Rooftop tents have been gaining a tremendous following in recent years, and it is apparent as to why. Their durability, comfort, convenient set up, and camping capabilities have all been contributors to this fast-growing community. Rooftop tent owners can range from the most hard-core overlanders to weekend campers and everything in between. This will be your comprehensive guide to which rooftop tent is right for you, and help with your overall decision!
Types of Rooftop Tents
A soft style rooftop tent looks like a normal ground tent. However, these tents are usually built with heavy duty materials. The two may look similar in shape and size, but there a huge difference.
A soft style tent will have an interior mattress, heavy duty canvas, and heavy duty poles to defend against high winds and heavy rain.
This style of is usually the most economic way to become a rooftop tent owner. A soft style rooftop tent can be purchased for about $1000. This low cost tent offers a very low barrier to entry if you are looking to try this style of camping without jumping right in.
The soft style tents have a cover which is removed. After which, the tent is folded out 180 degrees. As the tent is being folded out, The poles are propped up, and just like that, your camp is set up.
Pros and Cons
Pros: This style of rooftop tent is very budget friendly and has a wide range of sizes. It has versatility in extreme campsite landscapes and sets up in minutes. Smaller footprint on your vehicle and your storage area.
Cons: The canvas top does not offer the same amount of protection and comforts as other styles of rooftop tents. Set up and take down time are typically longer, and gas mileage is affected due to its block-like design.
A hard shell rooftop tent consists of two shells with canvas walls. Usually, these tents have 4 gas struts that assist with raising and lowering the top just like a hatch back on an SUV.
The shells of these tents are mainly made with 1 of 3 materials. ABS plastic, fiberglass, and Aluminum. Each material has its pros and cons, but that’s a discussion for another day. Just like the soft style, each tent will have a mattress inside and canvas which is riveted into each shell, and a headliner/storage pouches throughout. The WoodsBuilt Sequoia (Hyperlink) also includes a solar panel, lighting, charge controller, and battery.
This style of rooftop tent is generally more costly than the soft style tent. These tents are usually the style that people upgrade to when they want something with a solid roof and better protection against the elements. These tents are in the $2500-$3000 range.
Hard shell rooftop tents open by loosening the securing straps, and pushing the top up, allowing the gas struts to do the brunt of the work. This process can take between 30 seconds and 1 minute making this style the fastest set up time.
Pros and Cons
Pros: This style of rooftop tent is the most aerodynamic which conserves the most amount of gas. Set up time is fast, it has the best protection against the elements, added amenities, and items can be mounted to the top.
Cons: The price is higher than a soft style tent. Can take up more room on the top of the vehicle and in storage.
What is Your Pick?
There are many different options within rooftop tent styles and it can get overwhelming to say the least. Hopefully this article made it a bit easier and to pick the best medium for your next adventures in the years to come! Happy Camping!