types of vehicles, and it has an internal capacity that will support two camping individuals. Honeycomb aluminum is used for the frame, adding a sense of durability.
Internally, the size is around 88 x 48-inches, which translates to plenty of room on the inside of the tent that will also give you enough sleeping space. With a max. of 60″ headroom inside the tent, there’s enough space to sit up to read a book, change, or hang out. Like other rooftop tents, the Falcon also includes a 7.5-foot ladder, making it easy to climb inside. One of the downsides, though, is the price. It is one of the more expensive options offered by Roofnest.
The Roofnest Falcon RTT also has channels along all four sides so you can attach accessories like an awning. Roofnest also offers an optional set of crossbars that attach to the top of the tent, which makes carrying bikes, kayaks, skis, or anything else pretty easy. Their latest model has integrated LED lighting inside the tent, so you don’t have to haul your lantern inside when it’s time for bed.
- Low-profile design
- Durable honeycomb aluminum (holds up in 30-40 mph winds)
- Easy to set up
- Comfortable mattress
- Cannot close tent with bedding inside
- Hard to close the tent the first few uses (stiff hinges)
Best 4 Person Rooftop Tent: iKamper Skycamp 2.0
If you have a family, it is often more fun to take your family camping with you. The iKamper Skycamp 2.0 is one of the most versatile tents, and it can hold 4 people! This tent is made from a combination of polyester and canvas. Despite its large size, it only takes 1 minute to set up when you need some form of shelter.
Internally, the tent can expand across the sides of your truck, and it will have a size of 85 x 83-inches. However, the tent will reduce to 85 x 55-inches once close the tent. Thanks to the full king-size mattress inside, you’ll have enough space for 3 adults and up to 2 children. However, we don’t recommend having more than 4 people using it due to weight limitations. Like the Roofnest Falcon, though, the iKamper Skycamp 2.0 is one of the most expensive rooftop tents on the market today.
The iKamper Skcamp 2.0 also comes in 3 colors- glossy black, white, and “rocky” matte black – so you can choose the color that best matches your vehicle and style. Since the tent is part canvas, it has a waterproof rainfly that attaches to the hard shell that offers protection during a rainstorm. The windows are double layered (with an outer fabric that turns into a canopy and a clear cover), so you can still see outside even if it’s raining. Because this tent is made of canvas material, you can purchase accessories that easily attach with zippers and bungees — like an awning or their annex room that increases your outdoor living space.
- Easy to set up
- Expandable setup sleeps up to 4
- Durable polyester and canvas materials
- Includes 2 side windows and a stargazing window
- Rainfly is annoying to zip on/off
- Cannot close tent with bedding inside
Best 1 Person Rooftop Tent: Roofnest Sparrow Eye
You don’t always need friends and family to pickle along when camping, and the Roofnest Sparrow Eye is the perfect 1 person camping tent. It pop-ups up from just one side, making it extremely easy to use. Because of its smaller sze, it is supported by almost every vehicle (Jeep Rengeades, Subarus, crossovers, etc.). Internally, it might only be 83 x 49-inches, making it smaller than others, but ideal for one person (or a small couple).
The Roofnest Sparrow is made of fiberglass vs. honeycomb aluminum, which is used for some of the newer, higher-end tents on the market. The fiberglass might be a little less durable, but it significantly cuts the frame’s weight, bringing the tent’s weight to only 130 lbs. If you’re traveling with someone else, you can definitely squeeze in a second person, but this rooftop tent is ideal for one person if you prefer more space.
Roofnest redesigned the Sparrow Eye in 2020 to include a built-in gear storage area (with an included storage bag) and solar panel mounting area on the roof. They also redesigned side doors with ladder mounts, so you can now get inside the tent from all three sides. This is a game-changer for people with Toyota 4Runners, Jeep Renegades, or any other vehicle with a roof spoiler above the trunk. Roofnest’s previous design, which only had an entry point at the back, made it nearly impossible to attach a ladder because the spoiler was in the way. Now, customers can attach the ladder to the tent sides and use that as an entry point.
- Lightweight fiberglass frame
- One of the easiest tents to open & close
- Can close tent with bedding inside
- A bit tight for two people
- Some customers have experienced peeling on the fiberglass
Best Expedition Rooftop Tent: Alu-Cab Gen 3.1 Expedition
The name Alu-Cab should say it all, and it is one of the best and most well-known overlanding brands on the market today. Made of aluminum, the Alu-Cab Gen 3.1 Expedition is one of the most durable and popular tents available. That’s why it’s now on its 3rd Generation design. Despite its clamshell design, it measures 90.55 x 55-inches, making it extremely spacious and comfortable.
The Alu-Cab Gen 3.1 Expedition has 3 entry points, a gas-strut-assisted pop-up design, and a generous 75 mm high-density foam mattress inside. It also boasts some of the best interior accessories, with a reading light, USB charging ports, a 12V power socket, and a series of storage pockets inside the tent.
Recognizing that their tents are used by extreme adventure travelers across the world, Alu-Cab built a tent with closed-cell foam lining insulation. They say their tents can withstand extreme heat and sub-zero temperatures. Like other tents, the Gen 3.1 Expedition also includes an awning cover over the tent’s rear door, which helps to keep rain, snow, and frost off the rear opening.
- Extremely durable
- Dual-layer insulation
- Can close the tent with your bedding inside
- Reading light, USB charging ports, a 12V power socket included
- Hard to purchase (must go through an authorized dealer)
Best Ventilated Rooftop Tent: James Baroud Explorer
Last but certainly not least, we have one of the most expensive rooftops tents. Like many of the hardshell rooftop tents on the market, the James Baroud Explorer can be set up in less than 30-seconds. Similarly, it will only take around 90-seconds for you to put the tent down and have it back in a low-profile position.
The James Baroud Explorer rooftop tent opens via a full pop-up mechanism to maximize the living area inside the tent. Once opened, the tent features numerous windows with protective mesh, giving you the feeling of being outdoors in nature. The mesh doubles down as mosquito and bug nets to ensure you are not plagued at night. A solar-powered ventilation system has also been included for days when the conditions are at their worst. The ventilation fan is waterproof and can run for 24 hours on a single charge.
Similar to the Roofnest Sparrow Eye, this tent also features a storage cutout on the outside of the tent which is useful for stowing lightweight items. This integrated storage tray can secure an additional 65 lbs of cargo and includes tie-down points. The included LED rechargeable flashlight provides light when the sun goes down, and can be removed to used around your campsite. Lastly, it comes in 3 standard colors (white, black, and grey), but you can also opt for a custom OEM paint job which will increase the price to a whopping $5,000!
- Offers a full 360-degree view
- Plenty of ventilation
- Custom colors available
- Hard to purchase (must go through an authorized dealer)
- Some customers mention that the exterior latches rust easily
Key Features To Consider Before Buying The Best Rooftop Tent
If none of these tents appeals to you, you will need to understand how to choose the right option. We have done some research to find the right features that many experts believe are the most important. The following features are what you should keep in mind before buying your next rooftop tent.
Hardshell Vs. Softshell
The softshell tent is the more traditional tent and it is similar to any normal tent you would use for camping. However, it does not offer as much stability. Alternatively, the hardshell tent is more stable and heavier. Keep in mind that the hardshell tents also tend to be more expensive to buy.
Since you are buying a tent for shelter, you need to keep in mind how many people will be joining. To find the right tent, you need to look at the size. Generally, tents have an indication that will show you how many people can be housed. However, some of them are tight and you might need to look for one size bigger.
Weight and Weight Capacity
Not every car is the same and you need to understand how strong your car is. The tent you choose should fit comfortably on top of your car without causing damage. This is where the weight comes in and finding something under 200-pounds is crucial.
If the tent is larger than the top of your car, a small part of it might hang from the roof. If this is the case, the weight capacity can also be important. You don’t want to break part of the tent due to being a bit too heavy. However, these tents tend to have tons of durability for the most part.
Almost every tent you buy will have something called an HH rating. The HH or Hydrostatic Head rating refers to how durable the tent will be in wet weather conditions. For the most part, you should not consider buying a tent with an HH rating that is lower than 2000mm if possible.
Finally, there are a few minor things to look at. These features include the ladder if you don’t have steps leading to the tent. You will also want to have a closer look at the windows of the tent and the windows should effectively give you the ventilation you might need. If you have extras like solar-powered systems, these can be a big bonus as well.
It is not that hard to find the best rooftop tents, but keep in mind that the best options are expensive. These tents offer great value for your money and you only have to put in minimal effort to get them set up.
And if you’re looking for a less expensive and more spacious option, you might want to consider a softshell rooftop tent. Read our buyer’s guide to the best softshell rooftop tents of 2021 >
Hopefully, these guides have helped you find the perfect RTT for your next adventure! Let us know in the comment section which of these tents you like or if we have missed any of your favorites!