Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Welcome REI Co-op Members!
We're glad you're here. If you can't access the Co-op Members section of the community,
click here for instructions on how to join the section that's just for you.

Rooftop Tent vs. Ground Tent: When and Where?

Rooftop Tent vs. Ground Tent: When and Where?

I recently purchased a Tepui Explorer Ayer 2 Rooftop tent that I installed on top of a 2018 RAV4 Hybrid. (Yes for all those wondering, it totally works using factory rails and crossbars!) For a little background, I camp anywhere from 30 to 50 nights a year mostly during the summer months and for stretches up to 8 days for my job. I made the jump into the rooftop tent world and although I love it, I’ve definitly noticed a few instances where good ole fashioned ground tenting is the way the go for car camping situations and vice versa. 

For example, living out of a tent for 7 nights in a row in one stationary campground, I’ve been sticking to my ground tent. I travel with an REI 4 person tent that allows me stand up in it (so amazing to be able to stand up to change your pants when you’re in it for 7 nights) and provides more living space if rainstorms force you inside. No joke I’ve done yoga inside my tent before with a cot already inside. 

Now on the other hand, although I’m still getting used to the rooftop tent, I’m finding it’s groove doing quick one night camps. The rooftop set up I have seems to be ideal for road trips where you’re moving campgrounds every night.

For one person to set up and take down the rooftop tent I’ve found the time frame pretty similar between the rooftop tent and the ground tent, but I’m sure with more practice with the rooftop tent it will become more streamlined. 

I was hoping to hear from others with or without rooftop tents about their preferences to help inform others in the market for a new car camping tent set up! Are you overlanding? How does that influence your decisions?


Happy trails!

Labels (2)
1 Reply

Hi @LiveOutdoors!

My family has experience with a variety of car-camping setups, and it definitely depends on the length of the trip, how many nights per location, and what activities we'll be doing.  We've done big trips setting up a base camp with a 6-8 person tent, but if we're just stopping somewhere for one night it's easier to split up into smaller backpacking tents then quickly pack up the next morning.  I agree with you - it's nice to be able to stand up in a tent if you're in it for multiple days!  We have recently graduated up to an adventure rig for overlanding adventures, pulling a gear trailer with a rooftop tent behind our truck.  This setup has revolutionized both our short and long trips, as the rooftop tent is far easier to pop up and take down compared to a 6-8 person ground tent.  We keep the trailer loaded with gear so we're ready at a moment's notice - it has cut our packing time down tremendously and gives us more time to enjoy the outdoors.  These days we're all about convenience, and having the rooftop tent on the trailer makes it the perfect setup for our family.

At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well-lived.