car roof top tent

The Best Rooftop Tent 2019

Installing a rooftop tent to your vehicle is the latest trend that is becoming very popular with a vast variety available. They simply connect to your roof rack and they can then be setup with ease with a ladder required to get access to the tent.

The best roof top tent is the Tuff Stuff Ranger Rooftop Tent, which features an annex room and is constructed of an aluminum frame and heavy duty fabric.

Compared with a standard car camping tent, you are not sleeping on the ground, which is great for those that are worried all the creepy crawlies. These roof top tents can be installed on literally any vehicle with roof racks from a SUV, truck or small car.

Best Roof Top Tent

Rooftop TentDimensionsAnnex
Tuff Stuff Ranger Overland56 x 96 x 52 InchesIncluded
Smittybilt Overlander58 x 49 x 13 InchesSold Separately
TMB Motorsports Pop Up84 x 49 x 37 InchesN/A
ARB Series III55 x 96 x 52 InchesSold Separately
Camco 5137358 x 48 x 49 inchesIncluded

Other advantages other than being off the ground is that they can be deployed and collapsed very easily for installing and storage within the car. However, they do come at a premium compared with a standard tent and do require roof racks.

The popularity of car camping has grown hugely with a range of car beds, tents and other solutions available. Roof top tents come in a multiple sizes and types to suit a range of vehicles and they are not only for 4×4 as shown below.

If you have roof racks and love camping, then these tents are definitely something you should be looking into. Below is a list of the best roof top tents that can be setup in a minutes and keep you aware from all the creepy crawlies on the floor.

Tuff Stuff Ranger Overland Roof Top Tent


The Tuff Stuff is a premium roof top tent that caught our teams eye when feature on Tyler Hoovers YouTube Channel. It is huge and constructed of an all aluminum frame and heavy duty fabric to provide the ultimate experience when camping.

In terms of the dimensions of this roof top tent with the included annex room are 56 x 96 x 52 inches with the mattress measuring 56 x 96 x 2.5 inches.

Installing the Tuff Stuff roof top tent is fairly straight forward and you have the choice of unfolding the tent to either side of your vehicle or even the rear. Below are some more features of this roof top tent:

  • 3 screened windows with awning
  • 280G poly/cotton rip stop fabric with waterproof coatings
  • UV and mold resistance
  • Retractable ladders
  • No special tools required during the setup

Overall, the Tuff Stuff package is the best roof top tent you can buy and you can simply setup camp wherever you feel. It is expensive but the sheer quality and the design makes it a worthwhile investment.

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Smittybilt Overlander Tent

The cheaper alternative to the Tuff Stuff is the Smittybilt Overland tent that also sleeps 2 to 3 people. With a 600D heavy duty waterproof top and rain fly, you are able to sleep virtually anywhere in this tent without the worry of causing any damage. There is also a cover that comes with the package to keep it dry when not in use.

Smittybilt is a large brand with a range of products from an off road winch to recovery straps with a known reputation for build quality. This roof top tent is know different and there is also a range of additional accessories available to improve the tent at a later stage. This includes the addition of an annex, ladder extensions, LED strip lights and much more.

For those that do not want anything too large and are restricted by a budget, this Smittybilt tent is the best RTT for the money and comes with a 1 year warranty for piece of mind.

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TMB Motorsports Pop Up Roof Tent


There are not many hard shell roof top tents available but the TMB Motorsports is one to take a look at. When closed and installed onto your roof rack, it simply looks like the standard roof top carrier with the dimensions of 84 x 49 x 13 inches.

However, it transforms into a roof top tent with shock assisted arms and will remain open when fully extended. When opened, this RTT is 84 x 49 x 37 inches in size with the polyester canvas covering the sides.

TMB Motorsports offer this roof top tent in a range of colors that include green, orange, beige, navy and sand and includes a ladder, storage bag and a flashlight. However, as great as this is, the main drawback is the price.

However, when you factor in the simplicity of the “pop up” installation and that its a hard shell roof top tent, it does make it a great investment.

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ARB (ARB3201) Series III Sand Rooftop Tent


ARB is a brand that have many different types of outdoor gear and have a good reputation for build quality. The 3201 series is a popular yet expensive rooftop tent but everything is built to the highest of quality and the best materials are used.

Features of the ARB3201 Series III Sand Rooftop Tent include:

  • Poly/cotton fabric
  • Built-in rain fly and insect screened windows and doors
  • Heavy duty aluminum retractable ladder
  • High density bonded chip foam mattress

Overall, the ARB rooftop tent is a great all rounder with everything you need for a comfortable car camping holiday. It is on the expensive side but this is reflected in the quality of the tent, which is the main factor to consider.

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Camco Vehicle Roof Top Tent


The Camco alternative is one that is very similar to the Tuff Stuff rooftop tent. It comes with an annex, high density mattress, ladders and other accessories to provide a comfortable and enjoyable camping experience.

When the tent is fully setup and open, it is 56 x 122 x 49 inches in size (including the annex) and has a sleeping footprint of 56 x 94 inches. All the windows and doors are screened, which is great for keeping the insects and debris out and there is also air vents to reduce condensation.

The Camco rooftop tent uses an all nylon material and other cheap materials, which is not what you would want for something of this price. We recommend that you spend the little extra to get the much more heavier duty Tuff Stuff alternative.

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Roof Top Tent Buying Guide

If you love to spend time outdoors, tents designed for car camping are a great investment. These tents are easy to pitch on top of your car, and they’re typically quite roomy and comfortable. They attach to your overhead storage rack for stability. Since designs for rooftop tents vary greatly, there are a few helpful factors to look for when shopping for one.

Since this tent is going to provide your shelter while your’e on the road, it’s important that you choose one that provides great quality. Here’s what to look for when shopping for a roof top tent.

tent for car camping

Size

The size of the tent is the first thing to look for when shopping. You’ll need a tent that works with the size of your car, and it’s important that it’s large enough for you to comfortably sleep in as well. If you’re camping with multiple people, you’ll also need a tent that’s specifically designed for that.

Most tents come in multiple sizes, so you can choose the one that makes the most sense for your needs. It may help to know the dimensions of the roof of your car when shopping as well.

Ease of Installation

The next thing to look at is how easy the tent is to install. One of the benefits of roof top tents is that you don’t have to spend time struggling with stakes to put them up, so they are typically pretty quick to set up.

Before purchasing a tent, do some research into the setup procedure to determine how easy or difficult it is to put up the tent. Usually you’ll have to attach the tent to the storage racks on the top of your car, but then how you set it up from there varies by model.

car tent on roof

Material

The materials used for rooftop tents vary, and it’s something to consider when doing your shopping. The type of material you need will mostly depend on the type of camping you’re doing – do you need something light and breathable that’s good for hot days, or do you need something more durable that can protect you from cold and wet weather?

Tents are typically made from either nylon or canvas. Nylon tents are very affordable and very lightweight, which are great for summer and a good choice if you’re on a budget as well. Canvas tents are a bit more durable, and are often coated with PVC to be waterproof. They’re a bit heavier and more expensive, but they typically last longer as well, so you can put some wear and tear on your tent.

Canopy/Rainfly

You’ll need a tent that can protect you from the elements while you’re out in nature, and accessories such as a canopy or rainfly are very helpful. Tents that come with these features are very helpful for campers visiting very wet or very hot locations.

Some tents even have multiple canopies available – one to keep you dry and protect you from the rain, and one to give you some shade on hot days. Canopies are a great added feature for any tent, but particularly for rooftop tents as it’s hard to park your car in an area where you’ll get shade.

camping in roof top tent

Weight

The weight of the tent is another very important factor to consider. If the tent is too heavy, it can put a lot of unwanted pressure on the top of your car, particularly if you have a small vehicle. Heavy tents can also be very difficult to set up, particularly if you’re a smaller person or are trying to set the tent up by yourself.

Windows and Doors

Roof top tents typically have multiple windows and doors for comfort and convenience, and so this is a helpful factor to look at when choosing between multiple tents. The door should be easily accessible and you should be able to comfortably unzip it from both the inside and outside without struggling.

It’s also nice to have a few windows on opposing sides of the door so you can look out and enjoy the beautiful nature around you while you’re camping. Keep in mind that the windows should still be durable enough to keep bugs and water out of your tent.

Collapsed Size

When you’re not using your tent, you will want to be able to store it comfortably in your trunk without it taking up too much space. You should make sure to take a look at not only the size of the tent when it’s set up, but also the size of the tent after you’ve collapsed it. If the tent is too large to store, it won’t be convenient to take on the road with you.

small car roof top tent

Mattress and Ladder Quality

Roof top tents typically come with two accessories included – a mattress and a ladder. The mattress should be comfortable but lightweight and easy to move around. Some tents even include mattresses that are made with memory foam, which provides extra support for your back.

While this isn’t necessary, it’s definitely helpful if you like to be very comfortable while you’re out on the road. Roof top tents also usually come with a ladder for easy access. When considering the ladder, you’ll want to look at how durable it is, how much weight it adds to the tent, and how easy it is to fold out and use. If the ladder is more inconvenient than it is helpful, then that’s a sign that it might not be a good investment.

If you love to camp and haven’t invested in a roof top tent yet, it’s definitely worth looking into one. Roof top tents are incredibly easy to use, plus they keep you off the ground and away from pesky bugs and animals. Not all roof top tents are created equal, so it’s worth shopping around to find the one that will make the best investment. After all, it will be providing you with shelter and comfort while you’re away from home, so it should be considered one of your most important camping accessories.

Conclusion

Investing into a roof top tent is highly recommended if you are fed up of all the creepy crawlies that always end up inside your standard tent. All that is required is a set of roof racks and you are good to go. They are expensive and there is no denying that but its something that can be used for years to come.

All of our recommendations are some of the most rated and talked about with many having various accessories sold separately too. These include an annex, LED lights and so much more.

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