From GearJunkie By Berne Broudy
The Best Rooftop Tents of 2021
If you’ve never slept in a rooftop tent, it’s hard to imagine how different it is from sleeping on the ground.
For overland adventures, life on the road, or just an elevated and more comfortable campout experience, rooftop tents are the way to go. As options for car- and truck-mounted tents expand, it can be tough to separate the wheat from the chaff. Here are our picks for the best rooftop tents.
If you’ve never slept in a rooftop tent, it’s hard to imagine how different it is from sleeping on the ground. Rooftop tent (RTT) sleeping feels safer and more secure than sleeping in a tent on the ground.
Plus, RTTs offer a bird’s-eye view of your surroundings, airflow that’s unheard of in a traditional tent, protection (and peace of mind), and generally superior comfort for sleeping.
The drawbacks: Unlike a ground tent or a tow-behind camper, when your tent is on your roof, you have to break camp before you drive away. And, for those who make nighttime visits to the loo, there’s a ladder to negotiate between you and relief (unless you’re willing to get creative).
Also, if your dog gets to share the human bed, practice your one-handed ladder climb before you attempt to hoist them up. Multiply that effort if you have more than one dog.
Not every rooftop tent fits every vehicle nor every budget. But some tents work for almost every car or truck. Rooftop tents are all pricier than even the plushest backpacking tent, but if you’re able to invest, you won’t regret it.
Best 3-Person Rooftop Tent: Yakima SkyRise Medium
Two of the biggest barriers to entry for campers considering a rooftop tent are weight and price. Yakima’s SkyRise ($1,599) is not only relatively light, but it’s also competitively priced for a three-person tent. And it’s the most similar to backpacking and car camping tents that many backcountry enthusiasts are already familiar with.
The SkyRise is made from the same stuff as most tents you’d pitch on the ground. The 210D nylon is light and breathable, with mesh ventilation panels that double as windows into the Milky Way. All the windows and the two skylights have solid and mesh panels that zip open for ventilation and views.
Much like a standard ground tent, the SkyRise’s waterproof fly is polyurethane-coated, and the tent can be set up with the fly on or off. Aluminum poles give the tent structure. They’re strong, pre-set, and easy to engage once you manually flip this tent open.
Consider a three-person tent if you’ll be sleeping with a child. This is also a good option if you’re a dog owner whose dog climbs ladders, or if you’re willing to shuttle your pooch into your rooftop nest. Everyone will appreciate the plush, 2.5-inch-thick, wall-to-wall mattress.
And after this tent gets some use, you’ll also appreciate that the mattress has a removable cover for easy cleaning.
The SkyRise M is one of the easiest tents to mount on a roof rack. It goes on and comes off tool-free.
It also locks to your roof with the same system used in all Yakima bars and mounts, SKS lock cores, which are included with the tent.
- Dimensions open: 56″ x 96″ x 48″ H
- Dimensions closed: 58″ x 48″ x 16.5″
- Sleeping footprint: 56″ x 96″
- Weight: 115 lbs.
- Super easy to mount
- Locks to your roof
- Lighter fabrics may flap more on windy nights
For the other tents that made the list checkout GearJunkie.com