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The best rooftop tents

By Rick Stella

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As the outdoor industry plunges into a new age of luxury alongside the rest of the modern world, glamping grows in popularity. While we’re still looking to get outside, we’ve set our sights higher, finding ways to get outside in style. Rooftop tents offer the perfect solution for that outdoor getaway where you can stay in the comfort of your own vehicle.

Forget fiddling with unruly tent poles and hammering away at cheap metal stakes — going camping doesn’t have to be so time- and energy-consuming. Spend less time working and more time under the stars with a rooftop tent that folds out into your own backcountry hotel room. Offering an excellent vantage point, protection from insects and curious critters, and an abode that looks cool to sleep in, it’s easy to see why someone might choose a vehicle palace over an archaic ground shelter. Here are the best rooftop tents currently available.

Tepui Baja Series Kukenam

Best rooftop tents Baja Tepui

The Tepui Baja Series Kukenam is for the serious camper who enjoys being out in the elements during any season —rain, snow, or shine. The tent’s innovative design is ideal for year-round adventurers, with an interchangeable canopy to suit changing conditions.

This softshell utilizes a Zipper Gimp which attaches the canopy to the base of the tent and makes the changing out process a breeze. Throw up the mesh shade canopy for protection from the sun and excellent breathability in hot and humid weather. The Baja offers a lightweight nylon rip-stop canopy for spring and fall and an aluminized canopy for harsh winter conditions. In addition, a detachable rainfly is included.

The Baja Series sleeps up to three people —ample room for a couple or even a small family. The tent includes an 8-foot, 6-inch telescoping ladder, eliminating the need for extensions for large or lifted vehicles. The elegant A-frame design allows for a spacious interior and the ability to sit up and really take in the view through large, screened side windows. Mosquito netting is incorporated around all windows and doors, and a 2.5-inch high-density foam mattress ensures supreme comfort.

The soft cover is designed with 1000 gram, heavy-duty PVC for durability during transit. While only one canopy is included in the base $1,275 price for the Tepui Baja, additional canopies can be purchased separately.

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REI Tepui Tents

Mt. Denali Standard Stargazer Pioneer

best rooftop tents denali stargazer

The Mt. Denali Standard Stargazer Pioneer is a whopper of a rooftop tent —measuring 8 feet by 6 feet and fitting up to four adults comfortably. Perfect for group camping, the Pioneer includes an annex/changing room for added luxury.

This rooftop tent is ideal for families or groups of friends, offering three doors and an access door on the annex. When you have to get up and use the bathroom in the middle of the night, you won’t have to crawl over any sprawling siblings. In addition, the tent includes a privacy wall which you can use to separate the snorers from the quiet sleepers.

Two sliding, adjustable aluminum ladders are also included, each with their own brace. The fabric is made of 230 grams of polyester/cotton ripstop canvas offering breathability, mold resistance, UV resistance, and waterproof coating. The mattress is 2.5 inches of high-density foam with a removable polyester/cotton cover.

This is the ultimate rooftop tent for large families, groups of campers, or those who enjoy a little extra space. Plus, you can’t go wrong with all of the added privacy features. The Mt. Denali Standard Stargazer Pioneer is truly a luxury addition to any camping regime — and with a price tag of just $2,300, it’s worth the investment.

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Cascadia Tents

The Roofnest Sparrow X

best rooftop tents rooftop sparrow

The Roofnest Sparrow X may be one of the most convenient, easy-to-set-up rooftop tents on the market. The company dove headfirst into rooftop tent production, operating under the motto, “you don’t need a van to live the #vanlife!”

The $2,500 Sparrow X is the larger of its two sizes —and resembles a pop-up box. The Sparrow comfortably fits two adults, measuring 82 inches long by 48 inches wide. The Roofnest is coveted for its reinforced fiberglass shell, designed to be aerodynamic for improved gas mileage. The interior of the shell is also coated with a soft foam for noise reduction.

There are mesh windows at the front and the back with zip closures and doorways at both ends so you can enter the tent from either side. The Roofnest Sparrow attaches directly onto any roof rack, making for an adaptable product that includes everything you need and nothing more. A 60-second set up makes it one of the fastest camping tent set-ups in the world, designed for those who really don’t want to mess around.

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iKamper Skycamp

best rooftop tents iKamper Skycamp

One of the most innovative hard shell tents on the market, the iKamper Skycamp is for campers who want to sleep with a view of the stars — and don’t mind shelling at $3,600 to do so. While on the outside it appears similar to other hard shell tents, it actually folds out into a large sleeping area suitable for two adults and two children — or up to three adults. The Skycamp is the world’s largest expandable hard shell rooftop tent.

The best feature about the Skycamp? The Skyview window which consists ofa revealable see-through urethane pane. View the sky by day or night and don’t worry about the elements, the Skyview window is 100 percent waterproof.

Hard top tents are quicker to set up than soft top tents and the Skycamp is no exception. Pop open and slide out the extended floor along with the ladder, expanding to an impressive size of over 82 inches. Additional features include a honeycombed aluminum floor and three fabric options: 250 Denier polyester, a polyester-cotton blend, or mesh.

The Skycamp is compatible with most vehicles and is extremely customizable. Accessories include an annex room, awning, vinyl canopy, wind deflector, shoe rack, storage shelf, movie stand, and inner storage shelf. If it’s the ultimate hard top tent you seek, the Skycamp was made just for you. The most successful tent project ever on Kickstarter, the Skycamp raised over 2.3 million.

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ARB Kakadu Rooftop Tent

best rooftop tents ARB Kakadu

The ARB Kakadu was designed with summer in mind —that is, with maximum ventilation to avoid those uncomfortable, sticky conditions in warmer, humid climates. The newest model is just $1,500, is easier to set up, and features a lighter, high-density, single-layer foam mattress which cradles you in comfort.

The Kakadu offers larger side windows and ditched the awning that typically angles across the window exterior. This increases air flow in addition to adding more light, giving you a superior view of the surroundings. An enhanced camping experience, the elements were still kept in mind, as the windows can be sealed during inclement weather. In addition, an extended fly sheet provides for more encompassing rain protection when needed.

This model of the Kakadu is lighter, making for easier set-up and take-down, and reduced stress on vehicles. The tent is adaptable in that it can be unfolded off either the side — or the rear — of a car. The ARB Kakadu is the perfect option for summer rooftop tent campers who wanta lighter vehicle load.

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Gen3 Expedition Tent

best rooftop tents gen3 expedition

Any winner of the Overland Expo should be given notice, especially when it’s also packed to the brim with features. The Gen3 Expedition Tent is made for the true adventurer or backcountry explorer, designed with aerodynamics in mind. The sleek frame is constructed of robust aluminum that allows owners to mount awnings, jacks, and other off-road equipment. Though it’s lighter than its predecessor, it’s also wider by 4 inches — and more spacious. It’s not terribly suitable for a family but for a solo adventurer or a small couple, it boasts plenty of room.

The hardtop lifts open to reveal a canvas interior and awning, designed with 400-gram UV resistant waterproof material that includes sealed seams for the ultimate protection from the elements. The doors and windows are dressed with high-quality mosquito netting and insulation is provided by polyethylene closed-cell foam. The tent is easy to install, featuring nut-slotted rails and a mounting track.

Comfort is provided by a 75-millimeter, high-density foam mattress that can remain in the tent during travel. The Gen3 Expedition is available for purchase with a few optional kits, one which provides for internal electricity including a USB charge point and stalk lights and another that provides for storage, including internal bags for small items. If efficiency is your primary concern, then Gen3’s $4,000 Expedition is a great adventure companion.

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Adventure Ready

Smittybilt Overlander

best rooftop tents smittybilt overlander

If you own a Jeep Wrangler, the Smittybilt Overlander is the perfect rooftop tent for you. For such an affordable price tag, you might be concerned about quality but a company with 50 years of building Jeep Wrangler accessories did not come up short here. Made durable and feature-rich, the Overlander ensures you don’t have to leave all your creature comforts behind. The tent weighs just over 115 pounds and easily mounts onto most roof racks.

The Overlander boasts600D rip-stop polyester fabric treated with polyurethane accompanied by a rain fly that can be put on or taken off as needed. Stargaze at your leisure with netted windows in the roof that still provide protection from bugs. The mesh windows are mosquito-proof as well, assuring ventilation in the warmer months — without the insects.

The $900 Overlander is built to sleep two people comfortably with a 2-inch thick foam mattress longer than a queen bed and nearly as wide. As an added bonus, the tent is equipped with built-in LED strip lighting in the roof, making for adequate visibility for reading or changing. If you’re looking for additional space, Smittybilt sells an annex that attaches below the tent alongside your Jeep.

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Yakima Skyrise Polar

Yakima SkyRise Tent

Hot on the heels of the release of its Skyrise tent, Yakima partnered with the popular outdoor brand Polar for a special edition version of its flagship. Outfit with Polar branding and a new camouflage colorway, the Skyrise Polar looks perfectly at home perched in the forest, at the beach, or anywhere adventure takes you. Spec-wise, it’s identical to its normal Skyrise predecessor but represents a prime example of, “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

Boasting an ideal combination of comfort and features, the Skyrise Polar is available in either small or medium sizes, depending on your specific needs, and several color options. A fifteen minute, tool-free installation makes for less work and more play and the new Skyrise is constructed with light and strong aluminum poles made from the same material as backcountry tents — 210 Denier fabric that’s both lightweight and breathable.

Yakima’s rooftop tent cradles your body in comfort with its 2.5-inch, wall-to-wall mattress and includes a removable cover for easy cleaning. Mesh panels zip open for ventilation and two skylights allow for comfy stargazing. The tent also comes with a rainfly for protection during rainstorms but performs best during warmer seasons when the rainfly can be left off, allowing for a clear view of the skies above. At $1,600, Yakima’s Skyrise Polar is ideal for seasoned rooftop tent campers or those on their first journey into the backcountry.

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