Whether you are planning on camping or you just love to go on road trips, it’s important to know about the alternatives to roof top tents. Having a roof top tent is a great way to sleep and enjoy the view while you’re camping, but you need to make sure you know which ones are best suited to your needs. You should also know about the benefits of roof top tents, as well as the types of tents available, which we’ll go into at the end of the post.
To summarize before we get into comparisons, these would be your most realistic shelter options / sleep systems for overland camping:
- Camper Vans / RVs / Motorhomes
- Roof Top Tents (Multiple Types)
- Classic Ground Tents
- Truck Bed Tents
- Camping Hammocks
- Expedition Trailers
- Bivy Sacks / Sleeping Bags
Of course, there’s always the option of camping shelterless if you’re brave enough, but we strongly advise against it due to health risks. And, if all else fails or isn’t a good fit for you – there’s no shame in renting a cabin or whatever else you feel comfortable with.
Roof Top Tents vs. Truck Bed Tents
Whether you are camping out or just passing through, you may be considering getting a roof top tent or a truck bed tent. Both offer plenty of space, but they have a few differences that you need to consider.
Rooftop tents are typically mounted on expedition vehicles. They are also known as floorless tents. They can be rigged up using a hoist, winch, or lift system. This makes setup and breakdown a breeze. These tents also provide great ventilation and bug proofing.
Truck bed tents are similar to roof top tents in that they provide a flat sleeping area for your vehicle. However, they are not as durable as roof top tents, but they limit your mobility a bit and limit your storage space, depending on how your overlanding rig is set up.
Truck bed tents are also much more comfortable than ground tents. Most truck bed tents have a built-in mattress pad, so you won’t have to worry about having to bring a mattress. Also, they are not as vulnerable to bad weather as ground tents.
Roof Top Tents vs. Recreational Vehicles
Whether you’re considering getting a rooftop tent for your vehicle or a camper shell for your vehicle, it’s important to consider a number of things. The cost of a rooftop tent, the weight of the tent, and the gas mileage it’s going to have are all factors to consider. The weight of a rooftop tent can have a significant impact on gas mileage. Depending on the size and model of your vehicle, you may lose as much as 10 mpg with a rooftop tent installed.
The weight of a rooftop tent may also affect suspension sag, which can cause handling problems in your vehicle. Depending on the type of suspension you have, you may need to modify it. If you have a tall, lifted vehicle, you may also want to be extra careful on uneven terrain. Using a rooftop tent can also take up a lot of roof space. Depending on the type of tent, you may need to install an aftermarket roof rack and mount hardware. A roof rack can cost $200 to $400.
It’s safe to argue that RVs / motorhomes are the pinnacle of comfort when it comes to overlanding and camping, but these are mostly a question of budget and convenience: may campers simply can’t justify the investment in a fully decked RV and the costs associated with its maintenance.
Roof Top Tents vs. Camper Vans
Whether you’re thinking about using a rooftop tent or camper van for your next camping trip, there are a few things to consider. The pros and cons of both products should be taken into account before you make your decision.
The benefits of using a roof top tent include the convenience of not having to deal with organizing a camper van and customizing it to fit your needs. These tents also provide insulation and comfort. Compared to a camper van, you can also leave your bedding in place when you collapse the tent.
Rooftop tents also save you time when it comes to setting up and taking down your tent. They are quick and easy to set up, and you don’t have to worry about rolling sleeping mats and water flowing into your tent. You also don’t have to worry about puddles or rocks underneath the tent.
Roof Top Tents vs. Classic Ground Tents
Compared to classic ground tents, roof top tents offer many advantages. They are easy to set up and offer a cool and comfortable night’s sleep. They are great for overlanding, road trips, and off-road adventures. They are easy to store and take up little room. They also eliminate the hassle of rolling sleeping mats. They can be set up and collapsed without a footprint.
When choosing between rooftop tents and classic ground tents, you must consider your budget and type of vehicle. If you plan to camp often, choose a tent that can be quickly set up. A good hard-shell model can be set up in less than sixty seconds.
If you have pets, you may need a ramp to get them in and out of the tent. Some people with disabilities may have trouble climbing the ladder, so roof top tents might be a non-starter.
Ground tents can be accessed by a wide variety of animals. Poisonous scorpions and spiders can enter the tent and climb inside. Bears can also sniff around the tent.
Rooftop tents are a good choice for overlanders. They are a great way to get rid of the hassle of camping. They are made of sturdier poles, thicker zippers, and specialized fabrics. Some of them also provide insulation and come prepared for winter camping. Most premium builds are able to take years of use & abuse.
Roof Top Tents vs. Camping Hammocks
Whether you are looking for a tent or a hammock for your next camping trip, there are several things to consider. You want to select the best option based on your camping needs, budget, and style of camping.
In terms of size, hammocks are more compact than tents. They are usually one to two feet off the ground. This allows for a more comfortable night’s sleep, since you’re not pressed against the ground.
Hammocks are easier to setup than ground tents, but more of a nuisance than roof top tents. Most come with a sleep mat or underquilt to help keep the underside of the body warm. However, you will need to purchase a tarp to keep you and your gear dry.
While hammocks are more convenient and less expensive than tents, there are some drawbacks. You may not want to spend the money on a hammock if you plan on camping with a family or if you have pets. Also, the design is not aerodynamic and will cause wind drag.
Also, you might want to consider a hammock that has a built-in rain cover. This will keep you dry during horizontal rainstorms, which are a nuisance in a tent.
Roof Top Tents vs. Sleeping in Your Car
Compared to sleeping in your car, sleeping in a roof top tent is more convenient. It’s also more comfortable. The main advantage of a rooftop tent is that it offers a sheltered sleeping space. It can be ideal for a long expedition. It also protects you from the elements.
It also saves space in your vehicle. Most rooftop tents can fit on most Thule roof racks. RTTs can be converted to camping mode in less than 10 minutes. They are also durable.
The best roof top tents will provide maximum protection from the elements. They are usually insulated. This protects you from the heat, wind, and rain.
Roof top tents can be expensive though. They usually cost thousands of dollars. They’re also costly to ship home. So before you invest in one, think twice if you can justify the investment.
Another important factor is how easy it is to use. You’ll want a tent that’s easy to set up. Some rooftop tents have covers that can be completely removed. Others are attached with zippers, clips, or velcro. Some tents also have an awning or annexes which vastly increase usable space.
The Advantages of Roof Top Tents
Compared to camping trailers and camper vans, rooftop tents have a number of advantages. They’re less encumbering, they provide a more stable sleeping environment, and they’re less expensive. But, there are also some disadvantages to rooftop tents.
The biggest disadvantage of roof top tents is the price. While they’re still the cheaper option compared to RVs, they can cost between $1000 and $4000. That’s a big investment for most people. And, not everybody can afford an RV – this means ground tents are still the most accessible option for camping. Some people may prefer to rent a roof top tent, but it’s important to research where to rent one before you make a decision.
If you’re going camping frequently, a roof top tent may be the best choice for you. But, you should also research your options before you buy. Also keep in mind that roof top tents are not the best choice for infants and small children. They’re too high and pose too much of a risk to carry a child or small pet safely.
Featured Products: CRUA Outdoors Roof Top Tents (As Seen In Post Image)
Types of Roof Top Tents
The vast majority of roof top tents fall into the soft shell or hard shell roof top tent categories. A third type would be the inflatable roof top tent, but it’s not exactly a popular solution. Pop-top or pop-up camper tents are a separate type of roof top tent that is integrated into the vehicle. As far as sizes go, roof top tents are classified into 1-2, 3-4 and 5 person roof top tents, with the option of expanding living space with an annex and usable space with awnings.
If you want to learn more about the types of roof top tents and the differences between them, we recommend our separate post on the topic.
At the same time, roof top tents can vary greatly based on their capacity and actual measurements when set up, meaning the number of people that can sleep in them at the same time (weight limitation and physical space limitation at the same time).
» Read More: Types of roof top tents