What are the Most Popular Rooftops in 2023?

What are the Most Popular Rooftops in 2023?


Table of Contents: 

  1. What are the Most Popular Rooftops in 2023?
  2. Best Hardshell Rooftop Tent
  3. Best Softshell Rooftop Tent
  4. Best Budget Rooftop Tent
  5. Best Rooftop Tent for Small Cars
  6. A Durable and Low-Profile Rooftop Tent
  7. Floor Area, Peak Height, Capacities, What we like | What we don’t like
  8. Rooftop Tent Comparison Table
  9. Rooftop Tents Soft Shell VS Rooftop Tents Hard Shell
  10. Rooftop Tents Capacities
  11. Interior Space: Mattress Dimension and Peak Height
  12. Weather Resistance and Insulation
  13. Set up and Take Down
  14. Closed Size and Aerodynamics
  15. Annexes and Awnings
  16. Vehicle and Rack Compatibility
  17. Installing a Rooftop Tent
  18. Purchasing a Rooftop Tent Online
  19. FAQ
  20. How do I Choose the Right Rooftop Tent?
  21. Are Rooftop Tents Bad for Your Car?
  22. Is a Rooftop Tent Right for You?
  23. How Long Do Roof Top Tents Last?
  24. Do Rooftop Tents Get Stolen?
  25. How Safe are Rooftop Tents?

If you’re just entering the overlanding world, you’ll quickly realize the value of a good rooftop tent. They’re essential to every overland camping setup, but finding the right one can be difficult.

In this article, you’ll find recommendations for hardshell, softshell, budget rooftop tents, and much more. Whether you’re looking for a rooftop tent with annex or a rooftop tent with sunroof access, here’s what you need to know.

Best Hardshell Rooftop Tent

  • Made from high-quality materials
  • Easy to set up
  • Good ventilation
  • Weatherproof
  • Good insulation
  • Warranty

A hardshell rooftop tent is the same as any other rooftop tent, with the only difference being that it’s made from more rigid exterior materials. 

Hard Shell Rooftop

Hard shell roof top tents provide great shelter, especially during colder weather due to the thicker material. 

First of all, we’ll cover a few features that are found in the best hardshell rooftop tents.

The first, and most important aspect of a good hardshell rooftop tent is the material it’s made from. Rooftop tents are fitted to the vehicle before the overlanding trip. Depending on how long you’re staying, they can be set up and closed a number of times during one trip. High-quality materials will withstand the tent being set up hundreds of times, but the material will also withstand harsh weather, too.

Overland Vehicle Systems Hard Shell Rooftop Tent

Another important feature that will put a rooftop tent on the top of the list is how easy it is to set up. Hardshell rooftop tents are easier to set up compared to softshell tents. Most use gas springs that help users get the tent set up in a matter of minutes.

Ventilation and windows are also an important factor when it comes to rooftop tents. Being that these tents are compact and made for up to four people, proper ventilation is of the essence.

One thing that no one can predict with 100% certainty is what the weather will be like. This is why it’s important to have weatherproof overlanding camping gear. 

If you’re excited about overlanding and don’t mind going in different seasons, a well-insulated hardshell rooftop tent is key. If you go overlanding when it is colder, you’ll need to have a well-insulated shelter to keep you warm at night.

Overlanding in Cold Weather

Lastly, the best hard shell roof top tents will have at least a few years of warranty. This is the manufacturer’s guarantee that the rooftop tent will last a certain amount of time and that it’s made from high-quality materials.

When it comes to the best brands and models of hardshell rooftop tents, there are a few worth mentioning.

Best Softshell Rooftop Tent

  • High-quality weatherproof materials
  • Durable
  • Light
  • Spacious

A softshell rooftop tent is the closest thing to regular ground tents used for camping. Just like hardshell rooftop tents, these are also mounted on the top of the vehicle and provide shelter during overlanding adventures. 

Soft Shell Rooftop

The biggest difference between softshell and hardshell rooftop tents is the material they’re made from. Softshell rooftop tents are made without the use of hard materials, making them more compact when folded.

The best softshell rooftop tent will be made from durable, and weatherproof materials. Being that these are made for shelter, the materials must be durable and able to withstand different weather conditions. 

The two main features of the best softshell rooftop tents are that they’re very light and very spacious. Most softshell tents can accommodate up to 4 people as they’re much smaller when folded. They’re very light too, which has a positive effect on the vehicle’s fuel economy.


A few noteworthy softshell rooftop tents include:

Best Budget Rooftop Tent

Although a rooftop tent can deprive your budget significantly, it doesn’t have to. The market is full of budget-friendly alternatives that won’t break the bank, but you should be aware that more affordable alternatives require some compromise.

Whether you’re searching for a rooftop tent 4runner, a rooftop tent Tacoma, or a rooftop tent Bronco, there’s a good chance that you’ll find more affordable alternatives. 

The fact that a rooftop tent is more affordable doesn’t mean that it’s made from lower-quality materials. In fact, there’s a lot of overlanding camping gear that won’t break the bank. 


Here are some choices when it comes to the best budget rooftop tents:

  • Bushveld by Overland Vehicle Systems
  • OVS TMBK roof top tent with Green Rain Fly
  • Overland Vehicle Systems Nomadic 2
  • Smittybilt 2783
  • Smittybilt 2583 Overlander Gen 2

Best Rooftop Tent for Small Cars

One of the biggest misconceptions about overlanding is that you need a full-sized SUV or truck. Even smaller cars can be used for this type of adventure as long as you pick trails that your vehicle can overcome. Some trails have very few obstacles but offer mesmerizing views.


If you want to go overlanding with your small car, there are a few choices when it comes to rooftop tents. Some of the best rooftop tents for small cars include:


A Durable and Low-Profile Rooftop Tent

Durability and a low profile are important features of any rooftop tent. Durability is essential not only because these rooftop tents are expensive, but because they need to provide shelter during different weather conditions. Even a small tear in the fabric can cause a leak and ruin the entire overlanding experience.

Having a low-profile rooftop tent on your vehicle won’t only impact the vehicle’s fuel consumption. A low-profile rooftop tent will improve the vehicle’s aerodynamics, stability, and clearance. Handling will also be better with a low-profile rooftop tent. This is especially important if you plan on covering more ground during your overlanding trip.

Low Profile Rooftop Tent

  • Floor Area, Peak Height, Capacities, What we like

  • What we don’t like

Different rooftop tents are made differently. They’re made from different materials, they have different mechanisms, and they’re made in different sizes. 

The thing that affects the capacity of any rooftop tent is the floor area. Depending on whether the tent is for a single person or more, the size will increase. On average, rooftop tents have between 25 and 45 sq ft floor area. 


Its height doesn't play a significant role in how many people can fit inside. It does affect how big its capacity is regarding overlanding equipment. Hardshell rooftop tents usually have more peak height but are also larger when folded.

When it comes to capacity, hardshell rooftop tents are a better choice as they usually have more storage space. Premium brand tents will provide more storage but for a significantly larger price. 

One of the biggest advantages of rooftop tents is the fact that they are set up and taken down in a matter of minutes. Another great feature is that most rooftop tents have enough space to keep the bedding inside, even if the tent is folded. 

Aside from being convenient, rooftop tents are safer, provide a better view, and are more comfortable than regular tents. On the downside, they’re far more expensive than traditional camping tents.

Rooftop Tent VS Camping Tent

Although rooftop tents sound like the ideal part of any overland camping setup, there are downsides to having one. Aside from being expensive, rooftop tents are heavy and can significantly increase a vehicle’s fuel consumption. The handling will also be affected as well as stability.

Needing to set up and fold the tent each time you need to use it is another thing we don’t like about them. It takes a minute or two to fully assemble and disassemble a rooftop tent. It takes more time to put away all the things you can’t leave inside it. 

Rooftop Tent Comparison Table

We’ve mentioned more than a dozen rooftop tents from both categories, so here’s a comparison of a few of the most popular models.

Model name




Peak Height




OVS Bushveld



78x84 inches

43 inches

180 lbs

4+ people


OVS Mamba 3



94x55.5 inches

64 inches

177 bs

2-3 people


OVS Nomadic 4



122x75 inches

51 inches

180 lbs

4 people


Smittybilt 2583 Overlander Gen2



92x55 inches

51 inches

254 lbs

2-3 people





78x53 inches

46 inches

141 lbs

2 people


Rooftop Tents Soft Shell VS Rooftop Tents Hard Shell

It's a common opinion that the only difference between soft shell and hard shell tents is the material it's made from. There are a lot of differences between these two types of tents, and we'll cover a few of the biggest ones. 

Aside from being made from soft materials, softshell rooftop tents have a much lower profile compared to hardshell tents. It can impact fuel economy, clearance, and handling of a vehicle. 

Hardshell rooftop tents are usually better insulated but that comes with a price. Because more insulation material is used, hardshell rooftop tents are also significantly heavier than softshell tents, and may not be compatible with certain vehicles.


Because of a more rigid construction, hardshell tents are also a better choice for overlanding during heavier weather. Even though softshell tents are also weatherproof, they’re more prone to breaking from heavy winds.  

Rooftop Tents Capacities

Different rooftop tents have different capacities. Rooftop tents commonly have a capacity for 2 to 4 people, and for each person, there’s a 200 lbs weight capacity. If a rooftop tent is made for two people, for example, its weight capacity will be around 400 lbs. 



The weight capacity of rooftop tents mostly depends on the flooring material. If it’s made from higher-quality aluminum, the weight capacity will be even higher, but the average for most rooftop tents is around 900 lbs.

Interior Space: Mattress Dimension and Peak Height

When it comes to the interior space and peak height, rooftop tents are fairly limited in what they can offer. Regular camping tents can be significantly larger than rooftop tents, but they have their downside too.

Rooftop Tent Inside View | Overlanding Camping

The mattress dimension depends on the capacity of the rooftop tent. It ranges on average between 80 and 120 inches in length and between 55 and 80 inches in width. The peak height is the least impressive number and is an average of around 50 inches. This is enough for sleeping and eventually sitting inside, and nothing else.

Weather Resistance and Insulation

Weather resistance and insulation, as well as material quality, are the most important features to look for in a rooftop tent. Because overlanding trips are planned a lot of time ahead, it’s not always possible to get an accurate weather forecast. This is why it’s important to have a weather-resistant tent that will withstand rain, snow, sun, and wind. A well-insulated tent will keep you warm in case the temperature drops significantly during the night.

Weatherproof Rooftop Tent

Set up and Take Down

Most rooftop tents are set up and taken down similarly. Before going on an overlanding adventure with your new rooftop tent, you should practice setting it up and taking it down. 

This will give you a rough estimate of how much time you’ll need to set up and take down your rooftop tent. This will have a significant effect on your planning. Hardshell rooftop tents are commonly set up faster and easier than softshell rooftop tents.

Rooftop Tent Set up

Closed Size and Aerodynamics

A rooftop tent is made in a way so it can be opened and closed quickly. The only problem is that these tents need to be fixed to the vehicle’s roof during the entire overlanding trip.

Softshell rooftop tents are significantly smaller in size when closed compared to hardshell rooftop tents, and they’re more aerodynamic. As a result, these tents don’t increase the vehicle’s fuel consumption as much.

Hardshell rooftop tents, on the other hand, are larger when closed, and less aerodynamic. Aside from this, these tents are also heavier. With more drag and weight, hardshell rooftop tents will increase fuel consumption, but also alter the vehicle’s handling and stability.


Annexes and Awnings

Annexes and awnings usually don’t come as standard on rooftop tents, but they’re great additions to any overland camping setup.

Awnings are a great addition if you camp in the same place for more than a day. If you need additional space to hide from the elements, getting an additional annex for your vehicle is the best way to go.


Keep in mind that not all rooftop tents are compatible with annexes and awnings, so make sure to check before buying.

Vehicle and Rack Compatibility

The first thing you’ll need to do before buying a rooftop tent is to check whether the tent is compatible with your vehicle.

Different types of vehicles used for overlanding have different weight capacities. Smaller vehicles such as estates and smaller SUVs usually have less weight capacity. If you have a smaller vehicle, a smaller 2-person rooftop tent is all that you can install. Larger SUVs and trucks have a higher weight capacity, so you’ll be able to fit a larger tent.

To make sure, it’s best to check with the our customer support reps before you purchase any rooftop tents from us. 

Installing a Rooftop Tent

The way a rooftop tent is installed depends on the type of vehicle and type of rooftop tent. Although mounting is similarly done for most tents, you should always check manufacturer instructions before installing a tent in your vehicle.

The first condition to installing a rooftop tent is having the required hardware in terms of racks, rails, or crossbars. Having heavy-duty cross bars or roof racks on your vehicle will ensure a firm mount.

RHINO RACK USA JC-00455 | Roofrack Platform

The first step in installing a rooftop tent is setting support bars for your vehicle. This will be the base or foundation of your rooftop tent, so make sure you follow instructions to the smallest detail.

After setting up the supporting crossbars, you should mount the bolts and plates to the tent, according to the manufacturer's instructions. The prepared rooftop tent is then lifted and carefully placed onto the mounting hardware. Before bolting the rooftop tent securely, make sure to measure and align the rooftop tent properly. 

Lastly, test the rooftop tent and check all the bolts and straps.

Purchasing a Rooftop Tent Online

Purchasing a rooftop tent online is simple, and there are numerous places where you can order one. These websites include the likes of eBay, Amazon, and Whirring4X4.com, but also manufacturer websites where you can directly purchase a desired rooftop tent. 

If you decide to order a rooftop tent online, make sure you do all the necessary research before doing so. Make sure you include all the mounting hardware and that the tent is compatible with your vehicle.


How do I Choose the Right Rooftop Tent?

Choosing the right type of rooftop tent isn’t difficult. It requires you to think about a few things that will help you determine what you need. The first thing is to determine your camping needs. This way you’ll know what size will be sufficient for your needs and how much room you’ll need. You’ll also need to be realistic with the type of tent that’s compatible with your vehicle.

Are Rooftop Tents Bad for Your Car?

If the rooftop tent is installed correctly, it can’t damage your vehicle in any way. Make sure you install the tent correctly and make sure not to exceed its weight capacity.

Is a Rooftop Tent Right for You?

Although there are many upsides to having a rooftop tent, it comes down to your personal preferences and needs. If you plan on camping in one place during the overlanding trip, you don’t need to invest in an expensive rooftop tent.

If you plan on making frequent overlanding trips and change camp locations often, a rooftop tent is a great investment.

How Long Do Roof Top Tents Last?

Rooftop tents have a surprisingly long lifespan if they’re properly maintained. Softshell rooftop tents can last between 3 to 5 years, while hardshell rooftop tents have a longer lifespan of around 7 to 10 years. Premium quality tents can last even longer than that.

Do Rooftop Tents Get Stolen?

It’s uncommon for rooftop tents to get stolen, however, it can happen if the vehicle is left unattended. Removing the rooftop tent takes time, which is why it isn’t a common target for thieves. On the other hand, given their price, they’re a lucrative item. 

How Safe are Rooftop Tents?

Rooftop tents are very safe. They’re safer than traditional camping tents. This is because they’re elevated above the ground, making it less likely that insects and small animals will enter the tent. Due to the elevation, even larger animals are less likely to approach the tent.