Nothing's wrong with pitching a tent on the ground. But rooftop tents, which turn the top of your car or truck into a deluxe camp, offer some enviable upgrades. First, it’s like having a portable bedroom—wherever you can park, you can sleep. Rocky terrain won’t trouble you, which makes rooftop options the preferred overlanding tents for folks driving off-road. Plus, the views are better up there. And, let’s admit it, they’re cool. Here’s how to decide if a rooftop tent is right for you.
Benefits of a Rooftop Tent
- Quick set up: Once installed, rooftop tents are a snap.
- Reliability: It performs the same wherever you are.
- Comfort: Most rooftop tents have thick foam mattresses.
- Great view: Compared to ground-level tents, you’re in a penthouse.
- Elevated protection: No worries about mud or ground-dwelling bugs.
- Level sleeping platform: Rocks and roots won’t poke you, but you might need to level your car.
- Durability: Heavy fabrics and strong materials will last.
- Weatherproofing: Most rooftop tents are made to withstand big storms.
Drawbacks of a Rooftop Tent
- Installation: This can be a hassle, and you have to be certain that your car and rack can handle the load.
- Aerodynamic drag: A rooftop tent will put a dent in your fuel (or electric) mileage, both because of the aerodynamic drag and the extra weight (at least 100 pounds).
- Limits day trips: If you’re basecamping with a rooftop tent, you have to collapse and stow it anytime you want to drive anywhere.
- Midnight exits: Remember you have to use a ladder to get in and out of the tent.
- Cost: Expect to spend up to 10 times more than you would for a conventional tent.