Table of Contents
- 1 Best Car Camping Tent Reviews (Updated List)
- 2 What is a Car Camping ?
- 3 Car Camping Tent Buyer’s Guide
- 4 How to pick the right type and size for your needs?
- 5 How to Set-up a Car Camping Tent?
- 6 Advantages and Disadvantages of Car Camping Tents
- 7 Car Camping Tent Tips About Maintenance, Cleaning
- 8 Frequently Asked Questions
- 9 Best Car Camping Tent Comparison Chart
- 10 Wrap up
When people hear about car camping, they easily envision driving to a campsite and sleeping in the car. But what is car camping really? What are the benefits and how is it different from the traditional camping? You need the best car camping tent, one that is spacious and user-friendly for the best possible car camping experience. Therefore, you need a tent designed for a luxurious outdoors experience. This detailed car camping tent reviews will guide you in choosing one that suits your needs.
- Napier Sportz 4-Person SUV Tent with Screen Room
- Smittybilt XL Overland Car Roof Tent
- Guide Gear Full Size Truck Tent
Best Car Camping Tent Reviews (Updated List)
1. Smittybilt XL Overland Car Roof Tent
Capacity: 3-4 Person
Dimensions: 122″ W x 76″ L x 51”
Weight: 168 lbs.
Type: Roof Tent
From a brand that has built its reputation for over 50 years, the Smittybilt Overlander Tent is a high-quality camping tent designed for all seasons. The Overlander is manufactured with 600D heavy-duty ripstop fabric. It is waterproof, with a polyurethane top engineered for longevity. Tent frame poles are made from anodized aluminum. Setup and take-down occurs in easy steps thanks to the dual aluminum track and telescopic ladder feature.
The Smittybilt Overlander comes as a large sized tent that allows room for 3-4 people sleeping comfortably. Equipped with a waterproof, high-density foam mattress, it supports a maximum load of up to 770 lbs., with a removable cover for great convenience. To enjoy maximum comfort, the side windows are fitted with mosquito netting. In addition, the all the tent materials offer reliable protection against sun and rain.
If you need added privacy, you can purchase the new Annex, which attaches to the bottom of the Overlander tent with rugged zippers. This option provides you with ample space to change clothes privately or prepare food.
- Four-Season Use
- Durable Construction: 600D heavy-duty rip stop polyester and polyurethane
- High-Density Mattress
- Lightweight, Waterproof Flysheet
2. Napier Sportz, 5-Person SUV Tent with Screen Room
Capacity: 5 Person
Dimensions: 60″ x 120″
Weight: 48 lbs.
Type: Suv Tent
If you camp in large groups with your family or friends or you crave abundant spaciousness, then you will love this Napier Outdoors SUV Tent. It provides ample room to comfortably sleep six adults with over seven inches of headroom. it also boasts a floorless screen room that keeps insects and debris outside your tent.
The Napier Tent is designed with a full rainfly having tapped seams for maximum protection. In addition, the built-in storm flaps cover the windows and doors to provide additional shelter from rain when needed. The tent’s sturdy structure features guy lines to withstand high winds and is constructed of high-quality polyester taffeta and polyethylene to ensure longevity.
The tent sets up easily and quickly (in only fifteen minutes!) with a simple pole-hub design. The adjustable straps even ensure a bug-free, watertight fit.
- Material: high-quality polyester taffeta and polyethylene for durability
- Protection: a full rainfly with tapped seams for weather protection, integrated storm flaps in the windows and doors to shelter from rain, and a robust structure to withstand high winds
- Easy setup
- Comfort: fits as many as six adults sleeping
- Ventilation: two doors and three mesh windows for optimal ventilation
3. Tuff Stuff Delta Overland Roof Top Tent
Capacity: 2-3 Person
Dimensions: 56″ x 90″
Weight: 121 lbs.
Type: Roof Tent
The Tuff Stuff Ranger Overland Rooftop Tent rings all the bells and whistles you can expect from a high-quality car roof tent. It is constructed from a heavy duty 280 g cotton/poly fabric, a 420D polyester Oxford rain fly, and a thick 1000D PVC driving cover known for durability. It can mount to any vehicle with cross bars which has a 150lbs capacity.
The Tuff Stuff Overland Ranger is spacious enough for two full-sized adults. In addition, the annex room provides sufficient space for a queen-sized mattress or a small dining table., boasting a 56 in. x 96 in. space. With the optional annex room, you get a total space of around 100 sq. ft.
Since this rooftop tent carries a higher price tag, you can expect premium performance. It offers screened windows with awnings to provide maximum ventilation and natural light. You can set up this tent in minutes. What’s more, it folds down onto either side of the vehicle for greater convenience.
- Material: 280 g/cotton ripstop fabric and a polyurethane coating
- Rainfly: 420D polyester/Oxford material with a waterproof polyurethane coating (making this tent completely water-repellant)
- Spacious with the optional annex room
- Durable, heavy-duty, and built to last
4. Napier Sportz, Cove SUV Tent
Capacity: 2 Person
Weight: 8 lbs.
Type: Suv Tent
Do you enjoy fishing, having picnics at the park, tailgating, or love-making beach trips? Then the Napier Sportz Cove 61000 SUV Tent is your ideal companion. During your escapades, the weather can get too hot or a downpour can occur unexpectedly. This car tent will shield you from all these weather surprises.
The universal design fits any CUV or SUV and the built-in storm flap provides total privacy. What’s more, you will enjoy a bug-free experience thanks to the mesh screen entrance door.
This tent is carefully crafted from polyester taffeta, providing you with long-lasting usage. It is also compact and lightweight enough to enable effortless carrying. For increased convenience, the Napier Sportz Tent sets up and tears down for storage easily.
- Material: polyester taffeta
- Features: built-in storm flap and mesh bug screen door for privacy
5. Guide Gear Full Size Truck Tent
Capacity: 2 Person
Weight: 11 lbs.
Type: Suv Tent
Looking for a more affordable yet comfortable car camping tent? The Guide Gear Full Size Truck Tent is your best option. This tent offers ultimate camping convenience with a bevy of features. The large interior area sleeps four adults with 5.25 inches of headroom. The interior accommodates 2 full-sized beds measuring 79 in. by 81 in. and 63 in. by 79 in., respectively.
For privacy, the tent features a large d-shaped door, with mesh windows for added ventilation. It is lightweight and sets up easily and quickly using only four poles. These poles feature shock-corded fiberglass that fully encloses you in the tent.
The flooring boasts a polyethylene material and a construction of 1900T polyester with 1500mm water-resistant coating. It also comes with a full rainfly that will keep you completely dry during throughout the camping season.
- Material: heavy-duty 1970T polyester with a 1500mm water-resistant coating
- Construction: lightweight and easy to set up
- Capacity: sleeps four adults
- Privacy: a large, d-shaped door with mesh windows for ventilation
6. Rightline Gear 4-Person Car Camping Tent
Capacity: 4 Person
Dimensions: 96″ x 96″
Weight: 21 lbs.
Type: Suv Tent
Whether you have an SUV, minivan, crossover, wagon, jeep Wrangler hard top, or pick-up truck with a cap, the Rightline Gear SUV Tent will seal easily, with or without a roof rack. Having dimensions of 8 in. wide x 8 in. long x 7.2 in. high, this tent accommodates up to four adults sleeping comfortably and the vehicle cargo area sleeps two. For privacy, this tent features large windows and doors with no-see-um mesh and closeable storm covers.
Built to ensure total dryness, this tent features a highly water-resistant design that locks out moisture. You can also add the rainfly as needed, especially when it begins to rain.
This tent sets up easily and resembles the setup of other tents. It tears down in simple steps, allowing you to store it after use. It folds up with the rainfly and fits into a carrying bag.
- Tent capacity: sleeps four adults and the vehicle cargo area sleeps two more
- Privacy: large windows and doors with no-see-um mesh and pull-down storm covers
- Weather Protection: water resistant fabric with tape-sealed seams
What is a Car Camping ?
Do you know the difference between this kind of tent and a normal camping tent? You probably know that when you camp, you carry all your gear in a backpack. This approach works best for those of you who hike and climb mountains. While this approach may seem normal and doable, it has its challenges. If you do it, you must fit everything into a backpack, giving you a heavy load. Also, you don’t get to pack everything you need because of reduced carrying space. That is where a car camping comes in. When you go car camping, you load all your gear in the car, drive to the campsite, then set up the tent. If you have never tried car camping, you should definitely try. You will continue to keep your car nearby when you camp, but you won’t sleep in it.
Car camping tents are designed for a relatively luxurious outdoor experience. They are usually more spacious than normal tents, providing you with the space to set up cots, prepare a dining area, and even relax on a rainy day. These car camping tents set up on level ground, as in parks, campgrounds and in areas that allow dispersed camping. For an optimal car camping experience, you should camp during the dry summer season. However, if you are an all-seasons camping enthusiast, you will have to invest in a high-end car camping tent.
Car Camping Tent Types
There are a number of car camping tents available on the market designed to meet varying needs. For this reason, you may divide tents into three types, making them easier to select. These types are: roof top car tents, pick-up tents, and ground-level tents.
Rooftop Car Tent
This type of car tent is one that securely attaches to a rack, which usually appears on the top of a truck or car. For this reason, it goes by different names: including a car-top and pop-up tent. Rooftop tent offers great convenience in terms of setup and protection. Setting up the rooftop car tent is very simple because it doesn’t involve the tedious steps that other camping tents require. To gain access to the tent, you only need to unfold the pop-up tent and lower a ladder.
You know how troublesome bus and dangerous insects inhabit camping grounds. With a rooftop car tent, you can sleep off the ground, safe from the critters and bugs. In addition, you gain a clear vantage point of your surroundings. There is one major downside to this type of car camping tent. It isn’t cheap. Plan to dig deeper into your pockets to get one for yourself.
A pickup tent is one that sets up in the open bed of a pickup truck. This closely resembles the rooftop car tent, but it elevate as high and is not as spacious. Like the pop-up car tent, this tent sets up easily, allowing you to do so singlehandedly. Unload the tent from inside your car and set it up in ten minutes or less. Quickly turn your truck into a campsite.
When using the pick-up car tent, you are off the ground and away from critters and bugs. Another great advantage is the fact that you can camp anywhere your adventures take you. (It is perfect for tailgating camping.) This type of car tent features a sturdy build and is a accommodates two adults comfortably. A major drawback, though, is size because it does not provide an optimally spacious camping experience.
Ground Level Tents for the Car
A ground level car tent is a simple umbrella-like tent that sets up directly on the ground. This type of tent is spacious, offering lots of room for all your kids and family or for a large group of friends. For this reason, it is most preferred by campers who enjoy large gatherings. Just because you are close to the ground doesn’t mean that all ground critters will get to you. Ground-level tents feature floor surfaces that block out moisture and “windows” designed to keep out all the crawling and flying insects.
Unlike car-top tents, these alternatives are heavy and demand a lot of time to set up. However, they come with more screens strong enough to resist wear and tear. Also, the front entrances seals completely when it’s time for sleeping. These tents anchor firmly to your vehicle, which prevents them from blowing away in strong winds. This is the most popular type, but has its drawbacks as well. Wild animals will more likely step on this tent than the others.
Car Camping Tent Buyer’s Guide
The number of car camping tents on the market may overwhelm you. This buying guide will ease your tent-buying experience by outlining the five factors you need to know before you buy a tent.
The Top 5 Things to Consider When Buying Car Camping Tents
Size and Weight
Tents come in all sorts of weights and sizes. More often than not, a car camping tent correspond to its capacity. The more people it can hold, the heavier it will be. For instance, if there is a one-person, two-person, three-person, or more than a four persons’ tent, the square inches of the floor space (and weight) will increase accordingly. Be sure you know the actual measurements of the floor space because different manufacturers use different methods to calculate sleeping capacity. For someone who is car camping, the weight of the tent is not going to be a major issue. Therefore, a tent with more capacity will be suitable for most situations because it will provide greater comfort.
Furthermore, the size of the people who will be camping with you will determine the size tent you need. Though you may assume that a four-person car tent will provide enough room for you and your associates, you may soon be disappointed that the tent is unable to accommodate your entire crew. This problem may especially occur when another person occupies a surface area that larger than the original estimate. This in turn reduces the capacity of your tent. Large car camping tents are a terrific choice for many reasons, even though it may be difficult sometimes to find a suitable campground.
Type of Tent
The type of the car camping tent is another major factor to consider when buying a car camping tent. This is a great determinant of convenience and durability. There are pop-up tents that are cheap and easy to set up for pristine weather comfort. However, this type of tent is not usually sturdy and for this reason it cannot withstand extreme conditions such as heavy wind and rain. If the factor of connecting it to the car is eliminated, this type is not so safe for all-seasons protection. Single wall tents are also similar to the pop-up tents. They are light in weight because they lack an exterior rainfly. The whole construction of the tent is made waterproof to avoid water from getting in. but also if the rainfly is absent, the tents will build up condensation when it rains.
Double wall tents are however the best option of the three. These have an inner tent with a waterproof floor and can be set up with poles to withstand the windy and rainy seasons. Also, they have a rain fly that goes over the inner tent to provide protection against heavy rainfall. The greatest advantage of these tents is that they are strongly built for durability which enables them to resist extreme weather elements.
Shape of the Tent
While it may seem like a small factor to consider, the shape of the tent actually plays a significant role when it comes to determining the general appearance and durability of the car camping tent. The shape of the tent will also determine how stable it will be in extreme weather conditions. Also, it will affect the headroom and space you get as well as how easy it is to set it up. Car tents that are A-shaped don’t have a lot of headroom but are easy to set up. They are also fairly stable and will deflect snow and water during cold seasons.
Dome-shaped car tents, on the other hand, have flexible poles that crisscross over to form the shape. Unlike the A-shaped tents, these ones have a lot of headroom. Similarly, they are also easy to set up and are fairly stable. In addition to that, the shape makes them easy to deflect snow and water in the rainy seasons.
For you to get maximum headroom, then go for the tents with a couple of crisscrossing poles because they are ideal in maximizing the vertical dimensions in multiple points unlike their A-shaped counterparts, whose only elevated point is the center. They are known as Geodesic tents. Setting up these types of tents requires a lot of effort because they are relatively complicated. And in terms of stability, they are quite stable stormy and unpleasant weather. Tunnel tents are those with curved poles that are pegged down. They are relatively stable and have a lot of interior space. Larger groups require the cabin-style car tents to provide enough head space and living space. These tents are not very stable but when attached to a car, they will not be blow away by winds.
Weather Protection Tents
These are tents that are built to protect you from not-so pristine weather conditions. When you are car camping, it might suddenly begin to rain and you will need to have a tent that meets your comfort needs during such a situation. All this narrows down to the material used in the construction of the tent. To begin with, there is the hydrostatic head measure which shows how waterproof the tent material is. Tents with a higher hydrostatic measure are usually heavier and they are highly waterproof.
Tents are also rated in seasons from 1st all the way up to the 4th season. 1-season tents are the ones suitable for use in beaches. They are not built to protect you from wind or rain but are made from mesh or mosquito netting to keep bugs and insects out of the tent. 2-season tents, on the other hand, are suitable for camping in mild weather that you are sure it won’t rain. These offer minimal wind and rain protection. 3-season tents are those that can withstand rain and wind. 4-seasons however, are the sturdiest of the four. The thick materials used in their construction retain heat in the tent and are round-shaped to enable snow to fall off.
Car camping tents don’t come cheap when you compare with normal camping tents. Since they are heavy and a lot of work has been put to their construction, the price matches the features. Price ranges from 80 dollars to more than 1000 dollars. High-end car tents offer total convenience and comfort compared to the cheaper models. They are strongly built to withstand all seasons. However, if cost is your major concern, there are affordable car tents that provide average comfort that you can work with. With very cheap tents, you are not guaranteed fully of protection. Generally, the price will determine the quality of the car tent. You can get a car tent at any price, depending on what you want from the tent.
Car Camping Tent Features
You should also consider the features that the car tent comes with. A good tent should have features that are suitable for your camping activities.
Aluminum poles are strongly built and they will only bend but not break. Fiberglass poles on the other hand, are not strong but are thick and heavy to match up to the aluminum poles.
High-denier materials used on a car camping tent improve durability and are better at weather-proofing. Low quality materials will offer minimal protection. The material used on the floor should be waterproof to prevent moisture from seeping in. Also, a tent should have the ability to protect against bugs and critters. For this reason, tents with no-see-um meshing will keep all nasty bugs out.
A good car camping tent should have a rainfly whether you are planning to use it only during camp in summer. There two types of rainflies protection available; a rainfly on the roof only for clear visibility and an extended one for better weather protection.
The roof of the tent should create enough ventilation for air to circulate freely. Also, a ventilated roof will eliminate condensation inside the tent.
You should be able to freely access your tent as frequent as possible. Therefore, you should get a tent with heavy-duty zippers to hold up well because of frequent use.
How to pick the right type and size for your needs?
Car camping is a very fun activity especially when you have your loved ones with you. Therefore, getting the right car camping tent will ensure you enjoy your camping experience.
Picking the right tent
When choosing a tent, you should go for the one that offers versatility. A three-seasoned tent is a great choice to use in all seasons. It has most basic camping needs and is built to withstand weather inclement. This tent provides good ventilation and it has a roof canopy to keep out rain.
A family tent is a great choice since you are driving to the campsite; this means weight will not be a hindrance to movement. This is a spacious tent that provides great convenience and comfort. If you are planning to camp during colder seasons, a four-seasoned tent is the most ideal. This is because the tent is built to withstand strong weather elements. With this tent, you can lock yourselves in the tent in windy or snowy seasons.
Check our roundup of the top rated family camping tents here!
Choosing the right size
The right size of the car camping tent you get should provide great comfort. Ensure that there is enough space for every person intending to use the tent. The most recommended tent should offer at least 30 square feet of space for each person. In addition, a spacious car tent provides privacy. You will get enough room to change or store clothes and your valuables.
A car tent with a size too large has its downsides. The major one is that it can be difficult finding a large enough level space to set the tent up on. Another drawback is that they can be very unstable. A moderate size is fine and you can set it up anywhere. If you still want a larger car tent then choose one in a different shape. Getting a dome-shaped tent will create enough headroom for everyone in the tent.
The size of the tent also matters when setting it up. A smaller tent is very easy to set up compared to a bigger one. However, with a bigger tent, you will need help but this will not be a problem since you have people around to help in setting it up.
How to Set-up a Car Camping Tent?
The three types of car camping tents have different ways of installation.
Roof Top and Pick Up Car Tent Set-up
Since both of these types are meant to be on top of a car or truck, they have similar ways of setting it up.
- 1 tent on boards
- A flysheet on the tent
- 2 long spring steel rods, 4 short
- A mattress
- A ladder attached on board
5 Important Step For Roof Top and Pick Up Car Tent Set-Up
- Loosen the cross straps to remove the bag and carefully lift over the board
- Expand the ladder until it reaches full length then lock it in place. Pull the ladder down to raise the tent board.
- To avoid creating a vacuum effect, allow air to enter the tent as you open it.
- Insert the spring steel rod in sleeves on the board with the large ones in the middle the hook the v-shaped ends into eyelets on flysheet for expansion.
- For safety, ensure you park on level ground and the aluminum are fully locked in place in the middle of the boards when the tent is opened.
Setting Up The Ground Level Car Tent
7 Important Step For Ground Level Car Tent Set-up
- Lay out the tent like you will do normal tents then assemble the poles and thread through the pole sleeves.
- Place the poles onto the pole pins to erect the tent and attach the clips
- Attach the tent to the vehicle. Ensure that the bumper touches the lower sleeve then place the upper sleeve over the raised rear hatch door.
- Buckle the upper sleeve around the cross bar and adjust the location of the roof rack’s rear cross bar if you want. If the car lacks a roof rack, clip the extension hook straps to the windshield wipers.
- Attach the lower sleeve by lowering the rear hatch door to buckle the strap over it.
- Attach the upper sleeve to the wheels and keep them tight enough.
- Support the tent on the corners, sides and guy lines and add the rainfly if needed.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Car Camping Tents
While most of you are familiar with traditional camping, car camping offer more comfort in your camping adventures. And just like many others, they also have minor downsides. Below are advantages and disadvantages of car tents.
- Easy and quick set up:The features of the tents are easy to set up and this is done in a couple of minutes.
- Versatile:Since the tents are an extension of your car, all your camping gear is carried in the car. As long as you have a designated campsite or you are at a place you can park legally, set up the tent.
- Protection:Car tents come fully equipped to cover you from inside thus protecting you from scorching sun, rain, storm and even crawling bugs.
- Ventilation:The tents come with mesh roofs or sides to improve air circulation.
- Weight:Assembling parts of tents can be really exhausting given the heavy weight. You require two or more people to help you in setting them up.
- Price:Since you are looking to get a luxurious experience, you will invest more in car tents because they don’t come cheap.
Car Camping Tent Tips About Maintenance, Cleaning
When you treat your outdoor dwelling with much care, it will provide years of great service. You should ensure to set up the tent, be it the rooftop, on a ground level for maximum stability. Avoid getting into the tent with your shoes. Also, minimize the exposure to UV rays to increase the life of the tent. When in use, be gentle with the zippers. Keep drying the tent just to be sure moisture left by condensation is out.
After usage, shake out the tent to remove dirt and debris before packing. Don’t use the washer machine and dryer to clean the tent to avoid stretching and tearing the fabric. To clean the fabric, just do a basic cleaning with a non-abrasive sponge, cold water and a non-detergent soap. Reseal leaky seams and either reapply a coating to waterproof the tent or replace the tent.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Q: How should a car tent be stored to ensure durability?
A: When not in use, pack the tent up and store when clean and dry. Moisture content to any fabric causes hydrolysis which causes the waterproof coating to break down and soften. Ensure that the tent remains dry to prevent stain and bad odors. Store in a cool and dry area and away from direct sunlight.
- Q: How do I clean the tent?
A: Shake out the tent to remove dirt and debris. If the tent is wet already and produces a heavy odor, just hose it down and allow it to completely dry. Don’t use detergents, bleach, spot removers and pre-soaking solutions.
- Q: What can I do to reduce condensation in my tent?
A: High humidity, low temperatures and rainy conditions create condensation. Therefore, the only way to keep out condensation is to increase ventilation to improve air flow.
- Q: What is a no-see-um mesh?
A: It is a lightweight and durable netting that is designed to provide extreme insect protection (even from the smallest of pests) when camping in the outdoors.
Best Car Camping Tent Comparison Chart
|Smittybilt Overlander Car Camping Tent||$$$$$||2-3 Person||48" x 96"||138 lbs.||Roof Tent|
|Tuff Stuff Ranger Overland Car Roof Tent||$$$$||2-3 Person||56" x 90"||146 lbs.||Roof Tent|
|Napier Outdoors Sportz 84000 SUV Tent||$$$||5 Person||60" x 120"||48 lbs.||Suv Tent|
|Rightline Gear 110907 Car Camping Tent||$$||4 Person||96" x 96"||21 lbs||Suv Tent|
|Nnapier Sportz Cove 61000 SUV Camping Tent||$||2 Person||N/A||8 lbs.||Suv Tent|
|Guide Gear Full Size Truck Tent||$||2 Person||N/A||11 lbs.||Suv Tent|
Outdoor activities are always fun, and what makes them more enjoyable is having the right gear and tools to accompany you. However, finding the best car camping tent to use requires you to conduct a conclusive research. This will enable you to make the right buying decision and that you will not regret your decision. For this reason, there are reviews all over the internet to aid in learning about what you need for your ideal camping trips.
There are a few considerations that you should take into account when you decide to get a car camping tent. Durability, comfort and ease of use are key factors that will aid in making the right decision. Therefore, to get great value for your money, this car camping tent reviews will provide you with all the necessary things you need to look out for in making a regrettable decision.