Whether you are looking for a clamshell roof top tent, a hardshell roof top tent or even a soft roof top tent, with this complete buying guide, you will find the perfect roof nests for your overlanding needs in no time.
What is a Roof Top Tent or Roof Net
A roof tent allows you to sleep peacefully on the roof of your truck or Jeep. Different roof top tent styles range in terms of pack size, assembly and disassembly speed, weather protection, and, most importantly, the size and comfort of the laying area. They all have one thing in common: maximum comfort on the road, because you’ve never gotten off the road so quickly as with this type of camping. Other benefits come from the height of your car’s sleeping area. As a result, you won’t have to worry about scorpions or mice. Another advantage is the view of all the other tents till sundown.
A road trip becomes a road trip with a roof tent since you no longer need a spot for your tent. It is sufficient to have one parking place. Because certain versions allow you to easily fold away the mattress, sheets, or sleeping bag, you always have your hotel room with you, think of roof nests literally as a nest for yourself on your roof.
This is true travel freedom!
How Does a Roof Top Tent Work
The basic carrier, also known as cross members, is mounted on your vehicle at a 90-degree angle to the direction of travel. These cross elements support the tent. It resembles a flattened, oversized ski box (hard shell, hard top, or hard cover) or a well-tied piece of baggage, depending on the model (soft top). Both variations have one thing in common: this roof installation must be done with utmost caution. Every time you set up your tent from now on, you will save the time you spent here. Because it happens quickly: a crank or a lever mechanism is used to erect the tent on the roof. Many versions do not require tensioning, straightening, or alignment; the roof tent is always ideal – assuming the parking lot is level. There’s also no need to pump the air mattress because Globetrotter’s roof tents already have an extremely comfy foam mattress.
Your sleeping space is between one and a half and two meters high, depending on the vehicle model. Access is through a ladder on the roof tent’s outside or, in certain variants, a very comfortable stairway within the tent.
A cotton-polyester mix is generally used for the tent skin. The materials are UV-resistant, water-repellent, and enable air to flow, allowing you to enjoy a variety of models throughout the year.
Many manufacturers have already included hanging nets, inside pockets, and battery-operated LED lighting in their roof tents to improve comfort. Awnings, sun sails, or full enclosures around the access ladder are available on certain vehicle roof tents.
What are the Advantages of a Hardshell Roof Top Tent
When packed, hard-shell roof tents resemble an enormous, flattened ski box or a traditional roof box. The surrounding hard shell is generally composed of plastic or carbon, which is both beautiful and light. When the box is opened, the bottom section of the box becomes the tent floor, and the top part becomes the tent roof. As a result, the laying surface might be as vast as the automobile top (a little overhang is already possible). This makes hard-shell roof tents unsuitable for tiny automobiles and off-road vehicles with small roofs, as well as families with several children.
Other hardshell root top tent advantages include:
- When folded, hard-shell roof tents are extremely aerodynamic, and noise development while driving is minimal.
- Hard shell roof tents are simple to erect.
- Ladders or legs are not required to support hard-shell roof tents.
- The vehicle’s wheels are the only points of touch with the ground.
- When it rains, hard shell roof tents require less tent fabric, which can become saturated.
- While driving, the hard shell may generally be utilized to hold bedding and other small goods.
Hard-shell roof tents are often heavier and more expensive than equivalent soft-top types, weighing between 60 and 100 kilos for X-Large models. They provide a significant benefit for solo travelers, couples, and small families on road journeys where parking spaces change practically daily. Every evening, the tent is set up in a matter of seconds, leaving time for the basics.
There are usually two types of hardshell roof top tent:
- The first type has a front joint. The angle of opening is 45 degrees. When fully opened, the ceiling tent like a book that has been thrown open (see below). This version provides a lot of headroom at the laying surface’s head end (usually around 150 centimeters). The freedom of mobility is constrained at the foot end. The opening is made possible by the use of gas pressure springs. To re-close it, a strap is utilized. No other roof tent can be put up as rapidly as this one. This sort of hard shell roof tent generally has three entrances and lookouts, so there’s a good chance you’ll have a clear view of the sunset.
- The second type, the whole roof lifts through extending metal rods. The lid of the box is entirely raised. Between the box lid and the box bottom, the tent fabric expands (see here). The seat height is generally decreased (by about 90 centimeters) in this version, but the height remains consistent throughout the tent. Because the tent fabric is only connected vertically, it only needs to protect against heavy rain and is thus slower to wet through. The long sides’ cross bracing provides leaning points and a sofa-like sensation. A crank is generally used to open it.
You may keep the roof top tent installed on the roof for several weeks if it is not in use. Some people even keep their roof top tents on their roofs all year. But only with a little care and frequent ventilation is this achievable. The weather-resistant exterior box keeps everything inside safe from the elements and thieves. Another benefit over the soft-top variant is this.
What are the Advantages of a Soft or Clamshell Roof Top Tent
A soft or clamshell top roof tent resembles a traditional tent more than a hard shell variant. The tents frequently resemble a tiny pitched roof home with open windows and an overhanging roof. The construction is not as rapid as the hard shell version, but it is just as simple. Some struts must still be connected by hand, and the tent must be tensioned. Seasoned overlanders can set up a soft-top roof tent in less than 30 seconds with practice.
A folding technique is used to collapse a soft top roof tent on the roof. The size of the resultant “package” varies depending on the model. Small roof tents are barely as tall as a long ruler when folded. Even when folded, large family tents might take up two square meters of roof area. Smaller variants allow you to tie two roof tents to a car or store a boat or other outdoor gear beside the roof tent. This isn’t possible with the hard shell version.
Other clamshell roof top tent advantages include:
- The proportions of the automobile roof have no bearing on the sleeping space.
- The tent is usually “folded” once in the middle, making the tent base twice the size of the bundle on the roof.
- The lying regions are generally well proportioned.
- Soft shell roof top tents take up half as much space on the roof as hard-shell ones, allowing smaller models to be fitted on tiny vehicles or limos.
- Clamshell roof top tents that can be folded lengthwise, like as the Thule Tepui Foothill, provide extra room for roof baggage, bicycles, canoes, and other items.
- Some soft top roof tent types, such as the Tepui Autana 3 or Tepui Autana 4, have a design that allows you to enter the tent dry. You enter a little anteroom because the ladder is not on the exterior of the tent.
- An optional tent expansion (annex) that envelops the staircase and provides a stairwell is commonly included with these versions. That way, your shoes will keep dry as well!
- Soft shell roof top tents are significantly lighter and more compact than hard top roof tents.
- When not in use, they are easier to store than hard-shell roof tents.
- Soft shell roof top tents are generally the only functional and visually acceptable roof tent option in the off-road sector and for compact automobiles.
- Roof tents with soft shells are less expensive than those with hard shells.
A rain cover is tied over the folded soft clamshell roof top tent, lashed, and sealed with a circumferential zipper for transportation (depending on the manufacturer). This rain cover is extremely durable and looks like a truck tarpaulin. Nothing flutters in the wind with this roof top tent version when correctly stored, and the driving noise is somewhat louder than with the hard shell version, but still manageable.
How is a Roof Top Tent Attached to the Roof
Apart from convertibles, virtually every vehicle can be fitted with a roof rack, whether it fits on rain gutters, roof rails, C-bars, or fixed point attachment. Ask your vehicle dealer, even if you can’t figure out how you’d install a roof tent. There is always a way, whether it’s through roof racks that “cling” to the door frame or other means.
Roof rails are standard on the majority of cars. These rails has cross elements attached to it. Thule cross members for cars from a variety of automakers are available. Your auto dealer will assist you if you can’t locate what you’re searching for. We usually recommend either a Frontrunner roof rack or Thule roof bars.
What Does a Roof Top Tent Weigh
Roof top tents usually range in weight from 80 to 180 pounds. This weight, plus the weight of the roof rails or roof rack, should not exceed your vehicle’s maximum roof load. Because the permitted roof load is the weight that you can transfer when driving on your roof, you and your bed partner do not need to factor it into this calculation. If you’re sleeping in your tent, the car should be parked… Please keep in mind that the weight of bed linen or other cargo must be added to the overall weight of the roof tent.
Overall, you should strive to keep the weight of the roof top tent as low as possible, as a heavier roof load always affects driving behavior and vehicle handling. The vehicle registration paperwork contains information about the permitted roof load. There are roof rail and roof top tent combos that you can build even if your car’s roof weight is only 100 pounds.
What Other Equipment do I Need for a Roof Top Tent Trip
In general for overlanding, camping and travel, a selection of practical equipment for all types of roof top tent adventures, from easy-care sleeping bags, kitchen equipment, space-saving camping furniture, and compact solar panels to essential utensils for your outdoor toilet. Drive-up wheel ramps can also be used to position the car horizontally for better comfort. Awnings and roof top tent insulation for winter usage are some of the accessories available for roof tents from some manufacturers.