As modern life gets more and more digital, people are developing a grater appreciation for the great outdoors; that doesn’t mean you have to sleep under a tree, however. While we’re still looking to get outside, we’ve set our sights higher, finding ways to camp in comfort. Rooftop tents offer the perfect solution for that outdoor getaway where you can stay in the comfort of your own vehicle.
Forget fiddling with unruly tent poles and hammering away at cheap metal stakes — going camping doesn’t have to be so time- and energy-consuming. Spend less time working and more time under the stars with a rooftop tent that folds out into your own backcountry hotel room. Offering an excellent vantage point, protection from insects and curious critters, and an abode that looks cool to sleep in, it’s easy to see why someone might choose a vehicle palace over an archaic ground shelter. Here are the best rooftop tents currently available.
Tepui Baja Series Kukenam
The Tepui Baja Series Kukenam is for the serious camper who enjoys being out in the elements during any season — rain, snow, or shine. The tent’s innovative design is ideal for year-round adventurers, with an interchangeable canopy to suit changing conditions.
This softshell utilizes a Zipper Gimp which attaches the canopy to the base of the tent and makes the changing out process a breeze. Throw up the mesh shade canopy for protection from the sun and excellent breathability in hot and humid weather. The Baja offers a lightweight nylon rip-stop canopy for spring and fall and an aluminized canopy for harsh winter conditions. In addition, a detachable rainfly is included.
The Baja Series sleeps up to three people — ample room for a couple or even a small family. The tent includes an 8-foot, 6-inch telescoping ladder, eliminating the need for extensions for large or lifted vehicles. The elegant A-frame design allows for a spacious interior and the ability to sit up and really take in the view through large, screened side windows. Mosquito netting is incorporated around all windows and doors, and a 2.5-inch high-density foam mattress ensures supreme comfort.
The soft cover is designed with 1000 gram, heavy-duty PVC for durability during transit. While only one canopy is included in the base $1,275 price for the Tepui Baja, additional canopies can be purchased separately.
Mt. Rainier Extended Stargazer Pioneer
The CVT Mt. Rainier is a polyester behemoth, a massive tent that can fit three or more sleeping campers, and can even include an annex that hangs off the side of a vehicle. Once assembled, the inside of the tent measures about 6 feet by 8 feet, giving plenty of room for people to hang out or zonk out. There are multiple windows around the tent, as well as a skylight, so you can get plenty of natural light during the day. For comfort, the package includes a 3-inch thick foam mattress.
The annex is also spacious, and can house an aluminum ladder for people to easily climb up into the main sleeping area. A removable PVC floor can keep feet safe from dirt or jagged rocks.
This tent isn’t just big; it’s sturdy, with an aluminum frame and a poly/cotton ripstop fabric that’s water and mold resistant. It comes with a polyester Oxford rain fly, which will keep you dry and survive any adventure. If you’re going camping with a few people, or simply like having a lot of room to stretch out, the Mt. Rainier is a spacious, comfortable option.
Boasting an ideal combination of comfort and features, the SkyRise is available in either small or medium sizes, depending on your specific needs, and several color options. A 15-minute, tool-free installation makes for less work and more play. The SkyRise is constructed with light and strong aluminum poles made from the same material as backcountry tents — 210 Denier fabric that’s both lightweight and breathable.
Yakima’s rooftop tent cradles your body in comfort with its 2.5-inch, wall-to-wall mattress and includes a removable cover for easy cleaning. Mesh panels zip open for ventilation and two skylights allow for comfy stargazing. The tent also comes with a rainfly for protection during rainstorms but performs best during warmer seasons when the rainfly can be left off, allowing for a clear view of the skies above. At around $1,200, Yakima’s SkyRise is ideal for seasoned rooftop tent campers or those on their first journey into the backcountry.
Hot on the heels of the release of its SkyRise tent, Yakima partnered with the popular outdoor brand Poler for a special edition version of its flagship. Outfitted with Poler branding and a new camouflage colorway, the SkyRise Poler looks perfectly at home perched in the forest, at the beach, or anywhere adventure takes you. It’s a bit more expensive, but spec-wise, it’s identical to its normal SkyRise predecessor, a prime example of “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”
The Roofnest Sparrow X
The Roofnest Sparrow X may be one of the most convenient, easy-to-set-up rooftop tents on the market. The company dove headfirst into rooftop tent production, operating under the motto, “you don’t need a van to live the #vanlife!”
The $2,500 Sparrow X is the larger of its two sizes — and resembles a pop-up box. The Sparrow comfortably fits two adults, measuring 82 inches long by 48 inches wide. The Roofnest is coveted for its reinforced fiberglass shell, designed to be aerodynamic for improved gas mileage. The interior of the shell is also coated with a soft foam for noise reduction.
There are mesh windows at the front and the back with zip closures and doorways at both ends so you can enter the tent from either side. The Roofnest Sparrow attaches directly onto any roof rack, making for an adaptable product that includes everything you need and nothing more. A 60-second set up makes it one of the fastest camping tent set-ups in the world, designed for those who really don’t want to mess around.
If you own a Jeep Wrangler, the Smittybilt Overlander is the perfect rooftop tent for you. For such an affordable price tag, you might be concerned about quality but a company with 50 years of building Jeep Wrangler accessories did not come up short here. Made durable and feature-rich, the Overlander ensures you don’t have to leave all your creature comforts behind. The tent weighs just over 115 pounds and easily mounts onto most roof racks.
The Overlander boasts 600D rip-stop polyester fabric treated with polyurethane accompanied by a rain fly that can be put on or taken off as needed. Stargaze at your leisure with netted windows in the roof that still provide protection from bugs. The mesh windows are mosquito-proof as well, assuring ventilation in the warmer months — without the insects.
The $900 Overlander is built to sleep two people comfortably with a 2-inch thick foam mattress longer than a queen bed and nearly as wide. As an added bonus, the tent is equipped with built-in LED strip lighting in the roof, making for adequate visibility for reading or changing. If you’re looking for additional space, Smittybilt sells an annex that attaches below the tent alongside your Jeep.
One of the most innovative hard shell tents on the market, the iKamper Skycamp is for campers who want to sleep with a view of the stars — and don’t mind shelling at $3,600 to do so. While on the outside it appears similar to other hard shell tents, it actually folds out into a large sleeping area suitable for two adults and two children — or up to three adults. The Skycamp is the world’s largest expandable hard shell rooftop tent.
The best feature about the Skycamp? The Skyview window which consists of a revealable see-through urethane pane. View the sky by day or night and don’t worry about the elements, the Skyview window is 100 percent waterproof.
Hard top tents are quicker to set up than soft top tents and the Skycamp is no exception. Pop open and slide out the extended floor along with the ladder, expanding to an impressive size of over 82 inches. Additional features include a honeycombed aluminum floor and three fabric options: 250 Denier polyester, a polyester-cotton blend, or mesh.
The Skycamp is compatible with most vehicles and is extremely customizable. Accessories include an annex room, awning, vinyl canopy, wind deflector, shoe rack, storage shelf, movie stand, and inner storage shelf. If it’s the ultimate hard top tent you seek, the Skycamp was made just for you. The most successful tent project ever on Kickstarter, the Skycamp raised over 2.3 million.
ARB Simpson III
The ARB Simpson was designed with convenience in mind, with a streamlined design that won’t take hours to unpack. The newest model is just $1,500, easy to set up, and not a hassle to travel with.
With dimensions of roughly 55 inches by 94 inches, the Simpson offers a decent amount of space, and it comes with a 2.5-inch foam mattress, so you’ll rest comfortably in the wilds. Adding to the peace of mind are insect screens in the windows, so mosquitoes will only be able to look in as you sleep unbitten.
This tent is 171 pounds, so not the lightest tent on the market, but far form the heaviest, making for easier setup and takedown, and reduced stress on vehicles. The tough poly/cotton fabric should hold up to the elements, no matter where you journey. The ARB Simpson is the perfect option for rooftop tent campers who want a lighter vehicle load.
Gen3 Expedition Tent
Any winner of the Overland Expo should be given notice, especially when it’s also packed to the brim with features. The Gen3 Expedition Tent is made for the true adventurer or backcountry explorer, designed with aerodynamics in mind. The sleek frame is constructed of robust aluminum that allows owners to mount awnings, jacks, and other off-road equipment. Though it’s lighter than its predecessor, it’s also wider by 4 inches — and more spacious. It’s not terribly suitable for a family but for a solo adventurer or a small couple, it boasts plenty of room.
The hardtop lifts open to reveal a canvas interior and awning, designed with 400-gram UV resistant waterproof material that includes sealed seams for the ultimate protection from the elements. The doors and windows are dressed with high-quality mosquito netting and insulation is provided by polyethylene closed-cell foam. The tent is easy to install, featuring nut-slotted rails and a mounting track.
Comfort is provided by a 75-millimeter, high-density foam mattress that can remain in the tent during travel. The Gen3 Expedition is available for purchase with a few optional kits, one which provides for internal electricity including a USB charge point and stalk lights and another that provides for storage, including internal bags for small items. If efficiency is your primary concern, then Gen3’s $4,000 Expedition is a great adventure companion.