Born out of the harsh conditions of the African bush and Australian Outback, rooftop tents have exploded in popularity thanks to their unique and convenient design. For those who can’t afford a travel trailer but don’t want to buy a traditional tent, these are the cleverest, most comfortable alternatives. Once you’ve mounted one to the roof of your car (rooftop tents require a factory or aftermarket roof rack), just fold it open and prepare for sleep. When it’s time to head out on your next U.S. road trip, leave all your bedding inside, close the tent, and you’re ready to roll.
The best quality rooftop tents aren’t cheap, but what’s a lifetime of adventure worth? If you’re not sure which tent is right for you, check out our guide to buying rooftop tents. When you’re ready to pull the trigger, here are five of the best rooftop tents available right now. For some of the best discounts of 2020, take a look at the best Black Friday tent deals going on right now.
Tepui Low-Pro 3 Rooftop Tent
Tepui, now owned by Thule (makers of some of the best roof racks for rooftop tents), has made a name for itself with bombproof rooftop tents. The brand’s ruggedized models can survive any kind of weather you throw at them. Plus, the latest versions are cutting weight to make them easier to mount, drive with, and set up.
The Tepui Low-Pro 3 has a composite base that is lightweight yet strong, keeping the total weight down to just 120 pounds. Curved aluminum poles inside raise the headroom while keeping the footprint the same. The two-inch-thick foam mattress is super comfortable and comes with the tent. The 8-foot, 6-inch ladder telescopes to any length you need depending on the height of your vehicle. One side is a super slim 7 inches tall while the other is a touch bigger.
On the outside, the tent’s low profile helps minimize road noise and affects gas mileage far less than other 12- or 14-inch tall tent kits. Each window awning can be strapped down or pinned up depending on the weather. Four large interior pockets inside hold all your accessories. Included bungees clip to d-rings and pull the sides of the tent in during take-down. The rings also make great points to hang lights or additional gear.
- Closed Dimensions: 48” x 56” x 7”
- Open Dimensions: 95” x 56” x 49”
- Weight: 120 pounds
Smittybilt Overlander (2783) Rooftop Tent
Rooftop tents are fantastic for overlanding and camping with friends but their price tags can put some people off. Good camping tents are only a few hundred dollars. The Smittybilt Overlander 2783 isn’t that inexpensive, but at around $1,000, it’s a steal for a rooftop tent.
Included is a 2.3-inch foam mattress, a two-piece sliding ladder, cigarette lighter USB extensions, and a LED light strip inside. Each window is covered by no-see-um mesh with canvas covers on the outside you can pin up with the included spring poles. A worthy upgrade is a telescoping ladder to make setup easier but for the price, the Smittybilt Overlander is hard to beat.
- Closed Dimensions: 49” x 58” x 13”
- Open Dimensions: 95” x 56” x 51”
- Weight: 116 pounds
iKamper Skycamp 2.0 Rooftop Tent
With its spacious, 1.8-inch-thick king size foam mattress, the iKamper Skycamp 2.0 is one of the best small rooftop tents for campers who appreciate extra sleep space for up to four. The unique design unfolds from the hardshell inside so you don’t have to deal with clipping on a separate waterproof cover. The top hardshell is double-layered for increased insulation when camping in the rain. To help raise the large hardshell during setup, integrated gas struts lift the lid with minimal assistance.
Windows on both sides and the roof have three layers each: solid fabric, clear waterproof vinyl, and no-see-um mesh. With the vinyl closed, you let the light in but keep the weather out. Closed, the streamlined hardshell is just 12 inches tall and has locking stainless steel clips.
- Closed Dimensions: 85.5” x 54.3” x 12”
- Open Dimensions: 85.5” x 82.6” x 43.3”
- Weight: 160 pounds
Freespirit Recreation Adventure Series GS 55” Premium Rooftop Tent
Freespirit Recreation’s Adventure Series tents are among the best rooftop tents for camping in extreme conditions. The Adventure Series GS 55” Premium is the middle child in the lineup, balancing size, price, and features. Enhanced tri-layer construction ensures the interior retains heat in cold temperatures but keeps its cool on hot summer nights. By day, the panoramic windows afford near-360-degree views in every direction. Once the sun goes down, integrated LED lighting provides a bit of ambiance and plenty of light to read by. Plus, integrated gas struts ensure easy setup. Just undo the tie-down strap, and this rooftop tent opens on its own.
- Closed Dimenions: 85″ x 60″ x 9″
- Open Dimensions: 80” x 55″ x 47″
- Weight: 118 pounds
Roofnest Sparrow Eye Rooftop Tent
Roofnest makes some of the best hard rooftop tents on the market. The unique, newly redesigned Sparrow Eye is the smallest in the company’s lineup and one of the most compact available period. At just 50 inches wide, it’ll mount easily to almost any vehicle with a roof rack, from a mid-size sedan to a full-size SUV or pickup. It sleeps two adults snugly but comfortably inside the fiberglass-reinforced ABS shell. The new-for-2020 design is spacious enough to allow for a 100W solar panel and exterior gear storage (with the included bag). Other notable features include a 7.5-foot ladder, an anti-condensation mat, a mesh gear loft, and a detachable pocket. The best part: Marine-grade gas struts allow for nearly automatic setup in less than 30 seconds.
- Closed Dimensions: 85″ x 50″ x 11.5”
- Open Dimensions: 83″ x 49” x 44”
- Weight: 130 pounds
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