Rooftop Tents for Jeeps: Guide and Top Picks
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Having a rooftop tent for your Jeep is a must for those long overland adventures. However, any random roof mount just won’t cut it. If you want the perfect camper, you’ll need something durable, convenient, and weather-resistant.
The Thule Tepui Kukenam Sky Tent, Roofnest Sparrow Eye, and iKamper Skycamp 3.0 are some of the best rooftop tents for Jeeps. Depending on the application, you may need to choose a hardtop over a softshell or a mini tent over one with an annex.
Purpose aside, it is also crucial to account for personal preferences, durability, and budget (plus a few other things) when choosing a rooftop tent. That said, let’s go ahead and dive into the different types of rooftop tents for Jeeps, factors to consider, and top picks in this guide.
Types of Rooftop Tents for Jeeps
There are two main types of rooftop tents — softshell tents and hardshell (or hardtop) tents. However, these classifications have at least four sub-types: clamshells, inflatables, pop-ups, and fold-outs.
As its name implies, a clamshell rooftop tent is a hardtop rooftop tent design inspired by a clamshell. It has a triangular shape, is mounted on the roof of a vehicle (in this case, your Jeep), and folds out to create a living space.
This tent opens from one end, while the other has hinges allowing it to open and close. And just like a clamshell, one side of this tent is higher than the other when open.
Clamshell tents are compact and easy to set up, making them ideal for solo campers or couples. They provide a comfortable sleeping area and are aerodynamic when folded up. However, due to their design and distinct shape, they may not offer as much space or headroom as other rooftop tents.
An inflatable rooftop tent is a softshell tent that uses air instead of poles or a hardshell to support the tent structure. It features inflatable beams or tubes pumped up using an electric pump or air compressor. Inflating the tent is quick and easy, taking only a few minutes to set up.
Because they are lighter and more compact, inflatables are ideal for camping and outdoor activities that involve setting camp daily. However, they are less durable than traditional rooftop tents and may require more upkeep and repairs.
A pop-up rooftop tent is a compact and easy-to-set-up tent design ideal for camping trips where quick setup and mobility are essential. These rooftop tents come in two types: softshell and hardshell. Softshell pop-up tents are made from lighter and less expensive materials, while hardshell tents are sturdier and more weather-resistant (not to mention more aerodynamic when folded up).
While both softshell and hardshell pop-up tents have a collapsible frame making for a comfortable sleep and easy setup, the latter is more versatile as it can accommodate additional features like solar panels or roof racks. Depending on the manufacturer, however, some softshell pop-up rooftop tents for Jeeps may have a hardshell base for stability and added durability.
A fold-out Jeep rooftop tent is a popular choice among off-roading enthusiasts requiring a sturdy and comfortable sleeping area that is convenient to pitch and dismantle. These tents typically have a clamshell design, with two halves that open up and fold outwards to create a sleeping platform.
Like pop-up tents, fold-outs are available as softshell or hardshell tents. The former is made from canvas or another soft material perfect for setting up camp quickly. Conversely, the latter is more durable, weather-resistant, and ideal for long-term use or extreme weather conditions, but also heavier and more expensive.
Both variants generally provide a similar amount of living/sleeping space. However, premium fold-out designs may increase sleeping space considerably with an extended platform and mattress. In addition, some fold-out hardtop rooftop tents may have additional features like built-in storage or awnings (view on Amazon).
Rooftop Tents for Jeeps — Top Picks
1. iKamper Skycamp 3.0
(Best of 2023, Switchback Travel)
The Skycamp 3.0 is a hard-shell rooftop tent compatible with most Jeeps and SUVs and built to withstand harsh weather conditions. With a floor area of 83 x 77 inches (44.3 sq. ft.) and a peak height of 48 inches, the tent can accommodate up to four people. It weighs in at 165 lbs. and boasts a weight limit of 900 lbs. Plus, its clamshell design makes setting up in under a minute possible.
The tent incorporates a fiber-reinforced hard shell, providing air insulation during use and protecting the tent when folded down. The tent material is a waterproof black-out 300-GSM poly-cotton canvas with a honeycomb aluminum floor and aluminum/spring steel poles that protect it from the elements.
Features include a plush 2.5-inch insulated polyfoam mattress, three side windows, pole storage, a waterproof electronics port, and a stargazing roof window. The ability to fit bedding inside the tent when closed is a huge plus, adding convenience to your trip.
- Pros: Premium build quality, quick setup, wind-resistant design, and extremely comfortable mattress
- Cons: Heavy and expensive compared to other models in the market
(TIP: If you want something smaller but of the same build quality, the iKamper Skycamp Mini Tent is a great option.)
2. Thule Tepui Kukenam Sky Tent
(Best of 2023, Popular Science)
The Thule Tepui Kukenam Sky Tent is a versatile and durable rooftop tent. With its universal mounting system, it can be easily installed on any roof rack or aftermarket crossbars, making it the go-to option for many adventurers.
It is 56 x 96 inches and can comfortably sleep up to three people. The tent has a total weight capacity of 600 lbs. and weighs 131 lbs., making it relatively lightweight and convenient.
This sky tent features a rugged construction that can hold up against the toughest outdoor conditions, with an aluminum frame and telescoping ladder. Its canopy is made from durable 600-Denier ripstop fabric with a waterproof coating. Meanwhile, its base is constructed from high-density foam, making for a comfortable and supportive sleeping area.
Other notable inclusions of the Thule Tepui Kukenam Sky Tent are an adjustable rainfly and four large internal pockets to store gear and other essentials.
- Pros: Easy to set up and provides ample sleeping space; comfortable mattress and large windows make for stunning views and good ventilation
- Cons: Noisy in high winds; weight is on the heavy side; incompatible with Jeep Wrangler JL 2-door models with the Sky One-Touch Power Top.
3. Smittybilt Overlander Roof Top Tent
(Best Budget Rooftop Tent, CNET)
The Smittybilt Overlander Roof Top Tent is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts seeking a comfortable and spacious shelter. The tent is designed with a large interior floor area of 56 inches by 96 inches (36.9 sq. ft.) and a peak height of 51 inches. It can support a weight limit of 770 lbs., providing enough space for two people and their gear.
It is constructed from durable material, including a waterproof polyurethane-coated 600D polyester shell and a heavy-duty anodized aluminum frame that resists corrosion and rust. The tent also includes a rainfly to provide additional protection from wind and rain.
For accessibility, the Overlander has a telescoping ladder that provides swift ingress to the tent and a high-density foam mattress offering superior support and comfort. Additional features and accessories include mosquito screens, LED strip interior lighting, and a shoe bag.
- Pros: Functional design at a very reasonable price point
- Cons: Not as user-friendly or durable as pricier softshell Jeep rooftop tents
4. Roofnest Falcon 2
(Best Aerodynamic Rooftop Tent)
The Roofnest Falcon 2 is a rooftop tent designed for two people and compatible with most vehicles that have crossbars. It has a closed size of 88 x 60 x 6.5 inches and a floor area of 86 x 48 inches. The tent has a weight limit of 600 lbs. and a max headroom of 60 inches and is suitable for most outdoor adventures.
Setting up is a breeze, thanks to its gas-assisted struts that simplify lifting and closing the tent. It also features boot bags, USB-powered LED lights, and large doors on both sides, making ingress and egress convenient.
The Roofnest Falcon 2 comes with a high-density foam mattress providing excellent support and comfort, ensuring a good night’s rest after a long day of off-roading.
The Falcon 2 from Roofnest has honeycomb aluminum flooring, aluminum/spring steel pole material, and a flat, hard-shelled design that measures 6.5 inches when closed. This streamlined design solves the problem with noticeable drag and impacted fuel economy.
- Pros: Streamlined, aerodynamic design; ease of setup
- Cons: Expensive; not much room to store stuff inside when in travel mode (including the ladder), which means taking up space inside your cabin
5. Yakima Skyrise HD Tent
(Best for Overlanding, Popular Science)
The Yakima Skyrise HD softshell rooftop tent is compatible with most roof racks and bars, including Yakima’s SideTrack System, and can be mounted on crossbars or roof rails.
It has a floor area of 28-37 sq. ft., comfortably sleeping 2-3 people. The tent also has a max headroom of 42-48 inches, which is more than what most softshells with steep sidewalls and wide ceilings offer.
Perks include 600-Denier, PU-coated ripstop polyester fabrics, waterproof rainfly, D-rings, and guylines to attach gear or secure the tent in a storm, and a clear skylight in the fly that provides grand views of nature and stars at night.
The SkyRise Medium, in particular, weighs 52 Kg (115 lbs.) and has a static weight limit of 272 Kg (600 lbs.). Meanwhile, all versions boast tool-free installation and an opening that can be positioned to fold out the back or to the side of your vehicle.
- Pros: Spacious interior and headroom; rugged construction tested in 70-mph winds; suitability for larger groups or gear-intensive off-roading trips
- Cons: It can be relatively heavy and difficult to install, pricier than some of its counterparts.
6. Roofnest Sparrow Eye
(Best Rooftop Tent for Cold Climates)
This hardtop tent is built with an insulated ASA/ABS shell and polyurethane-coated polyester and cotton blend tent material that helps retain heat and keep out noise. It is designed as a clamshell model that opens up only on one side, making it aerodynamic and easy to set up and dismantle.
Despite its compact size, the Roofnest Sparrow Eye offers ample space for two people, with a floor area of 83 x 49 inches and a peak height of 44 inches. The tent’s high-density foam mattress provides excellent cushioning, ensuring a comfortable and restful sleep even during stormy weather. It also offers lots of storage space, including a cargo net and two side pockets.
- Pros: Highly rated for its comfort, ease of setup, and outstanding customer service; exceptional durability, waterproof rating, and premium features make it a favorite among serious overlanders
- Cons: High price point
7. Thule Tepui Autana Rooftop Tent with Annex
(Best for Families, CNET)
The Thule Tepui Autana Rooftop Tent is a four-season tent in multiple sizes, with the largest model capable of accommodating up to four people. The tent measures 96 x 72 inches in floor area and has a peak height of 56 inches (52 inches headroom and a smaller sleeping footprint for the 3-person variant). It features three side windows and two roof windows that provide excellent ventilation and panoramic views.
420-Denier ripstop nylon material or coated 600 denier 260G poly cotton blend and aluminum and spring steel poles offer additional strength and stability. The tent’s weight limit is 295 Kg (650 lbs.), making it suitable for most rooftop racks and bars. It is easy to assemble and has a detachable annex room that covers the access ladder and provides additional space for campers.
- Pros: High-density foam mattress, excellent weather protection, and annex room; entrance awning protects the ladder from stormy weather and offers privacy
- Cons: Long conversion time and high cost; not compatible with Jeep Wrangler JL or Gladiator models
8. Roofnest Condor XL
Among the top contenders for “Best Hardshell Rooftop Tent” in the market, the Roofnest Condor XL is compatible with most vehicles equipped with a roof rack having a dynamic weight capacity of at least 165 lbs. It is 55 x 74 inches when closed and 74 x 93 inches when open, translating to a sleeping capacity of up to four people.
The weight limit for this rooftop tent is 650 lbs., including tent weight and occupants (although some owners claim it is actually 800 lbs.). It also has a higher-than-average max headroom of 50 inches when set up.
The tent has an 8.5-foot ladder for easy accessibility (which can be adjusted to fit your vehicle height), an interior LED light, and detachable pockets to stash gear. A high-density foam mattress, anti-condensation mat, and built-in awning for extra shade complete the Condor XL’s bells and whistles.
- Pros: Spaciousness of a softshell tent with the durability of a hardshell
- Cons: It may be overkill for solo travelers and couples (both in space and price)
9. ARB Simpson III Rooftop Tent
Considered the “best for warm climates and headroom” by CNET, the Simpson III Rooftop Tent works with most roof racks or crossbars, with an included mounting kit. Setup takes less than ten minutes, and a unique bungee cord system keeps the tent walls tucked in (allowing for quick assembly and dismantling).
The tent includes:
- A cozy foam mattress.
- A built-in LED light strip.
- Expansive windows that offer optimal ventilation and stunning panoramic views.
The tent’s walls feature finely-woven mesh designed to let fresh air circulate while preventing the intrusion of insects. Additionally, the PVC cover effectively shields campers from harmful UV rays.
With a floor area of 55 sq. ft., a peak height of 51 inches, and a weight limit of 300 Kg (661 lbs.), the tent is suitable for up to 3 people. While this is good news for most Jeepsters, this rooftop tent is sadly incompatible with the Jeep Wrangler JL or Gladiator models.
- Pros: Durable and spacious, with high-quality materials and features
- Cons: Bulkier than most softshell Jeep tents; transport and installation can be difficult; not compatible with all Jeep models
10. James Baroud Evasion
(Mercedes Benz of Rooftop Tents, Switchback Travel)
The James Baroud Evasion is a pop-up hardshell rooftop tent suitable for most rooftop racks and bars, making it a versatile option for off-roaders. It can be mounted on crossbars or roof rails, providing a floor area of 29.8 sq. ft. and a peak height of 41 inches that can comfortably accommodate 2-3 people.
Although the weight limit is not specified, it is made with high-quality materials and tested in 60-mph winds — capable of withstanding the rigors of overlanding. Additionally, it is compatible with an enclosed awning, providing added shelter from the elements.
Setting up the James Baroud Evasion is made easy with the gas-strut assisted opening feature, allowing for a quick and simple setup in just 30 seconds. The tent also comes with a solar-powered ventilation fan and LED lighting, ensuring a comfortable and well-lit camping experience.
- Pros: High-quality construction, premium features, solar-powered fan, and a 5-year warranty
- Cons: High price point
This rooftop tent impresses with its modern design, which provides excellent livability and ample interior space. With a floor area of 33.6 sq. ft. and a peak height of 40.2 inches, it can accommodate 2-3 people. It features UV- and mold-resistant fabric, a retractable rain cover, and easy-to-install lockable mounting brackets.
Cascadia Vehicle Tents Denali Pioneer Extended
The Denali rooftop tent is great for those seeking a comfortable camping experience. It offers an impressive floor area of 59 sq. ft. and a peak height of 43 inches, accommodating 2-4 people with its room divider, separate entrances, and a 4-door annex. Customization options include LED light strips and an insulated cold-weather cover.
Front Runner Feather-Lite Rooftop Tent
Lightweight and durable, the Front Runner Roof Top Tent has a floor area of 34 sq. ft. and a headroom of 46 inches, which can comfortably accommodate 2-3 people. Its 600D poly/cotton ripstop body fabric and 400D polyester Oxford rainfly ensure durability. Meanwhile, its sliding ladder and thin mattress make it an affordable option.
Overland Vehicle Systems Nomadic 3
Praised by Overland Junction as the top Jeep rooftop tent for its comfort and durability, this tent features Marine-grade canvas material and a 3-inch memory foam mattress that provides protection and coziness during harsh weather conditions. In addition, it has insect screen windows, a built-in skylight window, and an optional annex room for additional sleeping space.
iKamper Blue Dot Voyager Duo
iKamper’s Blue Dot Voyager (BDV) is a hardshell rooftop tent built for year-round use and can handle up to 100 lbs. of cargo on top. It has a durable 29.1 sq. ft. aluminum base and a slim packed size, making it functional and practical for adventurous travelers.
Quick setup is straightforward with gas-powered struts and accessory rails for mounting extras. However, assembly fees and cumbersome mounts may be a downside (plus, bedding cannot be stored inside the tent when collapsed).
For solo travelers and quick trips (but not for folks taller than 6 ft.), Roofnest’s Meadowlark is an affordable and lightweight option, weighing only 90 lbs. and costing less than $2,000. Its reliable build quality and quick setup time (coupled with a telescoping ladder and LED light) make it ideal for rooftop sleeping.
Tuff Stuff Alpha
The Tuff Stuff Alpha is among the top-performing hardshell rooftop tents for Jeeps. Its unique hydraulic lift technology allows for setup and takedown in under two minutes, while its versatile and lightweight design provides minimal wind resistance while driving.
A higher profile makes for the convenient safekeep of items inside the tent while closed. Meanwhile, an ABS shell, poly/cotton ripstop fabric, and a premium rainfly ensure the tent can withstand any weather. Other features include a skylight window, LED lights, and an annex that doubles as extra sleeping space or a changing room.
23ZERO Walkabout 56
The Walkabout is 23ZERO’s top-of-the-line softshell rooftop tent series available in sizes ranging from double-bed to large-group capacity. It has light suppression technology and weighted doors and is four-season ready. While not the most stylish, it is affordable, durable, and offers excellent protection in adverse weather (not to mention higher-quality mattress and canvas tent walls).
ROAM Rambler is a two-person hardshell rooftop tent with a simple pop-top design and gas-powered struts that pitches in under a minute. It has a fiberglass-reinforced molded ABS shell, insulated top and bottom, rubberized zippers, and a canopy featuring awnings over each door.
While pricier than its same-class counterparts, the Rambler offers excellent build quality and customer service. The downside? The floor area is only 27 sq. ft., and the canopy is non-convertible to a rooftop box.
Now that you have decided on your Jeep roof top tent, it’s time to install it! The below steps should help get you started. However, your owner’s manual and OEM-provided instructions are still your best references in doing the process right:
1. Roof Rack
Make sure you have a roof rack, as it is necessary for tent installation.
Prepare all necessary equipment, including the rooftop tent, mounting brackets, screws, and tools.
Inspect the roof to ensure it can support the weight of the tent. Check for cracks, rust, or dents that may weaken the roof’s structure. If there are any issues, repair them before proceeding with the installation.
4. Canopy Weight
For canopy: Before you start the installation, you need to know how much weight your canopy can support. Check your owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer for the weight capacity.
5. Install Crossbars
For crossbars: Install the crossbars onto the roof of your Jeep according to OEM instructions (if not yet done). Ensure they are properly aligned and securely fastened to the roof or canopy (if this is what you have).
6. Add the Mounting Brackets
Place the mounting brackets (view on Amazon) onto the base structure (be it a flat rack, crossbars, or canopy) on the Jeep’s roof in the desired location for the tent. Use a measuring tape to ensure they are evenly spaced and properly aligned. Mark the location of the brackets with a pencil or marker.
7. Drill Pilot Holes
Drill pilot holes in the marked locations on the Jeep’s roof to make it easier to screw in the mounting brackets — but only if recommended in the installation instructions. Depending on your base structure (for instance, a flat rack) and whether or not additional hardware or mods are required, you may not need to drill pilot holes at all.
8. Screw in the Mounting Brackets
Screw in the mounting brackets to the base structure using the appropriate screws. Verify the brackets are securely fastened to the roof and can support tent weight.
9. Add the Tent
Lift the tent onto the mounting brackets and align it with the holes on the latter. Ensure that the tent fits snugly onto the mounting brackets.
10. Secure it to the Brackets
Use the screws provided with the tent to secure it to the mounting brackets. Tighten the screws to ensure the tent is anchored to the Jeep’s roof.
Adjust your Jeep rooftop tent to the desired position and level it using the included adjustment tools. Ascertain that the tent is level to prevent water pooling on the roof.
12. Test Stability
Test the stability of the tent by gently shaking it. If it wobbles or feels unstable, tighten the screws and make necessary adjustments.
13. Redo step #10
Redo step #10 as you near the date of your adventure (at least a week before you leave). Doing so ensures all mounting hardware and screws for your Jeep tent are not loose but securely in place.
Lastly, test the tent’s functionality by setting it up and taking it down a few times. Ensure that all the parts are operational and that there is no hiccup in the assembly or dismantling of your tent.
Jeep Rooftop Tent Cost
The cost of rooftop tents for Jeeps depends on their make, construction, capacity, and a slew of other features. But on average, here is what the figures will look like:
- 2-person softshell rooftop tents: $600-$1,500
- 3-person softshell rooftop tents: $800-$2,000
- 4-person softshell rooftop tents: $1,000-$2,500
- Hardshell rooftop tents: $1,500-$4,000
- Rooftop tents with annex or awning: $100-$1,000 additional
Again, these are just average prices sans the cost of a roof rack system (if you do not have one yet). Some high-end models and custom options — like the ones listed in this guide — would be worth significantly more.
General Usage and Maintenance Tips
To ensure proper usage of your Jeep rooftop tent, always follow OEM instructions for setup and takedown. Use appropriate anchoring straps and hardware, and avoid exceeding the weight limit of the tent or roof rack. Verify that the ladder is securely attached to level ground, and do not jump or stand on the tent or ladder.
Similarly, take precautions to prevent accidents. Some best practices are as follows:
- Ensure your Jeep tent can safely support the weight of the occupants (including any gear). Never overload.
- Avoid moving around too much inside the tent, even if it’s properly secured and stable.
- With your rooftop tent installed, ascertain that your Jeep has enough height clearance to pass under bridges or trees.
- Never leave a fire unattended near the tent.
- Avoid strong-smelling foods in the tent that could attract insects or animals in the wild.
- Be careful when entering or exiting, especially in slippery conditions.
- Keep an eye on weather conditions (as high winds can damage the tent and compromise your safety).
As for upkeep, rigor is crucial. Check the anchoring straps and hardware before each use to ensure they’re secure. When cleaning, use a mild soap and a soft-bristled brush to remove dirt and debris. Opt for milder cleaning solutions if you have a softshell tent. And ensure that the tent is dry before storing it to prevent mold and mildew.
Keep the tent in a dry, cool place to protect it from the elements. Inspect it often for any signs of damage and promptly repair it if necessary. Lubricate moving parts like the slide-out platform or ladder hinges regularly to keep them in good condition.
Check the roof rack on your Jeep frequently, and avoid using harsh cleaning solutions on the tent. Finally, consider adding a waterproofing spray (view on Amazon) or sealant for additional protection.
Conclusion — Rooftop Tents for Jeeps
Rooftop tents are necessary for those who prefer elevated camping setups. However, different tents come at varying price points — hence, it’s crucial to determine which features are worth your investment.
As this guide suggests, it’s best to be well-informed before purchasing. But ultimately, going for a specific Jeep rooftop tent hinges on personal preferences and the value that unique features add to your outdoor experience.