5 Best Rooftop Tents For Overlanding — According to Popular Mechanics

Rooftop tents are exploding in popularity, and we are not surprised. Rooftop tents are the perfect overlanding accessory. They are convenient. They are comfortable. And fitted with a rooftop tent, your 4×4 becomes a camper ready for a weekend of adventure at a moment’s notice. But which rooftop tent is best? There are countless options on the market; it’s challenging to decide which one fits your needs. Popular Mechanics maintains an excellent list of the best rooftop tents for overlanding. So without further ado, here are the best of the best:

  • Front Runner Roof Top Tent: Best Budget 2-Person
  • Tuff Stuff Ranger Overland: Best Value
  • Crua Outdoors Aer: Unique Design
  • Thule Tupei Foothill: Best Softshell
  • Roofnest Falcon: Best Hardshell

#5. Front Runner Roof Top Tent: Best Budget 2-Person Tent for Overlanding

Publicity shot of the Front Runner Rooftop Tent | OK4WD. One of the 5 Best Rooftop Tents For Overlanding -- According to Popular Mechanics
Front Runner Rooftop Tent | OK4WD

Rooftop tents can be expensive–some models cost upwards of $5,000. So at just $1,146, the Front Runner caught Popular Mechanic’s eye. But for this tent, inexpensive does not mean cheap. The Front Runner by OK4WD features Oxford tent fabric that is strong and waterproof while being breathable. It is well sorted with pockets inside, velcro flashlight holders, and even a roof window for stargazing.

The Front Runner is budget-friendly in more ways than one: it is one of the lightest tents reviewed. At just 100 pounds, it should affect your fuel mileage less than other rooftop tents. It is a great option if you worry whether your car can support a rooftop tent. Finally, with quick-release mechanisms, the Front Runner should be easy to remove from your vehicle. It is a tent well worth the money.

#4. Tuff Stuff Ranger Overland: Best Value Rooftop Tent

A Publicity Shot of Ranger Rooftop Tent | Ranger Overland. One of the 5 Best Rooftop Tents For Overlanding -- According to Popular Mechanics
Ranger Rooftop Tent | Ranger Overland

Many rooftop tents offer accessories, but at an extra cost. The Tuff Stuff Ranger wins the best value because Tuff Stuff includes goodies with this tent. The best bonus included with the Ranger Overland is an “annex.” Where the Ranger Overland folds out over the side of your vehicle, it comes with a walled area with room for more campers, gear, or even a kitchen area.

Tuff Stuff builds this $1,799 tent with top-quality materials. Best of all, owners agree that the Ranger Overland is easy to install.

#3. Crua Outdoors Aer: A Unique Design for Overlanding and Camping

IndieGogo campaign photo of Two Aer Rooftop Tents | Crue Outdoors. One of the 5 Best Rooftop Tents For Overlanding -- According to Popular Mechanics
Two Aer Rooftop Tents | Crue Outdoors

With so many companies building rooftop tents, you might think there is no room for innovation in the market. You would be wrong. Crua outdoors debuted a new model on IndiGogo called the Aer that you can set up on the ground or attach to the roof rack. Better yet, this transformer tent requires no tools to set up and move! It is a bit heavy for a backpacking ground tent, and it takes a full five minutes to set up on a roof rack. But for outdoor adventurers in need of an all-around, the Aer is the ay to go.

The Aer is $2,8390, which is a bit steep. But Crua Outdoors utilized off-the-shelf hardware whenever possible, so it should be easy to repair and maintain. The one piece of hardware the Aer does not have is a lock to secure it on your roof rack: you will need to buy one separately.

#2. Thule Tupei Foothill: Best Softshell Rooftop Tent for Overlanding

Publicity shot of the Tupei Foothill Softshell Rooftop Tent | Thule. One of the 5 Best Rooftop Tents For Overlanding -- According to Popular Mechanics
Tupei Foothill Softshell Rooftop Tent | Thule

Some hardshell rooftop tents have rails for a second roof rack, but softshell tents do not. Unfortunately, this has made softshell tents a nonstarter for mountain bikers and kayakers who need a rack for their gear–until now!

Ever-resourceful Thule engineered the Tupei Foothill to only us up half of your roof rack. As a result, this handy tent unfolds off your roof, giving you plenty of sleeping space but politely leaves room for your bike or boat.

The Foothill takes a bit of effort to set up, but the result is a tent with nice lots of privacy, nice dark curtains, and plush padding. The only other downside of the Foothill is that it packs up fairly tall and may affect fuel mileage. It costs a smooth $1,799.

#1. Roofnest Falcon: Best Hardshell Rooftop Tent for Overlanding

Publicity shot of The Falcon Hardshell Rooftop Tent | Roofnest. One of the 5 Best Rooftop Tents For Overlanding -- According to Popular Mechanics
The Falcon Hardshell Rooftop Tent | Roofnest

Roofnest thought of everything with their Falcon. This hardtop tent is secure and offers plenty of shelter in a storm. Hydraulic cylinders make it a breeze to set up and leave plenty of room for a couple. The ceiling is even slightly padded so sleepers do not bump their head.

Hardtop tents tend to be heavy, and this one takes some muscle to latch while you are breaking camp. On the other hand, the Falcon is slimmer than other hardshells and thus better on gas mileage and road noise. But like many hardshell tents, it is expensive. In this case, $3,495.

Conclusion

Botswana, Africa- Land Rover parked with a pop up tent on its roof under the night sky. (Photo by: Edwin Remsburg/VW Pics via Getty Images) One of the 5 Best Rooftop Tents For Overlanding -- According to Popular Mechanics
Rooftop Tent | Photo by: Edwin Remsburg/VW Pics via Getty Images

Those are five of the best rooftop tents available. Honorable mentions include Go Fast Camping’s Superlite and Redtail Overland’s bear-proof tent. If you are searching for the perfect piece of overlanding gear, you might want to look at a rooftop tent.

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