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Hardshell rooftop tents represent an entirely new way to go car camping. Although they’ve been around for the better part of a decade, they’ve only recently begun to make a significant impact on the camping scene. For life on the road or a more comfortable camping experience, hardshell tent is the best and most convenient way to-go.
Rooftop tent (RTTs) are designs that range from budget-friendly soft shell vs. premium-quality hard shell rooftop tent and off-road options built to withstand anything the weather as to throw at it. However, as options for a car- and truck-mounted tents expand, it can be challenging to select the ones that are easy to put up and fold, have rugged construction, and freeing up significant storage space in your vehicle. Here are our selections for the best 2021 rooftop hardshell tent.
Softshell vs. Hardshell Roof Top Tent
For a good reason, most first-time rooftop tent buyers prefer softshell models. These tents fold-out beyond the roof of your vehicle and are covered with a rugged, waterproof softcover. The tent body (typically made of canvas or nylon) is attached to the entire platform and set up using internal hinges and manually placed poles.
The significant advantage here is price: two-person softshell tents typically cost $500 to $2,000, whereas a standard two-person hardshell tent will cost you well over $3,000. Softshell tents also have a larger floor footprint, come in various shapes, and are easily adaptable to awnings and annexes.
However, when compared to hardshell models, the disadvantages are obvious:
- The soft coverings are much more susceptible to moisture buildup when stored, resulting in a shorter lifespan.
- Because they lack the stability of a hardcover, softshell tents are often noisier in the wind, both when opened and when packed away.
- Expect a softshell to take much longer to set up and take down.
As opposed to soft covers, Hardshell tents have a plastic, fiberglass, or aluminum shell that houses the canopy inside. The majority of them open on a hinge or pop up. Though they are more expensive, many people believe that the superior protection, added convenience, and longer lifespan is well worth the extra cost. They are also more aerodynamic, fully waterproof, and resistant to flying debris and low-hanging branches.
Furthermore, because of their shell-like design, you can fit extra items. They are also far more wind resistant, have more headroom, and are known for having plusher mattresses. One of the most appealing aspects of hardshell tents is their ease of setup, which can often be completed in under a minute by a single person.
Our Favorite Hardshell Roof Top Tents of 2023!
TMB Orange Pop Up Roof Overland Tent
Price Tested: $2395.00 USD
The TMB Orange Pop Up Roof Overland Tent offers the best combination of a spacious interior, easy setup, durability, and a reasonable price. With a dimension of 82″ x 47″ x 34″ and a 140lbs foam pad pre-installed, the Orange Pop Up was among the roomiest of the rooftop tents we review, with more space to help you stay organized and relax more comfortably. It’s designed with care and precision for optimal comfort whenever you’re on an off-road adventure.
It’s durable and sturdy enough to withstand rainstorms and windstorms and anything the weather has to throw at it. The aluminum frame helps to minimize weight, and a special coating prevents deterioration over time. The TMB Orange Pop Up Roof Overland Tent fits a wide variety of cars, buses, trucks, and SUVs, as well as vehicles that have roof rails or crossbars.
This rooftop tent is one you can expect to last for many years to come. It combined some of the best functions and designs seen in today’s rooftop tents—making it an ideal choice for road trips and off-road adventures. Other essential features include the storage bag, sturdy telescoping ladder, and inner and outer zippers, which keep the openings tight. It also comes with a high-quality memory foam mattress that can accommodate two adults comfortably.
- Spacious interior
- Effortless installation
- Truly firm and stable
- Unique fold-out design
- The mattress is a bit thin
- Not very light to carry,
Pittman Outdoors Comet Tent
- Weight: 172 lbs
- Dimensions: 84.5 x 51.25 x 14.6 inches
- Waterproof, UV Protection
Price Tested: $2499.99 USD
The Pittman Outdoors Hard-Shell Rooftop doesn’t have many consumer reviews on Amazon, but it has received positive feedback from various other outlets. It only requires mounting the tracks and the telescopic ladder, which are included with the tent, and it required the slightest amount of knowledge concerning the tools and mechanics of any tent we review.
This hardshell rooftop is made to last a lifetime! It’s sturdier and even more durable, but the downside is that hard shells tend to add extra weight. It stands tall against rain, wind, and harsh weather thanks to an insulated aluminum honeycomb base. The walls and roof are made of fine ripstop material that is UV resistant but has a cleaner, more premium feels and a less wrinkly look than other tents of this kind. It’s also UV resistant, making it a pleasant place to stay on hot summer days.
While Pittman includes a high-density non-deforming foam mattress to ensure sound sleep for most people inside, we suggest purchasing an extra 2-3″ of foam and lay it on top for side sleepers. On the other hand, the tent holds up to two people to enjoy their camping trip above the frozen ground.
- Easy to set up and store
- Fantastic comfort
- Telescoping ladder
- Not as spacious
Danchel Outdoor Hard Shell Tent
Price Tested: $1599.99 USD
The ravel box style, spacious footprint, and functional fly screen-clad windows on every DANCHEL OUTDOOR Hard Shell Tent wall make it a good choice for family tours or casual campers who want an inexpensive tent that’s easy to set up, and that looks and feels reasonably lovely to camp in. Unlike most other cheap rooftop tents we look at over the months, the DANCHEL OUTDOOR Tent has a simple style and pop-up design that even beginner campers can figure out. You just pop it and get your tent set up.
Another thing to keep in mind about this hard shell rooftop tent is that it’s designed to fit most SUVs or the bed of a pickup truck with crossbars and roof rails, so you won’t need a big SUV to support the frame. In theory, it’s meant to accommodate 3 people, but in our experience, the tent is an ideal size for two adults plus a child or a dog.
It’s suitable for all types of climates. And, due to its streamlined nature, it provides no resistance to your vehicle when driving, saving you money on gas. It also makes space for memory foam mattresses that serve as your ideal sleeping spot.
- Quick and easy to set up.
- 15-inch super-soft mattress
- Versatile, four-season utility
- Synthetic wood board
- No protection against insects.
- No accessory for light
Touralite Car Rooftop Tent Hardshell Pop Up Tent
Price Tested: $1799.00 USD
The Touralite Car Rooftop Tent has earned its reputation in the industry standard in RFTs. The innovative, telescoping ladder and pop-up and climb-in design make set up and take down a breeze. Its 280g cotton and the polyester-coated canopy are ready for any weather, so you can rest assured knowing you’ll stay dry no matter what the weather decides to throw at you.
Touralite Car Rooftop Tent is similar to the Orange Pop Up Roof Overland in that it has a thick canopy, strong zippers, and a top-notch 5m high-density foam mattress. It’s also comfortable, durable, and reasonably priced. The walls of the tent include no-see-um meshed openings that provide more airflow and keep the bugs out. This way, you are always comfortable and never hot. It’s versatile, easy to switch from travel to camping mode, and the cover is also a breeze to use.
The biggest drawback for us is the high price, and there are good options that cost significantly less. However, we found many advantages to this hardshell tent that made it well worth the price.
- Very fast to set up
- Thick, comfortable mattress.
- Fantastic comfort
- No storage pockets
Haige Car Roof Tent
Price Tested: $2388.88 USD
The Haige Car Roof Tent is a more adventurous hard shell tent designed for vehicles, vans, SUVs, and camping. Even though Haige is a young enterprise, its professionalism and craftsmanship are evident in this new 2021 hardshell tent. This high-quality tent can be your trusted mobile home everywhere you’re going, whether it’s a jungle, desert, or off-road adventure.
The tent is simple to use and erect. To open the pop-up rooftop tent, simply release the latches on both ends. Its mounting system fits on most vehicles with roof racks. On the inside, it has strengthened insulation, which reduces noise when there is a heavy breeze. This also keeps out the extreme temperatures, ensuring a pleasant stay.
This double car hard shell tent offers the best combination of space and features. It has enough space for 2-3 persons, but we recommend it for adults and features two no-see-um windows and doors to keep the bugs out and provide more ventilation. However, the Haige Tent isn’t the cheapest rooftop tent on the market, but, it does a fantastic job keep you warm and dry anywhere in the world. It’s also comfortable, easy to use, and durable; for this reason, we believe it has a tremendous amount of value.
- Easy to set up and pack down
- Large spacious design
- Excellent weather resistance
- Rather expensive