Best Rooftop Tents of 2022 (Tested and Reviewed)

Rooftop Tents Reviews

After a long, eventful day, pitching the tent and spending the night under the stars is pure pleasure – but setting it up can still be a bit nerve-wracking.

Practical: if you always have your “bedroom” with you on the car roof and can set it up anywhere in no time at all! Rooftop tents combine the feeling of freedom of normal tents with the comfort of a stable bed.

Which rooftop tents are good?

We have researched the most popular models of car rooftop tents for you and compared the best models of 2022. In our guide, we present the most important facts for an informed purchase decision. This saves you time and money and you are guaranteed to find your personal test winner.

Best Rooftop Tents of 2022 (Top 6 Picks)

1. Ikamper Skycamp 3.0 Mini Rooftop Tent

Skycamp 3.0 Mini Best Rooftop Tent

The Skycamp 3.0 Mini hard shell rooftop tent Utah for the car impresses with its compact design and easy handling. The manufacturer guarantees that the locks, hinges and ladder hangers are extremely stable.

The assembly is done within a few minutes after assembly so that the tent can then be moved easily. The tent reliably protects against rain thanks to the hard shell and effectively keeps mosquitoes away thanks to the mosquito nets.

Various inner compartments help to keep things tidy in the tent. The ladder can be flexibly attached to the two long sides of the vehicle, therefore enabling access from both sides. In addition, the canopies reliably protect against strong sunlight and rain.

A special feature is the additional roof rack on the hard shell, which makes it possible to take additional luggage of up to 50 kg. Overall, the lying surface is comparatively narrow.

With a width of 53 inches, it could already be relatively cozy for 2 people while the tent is rather unsuitable for 3 people. Even tall people will find it difficult with the length of 83 inches.

Point of View: It is a rooftop tent all-rounder that offers a convincing shelter with a lot of comfort for holidays of all kinds.

Product details:

  • Type: Hard Shell Rooftop Tent
  • Lying surface: 83 x 52 in
  • Height (Closed/Open): 13.5” / 48”
  • Weight: 125 pounds
  • Number of people: 2
  • Seasons: 4-Season

Pros

  • Robust all-aluminum construction
  • Very stable locks, hinges and ladder hangers
  • Easy handling and setup
  • Inside pockets and shoe pockets
  • You can enter from two sides
  • Additional roof rack for luggage
  • Fits all vehicles

Cons

  • Lying area is comparatively small
  • Mattress is a bit firm

Check Price on IKamper


2. Body Armor 20010 SKY RIDGE PIKE Rooftop Tent

Body Armor 20010 SKY RIDGE PIKE

The Body Armor SKY RIDGE PIKE high-density rooftop tent for the car is characterized by a stable hardcover construction, which allows quick and easy assembly with just a few movements.

The assembly set and the illustrated assembly instructions help to fix the tent correctly to the cross members of the car before use (You don’t have another person to help). Two adults have plenty of sleeping space in the inner tent. The double-wall construction ensures top-class ventilation while protecting against mosquitoes.

Thanks to four large windows, an all-around view is possible and promises an absolute feeling of freedom in nature! Whether Norway or Spain – with a hydrostatic head of 3000 mm, you stay dry every night in the tent. The darkened windows allow restful sleep even after sunrise.

However, the mattress is rather thin at 6 cm thick, which could have a negative effect on sleeping comfort for sensitive people. With a weight of 117 pounds, it is the heaviest model in our product comparison.

Point of View: A stable and robust tent that is of high quality and can be set up in no time at all. With this rooftop tent, every camping holiday is great fun.

Product details:

  • Type: High Density Rooftop Tent
  • Lying surface: 50 x 47 in
  • Height (Closed/Open): 13” / 48”
  • Weight: 117 pounds
  • Number of people: 2
  • Seasons: 4-Season

Pros

  • Stable aluminum lid
  • Easy opening with gas pressure springs
  • Robust outer tent
  • Completely waterproof
  • Inner tent can be almost completely blacked out
  • Covered entrance area
  • Quick and easy assembly
  • Good ventilation

Cons

  • Thin mattress
  • Small floor space

Check Price on Amazon


3. Thule Tepui Explorer Ayer 2 Rooftop Tent

Thule Tepui Explorer Ayer 2

The Thule Tepui Explorer Ayer 2 rooftop tent impresses with its extremely robust and high-quality hard shell cover, which offers optimal protection when driving, camping and storing.

In addition, the shell opens fully automatically, which saves a lot of time during assembly. This guarantees more time for nicer activities on the campsite. The hardcover roof is of course absolutely waterproof and therefore trumps all rooftop tent fabric models.

The tent is also well protected against rain from the sides thanks to the robust polyester fabric. In addition, the material is UV-resistant and therefore a faithful companion even in strong sunlight.

Whether it’s exploring the spectacular nature of the great outdoors or traveling the world with family and friends, this rooftop tent will be the best companion.

Only the lying surface is a bit narrower and the tent is a bit flatter than the comparison models. Also, don’t use this tent with any type of Clamp Style roof rack.

Point of View: Anyone who spares no expense and travels as a couple can opt for this high-quality and robust tent.

Product details:

  • Type: Hard Shell Rooftop Tent
  • Lying surface: 84 x 44 in
  • Height (Closed/Open): 10” / 44”
  • Weight: 114 pounds
  • Number of people: 2
  • Seasons: 4-Season

Pros

  • Set up particularly quickly
  • Four large internal pockets
  • Very waterproof thanks to the hard cover
  • Comes with 2 years warranty
  • With UV protection
  • Mosquito nets

Cons

  • Narrow lying surface
  • Relatively flat

Check Price on Amazon


4. Roofnest Condor XL Fold-out Style

Roofnest Condor XL

The Roofnest Condor XL 4-season tent is UV-resistant and waterproof. Thanks to the thick fabric construction and effective insulation, it can be used all year round without the cold outside getting in.

At the same time, the medium doors and windows make a great impression and promise a great indoor climate inside the tent. The model is a hard shell rooftop tent, which is extremely robust thanks to the outer shell and reliably protects against wind and weather.

The aircraft aluminum frame ensures that the tent is well protected and cannot be damaged during long car journeys as well as during storage. A small awning is integrated, which protects against rainwater when exiting.

Internal storage compartments also help to keep the tent tidy and not lose sight of your belongings. The minimum distance front-back between rack crossbars is 30 inches.

A small disadvantage is that the manufacturer advertises the tent as waterproof, but does not give any specific information about the water column.

The package comes with 8.5′ ladder, 2 detachable pockets, Roofnest privacy tent, 4×4 ground mat, and interior LED light.

Point of View: The Roofnest Condor XL rooftop tent not only makes tours throughout the year possible but also offers the highest level of comfort and safety.

Product details:

  • Type: Fold-out Hard Shell Rooftop Tent
  • Lying surface: 74 x 93 in
  • Height (Closed/Open): 13” / 50”
  • Weight: 160 pounds
  • Number of people: 3-4
  • Seasons: 4-Season

Pros

  • Simple lifting system
  • Ergonomic design
  • Lots of doors and windows
  • Tear-resistant tent fabric
  • Waterproof and durable
  • Internal storage compartments
  • All season tent
  • Awning and specious

Cons

  • No information on the water column
  • Not designed for solo travelers

Check Price on Roofnest


5. Smittybilt Overlander Rooftop Tent

Smittybilt Overlander

This fabric rooftop tent comes in a slim and compact design, which still offers plenty of space when set up. Once the pitch has been found, the tent can be easily unfolded and set up quickly with the help of long pegs and cross poles.

Entry from all sides makes a great impression and makes the tent easier to use. This is especially useful at night when someone wants to leave the tent without disturbing others. The LED light works great with a USB battery pack and has two skylights so you can enjoy the night sky from your tent.

The openings have been equipped with mosquito nets, so the interior is safe from mosquitoes. The manufacturer also states that the tent is UV-resistant and waterproof. Not only the rainfly is waterproof but treated well in light rain or drizzle by itself.

The disadvantage is the high weight of the tent as a 2 person tent; 116.5 pounds does not perform as well as the other models in our test. Nevertheless, the price of the tent is unbeatable.

Point of View: If you are looking for a practical rooftop tent with lots of space and many great features and don’t want to dig too deep into your pocket, you will find it in the Smittybilt Overlander rooftop tent. The thickness of the fabric is remarkable.

Product details:

  • Type: Vehicle Mounted Tent
  • Lying surface: 92 x 55 in
  • Height (Closed/Open): 13” / 51”
  • Weight: 116.5 pounds
  • Number of people: 2
  • Seasons: 4-Season

Pros

  • Compact when packed
  • Plenty of space for two people
  • Entry is possible from all sides
  • Awnings and Breathable
  • Lightweight aluminum telescopic ladder
  • Waterproof

Cons

  • A bit hard to remove rainfly
  • Very loud when it’s windy

Check Price on Amazon


6. Xljh Camping Spacious Rooftop Tent

Xljh Rooftop Tent

The Xljh rooftop tent is a hybrid of a hard shell tent and a fabric tent, combining the advantages of both models. In its unfolded form, it achieves a significantly larger area and thus offers increased comfort.

A huge plus is the high walls compared to other tents (1.40 m high). Also very pleasant are the covered entrance area and the cozy awning, which suggest pleasant and comfortable hours even in rainy weather. It has its own awning. However, it does not have a separate awning.

Ventilation is optimal thanks to the opening windows, which offer protection even in the rain. But there are two small minuses. The weight is relatively high compared to other tents. The water column of 2000 mm could also be higher at the price to better protect against rain.

Point of View: If you are looking for a large and comfortable tent with lots of space, you will find it in the Xljh rooftop tent.

Product details:

  • Type: Hard Shell Folding Tent
  • Lying surface: 83 x 56 in
  • Height (Closed/Open): 13” / 55”
  • Weight: 152.5 pounds
  • Number of people: 2
  • Seasons: 4-Season

Pros

  • Rain-protected entrance area
  • Integrated sponge mattress
  • Lots of space inside
  • Awning and good ventilation
  • Comparatively high

Cons

  • High weight
  • Low rain protection

Check Price on Amazon


What you need to consider when buying a rooftop tent

When buying a rooftop tent, you should pay particular attention to the following features and properties:

  • Rooftop tent type
  • Place
  • Costs
  • Materials
  • Handling during set-up and dismantling
  • Weight

Rooftop tent type: Which rooftop tent is suitable for which purpose?

Rooftop tents are available in a wide variety of designs and for almost every purpose. Depending on whether it is only to be used for a short weekend trip with the family or for long-term expeditions far away, there are various configurations available.

  1. The classic fabric rooftop tents are foldable and therefore real space miracles with little weight but have disadvantages in material and handling. They are less robust than hard-shell rooftop tents and are therefore cheaper.
  2. The more modern hard-shell rooftop tents are the robust and more comfortable alternative but do not come close to folding fabric tents in terms of space and acquisition costs.
  3. The hard-shell folding tent is an interim solution, which is the easiest to set up but takes last place in terms of space.

Good to know: The inflatable format offers quite innovative category among the rooftop tents.

Size: how much space should a rooftop tent offer?

Since rooftop tents are usually very durable, when buying, you should not only think about the next trip, but also the medium and long term.

Regardless of how many people the trip is to take place with, the required space in the bed at home can always serve as a rough guide. Because roughly the same space is required when camping in a rooftop tent.

Fabric folding tents are usually superior to hard-shell rooftop tents in terms of length and width, as well as storage space inside so that tall people of around 2 meters, children sleeping sideways and all kinds of accessories can be accommodated well.

An important factor when choosing the size is the footprint, as folding rooftop tents protrude quite a bit over the car roof and therefore require more space than rigid hard-shell tents.

  • Tips: If you would like to have it warm in the tent, you can achieve this with an additional heater. Traditionally, parking heaters are used here, the warm air from which is fed into the tent via special pipes.

Cost: How much does a good rooftop tent cost?

Useful rooftop tents can be found in the price range from just under $1000 to $4000. The widest variety and choice is found in the $1500-$3000 range. The material, the size of the lying surface and the design have the greatest influence on the purchase price.

A rule of thumb:

A hard shell rooftop tent costs more than a fabric folding tent of the same size. Even if rooftop tents cost a lot of money, you should not save at the wrong end here. Especially those who plan longer trips with it are well-advised to fall back on somewhat higher quality rooftop tents from well-known manufacturers.

Material: Which material is the best?

Depending on which travel areas you prefer, it is also advisable to take a close look at the tent materials.

Tent fabric

If the polyester content is quite high, the fabric is easy to care for, and thanks to the PVC coating, it is more resistant to rain and bad weather. However, breathability suffers as a result, which means that there is a lot of condensation inside the tent, especially in colder areas.

A fabric with a high cotton content ensures a better indoor climate overall due to its breathability but tends to absorb moisture and mold.

Rooftop tent floor

You can also choose between different materials for the rooftop tent floor. Older models in particular are often equipped with a wooden floor, which has a positive effect on the feeling of space and condensation but is heavier than the alternatives.

The more modern variants are aluminum composite panels and GRP honeycomb panels, which are extremely light and stable but offer slightly less insulation.

Set-up and dismantling: What role does handling play during set-up and dismantling?

Again, the choice depends on the planned type of travel. If you like to camp in one and the same place for a longer period of time – for example directly on the campsite – we recommend a fabric folding tent.

The effort and time required here are a little higher than with hard-shell tents, but the space available is simply much larger and a family holiday is absolutely no problem. If you want to be more flexible and decide anew from day to day where to stay, you should use a hard-shell tent.

The construction time is a lot shorter here and the effort is also very limited in comparison. Even if you like to camp in areas where space is limited, this type of rooftop tent is recommended. Meanwhile, hybrid models try to combine the advantages of fabric folding tents and hard-shell tents.

Roof load and weight: What role do roof load and weight play in the rooftop tent?

The fact that the value of the maximum roof load for most mid-range cars is only 75-100 kg is quickly irritating. Because how should the car be able to carry a rooftop tent including its occupants?

Roof load refers only to driving:

The value relates to driving because a car can carry many times the permissible roof load when it is stationary. Nevertheless, the weight should be taken into account when purchasing, as it has a direct impact on fuel consumption.

Hard-shell rooftop tents generally weigh more in kilograms than lighter fabric folding tents.

Build a rooftop tent yourself – is that possible?

There are some reports on the internet from rooftop tent fans who have made a rooftop tent themselves. If you want to build a rooftop tent yourself, you can draw on their valuable experience.

In the following, we show the most important steps with which the self-construction succeeds.

  1. First, the basic framework must be determined. Here z. B. a shell glued and screwed from a screen printing board or a wooden frame on which the mattress is later placed.
  2. Robust steel is suitable for hinge scissors, which push a frame made of aluminum or steel upwards with the help of compression springs. Alternatively, an erectable folding mechanism without springs is also possible.
  3. A robust and waterproof fabric should be chosen for the roof covering. Users report that a truck tarpaulin is particularly suitable for this. Then it is essential to ensure that the side walls are made of breathable fabric. Polyester or nylon tent material is a good choice here.
  4. The roof tarpaulin should protectively cover the frame of the tent when folded and can be attached to the frame with rivets. The tarpaulin can be additionally fixed with snaps or elastic bands during the journey.

FAQs

What is a rooftop tent?

A rooftop tent is a tent construction specially designed for car roofs, which – regardless of the car model – can be transported compactly and forms a living and sleeping area when unfolded. The rooftop tent is firmly connected to the car via cross members.

Which roof racks are best for a rooftop tent?

The most common mounting base for rooftop tents is so-called cross beams. These are connected to the vehicle roof via support feet. Most of the time, the standard carrier from the market leader Thule is used, but this is not advisable.

On the one hand, Thule advises against using rooftop tents yourself and rather recommends using them as a bicycle rack or to transport outdoor equipment such as a bicycle. B. Kayaks. On the other hand, the standard Thule carriers are only 120 cm long and therefore too short for the average width of many rooftop tents.

Where can you stay overnight with a rooftop tent?

In principle, it is permitted to stay overnight with the rooftop tent wherever cars can be parked and where it is not expressly prohibited according to the Road Traffic Act and the signs. However, this applies above all to one-time overnight stays to restore driving ability.

However, if the rooftop tent is no longer just used for parking, but also for living (for example, with a camping table, chairs, grill, etc.), this is no longer so easy to differentiate legally and falls under the category of wild tents.

It must also be noted that spending the night in public parking spaces to restore driving ability is only possible with hard-shell rooftop tents. Fabric rooftop tents usually protrude beyond the vehicle and are then no longer permitted due to their size.

Of course, campsites and other designated places are also allowed while camper pitches are almost always only permitted for campers.

Which rooftop tent fits my car?

There is a suitable rooftop tent for every type of car and every model on the market. This is mainly due to the fact that the rooftop tent is not mounted directly on the car but on the respective cross members.

So it will always be possible to find the right tent. There are just a few details to consider before you buy. In addition to checking the maximum roof load, the presence of a roof rack in the form of a cross member is also necessary.

The total mass of the vehicle and a sufficient width should also be clarified when buying.

Is it possible to rent a rooftop tent?

Rooftop tents can be rented conveniently throughout the USA, which has several advantages. On the one hand, you don’t have to buy a pig in a poke straight away, but you can put the rented rooftop tent to an extensive test over the weekend, for example.

Secondly, you have a much better basis for making a decision when making a later purchase. Cars with rooftop tents can also be rented.

In every federal state, there are different providers who have specialized in the rental of rooftop tents.

How to store a rooftop tent correctly?

Before storing, make sure that the mattress and tent fabric are dry. Theoretically, rooftop tents are designed in such a way that they can remain on the vehicle all year round.

However, we recommend dismantling the rooftop tent during longer camping breaks and storing it in a dry place that is as dust-free as possible. For better ventilation, it is advisable to open the rooftop tent from time to time and place it in the sun.

How much do good rooftop tents cost?

Usable rooftop tents, mostly in the fabric folding tent variant, can be found on the market for just under $1000. The more modern hardcover rooftop tents are available from $1500-2000. Of course, there are no upper limits here either.

How fast can you drive with a rooftop tent?

Most rooftop tents are approved up to a maximum of 130 km/h, the required roof racks are often only up to 120 km/h. Higher speeds not only result in unsafe driving behavior of the car, but also in annoying driving noises.

How far can a rooftop tent protrude?

In principle, a vehicle including its load must not be wider than 2.55 m and not higher than 4 m. If the rooftop tent protrudes more than 40 cm to the side or 1.50 m to the rear, it must be marked with a flag or something similar.

How is a rooftop tent properly attached?

In most models, the rooftop tent is attached to the floor using aluminum or steel profile rails with cross beams on the vehicle roof.

For assembly, it is advisable to have at least two people, better three, in order to be able to handle the tent better and to be able to fix it evenly from the sides.

How much does a rooftop tent weigh?

On average, rooftop tents weigh between 35 and 85 kg, with hardcover rooftop tents usually being heavier than fabric folding tents.

Does a rooftop tent fit on every car?

As long as the vehicle has a suitable cross member, a rooftop tent can almost always be attached. In exceptional cases, however, the maximum payload and total load can be limiting factors. It is therefore worth checking in advance whether the total weight fits the car. Also, the rooftop tent should not protrude excessively on the sides.

Can a rooftop tent withstand strong winds or even a storm?

Rooftop tents are usually extremely weather-resistant and can withstand even stronger storms. However, it quickly becomes uncomfortable in terms of volume and vibrations. However, this can be prevented with good relaxation and foresighted choice of parking space.

Conclusion

If you want to buy a rooftop tent, you are making a tidy investment in the future. Since the tents are not exactly cheap, it is all the more important to find the right model that suits your needs. Our guide helps with orientation and supports the decision.

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