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When it comes to communing with nature, there are more options than just sleeping on the ground far away from the grid. One of the most popular camping options is called car camping. Car camping refers to camping near the base camp or camping grounds where you can easily access your car. But if you want to take car camping literally, one popular option is to invest in the best rooftop tent.
Rooftop tents attach to your car’s roof rack, allowing you to sleep directly on top of your car. The advantage of these tents is that they’re relatively easy to set up, and they allow you to sleep just about anywhere much more comfortably than you could if you tried to sleep in your car.
Plus, while sleeping on the ground has its place, sleeping on top of your car offers the advantage of keeping you away from the elements, whether that’s crawling critters or the wet ground.
What To Consider When Buying a Rooftop Tent
But there are a lot of considerations to make before buying a rooftop tent. For one thing, you’ll need to ensure it’s sturdy. A rooftop tent needs to be able to comfortably support your weight, and in many cases, this may include another person. A rooftop tent also needs to be able to fit on the top of your car, whether that’s a hatchback or a larger truck.
If you’re shopping for rooftop tents, there are a couple of popular options to consider. You can opt for a softshell tent, which is made from a similar fabric material that you’d find on the average camping tent. These are more economical, flexible and can often fill a larger space. However, they’re not as durable as hardshell tents. Hardshell tents are more expensive and less flexible, but they can be set up more quickly and are more hard-wearing. They typically have a clamshell design that pops open. In fact, one of the most popular options made by Roofnest advertises that it can be set up in about one minute.
Another option is a trunk tent. These are set up on the bed of your truck and offer coverage and protection from the elements. However, they’re only a viable option if you have a flatbed truck. Because the truck itself is bearing your weight and not the tent, truck tents are much more affordable than rooftop tents.
Whichever you choose, the best rooftop tents are a great way to enjoy nature while still benefitting from the comforts of your car. These are a few options to consider.
1. Thule Tepui Foothill Tent
If you want to carry anything, whether that’s on top of your car or on your back, Thule probably makes it. The Foothill tent is one of the most versatile options for rooftop tents because it can fit different car sizes while still accommodating two sleepers.
Best of all, because the Foothill tent mounts to the side of your car’s roof with a telescoping support ladder, you’re left with roof rack space to carry bikes or other gear. When packed up, the tent adds 9.5 inches to the top of your car, meaning you won’t create an excessive amount of additional drag. The 600-denier fabric stands up to the elements and resists abrasion.
2. Roofnest Falcon 2
For a rugged option that can stand up to anything, it’s worth looking into Roofnest, a brand that specializes in hardshell roof tents. The Roofnest Falcon from sturdy and lightweight aluminum. Once installed, it can be opened in under a minute, saving you time after a long drive. The detachable awning provides extra protection if you’re caught in a downpour while camping.
There’s also a lot to love about this tent when it’s not in use. When folded, it’s a mere 6.5 inches tall. That means you won’t have to take a big hit to your car’s efficiency while you’re on the road. Included with the tent is an 8.5′ ladder for easier access into the tent.
In addition to the Falcon, which sleeps two, Roofnest makes some of the best rooftop tents that can suit a range of different cars and needs.
3. Thule Tepui Explorer Ayer 2 Tent
One of the more economical options for a rooftop tent is the Thule Tepui Explorer tent, which is a slightly more spacious option than the Foothill tent. However, it doesn’t accommodate mounting other equipment in the same way the Foothill tent does.
The sturdy tent is designed to withstand all-season use, and there are internal pockets for storing gear and camping accessories. The rooftop tent also includes a mattress, though some may find this included mattress to be uncomfortable or unsupportive.
4. iKamper Skycamp 2.0
For a premium option (at a premium price) it’s worth investing in the Skycamp 2.0 from iKamper, which has a stylish design that will make car camping a luxurious and exciting experience. Plus, the spacious design of the Skycamp 2.0 can accommodate up to as two adults and two children, or three adults.
The iKamper is also easy to set up once installed, and it can be opened and closed in a minute. The fabric of the tent is 300gsm poly-cotton canvas, which is durable yet breathable. The fiber-reinforced plastic shell adds to the durability, and you can also attach the waterproof rainfly. The included mattress is a 1.8″ thick high-density polyfoam.
5. Smittybilt Overlander Roof Top Tent
A good option for a reasonably-priced softshell rooftop tent is the Smittybilt Overlander XL, which is generously sized and can fit two to three sleepers. The telescoping aluminum ladder allows you to comfortably climb in, and there’s an included LED light as well. Like some of the best rooftop tents on this list, this option includes a foam camping mattress.
For assembly, mounting brackets are included to make for quicker and more convenient assembly. For a larger option, consider investing in Smittybilt’s Overlander XL tent, which sleeps three to four.
6. Rightline Gear Mid Size Short Bed Truck Tent
BEST FOR TRUCKS
If you have a pickup truck, consider picking up the Rightline truck tent, which is an economical way to turn your truck into a camping tent. It attaches around the top of the truck’s bed, creating a comfortable canopy for sleeping. Plus, the skylight panels allow you to still appreciate the stars and the great outdoors.
This option provides coverage for the top and the sides of the truck’s bed, but it doesn’t cover the truck bed itself. That means that you’ll want to bring a camping mattress of some sort for a more comfortable sleeping experience.
7. Napier Backroadz Truck Tent
This is another great option if you’re looking for a tent for your pickup truck. It’s an economical option and is available in a range of different sizes, meaning it’ll be able to fit whatever kind of truck that you have.
It’s made from 800mm polyester, and it comes with a rainfly to keep you protected in rainy weather. As for warmer weather, there are plenty of windows to help you enjoy airflow and the view of nature and the stars. And with over 5′ of headroom, you’ll have plenty of space to enjoy the bed of the truck comfortably.