Three Things to Consider Before Buying an Overland Tent

If you appreciate a restful sleep on a road trip, a rooftop sleeper might be for you.

Man on ladder with overland tent.
Because overland tents collapse back onto your vehicle, setting up and tearing down camp is quick and easy.Luke Bender

Has the thought of slithering creatures inviting themselves into your tent kept you from enjoying a camping trip? Or have you suffered through a rainstorm with diverted water rushing through your tent? If so, a cartop tent might be for you. A shelter on the roof of your vehicle gets you off the ground, is easy to set up, take down, and transport, and can offer you a level of comfort you just can’t get with conventional tents. Before you buy one, here are a few other features and considerations you should mull over.

Tepui Ruggedized Kukenam Rooftop Tent
This sleeper fits on top of a Jeep and has a 600-pound weight capacity.TEPUI

Check your vehicle owner’s manual to determine whether your vehicle’s roof and racks can support the size and weight of the overland tent you’re considering. If it will, then check the compatibility of your rack configuration with the mounting hardware of the rooftop tent. Installation is easy only if the components fit together.

Tepui Explorer Autana Rooftop Tent
The design of this popular bunkhouse sleeps two people comfortably.TEPUI

Think about how much interior space you’ll need in your tent. Some toppers have enough room for four adults, or two people and a lot of gear. Create a list of tent dimensions you need to rest comfortably, but remember to take headroom and storage nooks into account as well.

ARB 803804 Simpson Tent Incl. Annex/Ladder Simpson Tent
This soft-shell design sets up quickly.ARB

Hard-shell car topper tents usually have a low profile when stored and traveling, so your vehicle gets slightly better gas mileage. They’re often easier to set up and resilient in rough weather conditions. Soft-shell tents often weigh less than hard-shells, but because the packed-down profile is larger and air resistant, your vehicle is less fuel-efficient. Soft-shells offer greater interior capacity but take longer to set up.

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