roof top tent to set up

Whats The Easiest Roof Top Tent To Set Up?

The practical thing about roof top tents is that these roof top tents can be set up extremely quickly and easily compared to normal ground tents, where you have to put a footprint on the ground, put a top hull over the tent, or insert the tent poles. After all, a roof top tent is set up and assembled all the time, you just have to open or fold it up at the camp ground, depending on the version.

If you can’t wait and want to know which is the easiest roof top tent to set up, I would like to give you my opinion here. The easiest roof top tent to set up is the “SMRT Tent Summit Suite Tent“. You can easily set up the “SMRT Tent Summit Suite Tent” with just one person in less than 60 seconds and fold it down again in less than 60 seconds.

I’ve been a big fan of roof top tents for many years and I’m often out camping with my roof top tent in all kinds of places. I have already owned a lot of roof top tents and can therefore give you a competent opinion as to which is the easiest roof top tent to set up.

Why buy a roof top tent?

The advantages of a roof top tent are many:

The adventure: Roof top tents are a unique opportunity to experience the great outdoors, regardless of the conditions. These tents are built to last. They withstand bad weather better than floor tents and, unlike mobile homes, can be used in difficult terrain.

The View: When you rise from the ground, you can see the beautiful landscape right in front of your tent. Some roof top tents even have built-in sky panels so you can drift off while looking at the stars.

Quick to set up: Roof top tents can be opened and packed away within a few minutes. Unlike a ground tent, you don’t have to connect a series of poles and fix them in the ground. All you have to do is unfold the tent and you’re done. That means more time to explore and less time to set up camp.

Comfort: Most roof top tent have built-in mattresses, which are more comfortable than inflatable mattresses (especially if they lose air!). The bedding stays inside the tent, which means you can jump in as soon as the tent is opened. In addition, the flat floor of the tent means that you no longer have gnarled stones behind you at night.

So that you stay clean and dry: The roof top tent will keep you up and away from mud, snow, sand and critters.

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Built for all weather conditions: The materials used for roof top tents are often designed to withstand harsh weather conditions better than ground tents.

What types of roof top tent are there?

Folding roof top tent

Maximum space
By dispensing with a hard shell, fabric tents with a folding roof are usually lighter than roof top tents of other types. This type of roof top tent is the most common. The tent fabric is waterproof and a protective tarpaulin can also be pulled over when it is folded up.

Folding roof top tents can be installed lengthways or crossways on the car, depending on the design. The area when set up is usually twice as large as the transport dimensions. In terms of price, roof top tents of this type are usually somewhat cheaper than hard shell tents. However, setting up takes a little more time than with other roof top tent types, as you have to loosen the protective tarpaulin before unfolding and, depending on the model, still have to tension part of the tarpaulin.

Advantages and disadvantages of a folding roof top tent

  • Compact size
  • Larger space and sleeping area than hard-shell roof tent
  • Often with a covered entrance (igloo entrance)
  • Greater interior height
  • Generous feeling of space thanks to the pointed roof shape
  • Airy room climate – good for sleeping even in hot areas
  • Models with an inner tent regulate the room climate and absorb condensation
  • Usually lighter, cheaper than hard-shell roof tents
  • Time-consuming assembly and dismantling
  • In damp weather, the interior and bed linen become clammy
  • Climbing skills required when attaching the tarpaulin to tall vehicles
  • Some models require anchoring with pegs, otherwise the roofing is not stretched taut
  • Larger space requirement when in use due to lateral overlapping and folding out
  • Cannot be used without a ladder

Hard shell roof top tent

Quickly available sleeping space

Another classic is the hard shell roof tent that opens in parallel. This type is characterized by a high level of stability. In addition, light objects or transport boxes can also be transported on the roof. The installation of a solar system is also often possible.

In addition, sunroofs and awnings can be attached relatively easily, as the tent can be entered from both the right and left, and sometimes also from the rear. The interior height is between 31 and 39 inches, depending on the model. Some roof top tents can be extended and retracted with a crank. When folded, this type of roof top tent looks like a large, flat roof box.

Set up of a hard shell pop-up roof top tent is very simple and can be easily done by one person.

Advantages and disadvantages of a hard-shell roof top tent

  • Quick set up
  • Often several entrances
  • Better cold insulation thanks to the solid roof and cladding
  • Comparably little space required when in use
  • Ladder not carrying, can be folded at night
  • The space required on the vehicle roof is higher because the entire floor area has to fit on the vehicle
  • Lying area limited to the area of the tent
  • Usually uncovered entrance
  • Heats up quickly in summer
  • In comparison heavier and more expensive than a folding roof tent

Hybrid roof top tent

The best of both worlds?

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The steep angle is typical for folding roof top tents with a hard shell. The two plastic shells are connected by hinges and, when opened, result in a lying V, similar to what we know from pop-up roofs on camping buses. Opening and closing is quick as only one side of the roof tent needs to be raised. Thanks to the fold-out part, the hybrid roof top tent usually offers more space in the interior than hard-shell roof top tents with a comparable floor space. In addition, the height of the hybrid retractable roof makes it more sensitive to strong winds.

Hybrid roof top tents bridge the gap between the folding roof top tent and the hard shell tent. When unfolded, they often offer more space than the base of the hard shell allows.

Advantages and disadvantages of a hybrid roof top tent

  • Robust packaging like a hard shell tent
  • Quick assembly and dismantling
  • Often possible to transport on the roof such as a hard-shell roof tent
  • Usually a lot of space and a longer lying area than a hard-shell roof tent
  • Often comparable, protected igloo entrance as with the folding tent
  • Models with an inner tent regulate the room climate and absorb condensation like a folding roof tent
  • The space required on the vehicle roof is high, as the entire floor area has to fit on the car
  • Many models cannot be used without a ladder because they are part of the supporting structure
  • Larger space requirement when in use due to lateral overlapping and folding out
  • Heavier than retractable roof tent
  • More expensive than folding and hard-shell roof tents
  • More susceptible to wind

Set up of the individual roof top tent models explained

How does the set up of a hardshell roof top tent work?

Step 1
Find a suitable place for your camping experience. Of course, quiet, wind-protected and paved places are always suitable for this. Don’t forget to secure your vehicle with the brakes or the parking function.

Step 2
Unlock the safety lock

Step 3
Open the 2 straps on the front and back

Step 4
Two people push the tent up. The air-damped
Hinges do the rest. If you are alone, they do the rest first
Push up on the back, then the front.

Step 5
Now fold the fabric over the lower edge of the tent.
This allows the water to run off better when it rains.

Step 6
Take the telescopic ladder out of the tent interior and hang it up
place them on the desired side in the holding device.

Step 7
Now set the correct height. Pay attention to one
Angle of attack according to your vehicle. You don’t want to be too close to the vehicle or too far away. 30-45 degrees are ideal.

Setup time approx: 2 minutes
Difficulty level: easy

How does the set up of a foldable roof top tent work?

Step 1
Open the two straps and the corner Velcro fasteners
Attention – all parts of the roof tent can be set up without great effort. If something gets stuck, don’t use force!

Step 2
Then open the zipper of the tarpaulin and fold the tarpaulin backwards. If necessary, you can simply pull the tarpaulin out of the piping bar.

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Step 3
Now take off the ladder. Make sure that the safety pins click into place.

Step 4
Now you pull up the roof tent with the ladder. Caution – the pins must be locked in place, otherwise there is a risk of injury.
The ladder doubles as a step and support from the roof tent.

How does the set up of a hybrid roof top tent work?

The construction of a hybrid roof top tent works in a similar way to a normal hard shell roof top tent. A hybrid roof top tent is even easier and faster to set up than a hard shell roof top tent, as you only have to open one side of the tent.

The opening mechanism is also supported by a hydraulic clamping device which makes opening it even easier.

So all you have to do is loosen the securing lock that keep the two halves securely together during the journey to your camp ground and the roof top tent will open almost all by itself.

Now all you have to do is hook the corresponding telescopic ladder into the points provided and your roof top tent is already set up.

Thanks to the opening angle, you can also attach a solar system or solar panels to the top and park your vehicle so that it is illuminated by the sun. Really very practical if you don’t want to go without electricity while camping!

This set-up process takes a maximum of 40-60 seconds. If you’ve used the hybrid roof top tent many times, you’ll be able to do it even faster!

The bigger the roof top tent, the longer the set up? Is that correct?

That’s not true, even if you buy a large roof top tent, such as the “Thule Tepui Explorer Kukenam 3 Tent“, the structure is basically the same as with all other foldable roof top tents, only the size is different. What takes more time to set up is, for example, an awning or annex. You usually have to attach this annex to your tent with a zipper, it can sometimes take a while, but with a little practice it can be done very quickly.

One of the largest foldable roof top tents on the market.

Other things that are time-consuming are, for example, inflating air mattresses or placing sleeping bags or sleeping pads in the interior of the roof top tent.

Of course, this depends on the size of the roof top tent or on your personal taste. Everyone has to decide for themselves how much comfort they want and need in their roof top tent.


Which roof top tent is the easiest to set up?

In general, we can say that setting up a roof top tent is very easy and quick. If you buy a roof top tent and practice assembling your roof top tent a few times at home in front of your garage, it is really done very quickly.

In contrast to a ground tent, you do not need to follow any complicated assembly steps with a roof top tent. The roof top tent is already set up, you just have to unfold it. That is the great advantage of a roof top tent.

Nevertheless, I asked around my circle of friends and asked people how long they would need to set up their roof top tent. Many of my friends have different roof top tents, so i was able to get a lot of different opinions.

All roof top tent, regardless of whether it is a hardshell or a folding roof tent, is fully operational in less than 2 minutes. The more often you open and dismantle your roof top tent, the more practice you get and the faster you can set up and dismantle the roof tent.

The absolute winner in the construction and dismantling time is definitely the “SMRT Tent Summit Suite Tent“. There, assembly and folding is extremely easy and quick. A single person can set up this roof top tent in less than 60 seconds and fold it up again just as quickly.

This roof top tent is the quickest way to set up and fold up again. If you are looking for a roof top tent that can be set up in a very short time, this hybrid roof top tent is just right for you.
You can click on the picture to get more infos about this roof top tent!

I hope this article could help you with your decision for your new roof top tent!