Many people come to us wondering if it would be worth them switch their regular ground tent for a roof tent and our answer is often that it depends on a number of different factors. We'll go into these factors in this article!
Roof Top Tent Advantages:
1. Faster To Set Up And Pack Away
Normal ground tents can take quite a while to set up as they often have inner tents as well as outer tents to put up, which can be a problem- especially if it's raining! They also take longer to pack them away for similar reasons. Good roof tents typically only take around 30 seconds to open up and only slightly longer to close, so you're definitely saving time and effort with them here!
2. Stronger And More Durable
Hard shell roof tents typically have a more secure structure to them, which makes them both quieter and more stable during high winds. Good roof top tents also generally have thicker, more heavy duty material on the canvas than ground tents too, which makes them able to be completely leak and waterproof during heavy rain. All this leads to a better quality night’s sleep for you when all hell may be breaking loose outside!
3. Flood Proof
Roof top tents are up high from the ground on top of your vehicle. Because of this there’s little to no chance of them getting caught up in a flash flood after a heavy downpour, which would be a problem with ground tents. So if you’re planning on going anywhere with unpredictable weather, these might just save you a very long wet and muddy clean up job!
4. Extra Vehicle Storage Space
With roof top tents you can put your things inside when it’s closed too, giving you extra vehicle storage space for your belongings than with tents. This means when you want to leave a stopover in a hurry, you can simply leave your bedding in the roof tent and be off on your next adventure!
5. Better Views
Because roof tents are in an elevated position on top of your vehicle, it means the views look better than if you’re down on the ground. Plus with roof top tents that have two doors and two windows, you also get 360 degree views, which makes those beautiful sceneries look just that much more stunning!
6. More Places To Camp
You don’t need the surface to be large, flat, dry and soft to pitch up for the night with roof top tents like you do with ground tents. This means you have more choices on where you can camp when you have a roof tent such as with which wild/free camping locations you can stop off at!
Because good roof tents have thicker canvas material than almost all regular tents and they also have a hard ABS/fibreglass shell, it means heat doesn’t escape from them as easily, so you can stay nice and cosy in there during the night. This can quite literally be a lifesaver during any freezing cold Winter adventures that you may be planning!
8. Bug And Animal Proof
With roof tents you don’t have to worry as much about being joined in the night by various insects and animals due to them being located above the ground, away from where most of these bugs live! This is particularly important if you’re camping somewhere like Australia or USA, where there are more than just small and harmless critters to worry about!
Ground Tent Advantages:
1. Camp In More Remote Locations
Having a regular ground tent allows you to go further into the wilderness in more remote places such as up some mountain trails where your car can’t get to, which obviously you can’t do with a roof top tent.
2. Easier To Store
Even though roof tents don’t need anywhere near as much room to store as campervans, caravans or trailer tents, they still need you to have some space in your garage, shed or garden to store them. This is unless you decide to keep it on your car permanently, which lots of people choose to do! A ground tent can just be kept in your wardrobe if you wanted because they’re smaller when packed down. So if you do find yourself particularly low on space and you can’t afford to pay for an extra small storage unit, then a regular ground tent could be a better option for you.
Initially when installing your roof tent on top of your vehicle it will require two people as they’re too large and heavy to lift them above your head on your own. Ground tents are lighter and easier to move around, so one person can carry it and put it in their car and ready to go with no problem! The weight is only an issue when you first put your roof tent on top of your car before you set off on your trip though, so it’s only a small issue for most people as it only happens one time per holiday. Plus, lots of people leave their roof tent on their vehicle all year round, so it's only a problem once in total for these!
A small one person ground tent can be bought for under £200 ($250/€225) and larger ones are still often under £1,000 ($1,200/€1,250). Whereas a roof top tent will cost you more than that, so this is definitely an advantage of ground tents!
5. Large Tents Sleep More People
You can buy larger ground tents that sleep eight or more people, which isn’t an option with roof tents- unless you get seriously comfortable with the people you’re camping with! So if you do have a particularly big family or if you’re planning on regularly having lots of people stay in your tent, then a very large ground tent may be more suitable for you. These do often come with a far higher price tag than smaller ground tents, but if you have lots of people staying with you, then it is pretty much your only option besides sleeping in a hotel, getting both a roof tent and a ground tent or of course, leaving a few unlucky people out in the cold!
Overall, if price is a major issue for you, then getting a regular ground tent may be your best option. If you can afford a roof top tent though, then we feel these bring so many more benefits to the table that you’d be majorly missing out if you didn’t get one!
It doesn't necessarily have to be a choice between one or the other though. If you have a very large family, then some people could sleep in a ground tent and some in a roof tent. Plus, if there is only going to be one or two of you on your camping trips and you’re going on more extreme hikes, then you might want to consider getting both a roof tent and a small ground tent as these are usually quite cheap. This would allow you to experience the best of both worlds if you’re planning on doing any serious mountain hiking, as you could use the roof top tent on the places your vehicle can access, then switch to a ground tent once you get to more remote locations!
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