Roof Top Tent Or Ground Tent? - A Side By Side Comparison

Roof Tent VS Ground Tent

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 Tent VS Ground Tent

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. Not too pleasant when you’re spending an hour trying to set up your tent in the pouring rain on a dark Friday night at the start of one of your weekend getaways, only to then see that all your belongings are getting soaking wet! Then that's not to mention the time it takes to pack them away and try and cram them into the typically undersized bag they come in. Good roof tents typically only take around 30 seconds to open up and close using their automatic hydraulic gas assisted opening/closing systems, so you can imagine the time and effort you’re saving with them!

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, 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 during the night, which would be a problem with ground tents. Even a modest amount of rain could cause you serious problems with ground tents as you’ll most likely be left trying to pack away your tent in a mud bath. 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 Storage Space

With roof top tents you can put your things inside when it’s closed too, giving you extra 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 in a tent. 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. Plus even if you can camp somewhere in a ground tent, you’ve still got the problem of having to set up and pack away your tent, which is probably more of a pain than finding the location in the first place- Especially in bad weather!

7. Warmer

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 also 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 where most of these live. This is particularly important if you’re camping somewhere like Australia, where there are more than just small harmless critters to worry about!

 

Ground Tent VS Roof Tent

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. However, you often aren’t allowed to camp wherever you like as you can’t camp without permission in some places. If you do ever find yourself climbing Mount Everest though, then taking a ground tent would be a better idea than taking a roof tent that’s for sure! You can find lots of wild/free camping spots on various camping apps and websites. Some of them you won’t be able to use a ground tent on because the surface is unsuitable in some way, but there still should be some for you to explore and plenty if you have a roof 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 or shed to store them- Unless you decide to keep it on your car permanently. Whereas 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 may be a better option for you.

3. Lighter

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. Whereas ground tents are lighter and easier to move around, so one person can carry it and put it in their car ready to go with no problem. This 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. Plus, lots of people leave their roof tent on their car all year round, so it's only a problem once.

4. Cheaper

A small one person ground tent can be bought for under £200 ($250/€225), whereas a roof top tent will cost you a significant amount more than that. Of course, you are sacrificing all the advantages you get with a roof tent that we’ve just discussed here for the cheaper price of a ground tent though.

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 significantly 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 or leaving a few unlucky people out in the cold!

 

Conclusion:

Overall if price is a major issue for you, then getting a regular ground tent may be your best option, but if you can afford a roof top tent then these bring so many more benefits to the table that you’d be missing out if you didn’t get one. Also 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 before, then switch to a ground tent once you get to more remote locations!