3 comments / Posted on by Gianluca Boncompagni

As roof top tent lovers, we cannot help it but feel butterflies in our stomachs every time we see a hardshell 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 on that kick-ass 4 by 4, 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 be a roof top tent junkie too, and you’ll want to get a hardshell model no matter what.

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 hardshell rooftop tents, not putting them in any particular order. Also, we are not an affiliate website, we sell roof top tents as approved dealers of some of the brands. But heck, most of these brands aren’t even sold by us; we just made the article because we felt like it.

Buckle up; it’s time to get this adventure started.

 

Explorer by Roost

explorer hardshell rooftop tent by roost

Roost is one of the best hardshell roof top tent manufacturers, and for all of those RTT junkies that are tired of the Chinese factories making most of the tents you can buy, well, guess what? Roost is made in USA. That’s a nice way of introducing it. Now let’s take a look at the specs.

Name

Price

Size Open

Size Closed

Person Capacity

Weight

 

Roost Explorer

 

$2998

90.5” L x 57” W x 59” H

90.5” L x 57” W x 13” H

 

3, but preferably 2

 

163 lbs

Includes: It comes with a 2” foam mattress, a fabric hammock shelf to gold things, side pouches for valuable smaller items, a standard aluminum ladder, heavy duty rear latches with locking feature, and universal mounting brackets

Overview: Besides the fact that it’s a USA made RTT, the Roost is an extremely reliable model. Hardshells tend to have longer lifespans than softshells, and are more resistant to rough weather. Their only set backs are the higher prices and that they weigh a bit more. So those are the only two “defects” you can find on the Roost.

As to the benefits, number one is comfort, and we mean it in every way. Setting up the Roost isn’t hard, as it works well with most of the roof rack bars, such as Thule, Yakima, etc. (just make sure the crossbars have a minimum length of 58”). You’ll need two people to set it up (it’s heavy), but then you are ready to go. And after that? Well, just pull it upwards to open it, in less than 30 seconds you can crawl inside of it.

Once inside you’re going to love it. The 2-inch thick mattress might be a bit thin, but you can order a 3-inch for more comfort. The inside space is very comfortable, with two people sleeping pretty well, and a third (small one), capable of fitting in.

Other cool things: it has three doors, two side ones that also serve as windows for ventilation, and a larger one at the front. If you remove the mattress, the inside of the Roost can become a cargo carrier, it has 13-inches of closed height, so it can carry some luggage and other things. The outer shell is shiny and attractive, oh yeah, you’ll be running your fingers on top of it quite a lot, and it comes in black or white, neat. Plus the inner tent fabric comes in six colors, so you can mix and match.

 

Maggiolina Extreme by Autohome

 Maggiolina extreme hardshell roof top tent by autohome

Another non-China made rooftop tent. The Maggiolina Extreme is Italian made, and even though Autohome USA sells them in the US, all their models are manufactured back in pasta country. Also, Autohome is if not the oldest, at least one of the pioneers of RTTs, they’ve been making them since 1958, so that gives them experience points.

Name

Price

Size Open

Size Closed

Person Capacity

Weight

Maggiolina Extreme

 

$3099 (small) - $3699 (medium)

 

83” L x 51” W x 34” H (S) - 83”L x 57” W x 34” H (M)

83” L x 51” W x 13” H (S) - 83”L x 57” W x 13” H (M)

2 (S) and 3 (M)

 

143 lbs (S)

152 lbs (M)

 

Includes: A 3.2” thick foam mattress, a locking allow (super lightweight) ladder, it comes with a “piggy back” or basically two load bars in the upper shell to carry additional things, like surfboards and even bicycles.

Overview: The Maggiolina Extreme is a beast, the beast of beasts in the Autohome family. This roof top tent comes in two sizes, a small one that fits, comfortably two people, and a medium size that can fit relatively comfortably three people, or incredibly comfortably two people. Then, it comes in three different shell colors: light grey, white/carbon and black, all of them slick, neat, dazzling.

We honestly love the piggyback feature, which is compatible with Thule Aero accessories. This feature is a game changer in the RTT and overlanding world, as it will allow you to stuff other gear on top of the Maggiolina, surfboards, bikes, kayaks, whatever you plan on doing while you’re not sleeping in it.

Opening it is quite simple as it has a crank opening system, so again, like with most hardshell car top tents, opening it and getting it ready is a matter of seconds. As to the durability, it’s built to last for years. Sure, the shell will lose some of its shining glare, but it’s strong. So strong, that it was built for Pre-Runners in the Paris-Dakar rally. This tent is for rugged adventures, for tough overlanders.

 

Sparrow X by RoofNest

sparoow x roof top tent by roof nest

RoofNest is proudly a Boulder, Colorado based company, and their hardshell tents have been gaining popularity and momentum in the American market. Honestly, it’s no surprise, they’ve got a wide variety of models, and they are all fine, comfortable and durable. We personally like the Sparrow X, which can fit any roof racks, as long as the crossbars have a minimum distance of 30” between front and back.

Name

Price

Size Open

Size Closed

Person Capacity

Weight

 

Sparrow X

 

$2395

82” L x 48” W x 36” H

82” L x 48” W x 16” H

2 comfortably

150 lbs

Includes: A 2.6” foam mattress, a lightweight aluminum ladder, and built in roof racks that can carry an additional 100 lbs of weight.

Overview: Let’s start with the roof racks. So, similar to the Maggiolina, you can put on top of it kayaks, boards, and other gear, up to 100 lbs of additional weight. That’s quite a lot. And if you get rid of the mattress inside the Sparrow X, then you have additional 16” of space to put valuables and luggage inside of it, safely and dry.

As to the quality, it’s excellent. Classic fiberglass hardshell, with the traditional PU polyester and cotton waterproof fabric walls, but, wait, the Sparrow X has 3000mm walls, which are quite thick. Hence why this becomes a heavier duty tent, one that will keep you warmer during colder autumn or spring evenings. Although, during summer we recommend keeping the four windows open for ventilation, as such thick walls can make the inside a bit too warm and breathability might be a concern. Worried about rain? Don’t, the windows have a hanging mesh and even awnings to protect you. 

Overall, this is a cool tent, a cool brand, and it’s still flying under the radar, so the prices are very affordable!

 

BunduTop by Bundutec

Bundutop roof top tent hardshell by bundutec

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.

Name

Price

Size Open

Size Closed

Person Capacity

Weight

 

BunduTop

 

$3470

82” L x 53” W x 41.5” H

82” L x 53” W x 12” H

2 comfortably

135 lbs

Includes: 4” thick foam mattress, extremely comfortable, 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.

Overview: 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!

 

Stealth by Eezi-Awn

stealth hardshell roof top tent by eezi-awn

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.

Name

Price

Size Open

Size Closed

Person Capacity

Weight

 

Stealth

 

$3900

87” L x 57” W x “ 56” H

87” L x 57” W x 12” H

2 comfortably

220 lbs (including ladder)

Includes: 3.5” thick mattress, aluminum extendable ladder, insulated roof and floor for warmer interior.

Overview: 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.

Once again, sorry for leaving Eezi-Awn out last time, this time we wanted to make it up and say this is one of our personal favorites!

 

Adventure Series Automatic 49 by Free Spirit Recreation

adventure series 49 automatic roof top tent by free spirit recreation

We had mentioned the Adventure Series Automatic 49 in our previous article, and we still had to include it here. We are talking about another excellent hardshell rooftop tent with some innovative features that would soften anyone’s senses. We had to include it.

Name

Price

Size Open

Size Closed

Person Capacity

Weight

Adventure Series Automatic 49

 

$2295

 

 

85” L x 52” W x 48” H

 

 

85” L x 52” W x 9” H

 

 

2

 

 

139 lbs

 

Includes: Mattress with washable cover, aluminum ladder, 2 storage pockets, an electric motor of 12 volts, solar panel of 12 volts, 2 remote controls.

Overview: Well, just like the BunduTop, the Adventure Series Automatic 49 includes a motor to open and close it, making it a Free Spirit Recreation masterpiece. The motor is simple to operate, just use one of the remotes (or even your phone if you connect it via BlueTooth), and in less then a minute the RTT is ready, no effort whatsoever.

It doesn’t stop there; this tent is built to go overlanding with comfort and additional technology. The roof top tent comes with a 12-volt solar panel, which can charge the motor of the tent. It also comes with 2 air vents to create a much better airflow inside the tent, which solves breathability and ventilation issues on warm summer nights. Overall, this tent is for those who’d like a bit of luxury.

 

Skycamp Roof Top Tent by iKamper

skycamp hardshell rtf by ikamper, closed look

We had also spoken to you about the Skycamp in the previous article, this is our personal favorite and we want to show you why. The Skycamp is a product by iKamper, a brand that was born after a Korean adventurer was inspired by Jack Kerouac, travelled America in a camper van and then decided to start an RTT company. Fast forward a few years and he has raised over $2.3 million on a Kickstarter campaign, designed this beauty, and is making some other really cool camping and overlanding gear.

Name

Price

Size Open

Size Closed

Person Capacity

Weight

 Skycamp

 $3199

 85.8” L x 82.6” W x 43.3” H  

 85.8” L x 82.6” W x 12.5” H 

 3

 156 lbs

Includes: Mattress, aluminum ladder, rainfly.

Overview: The Skycamp is our favorite for many reasons, first the comfort that it offers. Not only is it huge, allowing three people to actually fit inside of it, and four if you wanted to push it, but opening is a piece of cake: 30 seconds, that’s all it takes.

The quality, durability, and strength of this hardshell RTT is unreal, it is suitable for any season, it can take rain, snow, wind, whatever you throw at it. You can even choose to buy it with the poly-cotton fabric, which makes it warmer, thicker and more resistant to wind and snow. That’s if you like overlanding and camping in winter of course. Oh, and if it’s too warm, just detach the whole fabric, and leave only the mesh, that way you are protected from bugs, but the wind will keep you cool all night.

Another great feature is the fact that the fabric can be detached completely, leaving only mesh, that way during summer you can enjoy a refreshing breeze or the view of the sky at night. When winter comes, you attach the fabric back and you’re ready to go.

Plus, all the accessories that you can add to it turn this into a sort of house. The annex is massive, the awning is also incredibly large and covers a big area, and it has a lot of other cool accessories to put inside of it. No wonder it made so much noise on Kickstarter, this is a great hardshell roof top tent.

And yes, this is the only one we sell from the entire list, so if you wish to take a look at it, please click here.

 

Expedition Tent, Generation3 by Alu-Cab

alu-cab hardshell rooftop tent the expedition tent generation 3

South Africans certainly know their tents, and they love the aluminum roof top tents. The Expedition Generation 3 is another aluminum hardshell RTT manufactured in South Africa by Alu-Cab. The looks of this tent, man, they are insane, just look at the picture; it looks like some sort of machine. Time to look at the specs.

Name

Price

Size Open

Size Closed

Person Capacity

Weight

Expedition Tent, Generation 3

 

$3995

 

 

90” L x 55” W x 63” H  

 

 

90” L x 55” W x 9.8” H  

 

 

2

 

 

164 lbs

 

Includes: 4” thick mattress, aluminum ladder, it comes with slotted rack rails for surfboards and other things, and you can buy an extra kit with stalk lights, USB charge point, and storage bags.

Overview: The looks of this tent are remarkable; we had never seen something like this. Talk about being attracted to a hardshell RTT and the Expedition comes in mind.

It’s all aluminum made, so despite being pretty big, spacious and with the additional racks, it’s still not that heavy. Plus, it’s going to be strong and very resistant. The walls are made of UV and waterproof canvas, very resistant and thick enough to keep you warm, and the outer shells are both insulated. You’ll sleep very well.

Opening it is a matter of seconds, and climbing inside of it too, as it has three doors on both sides and front. Two people sleep very comfortably inside of it, as this tent is both long and wide. If you are worried of running out of space, don’t you can put your surfboards, kayaks and other things on the racks that this tent has on the upper shell. South Africans think of everything.

This is a third generation tent, which has been improved generation after another. It’s built for tough expedition, for rougher overlanding trips and off road adventures. This is a great choice, period.

 

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 if you want any model. We only sell one Hardshell Roof Top Tent, the Skycamp, which you can take a look at here.

3 comments

  • Posted on by Scott

    Hey, if you two show up, it will turn into an “Excellent Adventure” ?

  • Posted on by Ted

    Bill, Overland Expo is at the end of September in Asheville, NC. Likely all these tents will be there.

  • Posted on by Bill Baldwin

    are there any overland shows where most of these might be on display? (eastern USA ideally)

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