Rooftop Tents vs Ground Tents
A rooftop tent mounts onto your vehicle’s roof, via roof rack or roof bars. The tent folds or collapses down into a flat pack that stays on your roof while you drive, then when you arrive at your camping destination unfolds or pops up, depending on the design you choose. These come in three main styles; hard shell roof top, soft top and hybrid.
Ground tents are the traditional type of tent, which you set up on the ground and sleep from one person to groups of eight or more. They come in a wide variety of styles and sizes from hike tents and swags right up to deluxe bungalows.
When you’re reviewing rooftop tents vs ground tents, it’s important to consider when, where, how often and who will be using your tent. For example, a large family won’t fit into a hard shell roof top tent, conversely if you are after something for a short trip and need to be able to set up and pack down quickly, then a ground tent might not be for you.
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Different types of Rooftop Tents
Most roof top tents come with a foam mattress, and a ladder. Typically mounted to 4x4 style vehicles based on their roof load capacity. They can also be mounted to trailers to give you flexibility to customise your setup..
Rooftop tents sleep from one to four people depending on the style, and come in three varieties:
Hard shell: Built using solid materials such as fibreglass or aluminium for the roof and base, a roof top hard shell tent takes less time and effort to set up than a ground tent. Depending on which design you choose, a hard shell roof top tent can be set up by one person in less than a minute. Simply unlock the latches, pop it up with the help of the gas struts, and then let gravity do the work. This is much faster and easier than setting up a ground tent, as you won’t need poles, stakes, and lines.
In terms of durability, a hard top roof top tent is hard to beat as the materials used are more solid and weather resistant. The cons of this style of roof top tent is that they are more expensive and have a small footprint so they’re really only for one or two people. However, if you’re looking for a “pack and go” style of tent, this is the one for you.
Soft shell: A soft shell tent looks like a regular ground tent but on your car. Using similar materials to ground tents, they are still easier to set up than a regular ground tent, probably taking about five minutes. One of the biggest advantages to the soft shell is the larger footprint when open, and smaller footprint when closed, as the soft shell tents are folded in half. Typicalle one half of the tent will hang over the side of the vehicle and will be supported by the telescopic ladder. This not only creates more internal space but also allows for an annex to be attached to create an enclosed room below the tent. With an annex this style of tent can sleep up to four people comfortably.
Hybrid: A hybrid roof tent has a hard shell with a fold out tent section meaning you get the durability, slimelife pack down and extra roof cargo spade of the hard shell, plus the extra sleeping space of the soft shell. Additional benefits of the new hybrid style are that they allow for a faster pack down compacre to the soft shell option, as well as the convenience of having mounted cross bars to allow you to carry cargo boxes, bikes, surfboards and kayaks on top. The pack down size and weight is also less than that of typical hard shells.
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What to Consider When Buying a Rooftop Tent
Different Types of Ground Tents
Swag: A one person tent with built-in mattress. Swags zip up all around you to keep you sheltered. Swags are made purely for sleeping and resting, so you can lay down comfortabley but you can’t stand up.
Fast Frame Tents: With this type of tent, everything is pre-assembled, from the poles to the material. It all stays connected, making set up incredibly fast and easy to set up and pack down.
Dome tent: Dome tents consist of at least two flexible poles which cross at the top of the dome and bend to be anchored to the floor on each of the four dome corners. They are usually quite lightweight for the amount of internal space.
Hike tent: Hiking tents are designed to fit in a backpack and are a compact, lightweight and durable shelter for one to four people
Stretcher tent: Somewhere between a stretcher, a tent and a swag, stretcher tents are quick and easy to set up and pack away. You’re off the ground and fully sheltered.
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