The 7 Best Roof-Top Tents in 2022
Rooftop tents are having a bit of a moment right now. Maybe it’s because more and more people are enjoying the great outdoors. Maybe it’s because this is #2020, and we’re all gearing up for the end times. Who knows! In any case, a rooftop tent makes a great additions to your arsenal of outdoor gear.
These tents are made for adventure. They were born out of a need for safe shelter in harsh, unforgiving places like the Australian Outback and the African bush. Places where camping on the ground would leave one vulnerable to snake bite, scorpion sting and a host of other dangers.
Seriously, if there are lions around, where are you going to camp? As far off the ground as possible, that’s where. But you don’t have to be on safari to appreciate the safety, simplicity and convenience of a good rooftop tent. What you do need is to know the difference between a great one and a sup-par knockoff. We hope this list of the best rooftop tents of 2020 is helpful.
1. Roofnest Sparrow
Roofnest is a leader in the car-top tent world, and for good reason. They have several truly exceptional rooftop tents in their lineup, but the Sparrow is their most popular, and arguably most versatile. Completely redesigned for 2020, the Roofnest Sparrow perches nicely atop any small to midsize car.
It’s a pop-up style tent with an 85″ x 50″ footprint, making it plenty roomy for two. That makes it great for weekend getaways. The tent has a generous 40″ height, so there’s plenty of headroom, and the fact that it’s also quite easy to set up is a nice bonus.
The Roofnest Sparrow is a hardshell tent, folding down into a fiberglass shall that’s tough, aerodynamic and lightweight. The base of the tent includes a 3″ mattress that’s surprisingly comfortable, and it has three full-sized doors with awnings to keep things dry, cool, comfy and ultimately liveable in just about any conditions. On the whole, the Sparrow is our favorite rooftop tent of 2020, perfect for couples and solo adventurers who like to stay on the move and need a quick, comfortable setup.
2. iKamper SKYCAMP 2.0
iKamper Skycamp 2.0 is a new-and-improved version of what was already one of the best rooftop tents on the market. What makes this tent stand out-and this might sound like a paradox, so stay with me-is that it’s both pleasingly spacious, and surprisingly compact.
The Skycamp 2.0 has open dimensions of 85.5″ x 82.6″ x 43.3″, and includes a king-sized mattress that can sleep up to four. More realistically, it sleeps two or three, with extra room to spread out; but rest assured, if you want to cram four people into this thing, you can do it.
Improvements to the new 2.0 model include a redesigned ladder, stronger stainless steel hardshell locks and a thicker 1.8″ high density polyfoam mattress (1.8″ might not sound like much, but its way more comfy that one might expect). The tent has a window on either side and one on the roof, and each window has three layers: solid fabric, clear waterproof vinyl and low-vis mesh. The whole thing feels safe, sturdy and secure. You
3. Smittybilt Overlander Tent
It’s not easy to find a good rooftop tent for under $1,000, but the Smittybilt Overlander tent might surprise you. It certainly surprised us.
The standard version of the Overlander is quite spacious, with a with 92″ x 55″ high density foam mattress and a generous 51″ of headroom.
It sleeps two to three people quite comfortably, and there’s an annex option-sold separately-that will add even more space if you’re looking to bring the whole family or just want more room to spread out.
Is the Overlander just as good as all of the more high-priced tents on this list? Not quite. It’s simple and functional, though perhaps not the most user-friendly tent we looked at this year, and it might take some practice before you can set up and tear down with ease.
It has a heavy-duty PVC cover that keeps the tent dry and folded-up nicely when not in use. It’s not quite as durable as a hard shell tent, but that’s to be expected. Overall, this is a solid tent that doesn’t have any serious competitors in its price range. It’s a great pick for weekend warriors.
4. Roofnest Falcon
The Roofnest Falcon is a sleek, streamlined rooftop tent with an aluminum hardshell construction. It measures 90″ x 50″ which is plenty of room for two to sleep comfortably, and the peak height is a lofty 60″ thanks to the triangular clamshell design.
Not much chance you’ll bump your head in this baby. Plus, set-up and tear-down is a cinch, and the falcon can also accommodate a rack, so you don’t have to leave your bike, kayak or other rooftop cargo at home. The Falcon shares a lot of traits with one of Roofnest’s other entries on this list-the Sparrow-but with a few key differences.
Most notable is the clamshell design and the much slimmer profile. It’s essentially a lightweight, low-profile version, and one of the trimmest rooftop tents of 2020. The tent folds down to just 6.5 inches thick, which is great for gas mileage as well as reducing road noise.
The downside of this streamlined design is that you can’t store much in the Falcon while it’s packed. That costs some functionality for long trips, but overall, it’s a great tent for short adventures.
5. iKamper Skycamp Mini
The iKamper Skycamp Mini is one of the best rooftop tents of 2020 for anyone who has a compact car and struggles with the idea of putting a full-sized tent on top of it. Let’s face it, we’re not all driving around in Hummers. This tent is a really great scaled down version of the classic Skycamp.
It’s lightweight. It’s compact. It’s aerodynamic. And although the Mini is a hardshell tent just like the original Skycamp, it doesn’t weigh much more than your average softshell tent (though it does cost a fair bit more). The 83″ x 51″ footprint is, unsparingly, not quite as spacious as some of the other tents we’ve looked at this year, but two people will have no problem getting a good night’s rest in the Skycamp Mini.
The clamshell design even gives you a bit of extra head room compared to some larger tents, with a peak roof height of 45″. This tent is also incredibly easy to use, with true one-minute setup. It’s also worth considering a tent of the Mini’s petite dimensions even if you don’t have a compact car, as it will leave you ample leftover roof space for bike racks or additional storage.
6. Cascadia Pioneer Series
The Pioneer Series by Cascade Vehicle Tents has gained a reputation over the last 10 years as one of the best options for serious road warriors. They’re tough, durable, comfortable, spacious, and versatile. You get ample storage space, an easy-to-deploy design, and a handy telescoping ladder. The PU-coated Polyester Oxford rain fly and no-see-um mesh keep you safe from rain and mosquitoes.
Best of all, the rain fly has an integrated window so you can gaze out at the stars or let the sunshine in no matter the weather. To put it simply, the Cascadia is a big rooftop tent. The interior space when open measures 72″ x 96,″ with a maximum peak of 50,″ so you and the rest of your party will have plenty of room without feeling crowded.
Most Cascade tents come standard with an annex room which increases your space even further. The annex practically doubles the tent’s capacity. Cascade Pioneer Series tents come with a 3″ thick high-density foam mattress, which is soft and comfortable. Overall, these are some of the best tents to use for a weekend camping trip or an extended adventure.
7. Roofnest Condor
If you’ve made it this far, you’ve probably noticed a few Roofnest tents made it onto our list this year. Also, kudos for making it this far! At any rate, each of the Roofnest tents we tried out fills its own niche, and there are a few things that make the Condor special.
Most notable is its size. This is the smallest hardshell fold-out style roof top tent that Roofnest makes. It has dimensions of 83″ x 60″ open, which is just about big enough to accommodate two adults and one child. The interior height is 50″ at the tallest point. So, this roof tent is compact, but still decently spacious, and a great fit for couples or small families out in search of adventure.
The Roofnest Condor has been fully redesigned in 2020, and another great addition is that it’s been fitted to accommodate a solar panel. This tent is incredibly easy to set up, and makes use of its space in a unique way.
Its configuration utilizes the best aspects of a clamshell and pop-up design, unfolding its “wings” as you open it to create space. Once you’re done and ready to hit the road, it folds down into a very compact, aerodynamic shape that won’t hold you back.
Roof-Top Tent FAQs
Whether or not a rooftop tent is a worthwhile investment intends entirely on you, and your preferred style of camping.
If you’re spending in a weekend in an ordinary campground, a very strong case could be made that a regular tent would be just as effective and considerably more convenient.
But where rooftop tents shine is on trips where you’re sleeping in a different place every night, often in areas where you may not be able to find a suitable tent site at ground level.
They even make it relatively convenient to live out of your car, if that’s your thing.
While design specs may vary, all roof tents have secure mounting hardware that allows them to attach to your vehicle’s roof rack system.
Some rooftop tents come with their own unique mounting apparatus while others are more universal, but most rooftop tents are compatible with a wide range of vehicles. Be sure to check the specs of ant tent you’re interested to be sure that it’s compatible with your vehicle and rack system.
Trucks and SUVs are generally best suited to carrying a rooftop tent, but many of the more compact tents are perfectly suitable for smaller vehicles.
A lot of people get sticker shock when they first look into getting a rooftop tent. That’s understandable. At the end of the day, rooftop tents are more expensive than a ground tent because there’s a lot of technology and engineering that goes into making them.
Compared to ordinary tents, rooftop tents are considerably more durable, and made of stronger and more advanced materials that allow them to fold into a compact size, withstand sun exposure and abrasion, remain waterproof, and withstand the rigors of being carried at highway speeds.
They’re made to stay with you on the road over the long haul and are a great investment for anyone who enjoys camping.