Picking the best rooftop tent.
First off, let’s go over WHY a rooftop tent is a great idea. They make it so easy and quick to set up and tear down camp. There is no trying to stuff a tent in a small bag that you know it will never fit in. If you are on the move a lot and only spend one night in a camp site it is even better. They also get you up off the ground and further away from critters and bad weather, nothing is worse than having water run under and into your tent. This also means you track in less mud and dirt, climbing up the ladder helps get some debris off your shoes, or you can just leave them at the bottom or hanging on a rung and your tent stays clean. A mattress that is always ready to go and does not deflate is my favorite part; no need to unroll or inflate a mattress, there is always a soft one ready for you when you are tired. The view 6 feet up is also generally better, no need to look at the base of trees when you can see over them! There also is not a pesky, lumpy ground to deal with; no more searching for the flattest piece of dirt and moving every pebble and stick out of the way. You can set up camp wherever you like and always have a smooth surface to lay on right away. Personally, having one on the tent is my favorite way to go. That way you can go on trails during the day without having to take down camp or pack up. Just unhook and go explore. Plus, then you do not have to take it off the vehicle after your camping trip, just park the trailer and unhook the vehicle.
Hard shell or soft?
- There are many good things about the hard-shell roof top tents. Quick and easy set-up, tear down
- More protection in transport & while camping
- Aerodynamic – better fuel mileage
- Lockable (some)
- More durable
Hard Shell Cons
- More expensive
- Heavier – stick it on a trailer, you will thank me – no pulling it off the rack of a vehicle when you don’t need it.
Soft Shell Pros
- Better price point - this is generally the deciding factor for most people
Soft Shell Cons
- Generally, longer set up/tear down – most require poles
- Less protection both in durability and to weather – those flaps can get loud in the wind.
- About as Aerodynamic as a brick – or a jeep
What to pick?
From a budget standpoint the soft shell is a little easier on the bank account. Honestly, if you do not camp very often it is a great choice. For people that like to camp a lot, are driving all over creation and could use the extra durability as well as protection the hard shell is the way to go.