LAST UPDATED: April 3, 2020
Best Hard Shell Roof Top Tents: Fun and Comfortable Outdoor Lodging
Hard-shell rooftop tents make your outdoor adventures comfortable and a little bit more fun
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON April 3, 2020
It may be a good time to switch from a traditional camping tent to a heavy-duty rooftop tent (RTT), which is becoming more popular by the day. Rooftop tents are easy to set up and keep your family off the cold ground. Hard-shell rooftop tents are similar to portable tree forts and will ignite your kids’ enthusiasm on your next camping trip.
The best hard-shell rooftop tents also double up as cargo boxes when you’re going on a vacation. In the buying guide below, we list three of the best hard-shell roof top tents to make your decision-making process much simpler.
The roof top tent is durable, waterproof, comfortable, robust, and provides adequate protection from the elements. The tent is easy to set up.
The tent is reliable and durable with a ripstop poly-cotton canopy and insulated aluminium base. It comes with a high-density mattress for comfort. The tent is waterproof to provide adequate rain protection.
The RTT is a bit heavy to move around for some people. An additional memory foam pad may be necessary for comfort.
A quality tent crafted with precision and care that’s comfortable and serves you for a long time. It is versatile and comfortable. It is adequate for two adults.
It is easy to install and use. It’s ideal for a variety of outdoor activities such as camping and hiking. The material is waterproof, windproof, and durable. It comes with all the needed accessories.
There are some complaints from users who say that the mattress is a bit thin. It is also not the lightest to carry.
It features a universal mounting system and has dual functionality where it can serve as a cargo box as well as a rooftop tent. The tent has 23 cubic feet of storage space, a mattress, and a ladder.
It’s easy to set up, and you have easy access to the storage box. It features reinforced quilted insulation with low noise. It has sufficient space for two adults.
The price is a bit on the high side, and the tent is quite heavy for some people.
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Benefits of Hard Shell Roof Top Tents
- Stay off the ground. With a high-quality hard shell roof top tent, you are off the ground and away from outdoor problems such as critters and flooding. This means less mud and dirt, which can affect your comfort.
- Improve air circulation and the view. Other benefits of a rooftop tent are you get a better view of the sunset and improved ventilation. Everyone enjoys more airflow, and you can feel very alive as you connect with nature.
- Easy to set up. Apart from the fact that rooftop tents are more durable than most traditional outdoor tents, they are easier to set up. Most of them include a built-in mattress that you don't have to mess around trying to inflate.
- More comfort. Compared to traditional tents, heavy-duty rooftop tents are much more insulated and, therefore, have a more comfortable sleeping area. They are also much quieter, especially if you're camping in windy areas, thanks to the tiny amount of fabric involved.
Types of Roof Top Tents
Unlike a soft-shell tent, a hard shell one is a bit heavier and more durable. The robust shell adds more protection against the elements, such as strong winds and thunderstorms and when you’re transporting the tent. For those unfamiliar with hard-shell rooftop tents, they may seem a bit challenging to handle, but they really aren’t. They typically feature a mechanism that makes them easy to handle and use.
Soft-shell tents are similar to standard tents. The roof and walls are canvas, ripstop fabric, or other soft materials with a rainfly. They are lightweight and easy to handle. In terms of protection, soft-shell tents cannot handle inclement weather as much as hard-shell tents can. They are easy to fold, but hard-shell tents can be more manageable in terms of putting them up and taking them down.
Based out of Santa Cruz, and founded in 2007, TEPUI is an outdoor adventure firm that makes high-quality rooftop tents for a variety of outdoor adventures. The company is part of the Sweden-based Thule Group and has more than 50 outlets and 2000 employees. The Tepui HyBox 2-Person Rooftop Tent & Cargo Box is one of its top products.
TMB Motorsports specializes in motoring equipment. It was founded in 2014 and has its headquarters in San Dimas, California. Its aim is to provide customers with the best products and services on the market. The founders of the company have a passion for cars and ensure a sense of excellence in everything that they do. One of its popular products is the TMB Green Pop Up Roof Overland Tent.
Hard Shell Roof Top Tent Pricing
- $1,500 to $2,500: The hard-shell roof tents in this price range have all the essential features such as a rainfly, roof rails, and crossbars to make the camping adventure convenient and comfortable. The tents are waterproof and windproof to provide adequate protection from the elements.
- Over $2,500: The units in this price range have a versatile design and can sometimes fit more than two adults. Most of them have a high-density foam mattress, and the reinforced insulation, as well as the ABS base, is better.
The capacity of the rooftop tent depends on various factors, such as the number of people that will be camping and your budget. The majority of the hard shell rooftop tents on the market can accommodate two or three people. However, you can also find tents with enough capacity for four or even five people.
Make sure that the materials are both durable and comfortable. Fiberglass is a common material in these tents and is quite robust. The exterior must have a high level of waterproofing capability and weather resistance to overcome inclement weather. It is also vital if the tent has good breathable qualities to be comfortable in all conditions. The material of other accessories, such as a telescoping ladder, should be robust and lightweight. Aviation aluminum is a good option.
Ease of Installation
Rooftop tent installation should not be rocket science. It should be easy and similar to a ground tent. Nobody fancies the idea of standing on a ladder over an hour setting up the tent. Go over the installation guide before you proceed. Of course, it will take some time to set up. However, the best hard-shell rooftop tent comes with a mechanism to make the process effortless.
The weight of the tent should not be more than that of your SUV for safety. Mainly, determine the average weight of the people that will be using the tent and add it to the weight of the tent. The total should tell you whether it is suitable for the vehicle or not. Consider this total before you purchase the rooftop tent.
- Extension Room: The space below the tent is vital to some people. Typically, these extension rooms can be quite useful, but they can be a headache to set up. They provide additional room for equipment and a place to sleep. The extra space is available in a variety of setups with windows, doors, and access to the vehicle.
- Accessories: There are a few other items that come with a rooftop tent, and they should also be protected like the main tent. For example, the annex should be waterproof and well insulated so it’s comfortable for occupants and to protect the other tools inside. It is always good if other accessories, such as a telescoping ladder, are part of the package.
Best Hard Shell Roof Top Tents Reviews & Recommendations 2020
Problems such as bugs, mud, and dirt can affect your enjoyment of the outdoors, and that is where the Pittman Outdoors Comet comes in. The hard-shell rooftop tent is waterproof, robust, and it provides adequate protection from the elements. Other features like the insulated aluminium base provide reliable and durable support so that you can sleep without any worries.
The provided high-density mattress is quite comfortable after a day of hiking and having fun outdoors. The tent is also easy to set up and store. It only takes a few minutes to sort everything out, so you can enjoy outdoor excursions. A telescopic ladder is also included.
Unfortunately, some people may require an additional foam pad for a more comfortable night’s sleep. Furthermore, the item weighs around 127 pounds and, therefore, is a bit difficult to move around.
The TMB Green Pop Up Roof Overland is designed with care and precision for optimal comfort when you’re outdoors or on an off-road adventure. The tent fits a wide variety of vehicles and comes with the necessary roof rails and crossbars for effortless installation. It is an ideal choice for hikers and campers. The rooftop tent comes along with a storage bag, mattress, and ladder. The pre-installed high-quality memory foam mattress accommodates two adults.
To keep you protected from the weather, the material is robust, waterproof, and windproof. The shock-assisted arms make it effortless to open. Other essential features include the inner and outer zippers, which keep the openings secure. Also, the rooftop tent has a unique fold-out design that directs away from the roof rack.
On the downside, some users say the mattress is a bit thin and uncomfortable to use for long periods of time. It is also not very light to carry, but that is common with hardshell rooftop tents.
You can use the HyBox as a pop-up tent and a cargo box. You can zip the tent section to use the cargo box with a substantial space of 23 cubic feet. Even better, you can open both ends to access the storage space quickly. There is plenty of room for tools and other things, such as sports equipment. Essentially, you can fit a snowboard or even a sawhorse inside.
The tent is easy to set up and use. The mounting system is universal, so you can use it on almost any vehicle. It has reinforced insulation on the inside, which minimizes noise when there is a strong wind. This also keeps out the extreme temperatures for a comfortable stay. The tent has enough space for two adults and features two mesh windows and two doors.
Other features include the three-inch foam mattress and a telescoping aluminum ladder. The mattress comes with an easy-to-wash top cover. On the downside, the hard shell rooftop tent is a bit pricey, though there are some pricier tents with almost the same features. In terms of weight, the unit is a bit heavy for some people.
- You can use a stiff bristle brush or vacuum to remove any dirt and dust on the rooftop tent. For deep cleaning, use a sponge and a mixture of water and soap on the canvas and other parts of the tent. You can then leave the tent in the sun to dry.
- Other maintenance tips include keeping the hinges oiled, especially during the wet and cold months. A coat of waterproofing spray will come in handy if you are using the tent extensively at a campsite.
- Even though the bottom part of the overlanding tent can hold a significant amount of weight, it is a bit different for the roof. The roof may not have the strength to hold off a lot of weight from the snow, so you should keep clearing it.
Q: How many people can fit in a hard-shell rooftop tent?
A: The capacity of the tent depends on the brand and model. Mostly, the tent can comfortably accommodate two or three people. But you will find some hard shell tents with a capacity to hold four or more people.
Q: What weather can a hard-shell roof top tent withstand?
A: Unlike a soft shell tent, hard-shell models are quite comfortable in inclement weather. They are waterproof, and the quality of the insulation is better.
Q: Can I put a hard-shell rooftop tent on my car?
A: The best hard-shell rooftop tents on the market have excellent versatility. You can install them on any vehicle. Some of the more prestigious tents are designed specifically for cars. The good news is that mounting methods have come a long way, and you can customize the roof rack to accommodate your chosen hard shell rooftop tent.
Our top pick, the Pittman Outdoors Comet, with features such as a durable cotton canopy and insulated aluminium base, is designed to make your outdoor adventure easy and fun.
If you prefer something that isn't as expensive but is still good quality, then check out our value pick, the TMB Green Pop Up Roof Overland Tent.