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The Best Rooftop Tents for Outdoor Adventures

SUV parked in countryside with rooftop tent attached

Outdoor adventures require the right gear to be enjoyed to the fullest extent, especially for those outdoor enthusiasts planning on camping. Rooftop tents have emerged as a unique and practical solution for campers who are looking for a comfortable sleeping arrangement that’s both portable and elevated. 

These tents are available in a wide variety of styles, offering everything from a simple yet rugged design that can withstand harsh elements to a more luxurious camping experience that’s designed for longer stays. Keep reading to learn about the best rooftop tents for outdoor adventures.

Table of Contents
Overview of the global rooftop tent market
Best rooftop tents

Overview of the global rooftop tent market

Man lying down in rooftop tent with mountain views

Rooftop tents are designed as an additional mount for the top of a vehicle, making them the perfect option for consumers who want an elevated place to sleep that’s both convenient to set up and secure. 

In recent years, more consumers who enjoy camping but can’t afford to purchase a camper van or an RV have been taking into consideration purchasing a rooftop tent for their outdoor adventures, as it provides a more comfortable and safe sleeping space than an often rocky or uneven terrain does.

Rooftop tent with ladder and string lights hanging from it

With more consumers spending time outdoors, the market for rooftop tents is constantly growing. By 2023, the global market value of rooftop tents reached over US $200 million, and by 2027, that number is expected to reach at least US $312.45 million, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.76%. Rooftop tents come in a variety of styles, which helps attract campers with different needs.

Best rooftop tents

Brown rooftop tent setup on top of 4x4 in forest

Just like regular camping tents, rooftop tents all offer something a little different to the consumer, with unique features that will appeal to different groups of people. Considerations such as the weather, the tent material, what type of vehicle the tent will be mounted on, how many people need to fit inside the rooftop tent, and if additional tent space is required on the ground as well will all be taken into account before a purchase is made.

Three people jumping in front of car with rooftop tent

According to Google Ads, “rooftop tent” has an average monthly search volume of 246,000. Between July and December 2023, over a 6-month period, searches remained steady at this number, with the most searches coming in February at 301,000.

Google Ads also reveals that the most searched-for type of rooftop tent is “hard shell rooftop tent” with 12,100 searches, followed by “pop-up rooftop tent” with 2,900, “clamshell rooftop tent” with 1,900, and “inflatable rooftop tent” with 390. Keep reading to learn more about these rooftop tents for outdoor adventures.

Hard shell rooftop tent

Hard shell rooftop tent expanded on top of vehicle

The hard shell rooftop tent is one of the most popular among consumers. It’s known for its durability and ability to withstand harsh weather conditions, as well as being a good option for people who want a quick tent setup. The hydraulic system allows users to open and close the tent structure within just a few minutes, and the sturdy base and frame create a secure sleeping area that’s more resistant to wind than other styles of rooftop tents. 

Consumers also appreciate the adaptability of the hard shell rooftop tent to different roof racks, its low maintenance compared to fabric tents, and the inclusion of a built-in mattress in many designs. The downsides of this type of rooftop tent are that it can be bulky to transport and is much heavier than other tents due to the hard shell material.

Google Ads shows that over a 6-month period, between July and December 2023, searches for “hard shell rooftop tent” increased by 18%, with the most searches coming in August.

Pop-up rooftop tent

Camper van with an expanded pop-up rooftop tent

Campers who are looking for a convenient and easy setup will often turn to the pop-up rooftop tent. This tent can either have a hardshell or be made of a fabric material, and it uses a hydraulic system to open and close. Compared to hardshell pop-up tents, they are considerably lighter and easier to travel with, and the mesh panels allow for ventilation during warmer weather.

The pop-up rooftop tent comes in various sizes, accommodating up to four people, which is ideal for families. It provides a comfortable sleeping area and is able to keep campers dry in wet conditions, but the lack of ventilation means that it may not be a good option for winter camping as it lacks insulation. It’s normally found attached to a camper van.

Google Ads shows that over a 6-month period, between July and December 2023, searches for “pop-up rooftop tent” decreased by 33%, with the most searches coming in August.

Clamshell rooftop tent

Woman sitting on the edge of pop-up rooftop tent

The clamshell rooftop tent is a more portable version of the pop-up rooftop tent that can be attached to the roof rack of any vehicle for the ultimate elevated camping experience. This unique design can be separated into sections: a top half that lifts open and a bottom where the mattress will sit. It’s made of a durable material that can resist elements such as UV rays and rain, and the design also makes it more aerodynamic.

Although not ideal for extreme cold temperatures, the clamshell rooftop tent is perfect for warmer months, and the addition of a side ladder makes it easily accessible from the ground.

Google Ads shows that over a 6-month period, between July and December 2023, searches for “clamshell rooftop tent” decreased by 12%, with the most searches coming between July and September.

Inflatable rooftop tent

Inflatable rooftop tent with additional space and ladder

The inflatable rooftop tent is a modern adaptation of the classic rooftop tent that requires no metal poles to hold the structure up. Instead, the beams are filled with air to provide structural support, making it very easy to set up using a pump with no additional hassle. These tents are popular with consumers who want to take a lightweight tent with them that takes up minimal space when packed away.

Heavy-duty polyester or reinforced fabric are recommended materials for the inflatable rooftop tent, and it’s important that the structure have a built-in airflow to prevent condensation.

Google Ads shows that over a 6-month period, between July and December 2023, searches for “inflatable rooftop tent” decreased by 18%, with the most searches coming in August.


Couple lying down in tent parked on beach

Choosing the best rooftop tents for outdoor adventures depends on a number of factors, such as the weather conditions, how many people will be using the tent, the rooftop rack, and the preferred setup. 

Some designs, such as the hard shell rooftop tent, are designed for harsh weather conditions, whereas others should only be used in warmer climates. The rooftop tent market is only expected to grow in the coming years as consumers look for comfortable alternatives to traditional camping tents.

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