Roof Tent Vs Ground Tent: 9 Hard Facts For Roof Tents

Roof tent vs ground tent: Find the Tent that suits you best

While preparing for the next camping trip even experienced tourists think about the place to stay overnight. Nowadays there are so many types of shelters that can turn your camping trip into a comfortable and fun adventure! Probably the most frequently used and modern options -are traditional ground tents and roof tents.

Roof tent vs ground tent

You can easily face difficulty during searching and picking a suitable tent, because both of the variants have their defending features, pros and cons. Hope after reading our article you will be able to determine which tent might benefit you most! So let’s answer the question: “What is better: roof tent vs ground tent?”

Common information about rooftop tents

Are you tired of sleeping in a cold and uncomfortable ground tent? Has it bothered you to set up a tent, inflate a sleeping bag, stuffing things, rolling them and putting away?

Are you afraid of spiders sneaking into your sleeping bag in the middle of the night? So if you are, it is time to forget about the ground tents and get acquainted with the rooftop tents!

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As it is known a rooftop tent is a camping shelter that can be set up on a vehicle roof. It can be installed on the roof of almost any car: whether it is a jeep or a sedan. The main thing is that a few railings for mounting should be installed.

This tent is a great option for those travellers who do not wish to spend a lot of financial resources on hotel rooms or do not have an opportunity to buy a house on wheels.

Types of the rooftop tents

The market offers a wide range of rooftop tents, they can be made of different materials and have various shapes and sizes, but the principle of structure is similar. If you are planning to spend lots of time on camping trips or travelling, it is better to search for the rooftop tent option with a hard top instead of buying one of the ground tents.

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It might be a little bit expensive, but the setup time takes only 60 seconds! You will have a comfortable sleep because its walls are made of breathable and water-resistant material.

Still, as a variant, you can set up the tent not only on a vehicle roof but also on a trailer. So often do this in the case when the baggage is installed on the roof, and you are travelling with a trailer and need an additional sleeping space.

The rooftop tents are classified into the soft shell and hard shell:

Fold Out

The folding mechanism of this soft-shell roof tent is similar to a suitcase. Its foundation consists of two parts which are connected to each other with a special bar. The ladder is used as additional support. Some rooftop tent manufacturers provide special struts to substitute the ladder.

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Pop Up

This camping gear with a rigid construction has a hard shell top and a bottom. Then folded, these rooftop tents can resemble a trunk on the roof of a vehicle. You can simply use hard shell rooftop tents for storing the camping gear.

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Manual hard shell models can be unfolded with special equipment. You can open the mechanical constructions by a hydraulic rack and springs.

Can I set up the tent on a roof if I am a camping beginner?

Yes, it is really simple to install most rooftop tents even in case you do not have professional skills, there will be no issue with the setup. In compassion to the ground tents set up, it will be at times quicker!

Also you can easily remove the roof tent when it is not in use. All attachments (except for roof rack) are available.

The battle: roof tent vs ground tent?

1. Sleeping on ground

The main distinctive feature of the rooftop tent compared with a standard ground tent is an opportunity to sleep elevated from ground. Rooftop tents tend to offer you deep and safe sleep, because when you decide to stay overnight on the vehicle roof, you are probably aware that no dangerous wild animals (like snakes and other carnivores) will sneak into your sleeping area. You do need to worry about wet feet or water coming in.

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Being in an elevated position with your roof top tent does have a couple of advantages from a safety point of view.

But there is a big disadvantage. Compared to ground tents, the roof top tent is not quite as accessible as a ground tent. You have got to climb the ladder to get inside. The rooftop tents generally are not that suitable for people with physical disabilities, persons in wheelchairs and small children due to the danger of falling down from its steep ladder.

The ground tents in that case are a lot more accessible. You walk up to the ground tent, unzip it and get inside.

2. Set up location

With a ground tent you can put your tent in every area that is relatively flat. There is no need for a lot of area if you have just a tent alone, but obviously, you need enough space to put down your ropes to secure your tent. However, it is a static space and once you put the ground tent up, you are not available to move around.

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The nature of the surface on which you are camping is a big issue for many ground tents. A slope, stone or uncomfortable ground makes it impossible to set the ground tent in this area.

Under these circumstances, a rooftop tent wins almost every single time. There is an opportunity to halt for the night literally anywhere. You can drive and park and it does not matter what is beneath your feet: wet ground, sand, mud or a pile of stones. So if the surface is not suitable for setting up, you can easily move away to a different location.

2. Set Up Time

How much time does it take to install an average ground tent? Usually, it is about minimum 15-20 minutes without taking into account the time for searching for a suitable place. When it comes to set up time, a roof top tent wins hands down. The higher-end rooftop tents offer an installation in a few minutes or less, in case you deal with an installation of the roof rack at home.

Most of the hard shell rooftop tents are simple to install even if you are a camping beginner! You need only to unzip the case, pull the ladder and the rooftop tent will unfold. The last step is to lower the ladder to the ground and secure it. That is all! Easy and stress-free! To assemble the roof top tent just do the same actions in reverse order.

3. Sleeping with a comfort

In comparison to the ground tents, the majority of the rooftop tents are usually really pretty comfortable because you are paying more for them as opposed to the ground tents. The rooftop tent that does not touch the ground will retain heat well, especially in the morning without your efforts. To make your traditional ground tent save heat you should provide proper tent insulation.

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The rooftop tents are made of thick durable fabric with wind resistance that provides you with sleeping in warm and comfortable conditions!

4. Valuable cargo space

If we are talking about spare space that can be used to store your camping gear like sleeping bags, clothes and mattresses, you need to give preference to the standard ground tent. It gives you a great opportunity to store necessary camping equipment.

The rooftop tents have some restrictions associated with a space capacity – in the sense that you can only install as big of a tent as your vehicle allows.

5. Tent storage at home

If you got a ground tent it is pretty simple to pick it up and store it somewhere in the house, garage or closet.

The storage of your roof top tent is a bit more complicated because it has a great weight and it is bolted onto the top of the car. So you can leave it and drive around with a rooftop tent all the time.

Otherwise, it is quite an effort to take it off. So, it can be more challenging and more expensive to store the rooftop tent when you are not using it in comparison to the traditional ground tents.

6. Cleanliness

As you know the appearance and condition of the tent depends on the way you carry it. However, when it comes to cleaning and washing up your tent, as you inevitably will have to once in a while, average ground tents have the upper hand.

There will be no issues with a ground tent’s cleaning out on both the inside and outside than an elevated great-weighted rooftop tent.

You may choose to remove your rooftop tent for washing, but that’s a trouble in itself. Taking the mattress out of your rooftop tent for cleaning may also be a pain even for experienced tourists.

7. All included

You open up the rooftop tent and the idea is no matter where you go, there is a home. Home is where you park it. It is so convenient that your bedding is all set, you can sleep on the nice rooftop tent mattresses made of memory foam after a long day on your feet.

You can leave your pillow, two sleeping bags, a ladder, and a bag with camping equipment and everything gets perfectly stored inside.

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8. Suitable for bad weather conditions

The rooftop tents are also great when it rains or snows providing it’s hard shell. The traditional ground tents may be less expensive, lightweight, and simple to set up, however they are more susceptible to bad weather being on the ground.

9. Viewing

If you are going on camping adventures to enjoy beautiful and picturesque landscapes, take pictures of nature and watch falling stars, a rooftop tent will almost always offer an excellent view because they are elevated in the air.

Rooftop tents are fitted with large side windows and, in some cases, even roof-side windows allowing you to view the stars while comfortably lying in bed at night.

For the most part, many ground tents will also feature some nice big windows allowing for good views, but the fact that a rooftop tent is elevated really sets the viewing experience apart. 

What about ground tents?

Ground tents provide numerous advantages and options as well. Some of them have integral awnings, different ventilation systems, and temperature ratings. Ground tents can be bigger, accommodate a large number of tourists and set up relatively quickly.

When you separate the tent from your vehicle you are able to leave your ground tent’s set up, the camp set up and drive your car away if you wish to hit some trails.

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Ground tents win a price war

If you consider the cost of a standard rooftop tent the ground tent can be a really good option when it comes to budget. A premium-quality and the durable ground tent is probably about the same price as a cheap rooftop tent.

Can be rolled with bedding

Most of the ground tents can be rolled up with the bedding. That will be more bulky, but it is ready to go, ready to roll out and set up. You have got your sleeping pads, sleeping bags and pillows in one place.

Negative aspects related to the rooftop tents

1. High price

Opposed to the costs of ground tents, the pricing of the rooftop tent can vary from $2,000 to $4,000 in accordance with the model, material, size, quality and brand. You also need to buy a roof rack if you do not have one and spend from $200 to $300 additionally. But you can be sure that this camping gear will be a long-time investment and worth every cent.

2. Additional security measures

The presence of a tent on the vehicle roof envisages moving at a speed of less than 130 km/h. It is necessary to check regularly the reliability of the fastening of the construction.

You do need to think and worry about this if you make a choice in favour of ground tents.

How to Mount Roof Top Tent: 4 different Step by Step Methods

3. Aerodynamics

Since the tent is installed on the roof of the car, it will create specific inferences while driving a vehicle. Pay attention that the fuel efficiency might increase during moving at low speed.

4. Difficulty with set up

The soft shell roof top tent is an absolute pain to set up and pack it down. It is a really time-consuming and exhausting process.

Imagine trying to install the great-weighted shelter after a long day on your feet. It doesn’t sound good, does it? But another problem is preparing to set up – in some cases, you can not find a suitable roof rack for your tent!

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5. Great weight

You have to consider the fact that the soft-shell rooftop tents also weigh a lot, they are quite heavy. The less you pay for a rooftop tent, the bigger it is – more workers are involved to set it up.

Hope our tips will help find more information about camping shelter options! Now you can easily compare distinctive characteristics, positive and negative aspects and decide what to choose: the lightweight ground tent or a comfortable rooftop tent!

We wish you a good camping trip!

If you are interested in buying a Roof Top Tent and don’t know how to install it, read this article.

If you are interested in buying a 8-Person Tent, read our article.


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