Rooftop tents are perfect for off-roaders looking to add some overnight trips to their calendar.

Whether you’re spending a night, a week, or a whole season in the wilderness, chances are you’d like to spend your sleeping hours being comfortable, warm, protected, and dry. Setting up a tent can be a time-consuming chore on a good day, and typically leaves you on the cold damp ground with little protection from creatures who may snoop about your campsite once you’ve packed it in for the night. Hauling a tent with you for your adventure also requires sacrificing a healthy amount of cargo space in your vehicle.

Read: 10 Off-Road Camping Essentials

For these reasons and others, rooftop tents are popular picks with adventurers around the globe. Most models mount to the roof of your truck or SUV where they stay permanently in place, providing a dry, elevated, and warm place to sleep. Even if it rains or snows, you won’t be waking up in a cold, damp puddle with a soggy, dirty tent to pack up when the trip ends.

Below, we’re taking a look at some of our favorite rooftop tents for your truck or 4×4. Each provides added comfort and convenience for your next adventure.

Editor's Pick: TMB Motorsports White Shell Pop Up Roof Tent

tmb motorsports beige white shell pop up roof tent

This rooftop tent from TMB motorsports is a collection of some of the best attributes and functionalities available in rooftop tents today. With the TMB Motorsports White Shell Pop Up Roof Tent, shoppers benefit from compact sizing that’s compatible with a wide range of cars, trucks, vans and SUV’s, and this product is built to fit most vehicles equipped with cross bars and roof rails. Aluminum construction helps reduce weight and a special coating resists degradation by the elements over time.

This tent collapses into a hard-shell pod when not in use, protecting and securing the fabric construction and providing added security while travelling with the tent closed. Shock-assisted lifts make opening this tent a snap, and built-in storage gives occupants a handy place to keep smaller items and clothing while they sleep. Also included are an extra storage bag, a flashlight, a ladder, and a pre-installed mattress.

The TMB Motorsports White Shell Pop Up Roof Tent is easy to use, easy to install, and comes with everything you need—though at $1,795, some shoppers may lean towards a more affordable option. Owner reviews are positive, with owners reporting this tent is easily installed in about 30 minutes, despite poorly-translated instructions.

Smittybilt Overlander Tent

smittybilt overlander tent

The Smittybilt Overlander Tent is a conventional-looking camping tent, but attaches to the roof-rail system of your 4×4, and is accessed by climbing up an aluminum ladder. The standard-sized tent sleeps 2 to 3 occupants, and can handle over 660 pounds. A larger model is also available for larger vehicles, and can sleep 3 to 4 people. Pricing is highly reasonable, and the quality is rated well by owners after a more budget-friendly alternative.

The Smittybilt Overlander Tent also provides a heavy-duty top with rain-fly for added waterproofing and protection, and all windows feature fabric awnings to help block out sunlight and rain, as needed. This one’s a perfect fit for the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited as well as other similarly-sized adventure rides. Built in LED lighting, a zippered sunroof, and a built-in shoe-storage bag add further convenience. Add a Tent Annex for a sheltered lobby / entryway to your Overlander tent, as needed.

A strong brand reputation and good owner reviews round out the package, though some owners have found difficulty in working the rain fly on these rooftop tents when they are sitting 6 feet or higher from the ground.

Raptor Series OFFGRID Voyager Ranger Rooftop Tent

 

Raptor Series OffGrid Voyager Rooftop Tent

It is among the pricier options on our list, the the Raptor Series OFFGRID Voyager rooftop tent backs up its price tag with quality construction and ease of use.

The Voyager rooftop tent installs easily on your factor or aftermarket rack/crossbar system and Raptor Series calls it the lightest manual rooftop tent in the entire industry.

With room for two, the interior is home to a 78″ x 48″ foam mattress and comes with some interior pockets for storage. Other features include built-in air vents, net door that rolls from the top down, and a built-in awning. To get up onto your roof and into the tent, an eight-foot aluminum ladder comes standard.

Owner reviews are overwhelmingly positive. Several owners point out that the tent is aerodynamic when not in use, leading to a quieter ride on the highway. Others note that this is the easiest and fastest rooftop tent they’ve ever set up. On the down side, some owners complained of vague or incomplete instructions and straps that are not holding up well to the elements.

Guide Gear Full Size Truck Tent

guide gear full size truck tent

The Guide Gear Full Size Truck Tent is a no-nonsense, affordable, and easy to use tent that provides ample protection, simple setup, and compact portability for the pickup driver. Priced at under $100, this well-reviewed product turns your truck into a camper, lickety-split. Deploying in minutes, it provides a fast and comfortable shelter that gets you off of the cold, yucky ground. Quality construction, good ventilation, and several adaptable options make this one an easy choice for campers on a budget.

Setup is a snap, with only four poles. A large door provides easy access, right from your pickup’s tailgate. Shock cords attach the tent securely to your truck, and a rain-fly provides total waterproof protection.

Many positive owner reviews on these rooftop tents report good quality and great functionality for the very low price, with many owners saying this one’s worth every penny. Easy setup and tear-down are also noted, though no instructions are included. If you want a handy, effective and easy-to-use tent on the cheap, the Guide Gear Full Size Truck Tent is worth further investigation.

Overland Vehicle Systems Nomadic 3 Extended Rooftop Tent

 

Overland Vehicle Systems Nomadic 3

For a truly premium rooftop tent, look no further than the Overland Vehicle Systems Nomadic 3. Designed to fit three, the Nomadic 3 is made of marine grade 600D double Rip Stop polyester cotton canvas body with a 420D polyester oxford waterproof rain fly. The tent is built on a double insulated one-piece diamond plate base with stainless steel hinges and hardware.

Other features include a heavy duty PVC travel cover, loop and pull Velcro straps, 110G gaze breathable and fadeless skylight, two shoe pockets, tubular telescoping ladder, high density foam mattress, reinforced hinges, overhead storage loft, and much more.

The only real downside to this particular rooftop tent is cost, as it retails for $1400.

Silverwing Soft Roof Tent

 

Silverwing Soft Roof Tent

Coming in at just 90 pounds, the Silverwing SWT80S soft roof tent is an ideal choice for more minimalist campers. It features an interior footprint of 95″ x 48″ (80 cubic feet) and has plenty of room for two adults and their gear. The manufacturer boasts a set up time of about five minutes and a takedown time of 10 minutes.

The Silverwing package comes with a a reinforced base, rain fly, waterproof travel cover, waterproof 600D tent fabric with taped seams, two-inch thick foam mattress, fully zipped windows and doors with screens, adjustable aluminum ladder, and two interior storage pockets.

Owner reviews are mixed on this tent. Some complain about difficult installation with pre-drilled holes that are misaligned.

Tuff Stuff Universal Roof Top Tent Bed Rack

tuff stuff roof top tent bed rack

This accessory from Tuff Stuff makes rooftop tenting a cinch. The Tuff Stuff Universal Roof Top Tent Bed Rack is designed for universal fitment on virtually pickup truck, and is compatible with the factory cargo rail system with some additional hardware. Able to handle up to 400 pounds while the vehicle is in motion, custom pinch plates are included to help reduce the need for added drilling or complication in the installation process. This specialty rack also uses a unique sliding center rail system, allowing easy adjustment of its width for a perfect fit.

With the Tuff Stuff Universal Roof Top Tent Bed Rack mounted, you’ve got full access to your truck’s cargo, and a secure, sturdy and purpose-built platform above that’s made to accept your rooftop tent. This is an easy and handy way to integrate a rooftop tent with your pickup truck, though do your homework first—understanding how it needs to be mounted to your specific model. Also, note that the rack comes unfinished, and should to be painted or powder-coated before use to prevent rust.

Tips for Shopping and Using Rooftop Tents

Do Your Homework (On a Forum):

When deciding which rooftop tent might be best for your vehicle and locale, do some research ahead of time to help guide you to the right decision. Whether you drive a Toyota pickup, a Ford SUV, a Jeep Wrangler, or a Subaru Outback, there’s an online owner’s forum full of enthusiasts with similar interests, and the same vehicle, as you. Chances are, some of these folks have experience with rooftop tenting, so search the forum, ask questions, or post up a new discussion thread asking for ideas. YouTube is a great place to check out ideas and reviews, too.

Consider Professional Installation:

Though most rooftop tents can be installed with relative ease, professional installation may be ideal for first-time shoppers. Having the work done by a professional helps ensure the tent is properly secured, installed without damaging your vehicle, and that it will last as long as intended.

Premium Construction:

At higher price points come higher-quality materials and construction. For maximum durability and a long service life, consider two important things when investigating a rooftop tent for purchase. First, are the metal components made of aluminum, or cheaper steel? Aluminum is lighter, won’t corrode, and typically signals a higher quality product. Second, consider one of the rooftop tent options above that come with a hard-shell for added protection. Some models fold down into a hard shell ‘case’, that’s more durable, more aerodynamic, and will help your tent last longer. Other tents simply come with a strap-on fabric cover to keep things secure while you drive.

Spend the Money:

The price of popular rooftop tents varies from moderate to expensive, and many experts recommend opting for the best that you can afford. Seek out a high-quality model from a reputable brand, and check reviews from owners who have used and lived with their rooftop tent for some time, perhaps reporting back with a review a year or two after their purchase. Carefully read the reviews, and seek out any information available that may provide insight as to the long-term durability and toughness of the tent you’re considering. By and large, most negative owner reviews in this genre of product come with the same warning that you ‘get what you pay for’.

Shipping:

As rooftop tents are typically large and heavy, they’re not an easy product to return for warranty-related repair or replacement—so you’ll want one that’s built to last. This is why opting for a unit from a quality brand, after double-checking to ensure it fits your specific vehicle, is key. Further, be sure to determine the initial shipping costs up front, so you’re not hit with any surprises. Some rooftop tents need special shipping arrangements and may arrive on a freight truck and be unloaded by forklift, meaning you may require a helper to move the package into your home or garage, and again, to install the tent to your vehicle.

Check First:

Before deciding on a rooftop tent, be sure that it’s safe to use on the vehicle you’re planning to install it to. Can the roof or roof-rails support the weight of the tent, and its occupants? How is the tent installed and secured? Does the tent require any modification of your vehicle that may affect its durability, finish or warranty? Understand what the tent offers, as well as how it’s installed, before you buy. Now’s also a great time to learn how easy or difficult the rooftop tent is to install and remove from your vehicle, when required. Many quality retailers and brands offer up an online resource that can be used

Added Features:

Many rooftop tents are available with additional features and functions that you may find useful. These include a built-in ladder, a built-in entryway room or ‘annex’, battery or solar powered LED lighting, and more. Look for a rooftop tent that has all the features you want, or check out some add-on accessories to make it your own.

Other Options:

If a rooftop tent isn’t in the cards for you or your ride, consider some other worthy options for a high-portability, adventure ready tent that keeps you high and dry, off the ground.

After all—a rooftop tent may not be the ticket for every adventurer. Many will not sleep an entire family, and the tent needs to be closed up and secured if you’ll use your vehicle spontaneously to travel around during the day. Mounting a rooftop tent to your SUV or pickup can also increase fuel consumption considerably because of aerodynamic drag. And, of course, using a rooftop tent limits or prevents the use of other roof-mounted cargo carrying products that may be important to you.

Alternatives include a trailer-mounted tent, or a cot-tent, which rests on the ground suspended on a set of cot-like legs for added elevation and separation from the dirt and moisture beneath. Many campers also love hammocks—which are small, light, easy to set up, and can easily be hung between a tree and a roof-rail on your truck or jeep.

Initial Setup and Treatment:

It might go without saying, but be sure to install, open, and explore your new rooftop tent BEFORE setting off on your first adventure. You’ll want to ensure the tent and all materials and hardware are free of damage, determine if any additional hardware is needed for a safe and secure fit to your truck or Jeep, and to get comfortable with climbing in and out, and using all of the features of your new rooftop abode. Some owners choose to fully assemble the tent and then soak it with a garden hose, which may help seams and stitching to swell and set for optimal waterproofing. Other owners may wish to install protective coatings, accessories, and the like. Just remember: if there’s something wrong with your new rooftop tent, you’ll want to know about it before your camping trip begins!

 


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