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The Best Rooftop Tents of 2023

For overland adventures, life on the road, or just an elevated and more comfortable campout experience, here are our picks for the best rooftop tents.

best rooftop tents
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If you’ve never slept in a rooftop tent, it’s hard to imagine how different it is from sleeping in a traditional tent. In general, we’ve found that rooftop tent (RTT) sleeping feels safer and more secure than sleeping in a tent on the ground.

Plus, RTTs offer a bird’s-eye view of your surroundings, airflow that’s unheard of in a ground tent, protection (and peace of mind), and generally superior comfort for sleeping.

The drawbacks: Unlike a ground tent or a tow-behind camper, when your tent is on your roof, you have to break camp before you drive away. And, for those who make nighttime visits to the loo, there’s a ladder to negotiate between you and relief (unless you’re willing to get creative).

Also, if your dog gets to share the human bed, practice your one-handed ladder climb before you attempt to hoist them up. Multiply that effort if you have more than one dog.

Not every rooftop tent fits every vehicle or every budget. But some tents work for almost every car or truck. Rooftop tents are all pricier than even the plushest backpacking tent, but if you’re able to invest, you won’t regret it.

Scroll through to see all of our recommended models.

The Best Rooftop Tents of 2023


Best Rooftop Tent for Small Cars

iKamper Skycamp 3.0 Mini

Specs

  • Dimensions open 48" x 101" x 102"
  • Dimensions closed 13" x 57.5" x 55"
  • Sleeping footprint 51" x 83"
  • Peak internal height 46.5"
  • Weight 125 lbs.
  • Static weight capacity N/A
  • Minimum bar spread N/A
The Best Rooftop Tents of 2023

Pros

  • Fits all vehicles
  • Ultrafast setup

Cons

  • Mattress may be too firm for some campers
Best Budget Rooftop Tent

Smittybilt Gen 2 Overlander Tent XL

Specs

  • Dimensions open 122" x 76" x 51"
  • Dimensions closed 47" x 76" x 11.5"
  • Sleeping footprint 92.5" x 74.8"
  • Peak internal height N/A
  • Weight 148 lbs.
  • Static weight capacity 770 lbs.
  • Minimum bar spread N/A
The Best Rooftop Tents of 2023(Photo/4 Wheel Parts)

Pros

  • Great price

Cons

  • Some reported quality control issues
  • For some racks, the provided hardware was too short
Best Headroom

Roofnest Sparrow EYE

Specs

  • Dimensions open N/A
  • Dimensions closed 11.5" x 85" x 50"
  • Sleeping footprint 83" x 49"
  • Peak internal height 44"
  • Weight 130 lbs.
  • Static weight capacity 650 lbs.
  • Minimum bar spread 28"
The Best Rooftop Tents of 2023(Photo/Roofnest)

Pros

  • Tent-top storage bag included
  • Solar panel mount on the roof
  • Super easy to open

Cons

  • 270-degree views, not 360 degrees
  • The low ceiling at the foot cuts down on internal storage space
Best 3-Person Rooftop Tent

Yakima SkyRise HD

Specs

  • Dimensions open N/A
  • Dimensions closed 58" x 48" x 17"
  • Sleeping footprint N/A
  • Peak internal height N/A
  • Weight 115 lbs.
  • Static weight capacity N/A
The Best Rooftop Tents of 2023

Pros

  • Super easy to mount
  • Locks to your roof

Cons

  • Lighter fabrics flap more on windy nights
Most Compatible With Additonal Roof Mounts

Thule Tepui Foothill

Specs

  • Dimensions open 84" x 47" x 40"
  • Dimensions closed 83" x 24" x 9.5"
  • Sleeping footprint 84" x 47"
  • Peak internal height 38"
  • Weight 108 lbs.
  • Static weight capacity 400 lbs.
  • Minimum bar spread 24"
The Best Rooftop Tents of 2023

Pros

  • Spacious
  • Room for gear on the roof

Cons

  • No compatible vestibule
  • Cumbersome for a two-person tent
  • Ladder can’t be stored inside the packed tent

Rooftop Tent Comparison Table

Rooftop TentOpen DimensionsClosed DimensionsSleeping Footprint (L x W)Peak Internal HeightWeight
iKamper Skycamp 3.0 Mini48″ x 101″ x 102″13″ x 57.5″ x 55″74 in. x 40 in. x 23.5 in.46.5″125 lbs.
Roofnest Sparrow EYEN/A11.5″ x 85″ x 50″83″ x 49″44″130 lbs.
Yakima SkyRise HDN/A58″ x 48″ x 17″N/AN/A115 lbs.
Thule Tepui Foothill84″ x 47″ x 40″83″ x 24″ x 9.5″84″ x 47″38″400 lbs.
Smittybilt Gen 2 Overlander Tent XL122″ x 76″ x 51″47″ x 76″ x 11.5″92.5″ x 74.8″
N/A
770 lbs.

Why You Should Trust Us

Thule’s Tepui Foothill Rooftop Tent - review
(Photo/Berne Broudy)

The GearJunkie team is composed of overlanders, auto experts, and seasoned car camping fanatics. Over many years, we have tried and rigorously tested just about every kind of camping gear on the market — including rooftop tents.

Our lead tester for rooftop tents is Berne Broudy. Based in Vermont, Berne has amassed over 20+ years of hiking, cycling, climbing, ski touring, and overlapping. Berne’s broad portfolio of outdoor activities has added up to many nights of camping outdoors — many of which were spent in a rooftop tent.

To compile this list of the best rooftop tents of 2023, Berne and the rest of our team combed the market and compared the pros, cons, and specs of dozens of models. We’ve mounted tents on rigs of all shapes and sizes, and we’ve spent many nights testing the quality and comfort of RTT mattresses.

Our assessment process is detail-oriented. No subtle feature or flaw goes unnoticed. On this list, we’ve included a wide variety of excellent rooftop tents to meet all sorts of needs. From compact SUV drivers to large-family road trippers, one of the models on this list is destined to be a good fit.

Porsche 911 Rooftop Tent
(Photo/Porsche)

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Rooftop Tent

What Fits Your Vehicle?

Not every rooftop tent will fit every vehicle. Know the load capacity of your roof rack, as well as the maximum spread of your roof rack bars to determine if a specific RTT will fit. The spread of the bars is the distance between the front roof rack crossbar and the back one.

Do not mount a rooftop tent on a factory rack, or you’ll break the rack and possibly cause damage to your roof.

What Else Do You Need to Carry?

Some RTTs require you to carry the access ladder inside your car. Some leave extra space on your roof for bikes or boats, and some hardshells have storage on top for gear or space to mount a flexible storage panel. Choose an RTT that won’t cramp your style.

Hardshell vs. Softshell

Hardshell RTTs are sleeker looking when compressed and more aerodynamic. Some hardshells have storage on top of the shell. But most hardshells won’t give you 360-degree views.

The shell will be either the roof of your deployed tent or one wall. Most softshell tents have views in every direction.

Tepui Foothill Rooftop Tent - inside
The spacious interior of the Tepui Foothill; (photo/Berne Broudy)

Space vs. Weight

RTTs typically sleep two to five people and fit a double to a king-size mattress. The bigger the tent and mattress, the heavier and more cumbersome the RTT. Find the right balance between size and weight for your vehicle and your family.

Manual vs. Automatic

Some hardshell RTTs lift with a gentle nudge, whereas most softshells have to be flipped open manually and the awning bars inserted. RTTs with gas struts that lift the tent open are becoming more common. They often cost more, and there are more parts to potentially fail.

All rooftop tents require a heavy lift to get the tent onto a vehicle’s roof rack. So, plan to get a hand from a friend. While you can take it on and off, it’s always an awkward operation.

badass rooftop tents convoy

FAQ

What is the benefit of a rooftop tent?

Rooftop tents get you off the ground, providing a great view. In most situations, they also provide more airflow than you’ll get when you’re sleeping in a tent on the ground.

When your tent is on the roof of your vehicle, you’re also out of the dirt and away from creepy crawly things on the ground. That makes a rooftop tent feel more secure.

Most rooftop tents are super quick and easy to set up. And when your tent is on your roof, it’s always with you, which can inspire some great impromptu adventures.

Rooftop tents often accommodate a mattress and bedding, not just sleeping pads and inflatable pads. And many let you leave the bedding inside the tent when you pack up.

Can you put a rooftop tent on a car?

Many rooftop tents are designed to be mounted on cars. But not every tent will fit every car. The size and weight of the tent need to match the size and carrying capacity of your car’s roof rack.

For best results, use aftermarket bars, not standard factory-installed racks. Also, check the automaker’s and the roof rack manufacturer’s websites for compatibility.

Why are rooftop tents so expensive?

Rooftop tents are more expensive than most ground-staked tents because of the materials, engineering and design, and accessories. Rooftop tents flip over to create a platform with a tent on top of your car. That’s a whole lot more complicated than creating a structure with a fabric floor that gets placed on the ground.

Then, throw in a mattress, ladder, and a hardshell exterior, and you can see why rooftop tents are costly.

What is the cheapest rooftop tent?

You can buy a rooftop tent for under $1,000. It’s also possible to get a used one for well below the original price.

But remember that not every tent will fit every vehicle. And, for a few extra bucks, you may be able to get more space, more stability, and a tent that’s quicker and easier to set up, among other benefits.

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