The Best Rooftop Tents of 2023

Best Rooftop Tents of 2023

If you love to adventure off the beaten path and camp with stunning vistas or beachfront access, a rooftop tent might be for you.

I’ve been camping in my rooftop tent for years—from the plains of Montana to the shores of Oregon all the way down into the deserts of Baja California in Mexico.

In that time, I’ve learned what you want in a rooftop tent… and what you don’t.

With so many tent options on the market, it can be hard to choose. So I made this guide with my top picks for the best rooftop tents to help you choose the best tent for your needs.

Table of Contents (Click to Expand)

    Our Team’s Top Rooftop Tent Picks

    Want the TLDR? Check out our favorite rooftop tents here:

    What made these rooftop tents make the top of our list? Keep reading to find out!

    Related Reading: Are Rooftop Tents Worth It? In-Depth Look After 1 Year

    Best Rooftop Tents

    There are a lot of rooftop tents out there, but these are our favorites.

    Best Premium Rooftop Tent: iKamper Skycamp 3.0

    Best Premium RTT
    iKamper 3.0 Roof Top Tent | Fits King Size Bed

    The iKamper 3.0 Rooftop Tent is a beast. With durable & thoughtful construction, the only downside is the price.

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    • Category: Hardshell rooftop tent
    • Floor Area: 44.3 sq. ft.
    • Peak Height: 48 in.
    • Price: $4,199
    • Weight: 165 lbs
    • Sleeps: 1 – 4 people

    Founded in 2012 by Soon Park, iKamper is one of the leading rooftop tent manufacturers. Their mission was to create a rooftop tent with “the space of a softshell and the convenience of a hardshell”.

    No stress, no fuss—just a go-anywhere, do-anything rooftop tent.

    I’ve taken their Skycamp Mini 2.0 through much of the country in all kinds of weather conditions, including extreme wind and rain storms. And I can tell you that they hit their goal.

    The iKamper is extremely easy to put up and take down; I timed it and was able to open it and get inside within 60 seconds. The hard shell also makes it extremely durable and weather-resistant. It’s lightweight and low-profile, coming in at just 165 lbs and a footprint of 83” x 77” (44.3 sq ft).

    Big enough to fit a king-size mattress and small enough to fit on most rigs, the Skycamp 3.0 is an excellent (albeit expensive) choice for any adventure enthusiast.

    The only drawback is the mattress—while certainly better than sleeping on the ground, I definitely get achy after more than a night or two sleeping on it. But they prioritized a small footprint over a thicker mattress.

    That said, you can get an inflatable mattress that packs down small inside the iKamper. I got one for mine and it’s way more comfortable.

    Learn More: Read my in-depth iKamper review

    Best Budget Rooftop Tent: Smittybilt Overlander

    Top Budget Pick
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    04/20/2024 03:42 pm GMT
    • Category: Softshell rooftop tent
    • Floor Area: 36.9 sq. ft.
    • Peak Height: 51 in.
    • Price: $1,325
    • Weight: 116.5 lbs
    • Sleeps: 1 – 2 people

    The Smittybilt Overlander is one of the most affordable rooftop tents you can buy—but don’t let its price fool you. It’s comfortable, capable, and simple to use.

    The Smittybilt tent is fully waterproof, made of 600-denier ripstop polyester, and offers plenty of features that you need to have the best camping experience, including a 420-denier rainfly, an integrated LED lighting strip, and a rubber boot bag for dirty shoes hanging just outside the door.

    That said, the Smittybilt Overlander (both Gen 1 and Gen 2) is a softshell tent, and I’ve found that it takes a bit longer to set up and doesn’t have as much room to store bedding when it’s closed.

    And unlike hardshell tents, which typically use the hard shell as a wall against the elements, most soft-shell rooftop tents are no better in inclement weather than a simple ground tent. But you can’t beat the price!

    Best Hard Shell Rooftop Tent: Roofnest Condor XL

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    • Category: Hardshell rooftop tent
    • Floor Area: 47.8 sq. ft.
    • Peak Height: 50 in.
    • Price: $3,695
    • Weight: 160 lbs
    • Sleeps: 1 – 4 people

    A friend of mine who I go overlanding with has the Rooftop Condor XL on his Jeep Gladiator—so I’ve had a good amount of personal experience with it, as well as his insights.

    Here’s a photo of us setting up our tents together:

    Me and my friend setting up our rooftop tents in the desert, side-by-side

    Like most rooftop tents, the Condor XL was built to last. Unlike softshell tents, the Condor XL tent is made with a hardshell, making it more durable, easier and faster to set up, and offers great weather protection.

    The Condor XL’s wall is made of a polyurethane-coated polyester and cotton blend with a waterproof rating of 3000mm (for comparison, the typical waterproof rating on backpacking tents is around 1000mm). This fabric is thicker and tougher than average camping tents and, because of this, is able to provide additional warmth and is quieter in the wind.

    The main complaint my friend had about his Condor XL was the latches. They are a pain to open and close, and he has to climb up on top of the tent to get it to shut enough for the latches to close. But other than that, he likes the tent.

    Lastly, each Condor XL comes with a Roofnest privacy tent as well as a detachable interior LED light that’s able to be plugged into any USB battery.

    Best Soft Shell Rooftop Tent: Thule Tepui Explorer Kukenam 3

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    04/20/2024 05:49 pm GMT
    • Category: Softshell rooftop tent
    • Floor Area: 37.3 sq. ft.
    • Peak Height: 52 in.
    • Price: $1,499
    • Weight: 150 lbs
    • Sleeps: 1 – 3 people

    Thule rooftop tents are built to last, and the Thule Tepui Explorer Kukenam 3 is one of the best soft shell rooftop tents on our list today.

    This tent is small enough to fit on almost any car’s roof rack and is built with tough UV and mold-resistant 600-denier ripstop fabric, water-resistant zippers, a PU-coated rainfly, and more.

    It folds out, nearly doubling its sleeping space, and is able to sleep up to three people. Like other tents, the Thule Tepui Explorer Kukenam 3 comes with mesh panels to allow airflow throughout the entire tent.

    Overall it’s a decent tent at a great price, and if having a soft shell doesn’t bother you, it’s worth considering. That said, a lot of the reviews on Amazon talked about how you get what you pay for here, with people complaining about the zippers breaking and the ladder not being UV resistant.

    Best Rooftop Tent for Families: CVT Pioneer Series

    Best RTT for Families
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    • Category: Softshell rooftop tent
    • Floor Area: 48, 56, or 76 sq. ft.
    • Peak Height: 43 in.
    • Price: Varies on size ($1,499-$2,499)
    • Weight: 98, 145, or 171 lbs
    • Sleeps: 1 – 4 people

    Let’s face it—lots of tents claim to sleep up to four people. The CVT Pioneer is one of the few models that are actually able to back this up. They have three sizes: Small, Medium & Large.

    The large has a whopping 76 square feet of floor space and two 3″ mattresses—the equivalent of two double beds. This is more than enough room for two adults and two to three kids, depending on height.

    The CTV Denali comes with a room divider and has two separate entrances (one on either side, each with its own sturdy ladder) for more privacy, making it even better for families camping together. It’s also extremely customizable—you can add LED light strips, an insulated cold-weather cover, an awning, and more.

    The only downside is that you’ll need a pretty big vehicle for this tent (a car roof won’t cut it here). But their small size may be able to fit a sedan depending on the cab’s weight capacity.

    Best Rooftop Tent for Solo Travelers: iKamper Skycamp Mini 2.0

    Best RTT for Solo Travel & Couples
    iKamper Skycamp 2.0 Mini Hard Shell Roof Top Tent

    For a limited time, this tent is available at a huge discount due to the release of the Skycamp 3.0 mini.

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    • Category: Hardshell roof tent
    • Floor Area: 29.9 sq. ft.
    • Peak Height: 48”
    • Price: $3,699
    • Weight: 125 lbs
    • Sleeps: 1 – 2 people

    The iKamper Skycamp Mini 2.0 is the rooftop tent I put on my Toyota Tacoma overlanding build. It’s an aerodynamic, lightweight rooftop tent that will fit nearly any car you want to put it on. I’ve also found that it’s one of the easiest rooftop tents to deploy, with a setup/take-down time of less than a minute.

    Since iKamper released the Skycamp 3.0 Mini, they put a massive sale on the 2.0 version (it’s $700 off until they run out of left-over stock). The differences in the 3.0 include:

    • window blinds
    • upgraded zippers
    • change to the latches
    • 2.5” mattress vs previous 1.8”

    Personally, I feel that the only upgrade worth the money is the thicker mattress. The mattress in the 2.0 is my only complaint. But you can fix that with $100 that by upgrading to the QOMOTOP self-inflating mattress.

    As for the tent—the quilting material it’s made of helps manage condensation, while the sidewalls, front of the tent, and ceiling of the tent have canopy windows for airflow and great views. The Skycamp Mini is also made from a breathable polycotton canvas and comes with a waterproof polyester rainfly (which you can detach for even more airflow).

    I’ve found this material to be extremely durable, even surviving 50+ MPH wind storms in Joshua Tree when my friend’s $500 hiking tent was totally destroyed. It also holds the heat well; I’ve slept in here in below-freezing temperatures and a zero-degree bag and wasn’t bothered by the cold at all (and I don’t do well in the cold!)

    Best Rooftop Tent for Small Cars: Thule Tepui Foothill Tent

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    04/20/2024 11:44 pm GMT
    • Category: Softshell roof top tent
    • Floor Area: 27.4 sq. ft.
    • Peak Height: 38 in.
    • Price: $1,199.95
    • Weight: 125 lbs
    • Sleeps: 1 – 2 people

    The Thule Tepui Foothill Tent is a low-profile softshell tent with a telescoping ladder that has a panoramic rear window with dual skylights for stargazing and amazing airflow.

    My favorite feature? You can mount this on either side of your roof rack, leaving space to mount bikes, cargo, or kayaks on the other side. While almost all rooftop tents make you choose between a tent and gear storage, the Foothill tent does not.

    This tent has a high-density foam mattress with sleeping space for up to two people and four internal storage pockets. Thule has additions you can add, too (such as a 310-thread-count sheet and Tepui’s insulator for all-season use).

    The canopy fabric is UV and mold resistant, and this tent comes with a rain fly in case of bad weather. All in all, this is better than your traditional tent and well worth the price!

    Best Rooftop Tent for Couples: Roofnest Sparrow EYE

    Roofnest Sparrow EYE
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    • Category: Hard shell tent
    • Floor Area: 27 sq. ft.
    • Peak Height: 44 in.
    • Price: $3,195
    • Weight: 130 lbs
    • Sleeps: 1 – 2 people

    Last but not least, we have a two-person pop-up clamshell tent.

    The Roofnest Sparrow EYE is one of our favorite rooftop tents on the list—with extra gear storage on the roof of this tent, you’re able to bring along your toys and other gear you may need. There’s only one awning to prop and no tent poles to mess around with, making setup a breeze.

    And, with the massive door and side windows, the inside of this rooftop tent stays nice and breezy.

    The fiberglass-reinforced ABS shell is molded to be aerodynamic for better gas mileage as well as reduced road noise. Inside the tent, you have a quilted, insulated fabric that keeps condensation away.

    Plus, you get an awesome foam mattress in this rooftop tent (that Roofnest thinks will go head-to-head with your mattress back home).

    The Other Options

    While these didn’t make our “best of” list, we wanted to include them (as they’re awesome rooftop tents, too).

    If you have a rooftop tent that didn’t make either of our lists today, be sure to leave a comment down below – we’d love to hear what you have and why you love it.

    Rooftop Falcon 2

    Roofnest Falcon 2
    • Category: Hard shell tent
    • Floor Area: 28.7 sq. ft.
    • Peak Height: 60 in.
    • Price: $3,595
    • Sleeps: 1 – 3 people

    The Roofnest Falcon 2 is one of the slimmest rooftop tents on our list today! The floor area is similar to the Roofnest Sparrow EYE and with this tent’s aerodynamic shape, you won’t have an issue with gas mileage or noise from the wind!

    This tent is made with aluminum (whereas other rooftop tents are made with ABS plastic or fiberglass) and is able to accommodate a standard roof rack on top.

    With its breathable top shell, accessory channels on the side, and upgrade materials in the tent body, it’s hard to not want the Rooftop Falcon 2!

    CVT Mt Hood

    CVT Mt Hood
    • Category: Hard shell tent
    • Floor Area: 30.2 sq. ft.
    • Peak Height: 55 in.
    • Price: $3,995
    • Sleeps: 1 – 3 people

    The CTV Mt. Hood features an aluminum clamshell design that’s beyond easy to set up (and is able to offer better wind and rain protection than most softshell and pop-up tents).

    With a plus 3 inch mattress, a quilted ceiling liner for extra insulation, and storage pockets everywhere, it’s hard to argue that the Mt. Hood is one of the best rooftop tents in the game.

    Like the CTV Denali we talked about above, the CTV Mt. Hood is built with high-quality materials and holds up very well. This is an awesome all-season rooftop tent that we’d easily consider in our “best of” list, but we think it fits nicely right here.

    Yakima SkyRise HD 2

    Yakima SkyRise HD
    • Category: Soft shell tent
    • Floor Area: 28 sq. ft.
    • Peak Height: 42 in.
    • Price: $1,899
    • Sleeps: 1 – 3 people

    Yakima is known for their high-quality roof racks (and car accessories), but we think that the Yakima SkyRise HD could change that. This rooftop tent is incredibly well-executed and puts your average ground tent to shame.

    You’re able to sleep up to three people comfortably and the SkyRise has more headroom than other softshell tents (as well as a wide ceiling and steep sidewalls). You also get PU-coated fabrics, D-rings and guylines to attach any gear you have, and a clear vinyl skylight on the fly.

    While this rooftop tent may be too large for your car roof, it’s a great one for trucks and larger SUVs!

    Rooftop Tent Comparison Table

    Rooftop TentPriceCategoryPeak HeightFloor SpaceWeightCapacityAnnex
    iKamper Skycamp 3.0$4,199Hardshell48 in.44.3 sq. ft.165 lbs2 – 4 peopleSold separately
    Smittybilt Overlander$1,137Softshell51 in.36.9 sq. ft.117 lbs2 – 3 peopleSold separately
    Roofnest Condor XL$3,695Hardshell50 in.47.8 sq. ft.160 lbs1 – 4 peopleSold separately
    Thule Tepui Explorer Kukenam 3$2,000Softshell52 in.37.3 sq. ft.131 lbs2 – 3 peopleSold separately
    CVT Denali$3,095Softshell43 in.59 sq. ft.225 lbs.1 – 4 peopleIncluded
    iKamper Skycamp Mini$3,699Hardshell48 in.29.9 sq. ft.125 lbs1 – 2 peopleSold separately
    Thule Tepui Foothill Tent$2,000Softshell38 in.27.4 sq. ft.108 lbs.1 – 2 peopleNot compatible
    Roofnest Sparrow EYE$3,195Hardshell44 in.27 sq. ft.130 lbs1 – 2 peopleSold separately
    Rooftop Falcon 2$3,595Hardshell60 in.29.3 sq. ft.140 lbs.1 – 3 peopleNot compatible
    CVT Mt Hood$4,299Hardshell36 in.27 sq. ft.132 lbs.1 – 3 peopleNot compatible
    Yakima SkyRise HD 2$1,899Softshell42 in.28 sq. ft.101 lbs.1 – 3 peopleSold separately

    Rooftop Tent Buying Advice

    If you want to learn a little more about how to find the best rooftop tent for you, read this section. Below, I talk about all the considerations when buying a tent to help you make a decision.

    Hardshell vs. Softshell Rooftop Tents

    I wrote an in-depth guide comparing softshell and hardshell rooftop tents. Here’s what I found:

    The two main benefits of softshell rooftop tents are that they typically have a bigger footprint when opened, and they’re much cheaper than hardshells.

    However, this savings comes at a cost.

    Softshell tents are more difficult to set up since they don’t have the hydraulics built-in to most hardshell tents, and they’re typically less durable and less weather-resistant than hard shells.

    Hardshell rooftop tents are much more expensive than softshells, but they offer a more luxurious camping experience.

    Hardshell tents are typically easier to set up and take down, fare better and are warmer in harsh weather, and last longer thanks to their protective shell.

    It’s up to you—would you rather save a lot of money or have a longer-lasting and more luxurious camping experience?

    Rooftop Tent Capacities

    Much like your typical ground tents, rooftop tents come in a variety of capacities. These range from minimalist models for one or two people to massive models that are able to accommodate up to six people.

    We highly recommend you take a look at the manufacturer’s recommended capacity but keep in mind that these specs are typically generous with their dimensions.

    For example, the Roofnest Sparrow is about 5 inches more narrow than a double mattress, and the iKamper Skycamp 3.0 is a tad bit bigger than your standard-size king mattress.

    Interior Space: Mattress Dimensions and Peak Height

    As stated in the previous section, sometimes the tent’s listed capacity and the interior dimensions don’t line up perfectly.

    Out of all the rooftop tents here, you’ll see dimensions range from 47 by 84 inches (a tad narrower than a double mattress) all the way to 87 by 96 inches (a bit bigger than a king-size mattress). You’ll also see that the peak height varies from 36 to 60 inches.

    Keep in mind that your rooftop tent’s floor dimensions are not always the same size as the mattress, too. And peak height only specifies the highest point of the tent.

    Some tents, such as the Roofnest Sparrow, have a tall peak height throughout the tent because the entire roof opens up, while other tents slope downward from the highest point.

    Weather Resistance and Insulation

    Typically, rooftop tents are built to withstand all of the elements thanks to their thick, water-resistant body fabrics and fully waterproof rain flys. While you may not purposely go on an outdoor adventure when it looks like rain or snow, we can’t ignore the fact that sometimes mother nature is unpredictable.

    If you plan on using your rooftop tent in the rain, we recommend you get full-coverage awnings on all of your doors and windows so you can keep air flowing throughout your tent without allowing moisture in.

    Rain is one thing, but snow and cold are another. Some tents allow you to add extra insulation (such as iKamper’s Inner Insulation Tent and the Thule Tepui Insulator).

    However, if you’re in warmer climates and don’t plan on being in states that get harsh winter weather, you don’t have to worry about this.

    Set Up and Take Down

    Me and my friend setting up our rooftop tents in the desert, side-by-side

    Setting up most hardshell rooftop tents is far easier than setting up a ground tent, thanks to their hydraulic opening system. However, most softshell tents set up exactly the same way ground tents do—with poles that hold everything up.

    With most hard shells, all you have to do is unclip the shell, engage the hinges, and watch as the tent body rises.

    Soft shell rooftop tents, however, require a bit of time to set up. You have to remove the soft cover and insert poles to prop up the fly and awnings.

    With both types, you’ll need to be cautious that the tent fabric is safely inside the shell (or cover) to avoid damaging the fabric.

    If you’re a recreational camper who doesn’t plan on using their rooftop tent much, you may not be bothered with the soft shell set up and take down. However, if you’re an overlanding fanatic like we are and want things to go faster, we recommend you get a hardshell tent.

    Closed Size and Aerodynamics  

    While packed sizes on rooftop tents can vary, it’s a good rule of thumb to keep the footprint of your tent within your roof’s dimensions. We highly recommend that if you have a small car or truck, you keep this in mind before making a purchase.

    Packed height can heavily impact your gas mileage and make loud noises while driving, too. If you’re concerned about this, and want a low-profile design, we recommend the iKamper Skycamp Mini or Roofnest Sparrow.

    Annexes and Awnings

    Annexes and awnings are great for those who plan on overlanding for extended periods of time. You get more living space and privacy.

    Annexes attach to your tent’s extended platform and create an enclosed area under your sleeping space. This gives your rooftop tent a nice “upstairs/downstairs” feel. I have the iKamper annex on my tent:

    iKamper's annex attachment

    Inside the annex, you can set up a portable shower or toilet, a camp kitchen box, or just see it as additional living space.

    In my opinion, an annex is only worth it if you plan on staying in one spot for a while and will utilize the extra shade. They’re a pain to set up and take up a lot of precious storage space in your vehicle.

    Vehicle and Rack Compatibility

    Is your rooftop tent compatible

    Before you buy a rooftop tent, make sure your vehicle is rated to handle the load. Chances are, if your vehicle can hold a roof rack, it can hold the weight of a tent—but always check the cab weight rating in your owners manual to be sure.

    If your vehicle didn’t come with a roof rack, you’ll need to install one. Make sure the rack you choose is rated for the weight of your tent and has the right attachment points to install your tent.

    Here are some other guides on the site to help you choose:

    Installing a Rooftop Tent

    So long as you’ve made sure your rooftop tent is indeed compatible with both your vehicle and roof rack, you’re ready to install it!

    Some of the most user-friendly rooftop tents are made by roof rack companies like Yakima and Thule. You can purchase a roof rack and rooftop tent from the same company, ensuring a good fit–but that isn’t necessary.

    Other companies require a bit more savvy to install and you may need to watch a few YouTube videos to get it done, but where there’s a will, there’s a way.

    Here’s a quick video of someone installing an iKamper you can watch to see what you’ll be getting into:

    We recommend at least two people are present when installing a rooftop tent—they aren’t that heavy, but they can be cumbersome and an extra pair of hands never hurt.

    Related Reading: What is a Rooftop Tent & How Do They Work?

    Is a Rooftop Tent Right for You?

    iKamper and Roofnest set up in the desert

    So, are rooftop tents worth it?

    Rooftop tents make camping more fun and luxurious. You can use them to turn you vehicle into a makeshift camper with a comfortable mattress that’s off the ground. If you have an overlanding vehicle, they allow for some awesome adventures.

    However, rooftop tents are expensive and you need the right vehicle and equipment (such as a roof or bed rack) to even use them. They’re not a budget-friendly option.

    They also need to be taken down any time you leave camp, unlike a ground tent. This can be annoying.

    So long as you understand these downfalls (and they don’t sway your decision to purchase one for yourself) a rooftop tent is definitely right for you!

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Have a question we didn’t get to below? Leave a question in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer it!

    Is it worth getting a roof top tent?

    If you can afford one and you go camping a lot, a rooftop tent is definitely worth getting.

    However, if you’re just buying it for the occasional trip or don’t already have the equipment needed to install it on your car (such as the correct roof rack), you may want to think twice before buying one.

    Can you sleep in a roof top tent anywhere?

    No, you cannot sleep in a rooftop tent anywhere. Rooftop tent camping is limited to anywhere you’re allowed to camp in a regular tent.

    However, some campgrounds require you to walk to your campsite and do not allow tents to be set up in the parking lot, so keep that in mind.

    Can I put a roof top tent on my car?

    Many vehicles can accommodate roof top tents as long as you have a roof rack that’s rated to hold that much weight.

    However, some vehicles cabs aren’t rated to hold that much weight, even if the rack is rated to. Always check your owners manual before installing a rooftop tent.

    See “Are rooftop tents bad for your car?” for more info.

    Do roof tents damage your car?

    They can if your car isn’t rated to handle the weight of a rooftop tent and it’s occupants.

    Rooftop tents tend to weigh around 150 lbs. Most pre-installed roof racks aren’t able to hold 150 lbs (plus you and whoever is sleeping in the tent overnight). Due to this, you do run the risk of damaging the pre-installed roof rack and, in turn, your car.

    This is why we recommend finding a roof rack that not only fits your car, but is also able to hold the weight distributed by the rooftop tent and yourself. Assuming your car’s cab is rated to hold enough weight, that is.

    How fast can you drive with a roof tent?

    You can still go “top speed” with your vehicle even with a rooftop tent installed. However, there are a few factors to consider while traveling with a RTT.

    First, fuel consumption. Because of the aerodynamic capability that having a RTT entails, you’ll notice that your MPG may drop.

    Second, it depends on where your RTT is installed. If it’s on your roof, it will have a lot more wind resistance than if it’s a low-profile tent installed over your truck bed.

    Either way, it’s never a bad idea to slow down.

    Looking for more overlanding articles? Check these out:

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