Here’s a scenario: You pick your campsite, set up your tent and get ready for a peaceful night’s sleep. You crawl inside, nest into your sleeping bag, only to realize that the site is lumpy and uneven. You’re already inside and it’s too late to move, so you decide to deal with it. You fall asleep, only to be woken in the middle of the night by a pool of water in your tent. Your rainfly was secure, but you camped in a low spot and now you’re soaked. This is a pretty common story, and one that you can avoid living thanks to one lovely piece of outdoor innovation: the rooftop tent. Rooftop tents attach either to the roof of your car or to a trailer, and they’ve redefined the term “car camping.” Here are five reasons you should give one a try.
1You’re elevated off the ground. This is perhaps the most important and most immediately noticeable aspect of camping in a rooftop tent. Whether or not you have an irrational fear of animals attacking you in your tent on the ground, there is a sense of calm that you get when camping in a rooftop tent that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
2You don’t have to carry a separate camp mattress with you. Most rooftop tents come with built-in mattresses. They are far more comfortable than inflatable camp mattresses. The setup allows you to move and roll around without falling off your mattress. Toss and turn away, light sleepers.
3You don’t have to struggle to put the poles and tent body together. Simply unzip the cover, flip the tent open, and secure the guylines. Set the ladder height and forget it.
4You don’t have to worry as much about campsite selection. As identified in the introduction, picking the right campsite can make all the difference. With a rooftop tent, you’re isolated from the ground, which means that you can be less selective and hunt that campsite with the perfect view.
5Whether you’re solo or part of a duo, you’ll likely have more room than a two-person tent. Because weight isn’t so much of an issue, you can afford to carry along a four-person tent on the roof — even if it’s just you. It’s like the backcountry version of a California king.
Our Favorite Rooftop Tents
Buying Advice to Get You Started