The Ultimate Solution for Mobile Camping: Hard Shell Roof Top Tent

The Ultimate Solution for Mobile Camping: Hard Shell Roof Top Tent

If you like to camp and enjoy the outdoors, a hard shell roof top tent is a great addition to enhance your camping experience. Even if you are not much of a camper, you may enjoy a hard shell roof top tent because it is comfortable, safe, and durable.

Roof top tents are simple to add to your vehicle for your trip, and it requires almost no effort to set up and put back together. One person can do this with ease, which is why these types of tents are liked by many.

What is a Hard Shell Roof Top Tent?

A hard shell roof top tent is a tent that attaches to your vehicle or trailer. The hard shell roof top tent has a rigid outer shell that is made from either hard plastic, fiberglass, or aluminum, which forms the floor and ceiling of your tent.

Your tent's walls are waterproof and made of durable fabric, like canvas or nylon. The walls attach to the edges of the floor and ceiling, creating your hard shell roof top tent. These roof top tents are easy to set up, break down, and store while driving.

When your hard shell roof top tent is closed, the hard ceiling and floor shells make a sandwich of the tent walls and bedding. A 4 person hard shell roof top tent opens vertically and can be either a clamshell or wedge shape.

The ceilings are high where your head is supposed to be and it is low where your feet go. When opening your tent, they open straight into the shape of a box, the ceiling is flat, and all walls are vertical.

Hard Shell vs Soft Shell Roof Top Tent

A soft shell roof top tent looks like a ground tent when it is set up. The body of the tent is made from a durable and thick fabric, like canvas, nylon, or polyester. The tent's body attaches to the hard platform, which is made of hard plastic, fiberglass, or aluminum.

Soft shell tents come in two designs: bi-fold design and pull-up style. The bi-design soft shell roof top tents have two equally sized floor sections and a hinge on one side. The pull-up style tents open like an accordion, as the tent's body collapses down on the hard base.

Hard shell roof top tent vs soft tents are typically quicker and easier to set up and it only requires one person. Both roof top tents can be strapped to your vehicle for camping, tailgating, beach, or spending time outdoors.

The hard shell roof top tents are more durable than a soft shell tent because they are rigid and have extra protection from the elements, such as heavy rain or wind.

A hard shell roof top tent would be the better option when camping for a few days, but a soft shell roof top tent can be a good option if used for a day or two. It is up to your personal preference which tent you would rather have.

What are the Advantages of a Roof Top Tent?

Roof top tents offer several advantages. It is wise to consider a roof top tent for your next camping trip because they offer more comfort and safety.

Keeps Out Animals and Insects

Since your roof top tent is off the ground., you need a ladder to access it. It is unlikely that animals will find their way up the ladder into your tent. The windows and doors are made from a mish material, allowing your tent to stay free of bugs.


Both hard shell roof top tents and soft shell roof top tents are super comfortable, as they have a built-in foam mattress. This offers maximum comfort and convenience, especially because you do not need to blow up an air mattress or sleep on a flimsy sleeping pad.

Stays Clean

While you still need to take care of your tent and clean it when necessary, a roof top tent is easy to keep clean. Your roof top tent is off the ground, so it does not get muddy like a regular tent. If it gets wet from rain, all you need to do is open it and let it dry.

Simple to Set Up and Break Down

A roof top tent is simple to set up and break down. A single person can get the job done, as there are no tent stakes or running fly lines to worry about.

To set up, just open up the container, unfold your tent, and it is ready to use. To take it down, fold it back up into the container. The mattress folds up easily into the container, and you can even keep the bedding on for your convenience.

How Does a Rooftop Tent Affect Fuel Economy?

Your vehicle’s gas mileage is affected by the model of your vehicle and the type of roof top tent you use. Some studies state that the fuel economy of your vehicle can drop when you have a roof top tent installed on your car.

This is likely due to the extra weight and the drag from the wind. When determining how much extra gas you will use when you have a roof top tent on your vehicle, you should consider the following factors:

  • The type of roof racks you have
  • The model of your vehicle
  • How much fuel your vehicle typically uses without a load
  • How much torque your vehicle has
  • How you drive your vehicle
  • Make and size of your roof top tent (hard shell or soft shell)

For example, if you typically drive about 20,000 miles a year, and gas costs $2.50 per gallon, you will spend $460 more than on average because you have a roof top tent installed to your vehicle.

What is the Lifespan of a Roof Top Tent?

As long as you properly take care of your roof top tent, it can last you decades. Most hard shell roof top tents last somewhere between 10 to 15 years, but that can be more or less depending on how often you use your tent and how you care for it.

A soft shell roof top tent does not last as long, and usually last about 5 to 10 years. Your soft shell roof top tent may last longer, but it depends on how you take care of it and how often it is used. A hard shell roof top tent vs a fold out tent is designed to be rigid, which is why it usually lasts longer.

Do Rooftop Tents Damage The Roof?

Roof top tents will not damage your car if you install them correctly. As long as you stick to your vehicle’s weight limits, a roof top tent should not damage your vehicle’s roof. On average, roof top tents weigh somewhere between 100 and 200 pounds.

You may need help from a friend to mount the tent to your vehicle, as it might be too heavy to mount alone, and you can scratch your car if you aren’t careful.

Roof top tents should not damage your car if you follow your car’s weight limit restrictions, and you should have help mounting it to prevent accidental scratches or dents.

Final Thoughts

Whether you prefer a hard shell roof top tent or a soft shell roof top tent, both roof top tents will make spending time outdoors easier. Roof top tents are comfortable, durable, safe, and affordable.

While soft shell tents cost less than the hard shell roof top tents, it is because they are not designed to last as long. A hard shell tent can last you decades if taken care of properly.

Check out our collection of hard shell roof top tents!