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The 8 Best Hard Sided Tents For 2023
What To Look For In A Hard Sided Tent
As roof top tent lovers, we cannot help it but feel butterflies in our stomachs every time we see hard shell roof top tent. We just get that special feeling, that attraction to their shiny and strong shell, it’s inevitable. Then knowing that in just a matter of seconds we can climb to the roof of our rig, open the RTT to then crawl inside of it, and man, our senses are softened.
That’s why we felt the need to come up with this article, to show and explain to you a little bit about our favorite models. Maybe, by the end of the read you’ll understand us, no wait, we are sure that by the end of this article you’ll want one too.
|Best Hard Sided Roof Top Tents||iKamper Skycamp 3.0 Hard Sided RTT|
|Skycamp Mini 3.0||Bundutop|
|Eezi-Awn Stealth||OVS Mamba 3|
|FSR Evolution||Thule Basin|
|Tuff Stuff Alpha II||Hard Sided Tents FAQS|
Before we start the ride, we want to explain that his is by no means a list or ranking of which model is better or worse. We are just showing some of the best hard sided tents, not putting them in any particular order. We do sell some of these, but not all of them, we just want to recommend the ones we know are the best.
These are a few factors to consider before purchasing one. So, please do take a good look at the list below, and if you have unanswered questions, type them below or contact us.
Buckle up; it’s time to get this adventure started.
Now when t comes to hard sided tents they do take up more space on your roof rack than soft shell tents. However that doesn't meant that they won't fit. In general they are bigger and provide more space for the campers inside. That means that besides providing a larger size they also come with a larger footprint. The size of the hard shell roof top tent also depends on the opening style which we will talk about in a minute.
Nevertheless, it shouldn't be an impediment, you just need to be aware that it'll take most of your roof rack, so it won't allow you to carry other gear on the rack. Also, depending on the type of bed rack that you have, not all hard-shell rooftop tents can go on it. Needless to say that you should always take into considerations the size of your roof rack as well as the size of the hard shell tent that you want to get before actually acquiring it.
Hard top tents tend to occupy a much larger area of your roof rack, than other RTTs, unless you were to get a model such as the Skycamp Mini.
As you already know or might not know there are 3 opening styles of hard sided tents. Now before we talk about each style we have to be clear that there is no superior one. Each of them has its own benefits and it ultimately gets down to what best fits your lifestyle and needs. With that being said let's get down to it.
Clamshell Roof Top Tents
These types of hard sided tents got their name by the way they look when they are being opened. That's right. A clam. They are one of the easiest hard shell roof top tents to setup.
Most of them have south-facing openings and are usually mounted to off-road vehicles with a rear ladder on them. However there are also models of clamshell roof tents that have a side clam opening mechanism.
They can be opened in seconds however there is one thing that some people may not like about them. With these kid of hard sided tents you lose one of its side when it comes to openings and wndows.
That means you only have 270° accessibility to enter and look through your tent. While that is not a deal breaker for most of the people, many still prefer to have windows on all sides of their hard shell roof top tent.
Fold Out Roof Top Tents
Fold out tents are also very easy to open. Simply pull off the travel cover, pull out the ladder and unfold the tent. Adjust the ladder so that it reaches the floor and then you're ready to enjoy!
Now there is a notable difference in these kinds of hard sided tents. Half of the RTT sits on the roof rack while the other half is suspended in the air. Now when it comes to fold out tents they are great for smaller vehicles.
There are fold out or side opening roof top tents that do not have a hanging part as we mentioned. One thing that you should know is that these kind of tents usually have really strong and durable floor panels.
However they are also as sturdy and comfortable to sleep in as rest of the hard shell roof top tents out there. Also another cool thing about them is that some of them (not all) have window on all sided so you can enjoy your surroundings.
Pop Up Roof Top Tents
These are far by the easiest tents to setup. The to hard shell of this pop up roof top tent are held by latches and once you release them all you need to do is give the top shell a bit of a push and the gas struts will do all the work.
That means that you can open these kinds of hard sided tents in under a minute. One of the issues about these tents however is that they can be a bit heavier than the other models.
But they are still very sturdy, reliable, and overall a great addition for you next overlanding adventure. And you know what's another cool thing about them? Well since they do not have a side opening mechanism as most of the tents out there it means that you have opening on all sides of the tent.
Depending on the model you will have the entrance either on the side of it or the back of it but you can enjoy the panoramic 360° view of your surrounding thanks to the openings on all sides of this hard shell RTT.
Yes, hard sided tents can be more expensive than soft shell RTT's. But you have to take into consideration that they are more durable and robust. They are also a lot quicker and easier to setup than soft shell ones.
You can also store some gear inside the had shell roof top tent when in is closed so it can also serve as another storage unit on your vehicle. Because of their price they also come with a more comfortable mattress and materials.
They are also more waterproof and warmer than soft shell RTT's and can even support mounted gear on top of the hard shell. Now there are a lot of pros to the hard shell roof top tents which is why they are not for the budget camping but they are definitely worth the price.
Best Hard Sided Roof Top Tents
iKamper Skycamp 3.0 Hard Sided RTT
When it comes to roof top tents, iKamper is also one of the top producers. Since the beginning of their business in 2012, they have been creating a lot of camping gear, the most of which were roof top tents. They make some of the highest-quality tents, and we'll talk about one of their most popular models, the Skycamp 3.0, right now.
Three to four adults can fit within this hard shell roof top tent. Since it is an all-season tent, you can use it no matter the weather outside. The Skycamp 3.0 hardshell's interior is insulated with quilted insulation to prevent condensation and keep you comfortable on chilly evenings. You can sleep well past sunrise because the tent's 300gsm thick, breathable, black-out canvas will block out light from the outside.
Additionally, it has modernized zippers and window designs that let you open both the canvas and mesh window simultaneously. The iKamper Skycamp 3.0 also has a sky view window, which lets light into your tent during the day and lets you see the stars at night. This is a really cool feature. This RTT weights 165 lbs. (75 kg.), which is surprisingly light for such a strong and durable hard sided tent.
This roof top tent's floor is made of sturdy, insulating honeycomb aluminum panels, and it has a footprint of 44,3 square feet. A 9-zone, 2.5" thick, insulated polyfoam mattress with a condensation-prevention insulating layer can also be found inside. A rainfly composed of waterproof polyester 75D ripstop fabric with an environmentally friendly water-repellent (DWR) coating is another characteristic of the Skycamp 3.0. Although it is one of the most expensive tents available, you can be sure that it will give you everything you need for your upcoming off-road adventure.
|3-4 People||165 lb||
Open: 83" x 77" x 48"
Closed: 55" x 85.5" x 13"
Skycamp Mini 3.0
Now as the name states this is just a bit smaller version of the Skycamp 3.0. However that doesn't mean that it is not as robust, durable, and reliable as the aforementioned iKamper Skycamp 3.0. The Skycamp 3.0 Mini is designed with the typical side opening hard shell tent design of most iKamper tents, making it ideal for mounting on virtually any vehicle and comfortably fitting 2 persons.
This is an all season tent as well as its interior is lined with quilted insulation. This reduces condensation and keeps you warmer when temperatures drop. It also features a thick 300gsm poly-cotton canvas that blocks out light so that you (or your kids) can sleep well past sunrise. This hard shell roof top tent is ideal for installation on any truck bed, any crew cab or double cab truck, as well as on nearly all vehicles with a roof rack capable of holding 125 lbs of weight when in motion. It measures 55"x57.5"x13/5" when closed and weighs only 125 lbs.
This hard sided tent also has a sky view window that lets the light in during the day and gives you the ability to look at the stars during night. You may open the mesh and canvas windows simultaneously on this hard shell RTT thanks to upgraded zippers and window design. The exterior canopy can be used as blinds as well.
Another crucial thing to mention is the incredibly comfortable 2,5" thick 9-zone mattress which is designed with an insulating layer to reduce condensation. A rainfly constructed of waterproof polyester 75D ripstop fabric with an environmentally friendly water-repellent (DWR) coating is another characteristic of the Skycamp 3.0 Mini. There's no doubt that this will be a great a great addition for your next off road adventure.
|2 People||125 lb||
Open: 83" x 52" x 48"
Closed: 55" x 57.5" x 13.5"
Brought into the US by Bundutec USA, this hardshell roof top tent is made in South Africa, the land of some of the best RTTs you’ll see. This is no exception; the Bundutop is a fantastic model, all made of aluminum (take that for a change), which makes it probably the lightest hardshell model out there.
It comes with an extremely comfortable 4” thick foam mattress, an aluminum ladder, an LED light mounted in the center of the tent, USB interior outlet to charge devices and, an electric push button to open the tent and set up the 360 degrees awning.
The BunduTop is an extremely high quality tent. It comes with a two-year warranty, and it will probably last for a very long time. The aluminum build makes it very resistant, as well as lightweight, so it saves you fuel!
The coolest and best feature is the winch motor, which will open the tent and set up the awning in less than a minute, and you never had to get on top of the car, as simple as pushing a button. Some doubt the quality of motors, well, this one won’t let you down and it also is covered by the warrant. Just make sure you unclip the four latches, and then it’ll run smoothly for years.
Besides the exterior and the cool winch motor, this BunduTop RTT is a very comfortable model. The fact that it has four windows, makes the ventilation really good, and so you can sleep or hang out inside of it being fresh all the time. The 360 degree awning gives it good protection against sun and rain. Plus, it's advertised for only 2 people, that is to make sure that you will be comfortable the whole time. A recommended model!
|2-3 People||150 lb||
Open: 82" x 53" x 39"
Closed: 82" x 53" x 12"
On our past article (which you can read here), we were heavily criticized for not including any Eezi-Awn roof top tent, and frankly, whoever criticized us was right. So we are sorry, and we have now included one of their models, which is by no chance, the Stealth, a smooth looking RTT.
This hard shell roof top tents comes with a comfortable 3.5” thick mattress, aluminum extendable ladder, insulated roof and floor for warmer interior on those colder nights.
The Stealth is probably the best looking model of all the tents over here. It’s simply slick, smooth, mysterious yet attractive. The black aluminum shell exterior has a very different design to all the others that makes it look cooler, as the elevated back, raises in a sort of triangular shape.
As to the tent, the quality is clearly excellent, all aluminum, all long lasting. The walls are made of thick and waterproof mesh. The outer shells are insulated, and with the thickness of the shell, you can be certain that you will sleep at a very good temperature even on colder evenings, or on colder seasons, that’s the specialty of the Stealth.
Unlike many other tents that will tell you “3 can sleep inside of it”, Eezi-Awn is clear, 2 people sleep in here, but it’s two adults, and they will sleep really well. And the comfort doesn’t stop there, as the opening and closing system of the tent is simple: unclip the four latches and just lift it up or then push it down, in 10 seconds you are done.
|2 People||220 lb||
Closed Footprint : 87” L x 57” W | 2200mm L x 1450mm W
Closed Front Height : 6.5" H | 165mm
Closed Back Height : 12" H | 300mm H
Open Front Height : 17" H | 430mm H
Open Back Height : 56" H | 1400mm H
OVS Mamba 3
This is an aircraft grade aluminum body clamshell roof top tent. This OVS hard shell roof top tent is one of the most equipped RTT out there and has pretty much all of the features you might ever want from such a product. It can open in under a minute thanks to its incredible gas struts.
It is an all season roof top tent and a pretty sturdy one as well. Even though it has aluminum shell it is still a heavy RTT weighing 250 lbs. However it can fit 3 people comfortably. Its body is constructed out of premium 600D rip-stop polyester canvas waterproof material with a 1” aluminum honeycomb insulated base which will keep you warm on chilly nights.
It is 50 inches wide, has a mattress that is 2" thick, and a useful anti-condensation pad underneath. It has 120G environmental fadeless breathable gaze windows that has a mesh which will stop any critters from entering your tent. Even when the weather conditions are harsh you can count on the military specked waterproof grade seal which will not let a single drop of water into your tent.
This hard shell roof top tent also comes with its own crossbars which you can use to mount bikes, kayaks, snowboards, or even extra cargo that you don't want inside of your vehicle. This OVS RTT has a huge storage space thanks to the outside and inside pockets which you can use to organize your camping equipment, toiletries, or even shoes.
You can even use the inside of the tent when closed to store some of the extra equipment you have. However one thing that is not as great is that you have to remove the ladder and store it inside you vehicle as it will not fit in the tent. This is one of the cheaper hard sided tents out there but it does not lack in quality. It is one of our recommendations so feel free to take a look at it.
|3 People||250 lb||
Open: 91” x 55.5” x 64”
Closed: 91” x 55.5” x 8”
Freespirit Recreation or FSR, is an Oregon based company, which has been producing some of the best roof top tents in America for quite a few years. However, what truly makes them stand apart is their designs. They have perhaps the most innovative RTT designs in the overlanding market, even when it comes to hardshells. The Evolution is their newest model, let's take a look.
Inside this hard shell RTT you'll fins a 1.2” high density foam mattress, and an additional 2" of soft flooring to sleep even more comfortably, a lightweight telescoping ladder, 2 boot bags and an LED light strip. The newest model by GoFSR. The Evolution is innovation at its finest. It opens up in a matter of seconds thanks to a patented gas strut system, which is one of the easiest systems we've seen to open or close a tent.
Depending on how many people you wish to sleep within, it is available in two sizes: 49 inches wide and 55 inches wide. Only two people can fit in the 49" version, but two adults and a child might fit in the 55" version. When fully opened, both models stand 43" tall. The tent's honeycomb aluminum shell and tri-layer canvas, which is the standard for FSR, are constructed of 150D poly-oxford and 90g/m2 of poly-fil. This is an incredible feature, especially during the coldest months.
Once opened, it offers 360 panoramic views, thanks to the windows on all sides, which at the same time offer great ventilation and airflow. On top of that, the tent has the famous FSR tri-layer technology, for much better insulation and protection during colder times of the year. A true 4 season camping tent.
Its 139 lb weight and 9" closed height are both impressively low. Two adults will fit in comfortably when you factor in the 750 pounds weight limit. The Evolution is a strong, well built hard top tent, which is a breeze to use and setup.
|2-3 People||139-172 lb||
Open: 55" x 83" x 43"
Closed: 60" x 87" x 9"
This hard shell roof top tent is a pop up RTT made by Thule. It is an all season tent thanks to its 5mm thick ABS plastic with both UV inhibitors and color fade inhibitors hard shell. Its lower shell however combines ABS and welded aluminum substructure with unique felt lined honeycomb polypropylene panels for reinforced support and isolation on those chilly nights.
This reason why ABS is great for roof top tents is that it is a really tough material which can hardly be dented and since it is plastic after all it really light. This 2 person hard shell roof top tent weighs 80 kg or 176 lbs. Besides the quality shell its fabric is made of 260g cotton and polyester coated to a waterproof rating of 1500mm which will be more than enough to keep you safe and sound even during the harshest weather conditions.
Couple more features that we want to mention are the insulated roof to help control the temperature inside the tent and reduce noise, durable and breathable weather resistant canopy for extra protection and comfort, a patented canopy zipper system that allows for easy conversion between a tent and a cargo carrier, and of course let's not forget the comfortable foam mattress that comes with a removable cover.
Inside the tent you will find storage pockets for organizing your camping gear, toiletries or even clothes and for everyone that hates insects Thule has got you covered with their breathable mesh windows. This is an expensive hard shell roof top tent but it is one of the slicker tents out there which can give you a great next overlanding experience.
|2 People||176 lb||
Open: 84" x 55" x 43"
Closed: 84" x 55" x 13"
Tuff Stuff Alpha II
This is an all season, 2 person, side opening hard shell roof top tent. To open it and set it up you need less than two minutes. As you know by now hard sided tents are expensive but this one is cheaper than most models on the market currently. That however doesn't mean that it is less durable and reliable than other models out there. With that being said let's take a look at what makes this RTT so great.
Its shell is made out of ABS plastic which makes this tent durable yet light, weighing 141 lbs, and also having a weight capacity of 800lbs. it has heavy-duty aluminum honeycomb base which has a great insulation for those colder nights. The tent material itself is constructed out of 280 G Poly/Cotton Rip-Stop fabric and has a rainfly made out of 210D Polyester/Oxford PU coated 5000mm material.
It features 3 windows with awnings and mesh screens for excellent ventilation and views which have heavy-duty YKK zippers with custom para-cord pull which eliminates that annoying dinging sound of the zippers in the wind. Let's not forget to mention the sky view window which is perfect for star gazing as well as to let the sunlight in during the day.
Inside the tent you will find a 2.5" thick mattress as well as built in LED strips (inside and outside). However in order to power those LED strips you would need a USB power bank which does not come included. Getting in and out of the tent is easy thanks to the 7,5 ft tall telescoping aluminum ladder with angled steps which you can store inside the tent when it is closed.
|2 People||141 lb||
Open: 59" X 79" X 46"
Closed: 59" X 49" X 14"
Hard Sided Tents FAQS
Are hard sided tents more reliable than other types?
As we already talked about, hard shell roof top tents are more durable, reliable, and stronger than soft shell roof top tents. However they are more expensive and are not considered a budget option.
Will a hard sided roof top tent affect fuel consumption?
Well when it comes to fuel consumptions you have to take into consideration a few thongs. Weight, and aerodynamics of the tent. Hard sided tents are heavier in general than soft shell ones and that will make an impact on the fuel consumption. However they are very aerodynamic, even more than the soft shell RTT's so your fuel tank won't feel the difference.
Can hard sided tents withstand strong winds?
Yes they can! Because they are heavier than soft shell ones they are more stable. Also because of their robust build they can withstand even the harshest weather conditions, not just strong winds.
Let’s Wrap It Up
We hope you enjoyed the read, we hope that we gave you some valuable information and that now you are more tempted to join the Roof Top Tent world and hopefully buy a hardshell at some point. Trust us, there’s nothing more comfortable and cooler than overlanding and then sleeping in one of these beauties. You’ll be the envy of family, friends and Instagram, and you’ll have unforgettable trips.
It’s important to add that there are many other great brands and models that we didn’t include, simply because that article would be infinite, and because a lot of them we haven’t tried them. So, if we missed out any, write them on the comment section below, we’d really like to know your thoughts, experiences and opinions.
As to what we sell and offer, take a look around the shop and give us a call (T: 844-200-3979) or shoot us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org), we'd be happy to help!
Frequently Asked Questions
Will this work on a 2021 TRD Off-road with Prinsu Roof rack?
Yes, absolutely. This tent is compatible with a Prinsu roof rack!
Will this work on a 2021 TRD Off-road with Prinsu Roof rack?
By standard bars, do you mean the side rails the 5th gen includes? Or the factory crossbars going from left to right? Our recommendation is that you aftermarket crossbars or a full roof rack, because they are much stronger and can handle much more weight. Here are some options: https://offroadtents.com/collections/toyota-4runner-roof-racks
I have a 4th gen 4runner would it fit with that?
Yes, it'll work just fine. Just make sure you need a roof rack. Here are some options: https://offroadtents.com/search?type=product&q=4runner+4th+gen+rack
Does it have the hole for the A/C unit?
It has space to put in a hose to cool the tent. But a specific hole for an A/C unit not really. Depending on the circumference of what you need, yes.
We have a ram 1500 short bed. How do I know what tent will fit my truck? Or is it based on the rack you buy to put on the top of the truck?
It's based a bit more on the rack. Well, if you want the tent on your bed, then one like this one will be perfect. It has the right dimensions to fit a short bed. Still, I recommend you look at racks at the same time. You can search on our site for Bed Racks for Ram 1500.
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