Why Are Roof Top Tents So Expensive?

There are a few main reasons as to why roof top tents are so expensive, however, the two main reasons are quality and dimensions. To break that down into simpler terms, a roof top tent is made with materials that are often used to build boats, cars, or even buildings. They are made of premium, specific, and specialized materials. Plus, these are large tents, and manufacturing larger items can be more costly. Nonetheless, they come with a lot of benefits, such as an incredible durability and comfort, that despite the hefty price, have become the go-to item for camping enthusiasts, road trippers and adventurers. 

Our goal in this article is to go over each specific reason as to why roof top tents are so expensive, so that by the end of this read you will be able to determine if you want to make an investment on one, or not.


Features That Make Roof Top Tents Expensive 

High Quality Materials

As briefly mentioned in the introduction, roof top tents are made from premium materials used to build boats, cars, and even buildings. For example, some hard shell roof top tents are made of fiberglass, yes, the same one as boats. Newer hardshell tent models are made of either aluminum, which is much lighter and stronger, or ABS plastic which is also light and extremely durable.

On top of that, roof top tents, hard or soft shell, are always insulated at least on the bottom shell or base, that is to offer a better environment for campers during the colder months. Most soft shell roof top tents have exterior aluminum bases, sometimes made of diamond plate aluminum, the highest quality aluminum in the world, which tends to be anti-scratch, rugged and as durable as you can get.

high quality materials of a 23zero roof top tent

If you purchase a more expensive tent, then you are also going to get stainless steel hardware, which includes nuts and bolts, as well as the hinges. The interior “skeleton” of the tent is also made of aluminum, often 1” thick, which is quite resistant and bulky. 

The mattresses of the tents have evolved a lot, some are made of hi-density foam, others are inflatable. Regardless, they are comfy, a lot comfier than what you can imagine. The canvas of the tent tends to change a bit from brand to brand, model to model, the thickness is what might vary, but they’re all made of ripstop canvas to avoid any issues. The canvas is always waterproof also with a fire retardant.

Finally, we come to other features such as the travel covers made of PVS materials for softshells, or the gas struts which are a more complex mechanism, when it comes to hard shells.

As you can see, we are talking about materials that are found on some of the most reliable vehicles and constructions in the world. You want quality? You can get it by paying a higher price.



As we also mentioned above, roof top tents are large, bulky and even heavy. They are also full of special mechanisms, such as gas struts, or tough hinges, which aren’t as simple or as straightforward to make. 

When you are manufacturing a product, say a bottle for a soda or a drink, it can be manufactured in a machine with an assembly line and with barely any human effort and at a very quick and steady pace. 

When you are dealing with many different materials, sourcing them, combining them, and building complex structures, you are going to have more hands at work and a more specialized production line. Add to that heavier, bulkier materials, and you need more space to manufacture and store. 

All these costs add up, as silly as it may sound, and make the items more expensive. Regardless of where the tent is made, it can be China, USA, South Africa or Latin America, you will always encounter the same obstacle. Therefore, they will be more expensive to make than say a small ground tent that is just canvas and a few stakes (which can be produced at an assembly line).



Roof top tents can last years, if not decades. Let me tell you a story, I purchased a Guana Equipment roof top tent back in 2019, their first model ever. It has been treated poorly, I’ve lent it to friends and family, everyone has used it in different ways, haven’t given it the proper care.

We’re now in 2024 (the time I’m writing this article), and the tent is perfect. Of course, it has been dirty at times, and I did lose two spring rods to help open one of the windows, things like this will happen if you don’t give it the proper care. However, it’s still going strong, no mold, no issues with the travel cover, the mattress is still comfortable, the canvas still waterproof, and it’s perfect. Literally great to use. It’s been one of the wisest investments I’ve made. Everyone I’ve lent it to has loved it, and worth every penny.

What’s the lesson behind the story? A roof top tent is an investment, it’s durable, it’ll last forever. Sure, if you have a huge accident and it gets hit by something, then yes, things can damage it, just like crashing your car. But accidents don’t make it any less good or worth it, it’s an accident.



comfort inside a roof top tent

Sure, a ground tent is light, can be easily carried to many places, and still waterproof. However, you just can’t compare them, you truly can’t. No matter how many inflatable mattresses or yoga mats you bring with you for a ground tent, even if it’s a quick setup flip tent, it won’t be as comfortable, ever.

Roof top tents have way better mattresses, the bases are both insulated and sturdy, sometimes with additional padding for even more comfort. Some of the models can also be open and closed as fast as any flip ground tent, with the upside of being way stronger against the wind or elements, with a way better canvas offering more shade from the sun, or better insulation from the cold.

Most roof top tents now have bells and whistles such as LED light strips, USB ports, tons of storage pockets and space to leave shoes and other important items at arm’s reach. They are designed ergonomically, with comfort and ease of use in mind.



Roof top tents are safer, period. First, you are camping right above your vehicle, which means that in case of any emergency you get to jump into your vehicle immediately and drive to wherever you need to get the emergency sorted.

The second factor is the height. Sure, climbing up and down might be a bit of challenge and requires you to be careful, but height also means you’re safe from certain creatures, such as snakes, bugs, scavengers, and even bigger animals.

Add to that the fact you’re not dealing with potential weather hazards such as the tent flooding, the terrain where you’re camping sliding, so on and so forth. It is simply safer. 



Why are roof top tents so expensive? Well, the 5 reasons above should answer your question. Now, there are plenty of different tents, models, designs and brands, prices will range from as low as $900 to as expensive as over $20,000. Yes, you can get one as expensive as a car which will literally be like a transformer. That said, some tents in the $4,000 region are more expensive due ti better materials, smarter design, or because you can fit more people into them.

One last thing to remember: cheaper tents tend to have a worse outcome. Our recommendation is to avoid brands with bad reviews, tents that seem to be sketchy or with bad materials or from companies that don’t seem trustworthy.  You get what you pay for, whether that’s in terms of quality, comfort, durability or something as simple as customer service.

If you are after trustworthy tents, then take a look at our collection of high quality roof top tents.