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
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If you’re a diehard lover of the outdoors, you probably do a lot of tent camping. Tent camping can be fun, but it can also be an exercise in frustration. Waking up in puddles and soaking wet sleeping bags after a rainstorm, getting aching joints and backs from sleeping on lumpy, rocky ground, and tracking all kinds of dirt, sand, and debris inside the tent really detract from the enjoyment of your camping experience.
Enter the hard shell roof top tent. This marvel of modern engineering has the ability to change the way you view tent camping forever. It's easy to set up and stays high off the ground by mounting to the roof of your vehicle. It’s like sleeping in a tree fort.
Roof top tents are also much more durable and weather-resistant than regular tents. Some roof top tents can also double as cargo carriers, making them even more versatile. Check out our top picks for the best roof top tents on the market. Then be sure to familiarize yourself with our in-depth buying guide so you can make a confident choice and get the tent that best suits your needs.
This ruggedly built and attractively designed tent will keep you elevated and protected from the elements. It will also keep you comfortable and clean.
- Measuring 82.7 x 50.8 x 45.3 inches, this tent is ideally suited for two people
- This tent sets up in about three seconds, thanks to its instant-up configuration
- Hard shell top is constructed from 100 percent aluminum, which is both waterproof and rust-resistant
- Ladder to access the tent needs to be sturdier and a little wider
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
- Ideal for a variety of outdoor activities such as camping and hiking
- The material is waterproof, windproof, and durable.
- Comes with all the needed accessories
- There are some complaints from users who say that the mattress is a bit thin.
- Not the lightest to carry.
This tent is superiorly constructed with a super tough and waterproof ABS plastic top. It stores compactly and aerodynamically so as not to create a ton of added wind noise while driving.
- This tent is a sleek-looking, and ultra compact tent when stowed, and it won’t detract too much from your car’s fuel economy
- Quick and easy to set up in minutes
- Hard shell is made from super durable, bulletproof ABS plastic that will last for years
- This tent is a little on the small side compared to some other
- One of the priciest tents on the market
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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. Thule Tepui Ruggedized Autana 3 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 2021
- 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.
For the best overall choice when it comes to a stylish, easy-to-use, and durable hard shell rooftop tent, our top pick is the KingCamp Rooftop Tent. This ruggedly built and attractively designed tent will keep you elevated and protected from the elements. It will also keep you comfortable and clean.
If you want a more budget-friendly model, check out the TMB Green Pop Up Roof Overland Tent. It’s sturdy and roomy and won’t cost you an arm and a leg.