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. These detailed tent reviews will guide you in choosing one that suits your needs.
Table of Contents
- Our Car Camping Tent Picks
- Car Camping Tent Buying Guide
1. ALPS Mountaineering Meramac 4-Person Car Camping Tent
ALPS Mountaineering manufactures trusted brands and gear like the Meramac 4-Person Tent. This high-quality car camping tent is designed to sleep four people. The floor measures 7 ft. 6 in. by 8 ft. 6 in., providing a surface area of 64 sq. ft. and a center height of 60 in., which is enough space for a person to stand up and move around inside the tent. It features a free-standing, 2-pole design that makes it easy to assemble and set up. What’s more, it comes with all the accessories you need to set up near your car.
The ALPS Mountaineering Meramac features a polyester fabric that is extremely durable, and the tent will shelter you from all weather conditions year round. The seams and the 75D 185T Polyester fly and floor are reinforced with a 1500-millimeter coating. All these attributes aid in keeping you dry in wet conditions. Mesh windows with zipper closures open for increased ventilation, and there are doors on opposite sides for convenient entry and exit which also improve ventilation. The interior is equipped with pockets that keep your items organized.
- Durable construction, roomy interior, easy and fast assembly, all-weather use, well ventilated
- Heavy for backpacking and hiking, tight fit for four people
2. CORE 6 Person Dome Tent for Car Camping
Spending time in the outdoors is more enjoyable in large groups. That is why the CORE dome car camping tent is a perfect companion on your outdoor excursions. It is spacious enough to shelter 6 adults at once, and you can fit either two queen air mattresses or each person with a sleeping bag inside. With a center height of 72 in., you can move around inside the tent with ease. The CORE tent uses H20 block technology, which means that the fabric is water resistant and has impenetrable seams, preventing moisture from getting into the tent. What’s more, the rainfly is fully tapped and the doors and windows are also sealed for full protection.
The CORE tent provides you with comfort for the entire year thanks to advanced venting. A changeable air intake vent brings in cool air from the ground and a mesh ceiling reduces hot air. The walls of the tent have hooks for lanterns and pockets, helping you keep the interior organized. You will also find electrical port access to ensure your devices don’t run out of charge. The entire tent stands secure on the ground to ensure stability in strong winds.
- Spacious interior, well ventilated, stable in strong winds, durable, easy to set up and take down, high-quality construction.
- The fly is not long enough to cover the door.
3. Smittybilt 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
4. Coleman Sun Dome 2, 3, 4, or 6 Person Car Camping Tent
Coleman is a well-known company that produces the best camping gear on the market today. The Coleman Dome tent is a first-rate tent for car camping. You can choose one that accommodates the number of people that will be using the tent, whether 2, 3, 4 or 6 people. Whether you are car camping for the first time or are a regular camper, this tent requires little effort and time to get up and running. The most outstanding feature of this tent is its peak height, which allows you to stand up straight and move around from place to place.
You can easily get in and out of the Coleman Dome tent through its large door, which features a hooded fly to cover you when it rains. A large window at the rear and some mesh vents on the roof improve ventilation. The floor features 1000D polyethylene material with a bathtub design to prevent water from getting in. In addition, the entire construction is sturdy and durable. A large, integrated interior pocket stores your valuables, and taking down the car camping tent is as easy as setting it up.
- Plenty of ventilation, high-quality construction, durable, easy setup and take down
- You have to manually add a sealer to the seams to eliminate water leakage
5. 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
6. 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
7. 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
8. Guide Gear Full Size Truck Tent
Capacity: 2 Person
Weight: 11 lbs.
Type: Truck 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
- The Top 5 Things to Consider When Buying a Car Camping Tent
- Car Camping Tent Features
- What is a Car Camping Tent?
- Car Camping Tent Types
- Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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 some 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 camping 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.
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.
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.
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.
Ground Level Tents for Car Camping
A ground level car tent is a simple camping 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.
Rooftop Car Camping Tents
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.
Pickup Camping Tents
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.
- 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.
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, our reviews will provide you with all the necessary things you need to look out for in making a regrettable decision.