Nowadays, you will find many roof top tent models such that you can be confused about which one to choose. However, after a closer look, you will realize that the tents are in two main categories.

There are hard top RTTs and soft shell RTTs. It is within these two categories that you will find the very many models in the market.

The main difference between these two is the casing. One has a hard casing while the other has a soft casing. Also, they differ in the way the roof top opens.

Hard-top roof top tent

The hardtop tent gets its name from having a hard top. It has gas springs and opens up easily using a pop-up system.  It is the easiest tent to set up and it opens up in seconds.

Due to the way it opens and closes, the inside has plenty of space that can be used to store other items such as camping gear in addition to the beddings. So, if your car is small, the tent provides extra storage space.

Normally, these tents can only accommodate two people because of their small sleeping space. They usually occupy the car’s full length.

Now that there are a variety of roof top tent models, you can come across hard-top tents that can accommodate more people. However, these open sideways. They do not use the pop-up system. They have different weights and measurements and so they cannot be fitted on every car. Before you buy these ones, check if they are compatible with your car based on the dynamic weight limit. You don’t want a tent that will overload your vehicle.

Softshell roof top tents

The outer shell of these tents is soft.  It looks just like the ground tent, but on the roof of a vehicle and of course, more durable. One advantage of softshell RTTs is their large space which means that more sleeping space.

These tents open sideways and that is why they have the extra space. This is unlike the hard-shelled tents that pop up. Also, that is why it takes longer to set them up, although it takes only a few minutes. You still can’t compare this with the few seconds it takes a hard-shelled tent to open.

One disadvantage with these tents is the lack of storage space. You can leave your beddings in the tent. However, other items won’t fit since there is less space left when the tent is closed.

These are the two major types of roof top tent. However, there are other ways to differentiate the RTTs based on:

  1. Size. Tents differ in size. The larger it is the more people it can accommodate.
  2. Comfort level. How comfortable is the tent? Does it have a high-density mattress?
  3. Weight. Which type of car can it fit? The weight of the tent determines the vehicles on which it can be used. This is based on the dynamic weight limit of the car. The weight of the tent should not exceed the dynamic weight limit of your vehicle.
  4. Durability. Although the tents are made using durable materials, some tents are more durable. Some are weatherproof and can be used in extreme weather while others can only be used under normal weather conditions.

Ensure you choose the type of RTT that meets your needs.


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