Car camping has come a long way over the past few years. Adventurers have found creative ways to have most of the basic amenities once reserved for high-priced RVs. You don’t need to look far to find add-ons for showering, cooking, and sleeping extra people. Tents expand the covered living space of your travel setup, and there are many different types to choose from. What’s the best car camping tent for you?
Our Ground Tent Pick for Best Car Camping Tent
There are many ways to car camp, and the options keep growing. The most traditional method involves using a regular ground tent. There’s nothing wrong with grabbing a Coleman pop-up tent from Walmart, and some people report that these tents last for a decade or more, even with regular use. However, you could get more bang for your buck by investing in something sturdier to hold up to the unpredictability of overlanding life.
The Gazelle Pop-Up Camping Hub ― $299.99 to $679.99
Not only does this tent come in many different sizes, but you can join several together to create a hub. The tent pops up in seconds and features an iconic look that its fans can recognize from a mile away. If you’re new to camping and want to share your enjoyment with the world, this is the ideal tent for you. Another great thing about this tent is that you have standing height on the interior for the T4 models.
Our SUV Tent Pick for Best Car Camping Tent
Many people successfully incorporate their vehicles into their camping setup. Instead of just hauling the gear, the car becomes part of the gear. Maybe you put the backseat down and have a bed platform inside, or you build custom drawers with all the gear you need. Either way, we recommend a tent that expands your existing space by tacking onto it.
The Napier SUV Tent ― $178 to $399
This tent comes in different styles that can fit hatchbacks, crossovers, SUVs and even pickup trucks. The company makes a separate tent for each type of vehicle. This option is also ideal for people traveling with pets or children who want to give them a closed-in room to explore without worrying about them wandering off.
Our Hard-Shell Rooftop Tent Pick for Best Car Camping Tent
The rooftop tent market is competitive, and the options are endless. They all bring a wealth of benefits to the table, but few hard shells have low cost on that list. There is only one well-known exception.
The GFC Superlite ― Starting at $1,199
If you’ve looked at hard shells before, you know the price typically ranges from $2,500 to $5,000. Consequently, a company selling one for just over $1,000 is a real deal. Sadly, GFC USA discontinued the RTT when the company ran out of materials. However, it confirmed that a SuperLite V2 is underway. It’s also worth noting that at just 80 lbs, the original version is the world’s lightest hard-shell RTT.
Tuff Stuff Alpha II ― $2,399.99
Because the GFC Superlite is technically not for sale, we’ll throw in a runner-up. Yes, it costs about twice as much, but that further emphasizes the deal lucky owners got on the Superlite. Still, this one costs below the average price and weighs just 141 lbs. It also has a few bells and whistles not available on the Superlite, such as a skylight, awnings, and an integrated LED lighting system.
Our Soft-Shell Rooftop Tent Pick for Best Car Camping Tent
If you have a tight budget, consider giving up the hard-shell hunt for a soft-shell RTT. These rooftop tents even offer some advantages over hard shells. For starters, they tend to fold out into much bigger spaces and are sometimes easier to get on and off the roof. With so many great brands offering similar capabilities, we’ve selected a lesser-known candidate.
Rev Rack Tent ― $829
This brand is still new and has yet to prove itself regarding quality and durability. However, in theory, it offers excellent bang for your buck. It weighs only 25 lbs, so if you’re concerned about getting something too heavy, this could be the best option. It’s also easy to get on and off the roof, and the manufacturer says you can use it as both a rooftop tent and a ground tent.
23ZERO Breezeway Series ― Starting at $1,699
For a more trusted alternative, try 23ZERO. It is a top-rated brand in the overlanding community. 23ZERO makes solid gear at reasonable prices and offers top-tier customer service. People who buy RTTs often later want to add accessories such as annexes, and this is one of the best companies for add-ons. Breezeway is one of its lighter and more affordable series. The additions for the Breezeway also cost much less than the ones for its Walkabout series.
Our Hammock Tent Pick for Best Car Camping Tent
If you go camping often in the woods and want a low-effort, low-cost, minimalist setup, look no further than a hammock. Not everyone sleeps well in a hammock, so experiment with this at home before taking it to camp. It takes up very little space and weighs almost nothing, leaving much more room for kayaks, mountain bikes or deer.
KAMMOK Roo Double ― $84.95
Can you beat camping for under $100? Probably not. Consequently, hundreds of generic brands have emerged in the hammock camping niche. KAMMOK has distinguished itself from the noise and commonly partners with other overlanding companies, such as TAXA Outdoors. If you don’t think you’ll have trees at your spot, you can buy a separate stand for around $300. Remember that you can typically hang your hammock from sturdy roof racks.
Your Best Car Camping Tent
We have provided an option for virtually every car camping setup you can think of. Ultimately, the best car camping tent for you will depend on your budget, camping style and existing travel setup. Keep reading our blog to learn more about adventuring in the great outdoors, whether you prefer rugged, minimalist or luxury camping.