Best Hard Shell Roof Tent - Buyer's Guide for 2023

Best Hard Shell Roof Tent - Buyer's Guide for 2024

Sep 15, 2023

If you are looking for the best hard shell roof top tent for your next family trip, you have come to the right place. These tents come in different sizes and different styles.

Overlanders consider hard shell roof top tents to be a form of luxury. They are similar to soft shell roof top tents but much more comfortable and ridiculously simple to set up and take down (30 seconds).

Hard shell RTTs have some kind of definite advantages over soft shells. Here is a few more reasons we love them:

  • Hard shell roof top tents (RTTs) have some clear advantages over soft shell RTTs. Here are a few more reasons why we like them.
  • They have better insulation, so they stay at a comfortable temperature all year round. Plus, they are quieter to sleep in, especially when it's windy because they have less fabric.
  • Hard shell RTTs often have thicker and more comfortable mattresses compared to soft shell tents.
  • Setting up and taking down a hard shell tent is much easier and faster, and even one person can do it, even in bad weather. They also tend to last longer due to their sturdy construction.
  • Many hard shell tents allow you to add storage on top, which can be used even when the tent is set up.

Best Hard Shell Roof Tent

With so many hard shell tents available, it can be difficult to choose the right one. So, to assist you, we have put together this guide to the sixteen best hard shell roof top tents on the market right now. Without further ado, let us get started.

1. Freespirit Aspen

Freespirit Aspen

The Aspen clam hard shell roof top tent by Freespirit Recreation is a premium take on the traditional clamshell roof top tent. It combines all of the best features of a good hard shell tent and a clamshell tent to provide an excellent overall rooftop tent experience.

Aspen's body is made of aluminum honeycomb, ensuring the tent is durable and lightweight. You can also add crossbars to the roof to bring more gear on your trip.


  • Very simple to assemble and disassemble.
  • The lightweight and low-profile design prevents your vehicle's MPG from decreasing.
  • Body construction that is both spacious and durable, keeping you comfortable in all weather conditions.


  • The mattress could be of higher quality.

2. BadAss Rugged

BadAss Rugged

The BadAss Rugged is the best low-cost hard shell roof top tent on the market. It's also the lightest option on the list. BadAss Rugged has many customization options from the rainfly to the roof to meet your exact specifications. While installing, it might require an extra space.

The frame of the BA Rugged weighs approximately 113 lbs and is made of ultra-slim extruded aluminum that supports up to 500 lbs. Furthermore, the tent has a very low profile with a height of 4.85" when closed, ensuring no wind noise or drop in your MPG.


  • Durable, lightweight, and good value for your money.
  • The low-profile design reduces the noise of the wind and lowers your vehicle's MPG.
  • You can mount 75 lbs of gear using the optional crossbar system.


  • There is no mattress included.
  • A rainfly awning is not included. You must purchase them separately.
  • It doesn't include a ladder. It will cost you about $120 to add it to the tent.

3. Freespirit Evolution

Freespirit Evolution

Freespirit Evolution exudes luxury and quality from every angle, thanks to its use of premium and long-lasting materials. Yes, it is more expensive than of the hard shell tents on this list, but we can assure you that it is well worth the extra money, and it has an easy setup.

FSR Evolution, like the Freespirit Odyssey, has a tri-layer body fabric to always keep you warm during cold nights as well as cool on hot summer days. It has been tested to keep you warm even in sub-zero temperatures.


  • Excellent value
  • It takes 60 seconds to open and close.
  • Includes a slew of extras like boot bags, LED light strips, and more.
  • The clever design and additional straps make opening and closing the tent easier.
  • Superior materials
  • Four-year warranty


  • During the warmer months, the thick canvas may cause condensation.
  • It is a little heavier than other tents.

4. OVS Mamba

OVS Mamba

Mamba by Overland Vehicle Systems (OVS) is the best hard shell roof top tent for three persons today, designed with durability in mind. Given all of its fantastic features, we believe Mamba is significantly underpriced. It is good in withstanding high winds.

No matter how heavy the rain is, no single drop of water will leak through this tent's premium rip-stop waterproof body or the sides. Mamba's frame is also made of aircraft-grade aluminum, making it extremely durable and long-lasting.

Mamba's built-in nitrogen gas-charged struts and nylon pull strap make it easy to set up and take down. Because the tent is quite heavy, you will need assistance mounting it on your rack.

READ ALSO: Best Black Out Tent for Camping - Top Picks 2023

5. Roam Rambler

Roam Rambler

The Roam Rambler is a unique ABS fiberglass hard shell roof top tent with a very lightweight and compact design. It has a cool design and can even transform a mundane minivan into an off-road beast! Also, you can comfortably put your thick mattress in it.

The Roam Rambler's outer body is made of 280g ripstop poly/cotton 100% percent waterproof fabric that is UV and mold-resistant.

The interior fabric is made of Quilted polyester taffeta, which adds a true sense of luxury as well as comfort to the Rambler hard shell roof top tent.


  • The design is compact and lightweight.
  • A premium mattress and ceiling/base insulation provides a great sleeping experience.
  • You get an amazing 360-degree view of your surroundings when you open all the windows.
  • This hard shell tent is made of high-quality materials and is built to last a lifetime.


  • The only thing we dislike about Rambler is its lack of sleeping capacity. It should have more space for the price.

6. Freespirit Odyssey

Freespirit Odyssey

The comfort and luxury that Freespirit Recreation Odyssey provides are unrivaled. It is frequently called the "Rolls Royce" of hard shell roof top tents. It has a sleek, low-profile design that provides an excellent overall sleeping experience. Freespirit has easy installation steps.

The Freespirit Odyssey's body is made of an Aluminum Honeycomb Plate and a unique three-layer fabric that will keep you comfortable in any weather. It serves as an air conditioner in the summer, and in the winter, it is a heater.


  • The design is low-profile and lightweight. It has no effect on your vehicle's MPG.
  • Setup and takedown are lightning-fast.
  • The tri-layer technology keeps you comfortable regardless of the weather.
  • If you need extra gear, an optional crossbar system can be added.


  • The mattress is not that thick.

7. OVS Bushveld

OVS Bushveld

Overland Vehicle Systems' Bushveld is one of today's cheapest and largest hard shell roof top tents. It comes in various sizes and is very simple to set up and take down. 

Bushveld has black aluminum diamond plate insulation at the base to keep you warm on cold winter nights. Furthermore, all latches and fittings are made of marine-grade 304 stainless steel to ensure nothing breaks while you're out adventuring.


  • There is a large sleeping area with the option of adding an extra room if necessary.
  • Setup and dismantling are extremely simple and quick.
  • The body is extremely durable. It is suitable for use in all weather conditions.
  • The anti-condensation mat prevents moisture buildup beneath the mattress.


  • The four-person variant is somehow heavy.

8. Yakima SkyRise HD

Yakima SkyRise HD

Weight and cost are two of the most significant barriers to entry for campers considering rooftop tents. Yakima's SkyRise HD ($2,499) is lightweight and reasonably priced for a three-person tent. It is also similar to backpacking and car camping tents, with which many backcountry enthusiasts are already familiar.

The SkyRise's waterproof fly, like that of a standard ground tent, is polyurethane-coated, and the tent can be set up with or without the fly. Aluminum poles provide the tent's structure. They are powerful, pre-programmed, and simple to activate once you manually flip this tent open.


  • Locks are extremely simple to install on your roof.


  • On windy nights, lighter fabrics flap more.

9. Roofnest Sparrow EYE

Roofnest Sparrow EYE

Roofnest's two-person pop-up hardshell wedge tent, recently redesigned, has a higher peak than tents that lift in all four corners. This one is also very simple to open and has gear storage. This is one of the best rooftop tents you can find around.

You save weight and complexity by using a wedge instead of a tent that lifts in the tip and tail. Lifting struts are only required at one end of a wedge tent.

When you unclip it, the Sparrow EYE ($3,195) opens with a gentle nudge to activate the front struts. There are no tent poles to mess with, and only one awning to prop up.

Even without a fourth wall, the massive door and side windows keep the inside of the tent breezy and cool. Although neither side window has an awning, it can be used as a door. When you zip them shut in a rainstorm, you lose some airflow.


  • Includes a tent-top storage bag
  • Roof-mounted solar panel installation
  • It is extremely simple to open.


  • 270-degree views rather than 360-degree views
  • Internal storage space is limited due to the low ceiling at the foot.

READ ALSO: Best Campgrounds with Cabins: Your Home in the Wild

10. iKamper Skycamp 3.0 Mini

iKamper Skycamp 3.0 Mini

This aerodynamic and lightweight rooftop tent will fit any vehicle, including a Mini Cooper. It's also one of the simplest rooftop tents to set up and take down — setup and takedown take less than a minute.

The hardshell cover of the Skycamp Mini ($3,699) flips open to become one of the tent's walls, the only one without a window. That wall is lined with a quilted panel with a world map printed on it.

The Skycamp Mini 3.0 is constructed of breathable blackout polycotton canvas and a waterproof polyester rainfly. For improved airflow and uninterrupted views, the fly detaches. Some campers call it a "traditional tent," but what will you call it?


  • Fits all vehicles
  • Setup in record time


  • Some campers may find the mattress too firm.

11. Eezi-Awn Stealth

Eezi-Awn Stealth

The Eezi-Awn Stealth is the best rooftop tent for couples money can buy. The powder-coated aluminum outer shell is durable and lightweight, and the interior is almost as comfortable as your bedroom.

Even if you're not ready to give up your bed just yet, you'll likely agree that the Eezi-Awn Stealth's comfort exceeds any ground tent's. It offers the most comfortable sleeping experience of any rooftop tent on this list.

Stainless steel latches keep the tent securely in place while your vehicle is in motion, and its slim, aerodynamic shape is ideal for highway travel. When you're ready to set up camp, flip the four latches and push it. The rest will be handled by the gas struts and scissor mechanism.

12. Bundutec BunduTop Super King

Bundutec BunduTop Super King

The Bundutec BunduTop Super King is a lavish and hard-wearing rooftop tent designed to withstand the harsh conditions of overlanding in Africa while providing extreme comfort at camp. Compared to an off-road vehicle, this tent is comparable to a Mercedes-Benz G-Class. It's the ultimate in luxury and functionality.

The outer shell is made of unfinished aluminum. It's heavy, but it's also long-lasting and has the best heat-reflective properties of any rooftop tent.

However, you won't have to worry about the weight because the tent is raised and lowered by pushing a button using an electric pulley system. Because the tent already has a battery for the motor, Bundutec added a 12-volt outlet and LED lighting to the interior.

Furthermore, the roof is pre-wired for solar panels. Bundutec couldn't have made it easier for campers to charge their devices and continue the party into the night.

13. Alu-Cab Expedition 3

Alu-Cab Expedition 3

The Alu-Cab Expedition 3 is made of aerodynamic, durable aluminum that can carry heavy loads. It has useful features like internal USB ports, a 12-volt power socket, a reading light, and various storage pockets.

This tent will withstand extreme temperatures and inclement weather. Closed-cell polyethylene foam insulates the roof and floor, while waterproofed ripstop fabric walls keep you dry.

Rain covers, a roof rack tray, solar panels, and other awesome extras are available to customize your tent to meet your specific needs.

14. James Baroud Discovery

James Baroud Discovery

The three Vs of the James Baroud Discovery are visibility, ventilation, and versatility, with a bonus fourth "V" visible in the tent's triangle-shaped clamshell opening. This is James Baroud's most compact rooftop tent model, and it is an excellent choice for most campers.

This tent, when erected, provides a sweeping 270-degree view from your pillow. The tent walls are made of aluminized polyester that is solar-reflective and waterproof. This tent has been tested to withstand winds of up to 72 mph, making it one of the most true all-weather rooftop tents on the market.

A built-in solar-powered electric ventilation fan is unique to James Baroud tents. The fan can run continuously for up to 24 hours when fully charged. Additional air vents with inboard dust filters are placed on the tent's sides to ensure maximum ventilation.

15. TentBox Hard-Shell Roof Tent

TentBox Hard-Shell Roof Tent

The TentBox Hard-Shell Roof Tent is ideal for adventurous couples because it is designed to fit nearly any vehicle and accommodate two adults. Its classic design is straightforward, functional, and dependable.

The sturdy ABS shell is easily erected thanks to air-assisted struts. The tent takes only 30 seconds to set up and 30 seconds to take down.

The tent's walls are made of tough ripstop canvas lined with a waterproof membrane. Sealed seams and waterproof zippers provide weather protection, and the tent can withstand winds of up to 38 mph.

16. Smittybilt Gen 2 Overlander Tent XL

Smittybilt Gen 2 Overlander Tent XL

Smittybilt's Gen 2 Overlander Tent XL (about $1,632) is a colossal rooftop tent that can contain four and costs less than other RTTs but requires more initial assembly.

The Generation 2 Smittybilt Overlander Rooftop Tent is a good choice if you like your space or want to fit four people into this tent. This mondo condo gives campers with larger vehicles the most sleeping space for the least amount of money.

The inner tent is made of waterproof ripstop polyester with a polyurethane-impregnated top. The tent frame is made of anodized aluminum tent poles. The tent opens and closes on stainless steel hinges.


  • Great price


  • Some people reported problems with quality control.
  • The provided hardware was too short for some racks.

Wondering How to Carry Out Installation on a Hard Shell Roof Top Tent?

For the fact that hard shell roof top tents are heavier than other models, this will require at least two people to place it on top of your car. Also, remember to create enough space before you proceed.

The first thing you'll need is a roof rack with a dynamic weight capacity at least equal to the weight of your tent. The dynamic weight capacity, or DWC, is the maximum weight your roof rack can support while the vehicle moves.

The second step is to remove the installation hardware (included with all tents) and ensure that the base rails are properly attached to the tent's bottom. Some tents require bolting them through the inside predrilled holes in the tent base, while others already have these rails.

The third and most difficult step is to position the tent over the roof rack or crossbars, then attach the tent brackets and fasten the bolts on each side of the crossbar or rack slat until the tent is secure. To properly hold the tent, the crossbars or slats to which it is attached must be 32" to 48" apart.

Hardshell Roof Top Tent Pros

Now that you have seen my top picks for hardtop tents, let us discuss some of the advantages this style of tent has over soft shells!

Style diversity. Hardshell tents have greatly expanded their styles over the years. Pop-ups, clamshells, and hybrids are all excellent choices. Whatever you prefer, any camper can find something to suit their needs!

Weather and insulation. Hardshell tents are more resistant to extreme weather than softshell tents. This is due to many factors. The shell, for example, provides a much more waterproof surface and insulation barrier. The second reason is that they can withstand the weight of rain/snow pooling on the tent.

Durability. While all RTTs are considered durable, shelled tents are especially so. When closed, the tighter seal reduces the amount of debris and dust that enters. Furthermore, unlike a softshell cover, the hardtop does not wear and tear over time.

Low-profile and aerodynamic. These two go hand in hand and are a huge benefit for these tents. The slim and aerodynamic design takes a gentler toll on your gas tank. This will also reduce the strain on your vehicle.

Improve your driving. This tent style allows for a more comfortable drive with less noise and wind resistance. The cover on a softshell can flap in the wind constantly while driving, which can be annoying. These styles look fantastic and feel even better.

The setup is simple. Gas struts aid in the installation of hardshell tents. Some require little to no effort at all. Look to this style of RTT for the quickest and easiest setup every time!

Thicker mattress. These RTTs have thicker mattresses due to their higher overall quality. This is partly due to the fact that their design allows for more space when closing the tent rather than folding it!

Roof racks are available. The additional roof rack system appeals to me greatly. Many campers enjoy biking, snowboarding, or some other enjoyable hobby. One disadvantage of roof tents is that it can be difficult to transport both your toys and the tent simultaneously. You no longer have to choose between items with the optional roof rack!

Hardshell Roof Top Tent Cons

As with everything in life, there are some drawbacks to a good thing.

Price. These RTTs must be purchased at a premium. As previously stated, an entry-level one will set you back at least $3,000. I would not recommend this purchase to a first-time RTT buyer. However, if you have the means to splurge and know you'll put it to good use, by all means do so!

Sizes are limited. This, in my opinion, is the most significant disadvantage of a hardtop tent. There are rare exceptions, as demonstrated by the Skycamp 2.0 tent. But if you do not want that hybrid design, you're pretty much screwed! For a traditional clamshell or pop-up style RTT, you're looking at a 3-person tent at most!

The footprint is fixed. To elaborate on my previous point, the footprint of these tents is fixed. Most vehicle types are restricted to full-size SUVs or trucks of some size. This statement has some wiggle room, but I believe most people would agree with me.

Hard Shell Roof Top Tent FAQs

Q1. What is the lightest hard shell roof top tent on the market? 

The Baddass Rugged hardshell roof top tent is currently the lightest model in the industry, weighing only 113 lbs.

Q2. What is the smallest hard shell roof top tent?

The iKamper BDV Duo and BDV Solo are the industry's two lowest-profile tents, with a height of only 7" when closed.

Q3. Is a hard shell roof top tent with an annex available? 

Several models can accommodate an annex. The iKamper Skycamp models, as well as the Tuff Stuff Alpha II and Alpha 4, and the OVS Bushveld and Bushveld II, are ideal for use with their annex.

Q4. Are there hard shell roof top tents with racks available?

Yes, there are numerous. The majority of them are aluminum hard shell tents with top crossbars. The Eezi Awn Blade, FSR Odyssey, iKamper BDV, Tuff Stuff Stealth, and others are examples.

Q5. Can I put a solar panel on top of a roof top tent?

Yes, if you can figure out how to wire the solar panels. Hard shell roof top tents are better suited because of their flat and even upper shell. In fact, tents like the Bundutop already have solar wiring or can easily be installed, allowing you to mount a smaller solar panel over it.

Q6. How does a hard shell roof top tent affect my gas mileage?

It most certainly will. All tents will because they all represent a significant weight over your roof. When you add the weight of a rack to that, it's impossible not to see an increase in miles per gallon. Nonetheless, hard shell roof top tents are more aerodynamic than softshells, resulting in less wind resistance and less fuel consumption. 

Q7. Can a rooftop tent be installed on a car?

Many rooftop tents are made to be mounted on vehicles. However, not every tent will fit in every car. The tent's size and weight must correspond to the size and carrying capacity of your vehicle's roof rack.

Use aftermarket bars rather than factory-installed racks for the best results. Check the websites of the automaker and the roof rack manufacturer for compatibility.

Q8. Why are rooftop tents so costly?

Because of the materials, engineering, design, and accessories, rooftop tents are more expensive than most ground-staked ones. Rooftop tents fold up to form a platform with a tent on top of your vehicle. That's a lot more difficult than building a structure with a fabric floor placed on the ground.

Throw in a mattress, a ladder, and a hardshell exterior, and it's easy to see why rooftop tents are expensive.

Q9. What is the most affordable rooftop tent?

A rooftop tent can be purchased for less than $1,000. Finding a used one for much less than the original price is also possible.

However, keep in mind that not every tent will fit every vehicle. For a few dollars more, you may be able to get more space, more stability, and a tent that is quicker and easier to set up, among other advantages.

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