The pandemic massively changed the way everyone travels. For many people, travel is filled with fear and paranoia. Furthermore, there is a lot of confusion with logistics, restrictions, and safety. Everyone is anxious, and the impact of the pandemic on mental health is tough. Traveling and being outdoors is one way to destress. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to do it while still considering your health and restrictions. One way is by using a rooftop tent for your car as accommodation when you travel. 

If you want to elevate your traveling experience by getting a rooftop tent, here’s everything you need to know before you purchase one. 

What Is A Roof Top Tent?

Rooftop tents have been around for a long time now. It is a traditional tent that is made specifically to be mounted and folded on your car’s roof rack. The first rooftop tents can be traced back to the 1930s in Western Europe. In 1958, an Italian inventor named Giuseppe Dionisio patented the idea and developed better roof tents. As the years go by, more and more designs and styles have been made to accommodate more cars and improve the camping and traveling experience.

They can be used for any vehicle – car, SUV, pick-up trucks, trailer, wagon, and almost everything else. With the change of this generation’s lifestyle and social media and online jobs, everyone is always ready to seek their next adventure. The rooftop tent made it possible to travel in a trendy and comfortable way. 

What Qualities Should I Look For When Buying a Roof Top Tent?

Soft-shell vs. Hard-shell 

There are two types of rooftop tents, soft-shell and hard-shell. From the name itself, the former has soft and cloth material while the latter has a hard and solid core. 

Soft-shell tents are made with thick fabrics like poly cotton or ripstop fabric. Their base and frames are aluminum. These types of tents are for people who are looking for more space and comfort. The weight is much lighter than hard-shell tents, and it is cheaper compared to them. However, they take longer to set up and can’t hold against harsh weather conditions.

On the other hand, hard-shell tents are made from fiberglass or aluminum, making them resistant to UV-ray and other outside factors. It is mostly box-shaped, heavier, and extremely durable compared to soft-shells. It is also easy to set up or fold down. They are easier to maintain and clean. Lastly, they can hold against any weather. The only downside is it is more expensive and has little customization available. 

Enough Tent Sleeping Capacity and Size

The first quality you should look for in a rooftop tent is the size and its capacity. Check if the brand or model offers adequate capacity for you. This will depend entirely on your group size and the number of occupants for your tent. Evaluate how many people will be occupying it, their body size, how they sleep, and their preference. There is no industry standard for the dimensions; instead, what you can just do is assume the closest fit and add or subtract one person spending on additional space you need. 

The capacity and space offered because will hugely determine the comfortability of the tent upon usage.  The professionals behind FreeSpirit Recreation suggest that along with the amount of room, consider the size of windows and large entry area.  You can quickly get claustrophobic, and it can get stuffy if you don’t get the appropriate space that you need. 

Here are the common dimensions of rooftop tents

  • Smallest tent – It is 7 inches tall when folded and during transit and 3.6 ft to 4 ft when opened. This tent can fit two up to three people.
  • Largest tent- The largest one is 6 inches tall when folded and during transit and 11 ft when opened. This can fit five up to six people.

There are plenty of different sizes from different manufacturers, but the smallest and largest one is stated above for reference. 

Appropriate Weight Of The Tent

Same as the size, you need to consider the weight of the tent. Your car can only handle a certain weight on top of it. Along with your weight and the tent weight, your vehicle and rack can only take much. For your safety, the tent weight should be appropriate for your vehicle and rack. The tent should be engineered to have a load distribution, sturdy platform, and ladder.  

Another important of choosing the right weight is it will be easier to handle, install and move around. It will be hard for you in all aspects of the tent is heavier than intended and what you can carry. You can find the total tent weight on the product’s specification, or you can ask customer support for the information you need. 

rooftop tent with good ventilation

Good Ventilation

Your rooftop tent will be your bedroom, living room, and basically where you will spend most of your time when you are not outdoors. It is crucial to look for a tent that has good ventilation to ensure that there will be breathable air inside. Look for mesh panels since it is useful for keeping the flow of the air in your tent. Moreover, it can keep insects from getting inside. Next, look if there are airports and dedicated vents. Finally, it would also help if there is a second door or at least a window for improved and continued airflow. 

If you are looking for further ventilation, you can also check if you can put cooling fans inside. Light and breathable materials are also recommended in keeping the inside cool and well ventilated.  

Ease of Set-Up

How easily and quickly you can set up the tent is also an important factor when buying one. One benefit of getting a rooftop tent is hassle-free camping, and if your tent takes longer or harder to deploy, then it defeats the purpose. A soft-shell rooftop tent should go up within 5 to 10 minutes, and a hard-shell tent should not take more than 2 to 5 minutes. Whether your tent is folding or pop-up, it should be easily set up and ready in a few minutes. 


Rooftop tents can be quite expensive, and it can be tricky to find something within your budget. But with proper research, you can get a tent that will give you value for your money. Write down the things you want for a tent, search for tents online and in local stores. From then, make an analysis along with its price if it’s worth it. While it is very tempting to buy the cheapest one, bear in mind that it will be a long-term investment. You will use it for a long time, and the comfortability and safety of people will depend on it. 

Trusted Brand 

Do not base your rooftop tent purchase based on the most famous brand. Some brands are just after profit, but some others are committed to providing the highest quality products. As mentioned, do your research and see what is the most suitable brand for you. It is easy to get information now on the internet. Read reviews, watch vlogs about it and ask previous and current owners feedback about the tent. 

What Are The Benefits of Having A Roof Top Tent? 

Now that you’ve known all of the things to look for when buying one, you might be thinking, is it worth the money? Here are a couple of benefits of owning a rooftop tent. 

rooftop tent sheltering

  1. Sheltered Camping – being elevated from the ground protects you from a lot of external factors that can disrupt your camping. You can prevent wild animals from going through your tent, and the small and crawling animals such as snakes and spiders will find it harder to go above the ground. Staying off the ground will make you feel more sheltered camping in a rooftop tent than in regular tents.  
  2. Better Sleeping Arrangements – most rooftop tents have built-in mattresses that offer a better quality of sleep. They are way more comfortable than lumpy ground and sleeping bags. You will wake up feeling more refreshed and energized, ready to tackle the day. 
  3. Worry-free From Campsite Selection – having a rooftop tent will give you plenty of advantages in terms of campsite selection. You will have better choices, and you’ll get the best view elevated in the campground. 
  4. Save Time and Energy -The amount of time and energy you will save is imaginable. You don’t have to bring out and pack up things every time. No more struggle of putting up the poles and digging up the land for a better foundation and many more things. Going on an adventure made easier for you!
  5. More Space – By having a rooftop tent, you will have more space both in the car and the tent itself. The tent fixated on the roof of your vehicle means you don’t have to put everything inside your it. You can also put other gear and items in the tent. 
  6. Overall comfort – The tent’s thick and waterproof wall will keep you safe and warm—no interruptions and hassle from all the external factors. Everything will be better than camping in a regular tent. 


How To Install Rooftop Tent?

Though it is slightly different with each brand, installing a rooftop tent is a straightforward process. It is all built to attach to your roof rack directly. Since the tent will be big and heavy, you need to ask for another person’s assistance. All you need to do is secure bolts, clips, latches, and attach things. The installation should take a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 30 minutes. 

Make sure to read the manual and follow the installation instructions carefully. Double-check everything after to guarantee that nothing is missed and broken. If you don’t want to do it by yourself, there are service providers who can do it for you for a price. 

How Much Is A Roof Top Tent? 

Rooftop tents are pricey compared to regular tents. This is because of the high-quality materials and engineering of the whole structure. Most of the soft shell tents are ranging $1,000 to $2,000. In comparison, hard-shell tents would be around $2,000 to $5,000 and more. Be careful of buying very cheap tents since rooftop tents are relatively expensive because everything is designed to be strong, stable, and safe to overcome challenging times. Moreso, a costly rooftop tent doesn’t mean it is high-quality. If you compare rooftop tent to ground tent or trailer, the prices have a huge difference. However, in the grand scheme of things, you can see that the price of a rooftop tent is worth it. 

Is Roof Top Tent Safe?

 Rooftop tents are safe as long as it has been installed properly. It is made with safety and functionality in mind. Everything is studied and well-engineered for the consumer’s protection. All you have to do is to make certain that the roof tent you are buying is compatible with your vehicle. It will not impact the speed and movement of your car. Most rooftop tents have minimal to no noise at all. However, you need to be careful on off-roads to avoid any damage on the tent and on the car. 

Aside from the safety level of the tent. It can also keep you safe from other factors such as wild animals, pests, and extreme weather conditions. If there’s any issue or defect, contact the manufacturer right away. 

To wrap things up, it is an easy task to buy a rooftop tent. However, it would be best to research well about brands and models before purchasing one. Do not just look at the product but get to know it first. In addition, look at other factors too, such as after-sales services, compatible accessories, maintenance, and brand credibility. Everyone has their own preference, but we hope that you can use this guide to your advantage. Through this information, you can find the rooftop tent that better suits your needs.