- Rooftop tents attach to the roof of a vehicle or in the bed of a truck to give you an elevated and secure place to sleep while camping.
- Yakima made its name manufacturing and selling high-quality roof racks, and its new rooftop tent is the best one we’ve tried.
- With the SkyRise Rooftop Tent, Yakima found a way to offer an accessible rooftop tent to both newcomers and veteran campers.
- With an easy-pitch design, a built-in telescoping ladder, durable construction, and a price tag that won’t break the bank, it’s hard to find a rooftop tent more suitable to a wide range of campers than the SkyRise.
Rooftop tents originated as an alternative method for campers to sleep off the ground while camping. Though the earliest versions existed in places like Australia or Africa to protect campers from predators, many of today’s models are geared towards comfort and ease-of-use. For the camper who doesn’t exactly like the idea of “roughing it,” they’re a lifesaver.
Standard rooftop tents attach to a vehicle’s roof rack and crossbars and are often placed either on top of the cabin of an SUV or crossover or over the bed of a truck. There’s no lack of variety but many of the tents function in a similar way in that they’re able to pitch in a matter of minutes, feature a wall-to-wall mattress, and come with a built-in ladder for entry.
A rooftop tent’s ability to improve both the comfort and efficiency of camping does come at a cost, however. Most rooftop tents tend to run in the $1,000 to $3,000 range, which is significantly more expensive than a traditional ground tent. But as they continue to grow in popularity, it’s not hard to see why they’re worth the extra investment.
Pitching and packing a ground tent is as much a test in patience as it is deciphering a puzzle. Newer ground tents do feature easy-pitch designs but compared to a rooftop tent, even the simplest setup could be considered challenging. Rooftop tents often take just one person to pitch and can be fully set up in less than five minutes.
Once set up, rooftop tents offer more than just a comfortable place to sleep. Its high perch creates a unique vantage point for taking in your surroundings, and some even have a window on the roof for nighttime stargazing. Since most have a built-in mattress, there’s no need to toss and turn in a sleeping bag either. Use sheets and a comforter, and you’ll feel like you never left home.
With so many options, it’s hard to pinpoint the cream of the rooftop tent crop. To help, we’ve took to the task of physically testing and pouring over reviews of the top models currently available. From brands like Yakima and Tepui to Smittybilt and Front Runner, here are the best rooftop tents for every type of camper.
Here are the best rooftop tents you can buy:
- Best rooftop tent overall: Yakima SkyRise Tent
- Best hybrid rooftop tent: Tepui Hybox
- Best multi-person rooftop tent: Freespirit Recreation High Country
- Best rooftop tent for overlanding: Smittybilt Overland Tent
- Best low profile rooftop tent: Front Runner Rooftop Tent
Keep scrolling to check out our top picks.
The best overall
Yakima’s SkyRise rooftop tent comes with a 2.5-inch foam mattress, several windows and skylights for ventilation and star gazing, and it takes just a few minutes to fully pitch.
Yakima’s SkyRise rooftop tent is great for both amateur and seasoned campers alike. At $1,200, it’s one of the cheaper options in this guide, but it offers a comprehensive package of quality, ease-of-use, and comfort. It has an included 2.5-inch foam mattress, several windows and skylights for ventilation and star gazing, and takes just a few minutes to fully pitch.
Though Yakima is known mainly as a manufacturer of quality car racks, the company’s introduction of the SkyRise rooftop tent has proven successful. Designed for both casual and experienced campers, it’s as much at home at a drive-up camping spot as it is on a week-long overlanding trip.
The SkyRise is available in two sizes, small or medium, and purchasing either depends on personal preference. The small is sized to sleep two people side by side while the medium is large enough for three. Additionally, the small is capable of handling weight up to 400 pounds while the medium is rated up to 600 pounds.
Aside from its size differences, each tent comes standard with the same features. Both have a comfortable 2.5-inch foam mattress that folds up into the tent when packed, as well as a built-in telescoping ladder for climbing inside. The tent is constructed of 210D nylon, which is the same durable tent material found on most backcountry tents. A series of windows and skylights provide for ventilation and a 360-degree view, and it also comes with an attachable rainfly.
Attaching the SkyRise to a vehicle does require at least two people but it’s easy to secure once placed on a compatible roof rack. No tools are needed for this process, either. Roof rack locks are provided by Yakima, which improve the tent’s security if it’s left on a vehicle while unattended.
With a $1,200 price tag, the Yakima SkyRise rooftop is one of the most cost-effective rooftop tents available. Few rooftop tents are as easy to use, comfortable, and inexpensive as the SkyRise, making it an easy choice as our top pick.
Pros: Inexpensive for the quality, compatible with a range of Yakima accessories, easy to pitch and stow
Cons: Attaching the rain fly takes getting used to
The best hybrid rooftop tent
The Tepui Hybox doubles as a spacious rooftop tent and a cargo box, so you can easily store your gear in it when you’re not sleeping in the tent.
One of the drawbacks to using a rooftop tent is sacrificing the cargo capability of a vehicle’s roof rack system. With Tepui’s Hybox, you’ll not only have access to a quality rooftop tent, but also 23 cubic feet of storage space via its built-in cargo box.
With the Tepui Hybox’s cargo box function, you’ll no longer be stuffing gear inside your vehicle ceiling-high while prepping for a weekend spent camping. When it’s time to convert it back to a tent, an included canopy easily zips on to create a spacious and comfortable sleeping area. Its aerodynamic design also means your car won’t be guzzling gas.
However, the catch is that it can only be used as one or the other. For instance, any gear that’s stored inside is essentially being stored in the sleeping area. This does open up more room in the interior of the vehicle but would require gear be removed to create a proper sleeping area.
Switching between the cargo box and the tent requires zipping on the included canopy, releasing both of its latches, and then pitching the tent straight up. This can be done easily by just one person. An included telescoping ladder attaches to either side of the tent to allow campers to choose the best point of entry. Each door on the attached canopy also zips out to act as an entryway canopy.
The tent features a 3-inch foam mattress with a removable cotton cover (which can be easily removed when storing gear), as well as a quilted upper to help with insulation and sound dampening. Its hardshell exterior is made of a thermoplastic polymer called ABS and an aluminum substructure. The shell is both aerodynamic and durable as it’s able to take a beating and helps improve fuel efficiency for longer trips.
Tepui’s Hybox does have a hefty price tag of $2,900 but offers something no other rooftop tent on the market does with its cargo box versatility.
Pros: Can function as a rooftop gear container, hard top design improves aerodynamics, patented zipper system makes it easy to switch between the tent or storage container
Cons: Expensive, space enough for just two people
The best for multiple people
For families of three or more, Freespirit Recreation’s High Country rooftop tent is perfect for making sure everyone has enough space to comfortably rest.
Camping with a large family doesn’t have to be a cramped and uncomfortable experience. With Freespirit Recreation’s High Country rooftop tent, families of up to five people can rest assured each person will have more than enough space to snooze comfortably. When pitched, the tent measures 80 inches in length, 98 inches wide, and 49 inches tall, and can hold up to 750 pounds.
The interior of the tent features a 2.5-inch high-density foam mattress and plenty of storage pockets and gear hangers to allow for easy organization. Its exterior is made of 600D Poly-Oxford body fabric, as well as a durable aluminum alloy frame.
Its heavy-duty construction also means that it can take an absolute beating and still perform as well on its 100th use as it did on the first day.
Freespirit Recreation designed the tent to be aerodynamic when pitched, allowing it to function well in high winds or heavy rain. Windows on all four sides of the tent offer a full 360-degree view and provide for ventilation and help reduce condensation. When packed, its included cover has front and rear cinches to create a sturdy shape, though the lines can tend to flap loudly if not secured while driving.
Its two biggest drawbacks are its price and weight. Its $2,495 price tag is a steep initial investment but one that’s worth it for big families that need all the space they can get. Although it’s heavy at 172 pounds, installing or removing the tent with two or three people makes the process significantly easier.
Pros: Sleeps up to five people, durable construction, large awning covers entryway, 360-degree windows
Cons: Heavy, expensive
The best for overlanding
Rooftop tents were created by overlanders and Smittybilt’s 2883 Overland Tent is the perfect companion for anyone looking to get into the lifestyle.
Though nearly all rooftop tents are intended for overlanding use, few hold as well as Smittybilt’s 2883 Overland Tent. With size enough to sleep up to four people, a durable ripstop exterior to protect against the elements, and a sturdy aluminum frame, its perfect for multi-day backcountry pursuits any time of year.
With a durable ripstop exterior and aluminum alloy frame, it’s capable of holding up in all conditions. Its 770-pound capacity means it’s able to house up to four people, too.
What separates Smittybilt’s Overland Tent from others on this list is its attention to the details needed by overlanders. It comes with an included mosquito screen, a completely covered entryway, a fully-waterproof exterior without the need for a rain fly, and LED strip lighting on the inside. A 2.3-inch high-density mattress runs the entirety of its interior to provide comfortable sleeping or sitting space.
One of the tent’s best features is its price. At just $1,095, it’s the cheapest option on our list, coming in just under the Yakima SkyRise. Though we’d still recommend the SkyRise over it for its simplicity and quality, the Smittybilt Overland Tent should be the top choice for anyone getting into the overlandering lifestyle.
Pros: Spacious interior, included mosquito screens, completely covered entryway, sleeps up to four people
Cons: Bulky when packed up
The best with a low profile
The Front Runner Rooftop Tent sits just 7.87 inches tall when packed down, and its low profile helps improve fuel efficiency, reduces wind resistance, and makes it easier to store.
One of the biggest drawbacks of any rooftop tent is how much it impacts a vehicle’s gas mileage. Even the most aerodynamic options are still heavy and can dramatically reduce the mpg of any car. The best option currently available that attempts to fix these problems is Front Runner’s Rooftop Tent.
Featuring a low-profile design, Front Runner’s tent sits just 7.87 inches tall when packed down, making it the slimmest on the market. This helps reduce the amount of wind resistance taken on while driving and improves fuel efficiency. At just 93 pounds, it’s light enough for two people to install and its compact size allows it to stow easily in a garage.
Though the tent sleeps just two people, it does come with a 2.5-inch high-density mattress, windows on each side of the tent, and privacy shades for each door and window. A telescoping aluminum ladder comes standard with the tent and has treaded steps to make climbing up and down easier.
The exterior is built of durable 400D Oxford tent fabric that’s breathable enough to offer the ventilation necessary to reduce condensation. Its aluminum base boosts the tent’s insulation to keep the interior cool on warmer days and warm when temperatures drop. It also comes with a fly-sheet cover to increase the amount of shade or protect against rain getting inside any open windows. A roof ventilator adds air flow and is protected by a mosquito net to keep bugs out at night.
Pros: Low profile when packed, weighs less than 100 pounds, built-in roof ventilator reduces condensation
Cons: Requires separately sold Front Runner tent mount kit for use on Front Runner racks