The Best Rooftop Tents of 2023
Turn Your Daily-Driver Vehicle into an RV with These Fantastic Roof-Mounted Shelters
Fun, cozy, and comfortable rooftop tents occupy a space that falls somewhere between a traditional tent and an RV. These camp shelters are designed to mount to the top of a vehicle, offering an elevated sleeping experience and enhanced mobility. They’re also a convenient way to set up camp just about anywhere you can park a truck or SUV, which is why they’ve grown in popularity with car campers, overlanders, boondockers, and active outdoor enthusiasts alike.
Because they continue to grow in popularity, an increasing number of manufacturers have introduced rooftop tents to the marketplace over the past few years. Those models vary in size and weight but offer similar performance and features. But not all rooftop tents are created equal, as there are definitely some that stand out from the crowd. We’ve sorted through the dozens of options currently available and compiled a list of our favorites. These are the roof-mounted shelters to have on your shortlist when it comes time to purchase one for yourself.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Rooftop Tent
At first glance, most rooftop tents look a lot alike, which could lead you to believe that they don’t vary much in terms of options or design. But that isn’t the case at all, as every manufacturer puts their own spin on these products. With that in mind, here are a few things to consider before buying a model of your own.
Unlike ground tents—which vary in size from single-person options to models with enough space for an extended family—rooftop tents generally only have room for two to three people. That’s because they are built to mount to the top of a vehicle, where there is only so much real estate to go around. Be sure to check out how much square footage the tent you’re considering offers. It is nice to have enough room for at least two people, with some space left over for small gear items.
The weight of a rooftop tent directly impacts how easy it is to install or remove from a vehicle. Heavier models are more challenging to fit into place, which can make them difficult to take on and off. If you plan to leave the tent in place permanently, the weight won’t matter as much. But a lighter option may make more sense if you want to remove it from your car or truck when not in use.
Hardshell or Softshell?
Rooftop tents generally come in two varieties—hardshell or softshell. Both options have positives and negatives, although most people tend to prefer a hardshell model. This type of tent has a rigid top and bottom, which makes it more aerodynamic when collapsed down for travel. Hardshell models also provide better shelter from the elements and usually takes less time to set up or take down. But they also tend to be heavier and cost more, too.
Conversely, softshell tents are usually lighter and pack down to a smaller size while in transit, yet expand to provide more space at the campsite. They’re usually less expensive, but may not offer as much protection from the weather. Depending on the quality of the materials, they may not be as durable either.
As mentioned above, hardshell tents tend to be more aerodynamic than softshell models. This might not seem all that important, but it can have an impact on gas mileage, especially when driving longer distances.
While rooftop tents come in a variety of sizes, the type of vehicle you drive will ultimately have an impact on which model you can go with. If you drive a compact car, you’ll have fewer choices, while a large truck or SUV will afford you a plethora of options. You’ll also need roof rails—or, in the case of a pickup, a frame of some sort—to mount the tent on. Keep that in mind as you shop.
The Best Rooftop Tents
Now that we know what to look for when shopping for a rooftop tent, these models make our list of the best options currently available.
Yakima SkyRise HD
There are a lot of reasons why the Yakima SkyRise HD is an excellent option for anyone shopping for a rooftop tent. For starters, it is roomy enough for up to three people, with large doors on both sides providing excellent access. This softshell model is also designed for four-season camping, providing good ventilation and cooling during the summer and protection from the wind and cold in the winter. Durable, easy to set up, and comes with a removable foam mattress for added comfort, this is an excellent addition to any adventure vehicle. MSRP: $2,499
iKamper Skycamp 3.0 Mini
This hardshell rooftop tent is designed to fit on nearly any vehicle, including compact cars like a Subaru Crosstrek. That makes it a favorite with the active outdoors crowd looking for an option that sets up and breaks down quickly. Features include a waterproof rain fly, a large overhead mesh window for stargazing, and integrated quilting on the sidewalls that provide extra insulation on cooler nights. The included mattress even features an insulating layer to keep campers warm and dry when temperatures take a plunge. MSRP: $3,699
Thule Tepui Explorer Ayer
Thule makes some of the best vehicle accessories on the market, so it should come as no surprise that it offers outstanding rooftop tents. The Tepui Explorer Ayer is a standout product, providing room for two people in an airy interior designed for comfort and space. This softshell tent has plenty of windows and skylights for enjoying those warm, clear summer nights, but it also comes with an easy-to-install rain fly when the weather isn’t quite as cooperative. Internal pockets are perfect for stashing small items like headlamps and smartphones, while exterior attachment points hold lanterns and other gear. An excellent price point makes this a fantastic option for first-time buyers. MSRP: $1,499,95
Roofnest Condor 2 XL
If you’re searching for a rooftop tent with plenty of interior space, look no further than the Roofnest Condor 2 XL. This palatial camp shelter has room for three to four people and comes with a king-size, two-inch thick mattress. Despite its size, this model is relatively easy to install, although you will need a large vehicle. Additional features include a dedicated duffel bag for storing sleeping bags, detachable gear pockets, LED lighting, and a hardshell exterior for improved aerodynamics. MSRP: $3,845
Trustmade Hardshell Rooftop Tent
The Trustmade Hardshell Rooftop Tent has everything you could ask for in a vehicle-mounted shelter, with a few extra features to help it stand out from the crowd. This model comfortably sleeps two adults, comes with a thick and comfortable mattress, and includes detachable storage pouches for keeping essential items close at hand. Its hardshell casing and stainless steel frame make it extremely durable and add additional protection from wind and rain. Best of all, this tent can pull double-duty as a gear hauler, seamlessly converting into a cargo carrier when needed. All that at a reasonable price. MSRP: $1,749
Overland Vehicle Bushveld II
The Bushveld II from Overland Vehicle is another hardshell model that delivers many features in a compact package. This tent offers plenty of onboard storage, with two interior and six exterior gear pouches, two integrated shoe totes, and a duffel for stashing your bedding. It also has a built-in LED light strip, an anti-condensation insulating layer, and a comfortable memory foam mattress. Optional add-ons include an awning and an annex room. MSRP: $2,199.99
This is a rundown of our favorite rooftop tents from some of the top manufacturers in the outdoor industry. Any one of these models is a perfect shelter for the outdoor enthusiast looking for more comfort than a traditional tent offers. For additional options, check out CampingWorld.com.