For the past few years, roof top tents have been growing in popularity and have evolved into well-designed car top tents that can attach to any standard roof rack. Previously rooftop tents were strictly used as an overland tent and found on jeeps and large SUVs. A good roof tent is designed to get you up off the ground and away from ground crawling bugs, critters and dangerous animals. Sleeping up off the ground also can translate to a warmer tent as they do not transfer heat like a ground tent would. If it rains, because you’re inside a tent on top of your car and off the ground, you don’t have to worry about running water seeping under the tent. An elevated tent also provides a much better sense of security while camping in a tent. If you are willing to spend the extra money for that sense of security, a RTT will serve you well. We have researched all the roof top tent options and recommend the Yakima Skyrise Rooftop Tent as the best option for most recreational campers looking for a roof top tent for their car, truck or SUV.
Our Top Pick for Car Top Tent
We’ve chose the Yakima Skyrise Roof Top Tent for our top car roof tent because of it’s ease of install and brand familiarity. Yakima is a very trusted brand in the outdoor industry and more specifically, a roof rack brand. Their familiarity and experience with roof racks and accessories shows with this being their first roof top tent. At 95 lbs. the small 2 person tent is one of the lightest on the market, making the tent easier to handle during install. The tent also uses Yakima’s easy lock and quick-release mounting system, again making it easy to handle and install. We feel this tent is a great pick as a car top tent as well as a truck top tent.
Not every camper needs an overlanding, off-road, expedition style roof top tent. Many campers looking for a roof top tent, need a nice quality, light, easy to install and remove, roof top tent. The Yakima Skyrise fills that need. At just over $1,000, it is also one of the more reasonably priced roof top tents for sale.
Some other features include: Made from the same lightweight and breathable materials as backcountry tents – 210D nylon. All windows and the two skylights have solid and mesh panels that zip open to improve ventilation and provide a view of the starry skies. 210D nylon rainfly with PU coating protects you from the elements. Aluminum poles are light, strong and pre-set to make pitching a breeze. The Open Tent Size: Small = 48″ x 84″ x 42″ H and for the Medium = 56″ x 96″ x 48″ H. Weight: Small = 95lbs. / Medium = 115 lbs. Mattress: 2.5” wall-to-wall foam mattress with removable cover. Ladder: Telescoping Aluminum Ladder. Load Capacity: Small = 400lbs. / Medium = 600lbs.
Excellent instructions are included and should be read carefully. You’ll also need to check if your current rack system or factory-installed racks are compatible with the Yakima Skyrise, but you check the Yakima Website for more details. Read All Customer Reviews on Amazon Check Price on Amazon
More Roof Top Tent Reviews
At around $800, the Smittybilt Overlander Roof Top Tent is a great price and still offers many of the features most other roof mounted tents offer. The Smittybilt brand is very well respected in the four wheel off road community, especially among Jeep owners. In fact, if you own a Jeep this roof top tent should be your top pick because of all the compatible accessories including racks for your Jeep.
If you don’t own a Jeep, but are looking for a well-featured tent at a price that is hard to pass up, the Smittybilt tent is a great option with the following features: Heavy-duty 600D rip stop polyester. Waterproof. Stainless steel hinges. Anodized aluminum frame poles. LED strip interior light. Mosquito screens. Mounting brackets included. One year warranty. Open Tent Size: 95″ W x 56″ L x 51″ High. Sleeps: 2-3. Weight: 118 lbs. Mattress: 2” foam mattress with removable cover. Ladder: Telescoping Aluminum Ladder. Load Capacity: 661 lbs.
An added feature that Smittybilt has included is the LED light strip inside the tent that comes in handy trying to find things or move around at night or relax with a light in the background.
With the lower cost, does come some trade-offs. These include some extra setups like dealing with some strap issues and cleaning of the tent before your first use. Setup and install is relatively easy but not a quick-release system like our top pick, but these types of small trade-offs can be expected when paying a lesser price. Read All Customer Reviews on Amazon Check Price on Amazon
The Tuff Stuff Ranger Rooftop Tent with Annex is an excellent roof top camper tent at a great price. This tent includes most of the features included with all roof top tents, but comes included with some nice additions including the annex.
The annex is an enclosed space under the tent. The sleeping area inside the annex is more than large enough for 2 full sized adults, plus the annex room can also accommodate a queen size mattress, mat, folding cot or a small dining table or chairs. The retractable ladder can also be folded away for increased space inside of the annex room. Other nice included features are PVC shoe storage bag and a hanging gear hammock. Open Tent Size: 96″W X 56″ L X 52″ H. Sleeps: 2-3. Weight: 132 lbs. (Includes Tent, Annex, Poles, and Ladder). Mattress: 2.75″ high density foam mattress with removable & washable cover. Ladder: Telescoping Aluminum Ladder. Load Capacity: 685 Lbs.
Tuff Stuff also confirms in the description that you can leave your bedding and pillows inside the tent when folding up for travel which is nice so you don’t have to empty the tent and move that gear inside your car or truck. Other features include: Manufactured from high quality polyester/cotton wind proof fabric. Heavy duty zippers. Includes a polyester rain fly with the best water shedding ability on the market. Upper air vents for warm air discharge. Three no-see-um screened windows with awnings.
All in all the Tuff Stuff Roof Top Tent is similar in quality and in many ways to other roof top tents on our list. However, if you’re looking for the extra features like an annex included in the price, this is a great option. As with most roof top tents, instructions are included and if read carefully, you shouldn’t have too many setup issues. You’ll also need to check if your current rack system or factory-installed racks are compatible with the tent. Read All Customer Reviews on Amazon Check Price on Amazon
The Tepui roof-top tents are the best option for overlanders who camp year-round. They’re extremely well built, handle all kinds of weather, offer great ventilation, and their customer service is excellent as well.
Tepui makes a solid roof top tent, which always puts the brand in the lead with the top selling roof top tents, especially for off-roaders and overlanders. We feel the tents are a better fit for larger SUVs, pickup trucks, or Jeeps with big rack systems. If you own a car and are looking for a roof top tent, there are others we recommend on our list. We make it our top pick specifically for overland camping. Read All Customer Reviews on Amazon Check Price on Amazon
The Feather-Lite Roof Top Tent is the lightest and lowest profile roof top tent on the market. Being lightweight makes it much easier to handle during install and take-down, especially if you are planning to do so by yourself. It’s low profile reduces wind resistance and can increase gas mileage on long trips. These 2 features are improvements over the rest of the roof top tents we review in this article. As for performance and additional features, they are very similar to the other roof top tents.
The specifc features include: Opens in one smooth motion for an instant bedroom. A durable tent cover made from 1000D PVC protects your tent when not in use. Unobstructed views out of all windows. Zippered privacy panels on all windows and doors. Manufactured with a special Oxford tent fabric (400D) — a strong, breathable, mould resistant, waterproof, PVC coated, heavy duty poly-cotton. The tent is mounted to an aluminium base that is insulated to keep the cold out. An easily removable HD fly-sheet cover (made from 200D Oxford weatherproof fabric) offers shade during the day, decreased condensation in the morning, and the ability to leave the windows open when it’s raining. The windows and door privacy panels zip closed upwards, so that the size of the opening can be adjusted according to privacy needs or weather conditions. The windows and door are screened so they can be opened or closed without letting insects in. A roof ventilator opening with a mosquito screen reduces condensation while providing a steady source of ventilation. Two interior pockets to store gear as well as overhead Velcro loops that could be used for to hang lights and other items. Open Tent Size: 98″W X 51″ L X 55″ H. Packed Height: 7.85″. Sleeps: 2-3. Weight: 93 lbs. Mattress: 2″ high density foam mattress with washable cover. Ladder: Telescoping Aluminum Ladder.
With regards to installation: There is no need to install additional extrusions as it comes standard with an aluminium extrusion for securing the optional shower skirt. Tent rails are supplied loose to give you flexibility, which allows you to mount the tent onto most load bars and roof racks. This roof top tent can be mounted on most vehicles to open out over the rear or to open over either side of the vehicle. Read All Customer Reviews on Amazon Check Price on Amazon
Important Considerations for Roof Top Tents
Installation – Installing a roof top tent takes some extra steps and all instructions should be read carefully. Make sure before buying, what type of special equipment you need to own beforehand as well such as after-factory racks and rails for your car or truck.
Height of your vehicle – If you own a car or standard SUV or truck, you shouldn’t have problems with the ladder or other features of roof top tents. However, if you vehicle has a lift kit and/or very large tires, consider getting a ladder extension. Many are offered as accessories for the specific roof top tent you buy.
Value – You can still get quality while saving money and our top pick, the Yakima Skyrise Rooftop Tent, represents value and is a nice combination of good quality, durability, and price. Our other options should be considered based on your specific needs and how much money you are willing to spend to meet those requirements.
Durability – Durability goes hand in hand with value and quality. All of our top roof top tents tents are manufactured by companies who stand behind their products. They provide quality camping tents built to last. Choosing the right tent to match camping conditions and where you camp are extremely important to the life of the tent. In addition, using proper footprints and understanding that basic tears and holes are easier than ever to repair, will go a long way to extend tent lifespans.