Clamshell Roof Top Tent vs. Side Opening Hard Shell Roof Top Tent: What Should I Get?


If you are reading this, you are either on the fence about getting a clamshell rooftop tent or a side opening RTT, or you’re trying to learn more about roof tents in general. Either way, this article will surely help. We are confident that you choose the right rooftop tent when you need a more secure, durable, and stylish RTT mounted on your off-road vehicle. 

Hardshell rooftop tents are generally more convenient, easy to set up, and much safer to use than other roof top tents. This type of rooftop tent is usually made of tough and sturdy material, assisted with gas struts or any easy-open function, and aerodynamic, especially when cruising on the freeway. But maybe you already know these ideas, and you are stuck with the last question before getting a hard shell rooftop tent: What should I get? The Clamshell Roof Top Tent or Side Opening Hard Shell Rooftop Tent? 

Hardshell Rooftop Tents

Giving you an overview of the clamshell and side opening roof tent, the most straightforward distinction and the difference between the two is simply the orientation you’ll enter when you are about to sleep. But there are more considerations to know before getting which will be the perfect hard shell rooftop tent for you. Let us dig deeper between each type of hard shell RTT.

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Clamshell Roof Top Tents

Overland Vehicle System Mamba 3 Hard Shell Rooftop Tent

Eezi-Awn Blade Hardshell Rooftop Tent

Side Opening Hard Shell Rooftop Tent

FSR Odyssey Series Side Opening Hard Shell Rooftop Tent

iKamper Skycamp 3.0 Side Opening Rooftop Tent

Comparing Side Opening Hard Shell Rooftop Tent and Clamshell Roof Top Tents

Eezi-Awn Blade Clamshell Rooftop Tent vs iKamper Skycamp 3.0 Side-Opening Hardshell Rooftop Tent


Clamshell Roof Top Tents

Clamshell RTTs, sometimes called Wedge Style Hard Shell Rooftent, have south-facing openings and are usually mounted to off-road vehicles with a rear ladder on them. But don’t get me wrong, clamshell RTTs still have wide openings on each side, giving it a 270° accessibility which you can use to enter your tent depending on your preference. 

Wedge-type rooftop tent can be set up in a few seconds, just removing the latch that secures everything together, giving it a little time for the gas strut to kick, and the comfortable mattress will greet you instantly. Aside from the convenience of setting up and accessing it, there’s more to that.

Having clamshells as your go-to hard shell roof top tent can also save you from exerting too much effort, especially when you need to mount other oversized overlanding equipment to your roof rack. You don’t have to mount and remove everything repeatedly on top of your roof rack, as clamshell rooftop tents usually give the option to have an additional pair of crossbars for your off-road gear. Imagine having a surfboard and a bike you’ll need to bring on your adventure; where will you put it if you have a clamshell rooftop tent in place?

That’s why probably the Clamshell Roof tents have a generally heavier weight rating than the other rooftop tent type. Aside from their mounting capability, they are way sturdier than the side-opening rooftop tents. We aren’t discussing the sleeping space yet.


Overland Vehicle System Mamba 3 Hard Shell Rooftop Tent

Let’s start getting visual and take the Overland Vehicle System Mamba 3 Hard Shell RTT as one of the examples of the wedge-type rooftop tent that you can mount on your off-road rig.


OVS Mamba 3 Hard Shell Rooftop Tent

The OVS Mamba 3 is an aluminum-bodied clamshell rooftop tent that provides the best comfort and camping experience to you and your family. Giving you ample sleeping space for a two to three-person, the Mamba 3 clamshell tent still has plenty of room for other storage capacities through its pouches.

Aside from its well-planned interior, mounting anything on its exterior when not in use is also possible. Got extra recovery gear or tools that you need to bring? The Overland Vehicle System Mamba 3 always got your back. 

Quick Specs OVS Mamba 3 Clamshell RTT

  • Base Material: Aircraft Grade Aluminum
  • Body: Premium 600D Rip-Stop Polyester Canvas Waterproof Material
  • Window Screens: 120G Environmental Fadeless Breathable Gaze
  • Mattress: 2” High-Density Foam

Aside from its reliable basic specification that provides a sturdy framework for your tent, the OVS Mamba 3 has a well-thought design and style that is very significant for its users. The aerodynamic feature, whether in use or not, is very commendable. This clamshell rooftop tent prevents wind dragging from slowing you down when cruising through your road trip. The Overland Vehicle System Mamba 3 has breathable gaze mesh windows that let continuous air flow inside your hard shell tent. 

There are many advantages to using the Overland Vehicle System Mamba 3 as your primary rooftop tent. Here’s a dedicated table for the Mamba 3 clamshell rooftop tent pros and cons to help you decide:



Fast and easy setup and take down 

(less than a minute, gas-strut assist)

Provides limited space, dependent on your vehicle’s length and width

Comfortable sleeping experience 

(anti-condensation mat, insulated base plate, thick mattress)

Heavy product weight, dependent on your vehicle’s load carrying capacity

Plenty of storage pouches

Can only fit up to three persons

Can mount oversized outdoor gear and equipment on top of the hardshell

Low head space

Accessories included 

(shoe pouch, telescoping ladder, additional crossbars) 




Eezi-Awn Blade Hardshell Rooftop Tent

Another contender to check if you plan to have a clamshell roof top tent is the Blade Eezi-Awn hardshell rooftent. From the relentless testing experience in South Africa where this brand locally originated, Eezi-Awn easily garnered its prestige as one of the suppliers of the most reliable overlanding gear and equipment for decades.

Eezi Awn Blade Clamshell Rooftop Tent

Eezi-Awn Blade clamshell roof top tent provides a sturdy top-to-bottom outdoor shelter to overlanding enthusiasts, with its base and cover made from aluminum shell and rip-stop durable walls to name a few. Aside from the reliable frame, the Blade hardshell roof tent has secured latches for easy opening and locking your roof tent. An internal gas strut assist is also available, speeding up the setup of your temporary home on your outdoor adventure. 

Quick Specs Eezi-Awn Blade Clamshell Rooftop Tent

  • Base Material: Lightweight Aluminum Body
  • Body: 260 gram Teflon-coated Polyester Ripstop Material
  • Window Screens: Triple Entry with Privacy Mesh Panels
  • Mattress: 80mm Thick Laminated Mattress

Having an Eezi-Awn Blade hardshell RTT feels like having the comfort of your home while outdoor camping. Besides the cozy and stylish design and interior, there are added features to watch for in this max three-person tent. LED strip lights are included, illuminating your tent inside; 12v sockets are also in place in case you need to charge your devices and internal storage pockets for your other accessories. Aside from these features, check out the Blade clamshell RTT advantages and disadvantages:



Internal Gas Struts and assistance straps available for easy operation

Optional additional crossbars only

Additional features for extra comfort

(LEDs, internal pockets, privacy mesh panels, 12v outlet) 

No anti-condensation features

With XKLUSIV ladder with built-in extension

Heavy load rating

Double-sized mattress with 3” thickness



Side Opening Hard Shell Rooftop Tent

Sometimes called the Flip Open Style Roof tent, the Side Opening Hard Shell RTTs are recommended for those car-camping enthusiasts who own shorter off-road vehicles or those who prefer a wider sleeping space for the family. This rooftop tent type opens easily as well. You just need to pop the roof of the shell up on its side and flip the base extension out to settle your rooftop tent, if applicable. Usually, there are variations of the side-opening hard shell roof tents that need to have strong, sturdy, and reliable floor panels because some may have a hanging base as its extension.

Side-opening hard-shell rooftop tents provide greater space than the other type of RTT. Taking its headspace as an example, flip-style hardshell roof tents can accommodate a person sitting upright. This can be attributed to the hard shell’s capacity to open more than 45 degrees or almost having a vertical angle. Depending on the model you own, having a side-opening hard-shell rooftop tent can also be favorable for taller people as some may provide a longer base, usually twice the size of your vehicle’s width. 

Due to a lesser cramped camping interior space, aerodynamics and breathability are also better while camping out. Two large side windows provide better airflow, giving a more comfortable experience, especially during summer. Plus, sky windows may also give a memorable view of the night sky during overnight camping depending on the model you prefer.


FSR Odyssey Series Side Opening Hard Shell Rooftop Tent

One of the most reliable brands to consider when getting your first RTT is Free Spirit Recreation, often known as Go FSR. The US-based off-road experts provide innovative gear and equipment that will definitely give you comfort and ease in overlanding. Their side-opening hard shell tent, the Odyssey Series, is the perfect product to seek when you need a stylish yet cozy roof tent for your outdoor adventure. 

FSR Odyssey Side Open Rooftop Tent

Boasting its aerodynamic feature whether in use or when in travel, the FSR Odyssey rooftop tent is engineered to make smooth airflow continuously through this hardshell tent. When cruising on a freeway and not in use, the Odyssey roof top tent only measures seven inches tall. This low-profile rooftop tent prevents rattles and extreme wind dragging from happening. When fully set up, you’ll probably spend most of your time lying down in the Odyssey’s 2-inch high-density foam while enjoying the cool breeze the two oversized side window panels provide.

Quick Specs FSR Odyssey Series Side Opening Hardshell Rooftop Tent

  • Base Material: Aluminum Honeycomb Plate
  • Body: 190GRip-Stop Polycotton and 2000mm Polyurethane Coating
  • Window Screens: 3 Layers of 150D Poly-Oxford with 90g/M2 Poly-fil
  • Mattress: 2" High Density Foam


The Odyssey Series of FreeSpirit Recreation is a perfect four-season rooftop tent that has a sonic-wielded Tri-Layer fabric that keeps you warm during the cold season and gives a cool feeling during summer.

Aside from these amazing features, here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of getting an Odyssey GoFSR side-opening roof top tent:



Easy setup through Gas Strut-assist

Firm high-density mattress

Multiple interior design features 

(integrated LED light, multiple pouches)

No base extension for taller people

Telescoping ladder included

Option to purchase additional crossbars

Can mount off-road accessories on top of the hard-shell




iKamper Skycamp 3.0 Side Opening Rooftop Tent

A four-person revamped side-opening hardshell roof tent, the all-new Skycamp 3.0 is from an ISO-certified off-road expert originating from South Korea. The iKamper brand has been a staple go-to outdoor gear and equipment supplier for the past years. By providing excellent and top-of-the-line quality, like Skycamp 3.0, they have gained their patrons’ trust as one of the leading providers of outdoor equipment needs. 

iKamper Skycamp 3.0 Side Open Hard Shell Rooftop Tent

Because of its stylish design partnered with durable material strength and high-quality build, the iKamper Skycamp 3.0 is probably one of the most popular side-opening hard-shell rooftop tents out in the market. This four-season hardshell RTT gives its user a bang for the buck purchase with the outstanding features that the iKamper provides. From the thick mattress that can accommodate up to four adults to the innovative hardshell design, you’ll never go wrong in having the iKamper Skycamp 3.0 mounted on your off-road rig.

Quick Specs SkyCamper 3.0 Side Opening Hardshell Rooftop Tent

  • Base Material: Durable, insulating honeycomb aluminum panels
  • Body: Breathable, black-out, 300gsm poly-cotton canvas
  • Window Screens: Easy-open, zippered design with additional Skyview window
  • Mattress: 9-zone, 2.5" thick, insulated polyfoam

Skycamp 3.0 hard shell rooftop Tent has an extended insulating honeycomb aluminum panel that provides ample sleeping space and allows you to stretch your legs at a full range. The flip-open style mechanism of this RTT helps you set up the iKamper Skycamp 3.0 in less than a minute, saving you time and energy that you can spend resting on its 9-zone comfortably designed mattress. Check out all you have to know about the iKamper Skycamp 3.0 in this table: 



Skyview Window for additional breathability while enjoying the fantastic night sky view

No option for mounting on top of its hardshell

Made by a brand that is already established in the Overlanding industry

Dimensions might not be compatible with other short-sized vehicles

Durable and innovative materials that provide insulation and protection to your hardshell roof top tent

Has a higher price point compared to other side-opening hardshell rooftop tent

Hardshell case functions as cargo box when not in use



Comparing Side Opening Hard Shell Rooftop Tent and Clamshell Roof Top Tents

Apart from the orientation that both these hard shell roof top tents have, other notable differences can determine which RTT is best for you. These comparisons may give you a better idea of which hardshell rooftop tent is more advantageous over a set of criteria. Would a clamshell rooftop tent fit on your vehicle, or is mounting a side-opening hardshell rooftop tent favorable on most of your outdoor adventures? 


The Size of your Vehicle

One of the factors to consider before buying any rooftop tent, not just a hardshell RTT, is to check whether its dimension is compatible with your off-road rig. Look over the length and width of your vehicle and check if it can accommodate your desired off-road tent. Remember that you must mount a rooftop tent that your vehicle can handle to avoid accidents and inconveniences. 

Vehicles with more extended body frames are usually compatible with the clamshell rooftop tents, while those on the other side can mount a side-opening hard shell rooftop tent without any hassle.


Vehicle’s Load Weight Rating

Clamshell rooftop tents tend to weigh more than side-opening rooftop tents, so you have to carefully examine your car’s load capacity before getting one. Also, you must consider which equipment and outdoor gear you will bring with you and add them up to be on the safe side. Check whether your rig can hold up an Odyssey RTT with a 250 lbs load rating plus a bike or an oversized surfboard. Be sure to know the difference between static and dynamic load capacity as well. 

When you have to cut down on your load weight, it’s better to have a side-opening hard shell rooftop tent to bring more gear with you. But if your vehicle can accommodate more weight, you can opt to use a clamshell RTT. 


Sleeping Capacity

How many people will be using the tent with you? Will it be comfortable if you house four persons inside your hardshell tent? This is one of the most important factors to consider before getting your first rooftop tent. Since the wedge-style rooftop tent depends on your vehicle’s dimensions, specifically its width, it may be too crowded to accommodate four adults. As for the flip-type RTTs, imagine having the capability to extend your rooftop tent using the base that comes with it and getting more space for your gang.

For single people fond of traveling or couples that are into overlanding, it’s recommended to get the clamshell rooftop tent. But if you want to have a much bigger space or travel with your family, side-opening hard-shell rooftop tents are definitely for you.


Ease of Access

Some off-road rides have a better approach to accommodating both types of rooftop tents. However, some overlanding vehicles have other gear or equipment mounted on their rear side. Clamshell Rooftop Tents usually provide three-side entries to your tent, depending on your preference, while side-opening hardshell tents often have their side as the sole entrance to your car-camping tent. 

Still, depending on the preference, users may choose clamshells if they want more options on the entry while side-opening hardshell RTTs have limited access on their way up. 


Other Things to Consider

There are many factors to consider before getting your first ever hard shell rooftop tent. One of them is determining the prevailing weather in the possible areas where you’ll camp. Some hardshell rooftop tents have insulation features that keep you warm while conquering cold camping sites. Condensation mats are also crucial in keeping your tent’s interior dry and mold-free. 

Mattresses may also be essential before choosing the right hard-shell rooftop tent for you. As clamshell rooftop tents provide a quick setup, they also carry a thicker and more comfortable mattress around as they don’t need to detach and keep their mattress elsewhere. Side-opening hard-shell rooftop tents usually have denser mattresses because they need to fit inside the hard shell with everything else. 

Added features, such as LED striplights, power sockets, storage, and pouches, are also considered. These are the brand’s extra mile effort to give their customers more memorable camping experiences that everyone will love. Accessories, such as ladders, gas struts, and even the hard shell itself, should also be a factor to consider for your camping buddy. 

Well, don’t forget about your budget. It matters as well.


Eezi-Awn Blade Clamshell Rooftop Tent vs iKamper Skycamp 3.0 Side-Opening Hardshell Rooftop Tent

Now that you know about the things you’ll be looking after before getting your sturdy hard shell roof top tent, let’s try comparing these two amazing brands side-by-side.

Eezi-Awn Blade

Clamshell RTT

iKamper Skycamp 3.0

Side Open RTT


Vehicle Size

87” in Length x 57” Width

85.5” in Length x 55” in Width (Closed) 

83” in Lenth x 77” in Width (Open)

Both dimensions are almost same when closed. But iKamper provides a bigger sleeping space when opened. 

Load Rating

175 lbs (80 kgs)

165 lbs (75 kgs)

Eezi-Awn Blade is made of heavy-duty aluminum both on its base and on its top. While iKamper is made from FRP (Fiber Reinforced Plastic) top and aluminum honeycomb base

Sleeping Capacity

2-3 Person RTT

4 Person RTT

When travelling alone or with a friend, the clamshell type can easily accommodate both. But when the gang gets bigger, it is recommended to have the side-opening hardshell tent

Ease of Access

Rear and both sides

One side only

Depending on user preference

Weather Resistance



Both rooftop tents are aerodynamic and made from durable weather-resistant materials. But flip-type RTTs can have a better chance of blocking strong winds


Crossbar Compatible, LED light, Power Socket, Gas Struts, Ladder

Not compatible for crossbars, Skyview Windows, Ladder, Hardshell as Cargo Box

Both have basic added features but differs in compatibility with other accessories. When mounting oversized equipment, go with the Eezi-Awn Blade. iKamper’s cargo box/hard shell can only fit some gear and tools inside. 


Double with 3-inch thickness

9-zone insulated 2.55-inch mattress

Depending on user preference, the SkyCamp 3.0 may need an additional cushion for comfortability


Click HERE to View

Click HERE to View

Both provide a reasonable price point for their RTT type.



Investing in a heavy-duty and durable rooftop tent is the most logical thing to do, especially when you are into overlanding. A comfortable and reliable rooftop tent can give you a hassle-free off-road trip worth every penny. That’s what Hard Shell Rooftop Tents provide. Now it’s only up to you to choose a Clamshell Rooftop Tent or Side-Opening Hardshell Rooftop. Remember that it’s more than just orientation. 

These RTTs may look exactly alike when not in use, but they are entirely different in how they give comfortability and experience to their users. Depending on your preference and everything factored out in this article, your choice should provide you with the most noteworthy camping trip you ever had. 

Talk to us to know more in-depth details about this blog and anything under the overlanding industry! You may call 1-844-200-3979 or leave a message at our email:

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  • Which rooftop tent will hold my Thule haulavator kayak rack? It’s an elbow system that I attache my kayaks on the side of my jeep and I raise my kayaks on to the roof of my jeep. Areo bars hold the apparatus to my jeep.

    Linda Rios