With a new year upon us, and the tumultuous 2020 coming to an end, there’s a good chance you’re looking to head out to the wilderness with your family this year.
If you’re like many of us, there’s nothing you find more enjoyable than heading out for a few nights or a weekend in the bush camping, with the family, friends or just solo. That said, you might be looking for a way to get out of the hustle and bustle without needing to carry a camping trailer or a tonne of added equipment.
If this sounds like you, then we’re happy to suggest a rooftop tent.
With these tents, you’re able to simply connect these to your vehicle’s roof racks and be done with the set up process with ease. There’s no need to fiddle or find a camping spot (unless you want to) and you won’t have to deal with lugging a camping trailer behind your car nor will you have to stick to the trailer-friendly camping trails.
It’s also good to keep in mind that with a rooftop tent, you’re up and away from the nasties that might be crawling about on the ground, so you’re getting a bit of extra safety with these tents too.
In our post below, we’ll go over some of the best rooftop tents in 2021 for Australians and why you should consider one of these.
Here’s Why You Want the Best Rooftop Tent
Of course, you’re not going to want to invest in something that’s sub-par, however, there’s a good few reasons to go all-out when it comes to rooftop tents — and we’ll look at these below.
With a durable and versatile rooftop tent, you’re going to be getting a whole lot of comfort without needing to rely on something like a trailer or a hefty motor home.
You’ll always have your ‘sleeping quarters’ with you wherever you go and you’re not going to have to spend hours trying to find a park to set things up, nor will you need to stray from the actual bush to camp.
Keep in mind that your rooftop tent will live on your 4WD which means wherever you’re able to go in your ute or car, you can camp.
When it comes to a camper van, trailer or a motor home, you’re not really able to head off the beaten track at all, which restricts where you can go camping — a big downside for us.
Instant Set Up
In line with the motor home and trailer tents above, the rooftop tent has an almost instant setup.
You’ll be able to choose a site, park up and simply unwind and prop the tent up on the roof racks and be done. There’s no need to fiddle with site power for a motor home, and you certainly won’t have to be sifting through the soil and moving all of those rocks and other nasties before setting up a traditional ground tent.
To end, the packing up of the tent is as simple as folding it down and clasping the tent shut once again. You won’t be fighting with tent poles here or trying to cram these tents back into an ultra-small packet.
The Perfect Companion for a Road Trip
Of course our rooftop tents are incredible for those weekend camping trips, though for the Australians looking to take on our incredible country this year, there’s nothing more convenient than having a rooftop tent with you at all times.
You’ll be able to rest assured that no matter where you are on the great open road, you’ll always have somewhere safe and comfortable to sleep.
This is particularly important for those nights you’re in the middle of nowhere and looking for somewhere to park up. You don’t particularly want to set up a tent on the side of a rural highway, so having somewhere to sleep on the car is the best thing when you’re in these circumstances.
All of that out of the way we’re sure you’re keen on finding out which of the tents we’ve chosen as the best on the market.
Our TL;DR Best Rooftop Tents in 2021
For our readers looking to get the scoop on the best rooftop tents and that’s all, we have a condensed list for you below.
The Darche Rooftop Tents
Our top choice rooftop tent brands this year are those coming Darche Products.
These are touted as some of the most reliable and durable on the market, and you’re going to be able to rely on these to keep you safe and out of the weather when you’re camping.
You’ll often be able to find these tents with a tonne of accessories too, which means you can pair your rooftop tent with an annex and a few other camping essentials to make life on the road a little easier.
Finding these tents is easy too, because they’re stocked in some of the biggest outdoor and camping retailers like TentWorld.
To end, these are the products that you’ll want to have on your side if you’re taking a road trip. On the road, durability is incredibly important and you’re going to want a rooftop tent that doesn’t only stay on your roof, but also has a low chance of being damaged when flying down the remote highways.
One thing to note: With the holiday season still upon us, these tents are currently low in stock in a good number of retailers across the country, so we suggest getting in as fast as possible, or you might be stuck waiting a while for your Darche Rooftop Tent.
Adventure Kings Rooftop Tents
Another one of our favourite rooftop tent brands is Adventure Kings.
You’ll find an excellent rooftop tent here along with an annex for keeping comfortable and out of the weather when you’re not sleeping in the tent.
Like the Darche Products, the Adventure Kings rooftop tents are also incredibly durable and fantastic value for money. All of the materials that make up the tent, the tent base and annex are reliable and robust, so you’re not going to see any issues with tearing or fraying any time soon.
These are our top choice tents for those interested in the less frequent and shorter camping trips, which means if you’re a weekend warrior looking to get out into the wilderness, then these are the rooftop tents for you.
One final thing we’d like to point out is that these tents are relatively easy to set up, which means once you’ve parked up, you might find these tents and the included annex a little easier to set up than some of the other options on our list.
The TRT 120E Electric by Dometic
For the smaller tent on our list, the TRT 120E is our winner.
You’re not going to see the space of the two other tents above, though we’re happy to say that with a built-in 12V motor coming into play and a nifty wireless remote, you’re going to have the most seamless set up experience on the market.
It might be a little too small for two sleepers to sleep comfortably, though it isn’t overly small.
All that in mind, this is our top choice for those solo campers and anyone looking for the easiest tent set up experience.
What to Consider in a Rooftop Tent
With our top contenders out of the way, we’ll take a look at what we considered in choosing the best rooftop tents in Australia for 2021 and what we suggest you look for in a rooftop tent.
Of course, you’re going to know more about your camping style than us, so we’ll keep some niche recommendations off the table for now. However, there are a few essential features and other parks we’ve outlined that we’re sure you’re going to want to see in your rooftop tent.
All that said, let’s have a look below at what to consider when buying a rooftop tent for your next outdoor adventure.
Soft Shell and Hard Shell Tents
If you’re new to rooftop tents or camping in general, there is one major thing you’ll need to consider before making the leap into buying a rooftop tent.
These are going to greatly dictate everything from set up, your comfort and whether you’re going to be kept out of the weather when you’re out camping.
A Soft Shell Tent
To keep things simple, the soft shell roof top tents are your variants which are quite similar to a traditional tent. These are wrapped in canvas or a sheet material that is wrapped around the primary tent supports and are going to keep the tent out of the weather — to a point.
These are often a little more affordable than the hard shell models and they can be set up a little more quickly given that they just unfurl and then fold back down.
If you’re camping in rather ‘tame’ regions or you’re always doing your prep work and checking the weather beforehand, then these soft shells should do the trick at keeping themselves dry and comfortable out on the road.
A Hard Shell Tent
When it comes to the hard shell models, you’re getting a tent that essentially lives in a solid hard shell on your car’s roof.
These shells are what is going to keep the tent shielded from the elements and is somewhat important for those who are driving a long way or getting out into the bush where tree branches and sticks might be striking the roof of the car.
The hard shells are the best option for those who need a tent that is going to stay protected when commuting.
One final thing to note is that these tents are a lot easier to set up than most soft shells as they simply ‘pop’ out of their shell and stand up all ready to go. That in mind, if ease of use and durability are your top focal points, then the hard shells might be for you.
The Installation Process
A second big consideration for a rooftop tent is the process of actually getting the tent install on your vehicle’s roof rack.
On most 4×4’s you’re going to see plenty of space on the roof and have the ability to slide these tents into the roof top tent racks.
One thing to note is that you will need to have rooftop tent racks installed on your vehicle prior. A lot of tents don’t attach to those side roof racks, which means you’ll need to invest in some tent racks beforehand.
That out of the way, you’ll also need to make sure that your rooftop tent and the tent racks on your car are compatible with one another. A good number of tents do fit with most car tent racks, though it’s always good to double check.
On top of this, your vehicle will have a rooftop weight limit, which you’ll also have to keep in mind when you’re getting your rooftop tent. You want the car to be able to support both the tent and your bodyweight, so do your math before investing in a tent that might be a little too weighty.
It’s good to note that the rooftop tents on our list, and all of the best products on the market do come with a tonne of information on installation, tools as well as fittings needed to make the installation easy, so if you do invest in a top product, you’re going to have a better experience.
You can also head down to the professionals to have these racks and tents installed as well.
The Setup Processes at the Campsite
With the installation out of the way, you’re also going to want to consider what the setup process is for your new tent.
Some models which feature a tonne of perks and technologies can be rather complicated to set up, and that means you’ll have to find a happy middle ground between these things. You’re not going to want to park up at a campsite or by the side of the road and be stuck setting up your tent for hours.
That said, we suggest keeping in mind a rooftop tent that either pops out and sets itself up, or one that you’re only going to need to spend a few minutes setting up.
You’ll be able to find a tonne of information online about the setup processes of specific rooftop tents, so be sure to do your research before you invest in a tent.
Comfort, Size and Space
As we mentioned at the start of our article, you’re going to want to make sure your tent suits the number of campers you’re taking with you.
It’s good to know that a good majority of rooftop tents out there do have a primary focus on comfort and size, so you’ll likely not find it too hard to find something that suits your requirements.
We’d like to point out, however, that you may want to weigh up the pros and cons of sleeping either on the roof racks or on the ground. With the rooftop models, you’re going to have to find your way up and down from the tent, which can be a little cumbersome, however, you’ll feel a little safer and be up off the ground.
Another thing to keep in mind is that if you’re sleeping as a couple, you will need a little more space than a solo sleeper. Be sure to factor this into your rooftop-tent-buying activities too.
On top of this, remembering that children need to be kept safe when camping is a big consideration. A rooftop tent might pose a fall risk, so if you have little ones, a ground-based tent might be a good option.
To end, a few rooftop tents also come with built-in mattresses that can make sleeping a tonne easier and take the struggle out of cramming a mattress into the tent after setting it up — and these models are our personal favourites. You’re saving time and money not needing to get your hands on a mattress.
The Tent’s Durability
Our final major consideration are the durability aspects of a rooftop tent.
It’s no secret that Australia really gives campers a beating, and with that said, you’re going to need to invest in a tent that’s tough enough to withstand the Aussie sun, the weather and also the animals and bugs we’re dealing with.
We’re going to suggest you invest in a tent with a strong canvas that’s waterproof, able to hold off high winds without tearing and has double stitching in as many places as possible.
With these points out of the way, you’ll be able to get your hands on a rooftop tent that isn’t going to leave to exposed in the times you need safety the most — like during a storm for example.
With all of our top considerations out of the way, it’s also a good idea to keep a few minor things in your mind when shopping around for a rooftop tent.
You don’t want to choose a tent that’s overly heavy and makes getting the product on to your vehicle too much of a struggle.
It’s also important to note that a heavier and bulkier tent is going to change the way your vehicle burns fuel, and you’re going to see a higher fuel consumption with a heavier or less aerodynamic rooftop tent.
Whether you’re after an awning or not, a lot of rooftop tents do come with these.
We suggest taking a look at how these work based on each tent and determine whether these are something you’re looking to invest in or not. They do often take up some extra space, though depending on where you’re camping, an awning may come in handy for some added shade or for an extra space safe for dinner.
To end, ventilation is our final point we’d like you to keep in mind when shopping for a rooftop tent.
In Australia, it’s hot. You’re going to want a tent with plenty of operable space to make sure you’re getting plenty of airflow during the evening or in the day when you’re taking a nap in the tent.
There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a stuffy, poorly ventilated tent, so be on the look out for a tent that offers good ventilation.
Our List of the Best Rooftop Tents in 2021
With all of our essential considerations out of the way, let’s take a look at the tents that checked off all the essentials above.
All of these options are affordable, durable and the models we stand by to keep our readers safe and comfortable when camping this holiday season.
The Panorama 2 Rooftop Tent by Darche
At the top of our list is the Panorama 2 by Darche.
It’s a soft-shell rooftop tent which has been developed with a tonne of durable materials that we’re confident you’ll be able to rely on to keep you safe and comfortable when out in the elements camping in the outback.
The tent is easily fixed to a vehicle’s roof rack and also comes with a pretty big annex that you’ll be able to make use of when it comes time to sit down for dinner or to simply relax out on the road.
It’s good to keep in mind that the tent is a little weighty coming in at 64 kilos, so you’ll certainly want a helping hand if you’re getting this tent installed on the rooftop, or if you’re moving it down when you’re back home from camping.
The annex does come in at 7.4 kilos which makes it a little lighter than some of the other variants out there.
We’re also glad to say that, as we mentioned, this tent does come with some stellar instructions when it comes to setting it up and making use of it. You’re not going to be sitting confused about how to unfurl it or set it up for sleeping.
All of the essential and required brackets, bolts and mounting plates are included with this tent too.
Once you’ve gone through the set up process and have the tent safely and securely fixed to your vehicle, we’re happy to say that you can assemble the tent in a few minutes with just one person — a big plus for those who like to camp solo.
You’ll only have to remove the cover, unfurl the steps on the side and use the included ladder to pull down the tent. You’ll be able to install the poles quite quickly and tie down the tent with the guide ropes and you’re all done.
There’s also an included video to make this process even more clear for the newbies installing and setting up this tent for the first time.
When it comes to the size and the space of this tent, the sleeping space is an average 2.4 by 1.4 metres with an included mattresses coming in at 50mm thick. That in mind, you’re going to have no trouble getting a good night’s sleep here.
For ventilation, there’s three entry points, which also means there’s three ventilation spaces so when it comes to keeping solid airflow in the tent, you can just open all these ‘doors.’
To end, the canvas on this tent is an ideal 320gsm which means you’re not going to see any tears anytime soon and the doubt stitching means you’re covered when it comes to keeping safe during storms and high winds.
The Rooftop Tent and Annex by Adventure Kings
One of the largest rooftop tents on the market is the model from Adventure Kings, and we’re happy to say that with its built-in four person annex you’re going to have plenty of undercover space when camping.
In fact, this is our top choice rooftop tent for those who often head out to the camping trails as a group or with multiple campers. You’re getting enough space to keep everyone well-covered and comfortable on even the hottest days and this is a plus for everyone.
The tent itself weights 64.6 kilos which means it’s, again, a little heavy and will need a friend or family member to help you set it up for the first time.
You’ll be able to rely on the ultra-fast installation process though. There’s the included roof rack essentials here such as the installation plates and the bolts as well as the wrenches that come with the tent.
In all, the process from box to roof rack does only take around half an hour or so and you’re all set.
Once at a campsite you’ll be able to get the tent assembled in just under three minutes, which means it’s by far one of the fastest rooftop tents to set up on the market.
All you’ll have to do is unzip the cover and unbuckle the supporting straps. The ladder slides out and you’ll be able to use it to pull down the tent and set it up. Then you’re all set.
There’s a sleep space here of 3.1 metres by 1.45 metres, which is, again, a huge sleeping area for a rooftop tent and we’re happy to say this works great for two people and a child if you’re needing to keep the family together.
The four-person annex will also make for a great undercover area for everything from getting dinner ready to simply relaxing out of the sun.
When it comes to durability, there’s an excellent and reliable 320gsm canvas here, plenty of large window spaces for ventilation and the PVC floor comes in handy when it comes to keeping the tent nice and clean.
The Simpson III Rooftop Tent by ARB
Coming from the durability and camping experts at ARB the Simpson III is one of the more dependable tents on the market today given that it comes from ARB. You’re going to be arguably in better hands here, from a reliability standpoint, than with just about anyone else.
Off the top, the tent is a tonne heavier than most, which is likely down to the more durable materials.
It comes in at 81 kilos which means you’ll have to double check you have a friend to install it with you and also make sure that your vehicle is able to carry a tent of this weight on its roof without causing too much of an issue.
You’ll have to attach this tent firmly to the roof rack rails, which is relatively easy, though there’s some fiddling here. Just be sure to follow the instructions to make sure everything does end up correctly connected.
ARB does throw in a few essential tools, but you are going to need to have some of your own to make the set up process a bit more seamless.
When it comes to actually assembling and sleeping in the tent at a campsite, we’re happy to say that the process is a lot easier than the first installation.
You can do this part on your own by undoing the cover and the straps and simply pulling out the ladder and seeing the tent setting itself up after you pull out the support bar.
The sleeping space comes in at 2.4 by 1.4 metres, which is a little small considering the weight of the tent, though it’s still certainly large enough to sleep two people comfortably. There’s also a 2.5 inch thick mattress here too, making it by far one of the most comfortable on the market today.
There’s an annex included as well, which gives enough private space for a change room or a hangout zone for two or three other people.
To end, the tent is waterproof, durable and you’re seeing windows on all sides of the tent which means ventilation works great.
The 23Zero 1600 Tent by Dakota
To a tent with a little more focus on easy installation, the 23Zero is our winner if you’re wanting to fix the tent to the rooftop with as little confusion as possible.
The installation kit includes everything you need and you’re getting all the tools and essentials here as well. That in mind, this tent does come with support for almost every roof rack make and model under the sun.
Once you’ve installed the tent, the assembly is super easy and you can do it with one hand! You just pull off the cover and the straps and open the tent out with the ladder and lock it into place.
The sleeping area in this tent is a comfortable 2.5 by 1.5 metres and is plenty large enough for two sleepers. There’s a 65mm thick foam mattress in here too along with a waterproof base that ensures you’re not going to see any rain or moisture finding its way into the tent.
One of our favourite features of the 280gsm canvas is the fact it comes with a light-suppressing technology. This means you’re able to effectively black out the tent when you’ve zipped it up.
The Kwiky Hard Shell Rooftop Tent
For our readers who are set on the hard shell tents, the Kwiky is our top choice for you.
This tent is one of the quicker ones to set up and that’s why it’s getting our top recommendation for a rooftop tent from us. It comes in at 73 kilos which is ideal for a two person installation and you’re getting an anti-ageing material here that makes sure you’re not seeing the shell or the canvas ageing too quickly.
The material on the exterior of the tent is 320gsm which makes it ideal for those looking for something that it is of the highest quality.
To add, we’re also happy to say that you can unfurl and assemble the tent within two minutes and you can do this with one person. You just unclasp the sides of the tent and it simply pops out of the shell and sets itself up.
The sleeping space in this tent is 2 metres by 1 metre which makes it a little smaller than some of the other models on the list, though there is still enough space for two and of course a foam mattress comes in handy here too.
There’s windows on all sides as well, and you’re able to open all of these for optimal ventilation.
The Explorer Evolution by James Baroud
On to our final rooftop tent of the list, the Explorer Evolution is our winner if you’re looking for something that’s built to take a battering and high speeds when out on the road.
This tent is incredible and is rated for speeds of up to 120km/h on the road.
The materials that make up this tent are also top notch and are designed to last, with UV protected materials, double stitching and aluminised fabrics all making an appearance here. The tent is also waterproof and breathable too, which means on the hotter days you’re kept cool and those cold windy nights, you’re nice and dry.
As with other hard shell tents, set up is effortless and you’re able to unclasp the straps and see the tent assemble itself.
For the sleeping zone, there is a 2 by 1.4 zone here, which keeps you comfortable when sleeping alone or with a partner and the built-in mattress you’re keeping comfortable without having to lug a separate one around with you.
To end, there’s a built-in fan to assist with condensation and an LED torch too, so keeping well-lit and dry is easier than ever here.
With all of those tents above out of the way, we’re sure you’ll find the best rooftop tent in Australia this year.
Whether you’re an avid outdoors person or just looking for a tent for those ‘once in a blue moon’ camping trips, there’s certainly something affordable and easy to set up for you in our list above.