BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details

Best Rooftop Tents

Updated March 2023
Bottom line
Best of the Best
Thule x Tepui Ruggedized Autana 3 + Annex
Thule x Tepui
Ruggedized Autana 3 + Annex
Check Price
Most Comprehensive
Bottom Line

This rooftop tent features 6 mesh windows, a removable annex, and a telescope ladder.


Heavy-duty fabric is made from ripstop material to stand up in even the most inclement weather. Comes equipped with an anti-condensation foam mattress and internal storage pockets for added comfort and convenience. At 56 square feet, this design fits 3 people.


A bit bulky to travel with.

Best Bang for the Buck
Miliard Truck Tent
Truck Tent
Check Price
Simple Yet Solid
Bottom Line

An easy and inexpensive way to turn your full-size truck bed into a comfortable, off-the-ground campsite.


Easy to set up. Comes with a case for convenient storage. Strong material that's well-built. Affordable and ships fast. Includes built-in floor to keep dirt from truck bed off your gear. Made to fit 6.5-foot truck bed.


No back window to allow you to access cab while in the tent.

Smittybilt 2783 Overland Tent
Folded Tent
Check Price
Bottom Line

This rooftop tent comes with a lot of extra features that make it worth the money.


Fits 2 people comfortably. Includes a 12V cable. Good ability to ventilate if needed. Includes LED light strip powered by a solar panel. Comes with mattress.


Mattress isn't as substantial as some on other tents.

Napier Outdoors Backroadz Truck Tent
Backroadz Truck Tent
Check Price
Most Versatile
Bottom Line

This 2-person flatbed truck tent easily attaches to any regular-size truck bed with minimal installation.


This product has great ventilation with mesh windows on each side that allow great breathability. Designed with rainfly material technology that prevents rain from entering, keeping you dry in most seasons.


Not suggested for winter use.

Thule x Tepui Explorer Kukenam 3
Thule x Tepui
Explorer Kukenam 3
Check Price
Durable & Rugged
Bottom Line

Made from an aluminum frame, this rooftop tent is extremely lightweight, yet also durable.


Featuring fiberglass insulation, this tent keeps the warmth in and the bad weather out. Designed with a telescope ladder and a mesh canopy for ventilation. Perfect for setting up and gazing at the stars. Fits 3 people comfortably.


Installation can be tricky.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. About BestReviews  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. About BestReviews  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.About BestReviews 

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

Category cover

Buying guide for best rooftop tents

Rooftop tents are an increasingly popular choice for campers. Putting them up each night is quick and easy. You’re off the ground and out of the way of rain and mud, bugs, critters, and snakes.

These tents come in a wide range of sizes, styles, and features, which can make choosing the right model a bit complex.

We’ve put together the following shopping guide to help you make your decision. It includes information on how you can get the convenience and comfort you need in a rooftop tent while staying within your budget.

Content Image
Your vehicle roof isn’t the only way to keep a tent off the ground. There are many models made specifically to fit in truck beds.

Types of rooftop tents

Rooftop tents fall into two categories: soft-sided tents and hard-shell tents.

Soft-sided rooftop tents are much like ordinary tents.

  • Made of polyester or cotton/polyester mix fabric

  • Include hard PVC or aluminum floor

  • Erected with poles and ties (takes longer to put up and break down)

  • Occupy less roof space (especially height) when folded

  • Size for size, less expensive than hard-shell models

  • Some versions fit in pickup truck beds

Hard-shell rooftop tents have a rigid structural shell.

  • Made of fiberglass, fiberglass/polyester mix, or aluminum

  • Resemble cargo carriers when closed (some can double as one)

  • Fabric sides when open (most)

  • Open along one edge (like suitcase) or by raising top

  • Some come self-contained in a trailer (“rooftop” because they’re raised in the air)

Content Image
Did you know?
If you need more space, you can extend many rooftop tents with an annex or awning.

Rooftop tent features to consider


You might expect occupancy to be the prime consideration – and it's certainly important – but before you put people in your roof-top tent, you need to know your vehicle can handle the load!

All vehicles have a maximum dynamic loading weight (the weight you can carry on the move), generally around 150 to 170 pounds (check your owner's manual). Exceeding this can seriously affect the handling and braking of your vehicle. You can't just put a bit more air in your tires to compensate! Overloading your vehicle is illegal in 15 U.S. states, and the last thing you want on your trip is a ticket.


Although many soft-sided models overhang the vehicle's roof when erected, you still have some space restrictions. The most common sizes are rated for two adults or two adults and a child. That doesn't mean there aren't bigger models around – the largest we've seen accommodates six – but they’re less common. Because hard-shell rooftop tents don't extend sideways, their size is more limited. Most are built for two people, and the largest models sleep four.

Size and fitting

Almost all rooftop tents bolt to a roof rack or roof bars. If you haven't got either, that's the first item on your shopping list. Many tents claim to have “universal” fittings, but it's still a good idea to check compatibility with your system.

You also have to think carefully about the size. A six-person tent might be compatible with your brand of roof rack, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea to fit it to a compact car. A family sedan or SUV is a better platform.


The strength of tent material is measured in denier (d). Because it's a measure of fibers, it isn’t strictly speaking a “thickness,” though for our purposes we can look at it like that. The higher the denier number, the thicker the fabric. Manufacturers usually use the term "three seasons" to suggest their model is good for spring, summer, and autumn use. Tough winter tents are available but are a more specialized item.

  • 200d to 300d: lightweight summer tent

  • 600d to 1,000d: probably the thickest available; better weather protection

  • 1,000d to 2,000d: range for travel covers (with polyurethane coating for waterproofing)

Other structural elements

Look for these features as you shop for a rooftop tent.

  • Floor: This is often made of PVC, but some are aluminum. The latter is more durable, but it can be dented or bent. Foam layers can provide added comfort.

  • Poles: Aluminum tent poles are lighter than steel poles.

  • Seams: Look for seams that are double-stitched and taped for added strength.

  • Mesh screens: Screens on windows and doors keep bugs out and allow for airflow (it can get surprisingly hot in these tents). Noseeum mesh on some rooftop tents gives occupants more privacy. Others have additional flaps, though these do restrict airflow.

  • Zippers: These should be sturdy and waterproof.

  • Room divider/privacy wall: You’ll find this on some larger models.

Other equipment

The following may or may not be supplied with a particular tent, so it's worth checking the details when you compare prices.

  • Mattresses: One is often provided as part of the package. In hard-shell rooftop tents, the mattress is frequently already fitted, though you might get a choice of thickness. For soft-sided tents, an air mattress is a space-saving option if a mattress isn’t included. You can run a small compressor from your vehicle's lighter socket.

  • Folding ladder: This is something of a necessity. Telescopic models are often more robust and require less space. Steel models are cheaper; aluminum is lighter.

  • Annex: You’ll have more room for changing if you have an annex that drops down to the ground.

  • Lock: We like to see a lock on hard-shell rooftop tents.
Content Image
Expert Tip
The disadvantage of a rooftop tent comes when you need a comfort break in the middle of the night.

Rooftop tent prices

Due to their more complex construction, rooftop tents are more expensive than standard tents. You can expect to pay from $100 to $5,000 and up, depending on the type and features.

Inexpensive: Truck tents are the cheapest and most basic option, starting at around $100. You’ll want to add an air mattress (around $30) or a sleeping pad ($60 to $100).

Mid-Range: There’s a big jump in price to soft-sided rooftop tents, and it’s unlikely you’ll find a complete setup for under $800. The cost increases to around $1,800, but at that price it’s heavy-duty equipment for the serious camping enthusiast or wilderness explorer.

Expensive: Hard-shell rooftop tents go up quickly, often have more rigidity, and are frequently more luxurious. Of course, technology and ingenuity come with a higher price tag. Entry-level models cost about $1,500, but $2,000 to $3,000 is more common. The best hard-shell tents can exceed $5,000. It's a considerable investment, but the best are more like a collapsible camper than a tent.


  • Include a portable power pack. It can give you light and a fan for cooling. Tents do a good job of retaining heat and can get very hot in warm climates.

  • Stop in a suitable location. Hard ground or concrete might seem like a convenient place to park, but it will make securing an an annex or awning almost impossible.

  • Don’t forget you’ve added height to your vehicle. This isn’t generally a problem, but if you’ve already got a tall SUV or truck, any place with restricted headroom (like a parking garage) could cause problems.

  • Bear in mind that a hard-shell rooftop tent is a semi-permanent installation. And fitting one takes time. Some can also be used as cargo carriers, so you don’t have to take the whole shell off the vehicle when you’re not camping.
Content Image
A skylight panel is a nice addition. A clear section in the roof enables you to enjoy the night sky.


Q. Is a rooftop tent difficult to fit to my vehicle?

A. Not technically. It’s usually a case of fitting brackets and tightening nuts and bolts. However, many weigh a hundred pounds or more, so manufacturers suggest that it’s a two-person job. Having a friend help is also a good idea because they can double-check that everything is secure.

Q. Some big-name rooftop tents seem very cheap. Am I missing something?

A. This is an important point. You need to check the description very carefully. Advertising photos sometimes show a vehicle with complete tent and ladder, but if the product is described as a “canopy,” for example, things like a base or ladder will be extra. The manufacturer isn’t being deceptive, but descriptions can sometimes be confusing. Make sure you know what you’re getting before you order.

Q. How long does it really take to put up a rooftop tent?

A. Not surprisingly, it varies depending on construction and size. With a bit of practice, most soft tents can be set up in about five minutes. Hard-shell models tend to go up more quickly. The fastest we looked at has pneumatic rams and is ready for use in eight seconds!

Stowing away the tent takes a bit longer, so allow yourself a quarter of an hour. Zip everything up first, so you don’t have to deal with loose flaps.