AKA Rooftop Tents
Overlanding is a great way to explore the world and find all those magical hidden away locations. While its easy to grab any tent and be on your way, utilizing the one of the best overlanding tents will not only make life more comfortable in 2019/2020, but hassle free as well.
There’s no greater feeling than having the world at your disposal from inside your own vehicle. The possibilities are endless and the journey itself is the main attraction. While the term overlanding may be new to some, camping enthusiasts have been utilizing vehicle camping like this for decades.
How To Choose The Best Overland Tent For You
Overlanding has become increasing popular the world over, so much so companies have started up to cater to this market. If buying a rooftop tent and a 4wd is not possible for you, in some locations you can hire a 4wd with a overland tent already installed. Living the life doesn’t come much easier than this.
But overlanding is not meant to be ‘too easy’. Half the fun is turning your 4wd into an overlanding beast that you can be self sufficient in regardless of where you are in the country. By pimping out your vehicle into the ultimate overland camping experience on wheels, you no longer need to fuss around with a camp trailer, caravan and certainly not those motor-homes which can cost you an arm and a leg.
Are Rooftop Tents Expensive
When you look at it that way, the investment you make in a rooftop tent really is considerably cheap, not too mention better suited to someone wanting to explore the world without limitations. So in my opinion, the price of a rooftop is not expensive, rather a massive saving on NOT having to fork out multiple thousands of dollars on a camping trailer etc.
Other than price, there are other factors to consider when trying to find the best tent for overlanding. These include:
- Hardtop or soft top tents, which is better?. This really will depend your camping needs. If a quicker set up is more important to you, than a hardtop is the way to go. Soft tops are the more affordable option, but require more set up work.
- 4 season rooftop tents?. Some people go overlanding for months or even years at a time. So a 4 season tent is certainly a must if you want to stay warm in the winter months perched up on your cars roof.
- Rooftop compatibility. Always ensure the tent you buy is suitable for the roof racks on you truck or 4wd.
- Size of the overland tent will also be determined by your camping style. For quick over nighters, a en suite attachment or annex may no be what you want as its extra hassle to assemble. Whereas if you’re planning to camp in the same spot for multiple days before moving on, maybe you want that little extra room for privacy etc.
- Truck or rooftop tent, make sure you buy the right one for your vehicle. Larger tents may not fit on a short bed trucks for example.
Top Rated Rooftop Overland Tent For 2020
When it comes time to buy the best overlanding tent, chances are you have heard quite a bit about the Smittybilt Overland tent along the way. This is one of the most popular rooftop tents and I’m pretty confident you would have seen a few of these on your camping journeys so far.
Why are they so popular among overlanders?. Well in my opinion, it comes down to the cost. The Overland by Smittybilt is a very good price when you compare it to some of the other front runners like ARB. To see the exact price, you can check price on amazon here.
So Whats All The Hype About The Overland By Smittybilt About
First of all, its considered one of the best overland tents for Jeep Wrangler owners and they are dead easy to attach to a Smittybilt SRC overhead racking system found on amazon here. So it takes all the guess work out of whether or not it will fit onto this s that type of roofing rack system.
Besides being quite versatile, the Overland features everything you need without having to pay 3 or 4 times the price. Everything from the included mattress, 12v adapter, insect screen, LED lights to the stainless steel hinges are all included in the price.
To me, this is the number one reason these tents are so popular for overlanding. They pack a punch when it comes to value for your money, but also offer amazing resilience against harsh weather. With a 1500mm PU water rating, the rip-stop polyester offers great resistance to unexpected down pours.
That is just the tent body as well, so when you incorporate the rainfly into the mix, you’re get some serious weather protection. While the rainfly is removable, its not the easiest thing to achieve on a slightly lifted vehicle such as a Jeep. Because the body of the tent is treated, its not unusual to leave the fly off.
What this does is leaves you this amazing sun roof where you can sleep under the mesh insect screen and gaze into the night sky. This allows so much air inside the tent, its near impossible to feel stuffy inside this tent. Even with the rainfly on, its a hard task as you can open the flaps to the sun roof and embrace the open air.
Like most rooftop tents, you can choose to get the annex, or leave it be for the time being. But the option to add on a annex further down the track is a good feature to have. This is entirely a personal choice and does not affect the effectiveness of the rooftop tent.
So as you can see, the Overland tent is really a feature packed tent and when you compare it side by side to one of the more expensive brands as the ARB or Tepui, its no wonder so many people use the Smittybilt as there overland tent. A quality tent at a reasonable price.
Best Jeep Rooftop Tents With Included Annex
The Tuff Stuff Ranger is a popular rooftop tent for Jeep wranglers and so forth. But it is not just limited to Jeeps by any means. This is one versatile overland tent that can be used on pick up trucks, dual cabs, trailers and of course SUV’s.
Mounts To Almost Any Roof Rack System
The versatility of the Tuff Stuff begins with the most important part of the process, mounting it to your cross bars or roof racks. The mounting kit that comes with the tent allows you to mount the tent to pretty much any set up.
The kit includes fixtures to mount to round, square and even oval bars. However, you may need to buy longer bolts if your bar is greater than 1.75″ in diameter.
The Tuff Stuff Ranger model’s versatility doesn’t end there either. It comes with the annex included which does give you more camping options. The annex area alone is big enough to fit a queen airbed, think the kids, while the whole tent overall gives you an impressive 100ft2 of sleeping space. Not too shabby for a rooftop tent.
But if you’re not keen on bringing the kids, wasting time setting up the annex for a quick overnight stay, the annex can be left behind. Without the annex, you can set this tent up in mere minutes. Its as simple as unzipping the cover, retracting the ladder and unfolding the tent. Nothing hard about this tent.
Tuff Stuff Ranger Video Review
Free Up Cabin Space
Another solid feature of the Tuff Stuff Ranger is that you can leave your sleeping equipment up on the roof as you travel. This frees up more space in the cabin of your vehicle or the back of the truck. But do keep in mind that the Ranger weighs 132 pounds and with any extra sleeping gear, you may tip over the non static capacity of your roof racks.
The weight capacity up inside the tent once its all set up is roughly 685 pounds, which is quite sufficient for 2 adults with their gear. But as always, you need to check the static weight capacity of your vehicles roof and or the roof racks.
Hanging down from the base of the tent, in the annex section is a waterproof pouch. This is a very nice inclusion as its the perfect place to keep your cell phone, keys, torch etc while you sleep.
Quality At An Affordable Price
Some overlanding tents can set you back quite a large chunk of money. This is all well and good if the quality is there. But what I find very appealing about the Tuff Stuff Ranger is that it maintains a high quality standard, without forcing you to remortgage your home to afford one.
From the simple things such as the stainless steel hinges, which take a fair beating to the aluminum flooring and poles for superior strength and resilience. The seams on the ripstop heavy duty canvas are all welded, to prevent moisture seeping in and the canvas just feels tough, not that cheap stuff some people may have come accustomed to.
Even right down to the chunky looking zippers that look like they would suit a tank to the annex which is 4 sided and features a thick waterproof flooring. The Tuff Stuff is one of my favorite versatile rooftop tents for jeeps, SUV’s, Trucks etc.
Best Hardtop Rooftop Tent For Overlanding
The major benefit to buying a hardtop tent over a soft top version is ease of use and durability. A hardtop is always going to be stronger and more durable than a soft tops cover. While the covers on the soft tops are generally considered heavy duty, waterproof and quite durable, they can never compare to a hard shell.
Hard top tents are also quicker to ‘pop up’ compared to a soft shell. But in my opinion, the speed of set up does not justify how much more they cost compared to a heavy duty canvas tent. However, the toughness of a hardtop is certainly appealing.
TMB Hardtop Pop Up Rooftop Tent For Cars And More
While the TMB may not have all the famous badging of well known companies, I have included this model as I find it to be in a similar position as the above Tuff Stuff Ranger. Features you need, good quality but without the over the top price tag.
The fist thing you need to acknowledge is that a hardtop like this is going to be fairly heavy, so you would need a decent cross bar set up that can hold a minimum of 200 pounds while moving. When stationary, static, the TMB is designed for 2 adults, so ensure your cross bars can handle the weight of the tent plus 2 adults. Also, try get racks with a good hand size clearance between the base of the tent and the top of your car, as this makes assembly so much easier.
Once its mounted on your car, you can literally be up and in your tent in under a minute. The pop up feature with the locking shock assisted arms makes set up dead simple.
Heavy Duty Canvas
While you can be sure that you’re safe from anything hard falling on top of the tent due to the hardtop, such as hail, rocks and twigs, having heavy duty canvas walls provides repeatability inside the tent and protection from rain.
Once you’re inside the tent, you will notice that the ceiling height is only 34 inches, so while you may feel a little cramped, you’re not exactly meant to be partying inside a tent like this anyhow.
The closed dimensions, where it comes into contact with you roof racks are 84″ x 49″ with a height of 13 inches. So quite large, but still well suited to most vehicles including your common sedan car.
Best Trailer Tent – Large Rooftop Tents
For some Smittybilt can be either hit or miss, like many brands they can excel in some areas, but fail in others. Fortunately for people that want the best trailer tent, or a rooftop tent suitable for 4 people, Smittybilt knocks it out of the park.
Now this is the Overland XL tent, meaning this thing is huge. Hence why its suitable for up to 4 people. But bare in mind that the weight capacity of the tent is 770 pounds and the tent itself weighs upwards of 140 pounds.
So you need to ensure the people you sleep inside the tent have a combined weight of no more than 770 pounds, but equally important is that you have a heavy duty set of roof racks to hold this thing. The roof racks need to have a minimum of 800 pounds static weight capacity in my opinion, and that is minimum!.
Is The Overland XL Tent For Rooftops?
Smittybilt makes a point of making you aware of the fact this tent is so big, its designed for the back of trailers. This is because the footprint of the Overland XL is 47″ x 76″, which leaves just mere inches of rooftop space on a 4 door Jeep Wrangler.
The thing is you need to consider both the weight of this tent along with the shear size. The roof racks or crossbars need to be able to hold a lot of static weight, remember the tent alone without your belongings is upwards of 140 pounds.
In regards to attaching it to the back of a truck, you will need a long bed for the XL to fit, a short bed will simply be too short. So whether or not you attach it to your rooftop will be at you own discretion, but just remember Smittybilt states its a trailer tent for a reason.
Overall, the Overland XL makes for a great trailer tent, its spacious and built strong enough for a family of 4. It comes with a 12V cigarette lighter plug for all your 12v camping accessories, lined with mosquito proof mesh, LED lights which can be stuck to the roof of the tent, removable rainfly and skylights for when the fly is on to star gaze until your hearts content.
Lightest Rooftop Tents
Lightweight camping gear is often associated with backpacking or hiking, but when it comes to the lightest rooftop tents, the main benefit is that you may not need such a heavy duty racking system to support the weight of the tent while moving.
Weighing just 93 pounds, the Front Runner tent can be less than half the weight of other rooftop tents. Being lightweight is also appealing as its easy to manage, especially if you’re trying to mount the tent solo. Imagine trying to lift up a 180 pound tent, above your head and in all sorts of weird positions.
The Front Runner is also said to have the lowest profile. This is a benefit for drag or wind resistance when driving. But there’s alos the hidden benefit of being able to drive into your garage with the RTT attached to your vehicle without hitting the top of the garage door frame.
This is of course if you have a taller garage in general. The actual height of the RTT will depend on what roof racks you have as they all have different heights. Excluding the ladder, the Front Runner has a height of just 7.87 inches. But when all is said and done, the height above the cross bars is just under 12 inches. So add the height of your car, the height of your cross bars and 12 inches to see if you can safely fit in through your garage door.
Plenty Of Cross Breeze
Inside the tent you are spoiled with choices for allowing air in to circulate. All the windows have no see um screens and also include a zip up privacy window, even without the rain fly attached. With the fly attached, you can even leave windows open for fresh air to circulate as the fly extends out to provide awning like protection.
On the ceiling, you get a vent which can be opened to allow hot air to escape. This vent is also protected by the insect netting so no bugs get in while you’re trying to stay cool.
All in all, the Front Runner is a very good RTT, especially for the price. Its lightweight, low profile and offers great opportunities for air to circulate within the tent. The special blend of 400D oxford material appears to be quite heavy duty and resilient to wear and tear. An annex is also available to buy separately to give you more privacy and space.
Overland Tents For Jeeps Or >55″ Crossbars
I quite like the Raptor Series RTT as its design is unique, simplistic yet effective. If you don’t like the idea of overhanging your vehicle and sleeping 10 foot above the ground with nothing buy air beneath you, the Raptor Series is a good choice.
Its labelled as a great Jeep roof top tent because it goes hand in hand with the Jeeps stock roof racking system. But with a cross bar, on other types of vehicles, no more than 55 inches apart, the Raptor Series can also be mounted.
If you have a short bed truck, the tent will overhang the end and as long as you have a cross bar that’s higher than the tub you can make it work for a long bed truck.
The thing to keep in mind when assessing whether or not this overland tent is suitable for your vehicle or not is the fact you will need cross bars that support a minimum of 160 pounds and that this tent is almost 7 foot long.
When all is said and done, its surface area is about 78″ x 50″ wide. So provided the surface of your cars roof, truck bed, trailer etc and the cross bars on your vehicle can support these measurements. The height of the considerably slimline tent is 8 inches. So not too much taller than the above Front Runner.
Appealing Design & Features
I really like how the side of the tent opens up to present this large awning The entry door is quite large also. But with this awning, you can sit up under the opening without getting scalded by the sun, protected from the rain and can gaze out into the views for hours on end.
The unique windows that double as storage pockets allow for great cross ventilation and the ceiling vent helps to get rid of built up hot air. Overall, the Raptor Series is a little different than most, but there’s nothing wrong with being a little different.
Best Overland Tent For Pick Up Trucks
While just about any RTT can be mounted to the bed of a truck provided you have the racking system in place, a more simplistic approach is to use a truck bed tent.
Provided you don’t have a canopy in place, you can easily mount one of these Kodiak Truck tents to a trucks bed which is between 5.5″ and 8″ long bed trucks. If you’re truck has a cab window, the tent even has a window for easy access in and out of the cab of your vehicle.
But just we’re on the same page, this is a tent in which your trucks bed is the floor. The tent provides the ceiling, walls and entry door, which is screened off for protection against bugs.
The tent works by using a easy clamping system, so no unnecessary drilling and mounting is required. Provided you have a truck bed air mattress, you can find portable comfort in the back of your truck no matter where you go, and you’re protected from the elements whether it be rain, light snow, UV rays and even annoying insects.
The Downsides To A Truck Tent For Overland Purposes
There is one major downside to using a tent like this for overlanding, and that is you lose your truck beds storage space. If you have a dual cab and have no backseat passengers, you can still store gear in here. But if you’re on the road a lot, moving from spot to spot, you don’t want to be continuously packing up your gear, moving it every time. Just to arrive to unpack everything to make way for the tent in the tub.
Whereas with one of the above rooftop tents, the tent stays attached to the racks of your tub racks and you still have storage space underneath the tent/racks while on the move. But other than that, a truck bed tent like this is great for 1 or 2 people hitting the road wanting to live out of their truck.
What Is Overland Camping?
Sleeping in your car or with a tent beside your vehicle for the night as a result of being lost is not overlanding. To go overland, you’re basically enjoying the experience of camping in a self efficient vehicle. Think of overlanding as caravaning, but without the caravan.
Its being the boss of your own life and going where you want, when you want. For regular camping, the destination, the campsite, is typically the man attraction.With overlanding, its all about the experience, challenges and exploring remotes places on the go, not the campsite.
Overlanding is certainly not easy and is something that many hours of research should be put into before loading up your vehicle. People that go over-landing may not return home for months or even years. Its basically living out of your vehicle and tent for extended periods of time. But different to living out of a tent full time as you are not secluded to one or a few locations.
Choosing the best overland tent is just one aspect of overlanding, while important, there are many other more important things to take into consideration. So here’s a few frequently asked questions for the first time overlander.
Overland Tent FAQ’s
Can Any Vehicle Be Fitted With A Rooftop Tent?
The short answer to this is, yes. However, it does not mean you should. An overland tent will add weight to the vehicle and if you’re thinking about adding a rooftop tent to your sedan or hatchback, I would suggest you think twice.
These tents can weight as little as 120 pounds and skyrocket from there. Then there’s the weight of the roof racks. The more involved the tent is, the heavier it will be. All vehicles have a weight capacity and a roof top capacity. For a small car, this burden of extra weight could cause you all sorts of problems including: reduced acceleration and lack of power on freeways, you will chew through a lot more fuel and your suspension will be tested to the max.
Will My Existing Roof Racks Be Suitable For A Overland Tent?
While the general consensus is that yes, any roof racks can have a tent fitted to them, this advice is not always as clear as it seems. If you don’t already have racks installed, contact the tent manufacturer and ask what roof racks are the best for their tent.
The problem is that roof racks can only holds specific amount of weight and if your tent weighs 150 pounds, you may already be over the racks weight capacity. Excessive weights on the racks can cause the engineering of the roof racks to become altered, meaning they are a liability.
Do Rooftop Tents Have A Weight Capacity
While most tents can sleep 2 people, some have the capacity to hold 4 people. What about if you’re a heavy person, will the overland tent hold my weight?
This is a very important question and one that should be thoroughly researched before buying. First you need to consider the weight capacity of your vehicles roof and then how much weight the roof racks can hold. Lastly check to see the specified weight capacity on the roof top tent. Many of the annex ladders will have roughly a 250 pound to 300 pound capacity. So if you’re a heavy person, it may be best to find a truck tent where you sleep in the tray on the back, or in a SUV tent which attached to the back or side of your 4wd.
Advantages Of Rooftop Tents When Overlanding
Some say that RTT’s were born as a result of camping up high in the outback to limit your exposure to ground animal threats. Sure this is one of the original befits to a roof top tent, but for overlanders, its much more than just protection from dangerous ground dwelling wildlife.
So why do people prefer rooftop tents over regular camping tents when overlanding?. While there is certainly nothing wrong with or stopping you from using a regular canvas tent such as the Springbar or Kodiak tent when you plan to overland across the country, there are a number of benefits a RTT offers.
Million Dollar Views
For the same reason Penthouse apartments attract the million do views, the views you can get from being elevated 9 feet in the air are priceless. The view you get camping at ground level has nothing on the views from up there.
Better Weather Protection
Never again do you need to worry about whether or not your tent has bathtub flooring or 2000 PU coated heavy duty tarpaulin floors, with a RTT tent there is no such thing as ground water entering the tent. A good solid heavy duty canvas RTT will protect you from the rain and get you nice and dry.
Jut pay attention to strong winds, being elevated higher you may attract stronger gasps of winds. So be mindful of where you’re camping and position your vehicle with some sort of wind barrier for the best result.
Easy Setup For On The Go Lifestyle
There’s no faster way to set up your campsite than with a over landing tent positioned on your rooftop or truck. Especially if you go with a hardtop, they can be assembled and ready to go in literally one minute. Sure the instant ground tents can set up in one minute also, but this is just the bare bones and doesn’t include getting it out of the bag etc.
When you can be driving off road, pull into your desired location and be up and in your tent within a couple of minutes, you know you’re onto a winner.
Flat Sleeping Surface Guaranteed
The thing I hate most about regular camping is finding a nice flat and rock free camping spot. When the ground has an incline, by even 5%, its very hard to sleep on a double high air mattress without the feeling of rolling off the thing.
Or having to spend 30 minutes patrolling for rocks and twigs that could potentially put a hole in your tent/airbed. With a RTT, you park on a flat surface and you will always have a flat and rock free sleeping experience.
Overall, RTT’s Are The Best For Overland Camping
After going through the overland tent reviews, and the advantages to a RTT, its clear to see that rooftop tents are the best for overland camping. There is no second best here, because nothing other than a truck tent can equal the convenience, practicality and ease of use that you demand when overlanding.
The type of RTT you buy will certainly be determined by the vehicle you drive, your intended use and possibly the weight capacity of your tent and vehicle. Never go overland camping if you’re not sure what the weight capacity of your vehicle and roof racks are, you’re just asking for trouble.