Folding rooftop tent

If you have been looking at overlanding, off-road camping, or ways to live out of your vehicle, you’ve come across the rooftop tent. This is a piece of equipment you see on almost every overlander. It looks as if it’s the best option if you want to go camping with your vehicle. As good as they are, there are some drawbacks. I’m going to discuss the different types of rooftop tents as well as answer some FAQs.

Do You Need a Rooftop Tent?

It might seem that you need a rooftop tent just to go overlanding or off-road camping with your vehicle. You might think it’s way easier than a normal tent and maybe that it also saves you some space for packing things like food, clothing or other important stuff.

However, you don’t need a rooftop tent for doing any of this. These things are expensive and come with a lot of drawbacks. Not that they’re useless, quite the opposite actually, but it might not be the right fit for everyone.

Whether you’re on a budget, go camping for just a couple of nights a year, or need to take a lot of things with you. In most cases, you’ll be better off taking a normal tent with you. When on a really tight budget, you can always throw a mattress in the back of your vehicle.

Traditional tents nowadays can be put up in a matter of seconds. In comparison with a folding rooftop tent, the traditional tent would be a lot quicker to set up. Also, a traditional tent, unless it should fit 4 people or more, won’t take up that much space inside your vehicle.

Inside rooftop tent

Different Types Of Rooftop Tents


There are a few different types of rooftop tents. The most up-and-coming rooftop tent will probably be the wedge hardshell rooftop tent. This tent, as the name implies, has a hardshell where the tent is stored within.

This type of hardshell will often be equipped with some gas struts that push the top of the shell up which creates a wedge where you’ll sleep in. This is almost the only thing you’ll have to do when setting up this type of tent.

Rooftop tent in desert

Folding (Canvas)

The most commonly recognized rooftop tent will probably be the folding rooftop tent with a canvas cover. These rooftop tents will fold out and often come with a ladder to support the bed of the tent.

This type of tent is ideal for trucks, whether equipped with a short or long bed. It’ll fit on top of your vehicle.

Folding rooftop tent Canvas

Folding (Hardshell)

This tent is based on the same principle as the canvas version. The hard shell, however, is a better protection for your tent.

Another advantage these types of tents have is that they can double as an awning. Since the tent will fold out, you can use the bed as an awning. Some manufacturers offer zip-on pieces to create a whole room.

Folding rooftop tent Hardshell

Pros Of Having a Rooftop Tent


By far the best thing about rooftop tents is the cleaning, or the lack of actually. Especially with hardtop rooftop tents you won’t need to clean the outside of the tent. You just fold it up, shut the lid and you’re ready for another day of traveling.

Leveling the tent

Since the tent is located on top of your vehicle, you’ll have an easier time leveling the tent. You can put your vehicle up against some rocks or logs and try to level out the tent. If you have a traditional tent, you would need to dig in the ground or find a level plateau of some kind.


Up in the air, you’ll feel a lot safer regarding animals. Especially small ground animals like snakes and scorpions. They won’t be able to sneak into your tent. Also, it feels a lot safer in areas where there are larger animals like bears and wolves. It is not proven to be safer however, it certainly feels a lot safer.


Some rooftop tents even come with built-in mattresses. Even if they don’t, most of the time you can keep your bedding inside the rooftop tent when you fold it up. This way it saves you space since you won’t be packing this inside of your vehicle.

Rooftop tent folding desert

Cons Of Rooftop Tents


In my opinion, the biggest disadvantage of rooftop tents is the price. Rooftop tents start at around $500 and go up to about $3000. If you’re camping on a budget, this is something you might not want to buy.


The weight of rooftop tents is also a big drawback. They weigh anywhere from 80lbs at their lightest to 500lbs at their heaviest. Most of the time you’ll have to buy a special roof rack to fit these tents. They also greatly influence the fuel consumption of your vehicle since your vehicle will be a lot heavier. The tent also catches a lot of wind when mounted on the roof.


A pro of the rooftop tent was that you won’t need to take your bedding into your vehicle however, most of the time you won’t be able to fit anything to the roof of your vehicle. Whether it’s other camping gear, recovery gear, or something necessary like fuel or water.


The rooftop tent will also take up a lot of space on your vehicle and when stored in your garage. If you’re willing to make the sacrifice of keeping it on your car year round you won’t be having this struggle. However, most people will probably take it off after the trip when the vehicle is your daily driver.

Camping grounds

You will have to take into account that when the tent is fixed to your vehicle, you’ll only be allowed to camp in places where your vehicle is allowed to be parked.

rooftop tent vs tent


Are rooftop tents safe?

Yes, rooftop tents are safe. They have been tested and are designed to keep you safe. You can’t just fall out and it won’t just fall off your vehicle.

Can you leave the rooftop tent on year-round?

Yes, you can! Most rooftop tents will come in a hardshell or with their own bag you can put around it to prevent it from being damaged by the weather.

How many people can a rooftop tent fit?

It depends on what rooftop tent you’ll buy, however, most tents will fit two people. You can buy bigger tents that will fit up to 4 people.

Are rooftop tents warm in winter?

Rooftop tents tend to be on the warmer side. If you want to camp in the winter, however, you should still bring a good sleeping bag and some warm clothes.

What are the best manufacturers of rooftop tents?

Some of the best manufacturers of rooftop tents include:

Rooftop tent on tacoma


Now that we’ve discussed the pros and cons of rooftop tents and answered a few questions, I hope you can decide on whether to buy a rooftop tent or go the ‘old school’ way and take a traditional tent. When you’ve got enough money and go on many long trips it might be worth investing in a rooftop tent. However, if you’re going on a trip once a year for a few days, you might reconsider your decision. So, are you going to buy a rooftop tent? If yes, maybe take a look at my blog post about taking care of your rooftop tent.



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