Born out of the harsh conditions of the African bush and Australian Outback, rooftop tents are in high demand 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 smartest, 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, prepare your sleeping pads, close the tent, and you’re ready to roll.
The best quality rooftop tents aren’t cheap, but they’re definitely worth the investment, especially if you’re always on the road. 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 six of the best rooftop tents available right now. We also got you covered with our roundup of the best camping chairs for relaxing in the outdoors.
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 exactly 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 Dimensions: 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 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
Thule Tepui Explorer Kukenam 3 Tent
With recreational camping in mind, Thule’s Tepui Explorer Kukenam 3 is a strong contender. This softshell rooftop tent is more affordable than most of its other counterparts. It’s also versatile enough that it can fit on most vehicles and roof racks. The tent can keep 3 people sheltered comfortably with its mesh panels for added ventilation and airflow. Overall, you get a rooftop tent that has 600-denier ripstop body fabric and is UV and mold resistant. On top of that, it has water-resistant zippers and a tough exterior that can withstand different seasons and weather conditions. When it comes to bang for the buck, this Tepui tent is worth considering.
- Closed Dimensions: 48″ x 56″ x 12″
- Open Dimensions: 96″ x 56″ x 52″
- Weight: 131 pounds
Yakima SkyRise HD Medium Tent
Yakima is an established brand for high-quality roof racks and car accessories. So it comes as no surprise that the Yakima SkyRise HD Medium is among our picks for one of the best car campers. This tent is best suited for summer camping with its light yet durable PU-coated fabrics. It also has a rather large rooftop window and headroom with a wide ceiling. Plus, the Skyrise comes with tool-free installation for a convenient time mounting the tent. This tent can accommodate two to three people.
- Closed Dimensions: 58″ x 56″ x 17″
- Open Dimensions: 56″ x 96″ x 48″
- Weight: 115 pounds
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