Rooftop Tents: Buyers Guide 2024 - The Camping and Caravanning Club
The Camping & Caravanning Club Logo

Rooftop Tents: Buyers Guide

Rooftop tents are soaring in popularity, offering an alternative to camping in a traditional tent. Also known as roofbox tents, car top tents and roof rack tents, they offer a completely different experience to sleeping on the ground.

Pros and cons of buying a rooftop tent

Some of the benefits of rooftop tents include quick set-up time, the ability to have a bird’s eye view of your surroundings (think glorious sunsets), protection from ground critters and you can't beat that stylish safari tent feel.  

The main drawbacks someone switching from a ground tent to a roof tent might notice include the requirement of packing up each time you want to use your vehicle and needing to use a ladder (especially if you have a dog!). You’ll also need to find a tent which will fit onto your car unless you’re also looking to invest in a new set of wheels at the same time. Once you've chosen which tent to buy you'll need to have suitable roof bars installed on your car and ensure you're able to lift the tent on and off your car safely when needed.

Six of the best rooftop tent brands


TentBox is one of the most popular roof-top tent brands in the UK with a range of models available from the TentBox Lite that can be carried on a car as small as a Fiat Panda through to the Cargo for serious adventures. There is even a four-berth model – the TentBox Lite XL. All TentBox models are well constructed and ideal for those first making the switch to rooftop tents. Iain Geddes, one of the Club’s Technical Advisors reviews the TentBox Lite below.

Discover TentBox >


Italian brand Autohome has been making rooftop tents for over 60 years and has a large range of models to choose from. The brand has teamed up with car manufacturers, including Mini and Land Rover, to provide vehicle specific models so worth looking into if you own either of those.

Discover Autohome >


Founded in 1942, Swedish brand Thule carries a strong passion for the outdoors in the design of its products. You’ll find a range of soft and hard shell rooftop tents on their website, with some sleeping up to four.

Discover Thule >


Priding themselves on versatility and simple installation, Somerset-based company, Latitude has three rooftop tents available with a range of accessories to help elevate your camping setup.

Discover Latitude >


4x4 enthusiasts, ARB, pride themselves on their innovative manufacturing techniques and their roof tents come from decades of experience of camping in the vigour of Australia’s camping wilderness. ARB Rooftop Tents are super strong, water resistant, and easy to mount.

Discover ARB >

Front Runner by Dometic

Born in the wilds of South Africa, Front Runner roof tents are built for rough terrain and are now part of the Dometic Outdoor stable. Its Roof Top Tent is one of the lightest, low profile units on the market today.

Discover Front Runner >

Features to consider when buying a rooftop tent


1. The weight of the tent

Your car’s roof will have two weight limits – the static one (for when you’re on the campsite with people inside the tent) and the dynamic load limit (for when you’re on the road). The handbook should tell you whether your car can take your chosen roof tent.

Check out which roof bars or racks will be needed to fit your tent and don’t forget to include their weight in your calculations.

2. How much additional gear you’ll need to carry

Will you need to keep the ladder in your car? Can you store gear in the rooftop tent while you’re travelling, and will this aid or hinder your packing away process?

3. The set-up

The initial lift onto your vehicle can require a few strong people to get involved. How easy is the rooftop tent to pitch when you arrive at your campsite? Can you set the tent up on your own, and will you always have someone to help if not?

4. Are there any accessories worth investing in?

Rooftop tent manufacturers will often offer a range of add-ons and accessories to pair with your tent. A boot bag can be a useful addition to aid in keeping your tent clean and dry, while items like levellers for your car (for uneven ground) might be purchased elsewhere at a more reasonable price.

5. Hard shell tents

While generally more expensive and heavier than soft shell rooftop tents, hard shell tents can offer longevity and durability, especially in high winds and ease of set up.

6. Insulation and weather protection

Just as with ground tents, rooftop tents are built to stand strong against the UK’s varying weather. You’ll get the most wind protection from a hard shell roofbox tent, and full-coverage awnings on all windows and doors are ideal if you’re planning on camping year-round. However, you will always be more exposed in a roof tent so if very strong winds are forecast you may need to strike camp.

For more gear guides, holiday inspiration and camping information view our advice hub.

More holiday inspiration

Let’s give you some inspiration, straight to your inbox.

Sign up to get the latest offers, camping tips and much more in a few easy clicks.

The protection of personal privacy is an important concern to The Camping and Caravanning Club. Any personal data collected will be treated in accordance with current data protection legislation.

For more information about our data protection policy please go to our privacy policy.