Rooftop tent, to rent or to buy, and which to choose?
, Author: Luka
Rooftop tents come in different sizes and with different setting up approaches, but they all share the same quality – they are more user-friendly than classic tents. To install a rooftop tent you need roof racks.
In this blog you’ll find the following chapters:
- Why are rooftop tents more and more popular
- Main advantages of a rooftop tent,
- Differences between softshell and hardshell rooftop tent,
- Sizes of rooftop tents,
- Rooftop tent beds,
- Is a rooftop tent waterproof and how weather resistant it is,
- How to set up and fold a rooftop tent,
- Renting a rooftop tent
O. K., at home you have a traditional tent which you attentively pitch at every camping. From the tent storage bag, you first pull out the canopy, poles and pegs. You put poles together and insert them into the flaps of the inner tent. Then you ask your girlfriend/wife/boyfriend/kid to help you put the poles’ ends into the corner eyelets.
You put the rain fly on top of the inner tent. Aaaaand finally, you tighten the strings and attach them to the ground by pegs (every time you drive a peg into the ground, you of course hit the rock and bend the peg).
Alright, the »house« now stands. Oh yes, maybe a small gutter around the tent wouldn't be a bad idea. Maybe it is going to rain and you don't want your tent and everything inside it to get wet. You needed some time to set it up and you have finally earned a beer for setting up the temporary home.
On the other hand, there is a rooftop tent option. It is already installed to the roof of your car with which you have just arrived at the camp on the chosen plot. You get out of the car, pop up the cover and the tent sets itself up. Well, maybe you need to extend a pole or two inside the tent and attach a ladder, but this is it.
- quick and simple set up,
- sleeping above the ground (less moisture and no cold surface),
- robust and durable framework; since the tent is installed to the car roof, there is a lot more space in the boot,
- most of them already have a comfortable bed inside.
Softshell rooftop tent
At first, most people decide to buy a softshell rooftop tent. The obvious reason for this is the price that can be even half the price of the hardshell one.
The softshell ones are made of durable and waterproof roof (rubber), and they are extended over the edge of the car's roof. The side part is linen and waterproof as well, equipped with windows and/or ventilation holes. These can be opened/closed at free will and are equipped with mosquito nets.
Softshell rooftop tent is set up with telescopic poles, installed inside the tent, and a few strings. When comparing this kind of tents to hardshell ones we can see that setting up is more time consuming, tents tend to be louder when the wind is blowing and more prone to get dampish, similar as classic tents.
Hardshell rooftop tent
Imagine a roof box that has a tent inside and is set up immediately after you pop up the cover. Contrary to the softshell rooftop tents, these solid ones are more expensive, but longer-lasting and offer top protection while being handier, which quickly outweighs a few extra €€.
These tents are a lot more aerodynamic during the transportation, are completely waterproof and well protected against low tree branches for example. Since they are stored in a sturdy box, you can also put additional equipment inside the box. Just like you store things in a classic roof box.
When a hardshell rooftop tent is set up, it is far more resistant to the wind. Usually, these tents are higher than the soft ones and have more comfortable beds (mattresses).
But, as previously mentioned, their biggest advantage is simple usage. Hardshell rooftop tent can be set up by one person in less than a minute, which is a welcome feature for those who often move from place to place during their trips.
Similar as with classic tents rooftop tents also come in various dimensions/capacities. There are mini rooftop tents for two persons, while the biggest ones can accommodate up to six people.
But you need to carefully check the product specifications, because manufacturers’ estimates on the number of persons that a tent can accommodate are often exaggerated. One can quickly get the feeling of sleeping in a can of sardines. So, before you buy a tent, it is important to check the dimensions: length, width and height.
Almost all rooftop tents already have an integrated bed/mattress.
Already installed beds differ by thickness and materials they are made of. Before you decide to buy a rooftop tent, carefully check the bed specification and focus especially on the material (memory foam). Some manufacturers offer bed upgrades for their premium rooftop tent models.
Rooftop tent is constructed to defy all weather conditions. Waterproof lateral side (mix of cotton and polyester) and completely waterproof zip protect the tent from water coming inside the tent. Softshell roofs are usually made of rubber, while hardshell roofs already have a sturdy cover.
Beside wind and rain protection, rooftop tents can be equipped with an additional insulation. If you are used to sleep in a sleeping bag and you plan to use the tent only in warmer months, then you don't need an additional insulation. On the other hand, if you plan to use the tent all year long and also at higher altitudes, then you should consider an additional insulation.
In principle, a rooftop tent is far handier to set up and fold than a classic tent. But there are differences between the models.
Hardshell rooftop tents are set up and folded most quickly. It is often so simple that you only open the cover and the roof lifts itself up to the final position.
Whereas setting up a softshell rooftop tent is a little bit more time consuming. You need to roll the canopy out, extend some internal poles and attach a few strings. But this procedure is also a lot quicker in comparison to setting up a classic tent.
Folding a roof tent is a reverse procedure of setting up. You only need to be careful that all the fabric is inside the soft- or hardshell tent cover.
Occasional campers will be satisfied by the softshell rooftop tent since a little more time spent setting it up and folding is not so important. On the other hand, if you move around a lot, it is probably better to choose a hardshell rooftop tent that is set up and/or folded in a minute.
It is up to an individual to assess which is best for him or her. Renting a rooftop tent is probably the wisest choice if you camp once or twice a year. You pick up the tent at the store before you go and return it upon your arrival, when you don't need it anymore. In this way you don't need to worry about storage and you will not have to sell it if by some chance you get bored with it.
If you plan to buy one, we recommend renting it first. This way you can test a tent and assess if and what kind of you really need.
When to buy a rooftop tent? When you plan to use it more than once a year and if you want to have a tent ready at all times. The advantage of owning a rooftop tent is also that you get used to it, thus setting it up and folding even quicker.
- to install a rooftop tent, you need roof carriers – read here which is the right one for your car,
- when you don't use the tent, you need big enough storage to store it,
- maximum recommended driving speed with a roof tent installed is 120 km/h,
- increased air resistance increases fuel consumption,
- you need to be careful when you drive your car into a garage, your car is higher than without a rooftop tent installed.