Rooftop Tent Vs Camper Trailer? 21 Pros & Cons

It can be challenging for camping enthusiasts to decide which camping sleeping accommodation is the best fit, but luckily for everyone, there are numerous options available on the market today.

Two of the most popular options amongst many campers are rooftop tents and camping trailers. However, many of us wonder what is truly the difference between the two and which is ultimately better?

By conducting some research, we have discovered a few of the pros and cons of rooftop tents and camping trailers, and we aim to help you decide which is the best for you in the rooftop tent vs. camper trailer battle:

Here’s The Difference Between A Rooftop Tent & Camper Trailer:

A rooftop tent is designed to be fitted to the top of a vehicle while a camping trailer is hitched to a vehicle. Rooftop tents usually sleep 1 to 4 people, while it will depend on the type of camping trailer you have how many people can sleep inside it. Additionally, camping trailers usually have more features.

Online Roof-Top Tent Stores:

Here are some of the most popular online stores to buy roof-top tents:

StoresPrice rangeModelsVisit
iKamper$$-$$$4Visit here
Thule$-$$$7Visit here
CampSaver$-$$$24Visit here
RoofNest$$-$$$7Visit here

Pros of A Rooftop Tent:

Many positives are surrounding owning a rooftop tent.

Below we will look at four of the most relevant positives associates with rooftop tents:

1. Above Ground Camping:

One of the biggest positives of owning a rooftop tent is that you can set up your tent above ground.

This provides an element of safety out in the wild that you usually wouldn’t have when using a ground tent.

Not only will you be safer from dangerous ground animals, but you also won’t have to worry about pitching a tent on level ground.

2. Internal Storage:

Another big benefit to rooftop tents is that you can often store clothing and bedding in the tent when camping.

As long as you adhere to your permissible load limit, you can pack as many lightweight items as you can.

3. Affordable Camping & Versatility:

Rooftop tents range in sizes and prices.

They are often more affordable than other camping accommodation options, and there is usually one to suit any budget.

4. Easy Setup and Takedown:

Rooftop tents are relatively easy to set up, with many manufacturers boasting quick and easy setup times.

You can purchase a rooftop tent that sets up in a few minutes or even sixty seconds.

5. Easy Maintenance:

Maintaining a rooftop tent is simple and easy to do, and mostly inexpensive.

The only maintenance required is lubricating the moving parts frequently and annually treating the tent’s canvas with Scotchguard.

Cons of A Rooftop Tent:

Now that we have looked at a few key positives, we will look at three negatives associated with rooftop tents:

  1. Although they are straightforward to set up and take down, at times, they can be a hassle. Once you have set up your rooftop tent, you can’t drive anywhere with your vehicle, and you would have to disassemble it before moving to your next camping location or visiting the shop.
  2. Rooftop tents tend not to have as much space as other forms of camping accommodations. They generally only consist of one room and usually only sleep a maximum of four or five people. There is also usually not that much space for gear and other camping necessities.
  3. This one might not bother many used to using tents for camping, but rooftop tents do not have toilets, nor do they have space for a toilet.
  4. Climbing up and down the ladder can become tedious and tiring, and there is the chance you could fall and hurt yourself. It can become a hassle having to climb up the ladder in the middle of the night after going to the bathroom.
  5. Some rooftop tents retain moisture, which leads to a damp feeling throughout, which is unpleasant to occupants. Additionally, if the tent gets wet, you will need to wait for it to dry or dry it yourself before packing it away as the moisture can lead to damage.

Pros of A Camper Trailer:

After looking at the negatives and positives of rooftop tents, you’re probably eager to learn the positives of camper trailers.

Let’s have a look below at four positives associated with camper trailers:

1. Multiple Features & Use:

The biggest pro for most camper trailers is that they include many features.

Whereas with rooftop tents, you might only have a built-in bed and a few accessories, camper trailers can house much more. Often in a camper trailer, you can have a fridge, a stove, a bed, and even a small bathroom area.

It will largely depend on the size and how much you want to pay, but there are many more features that you can have.

2. Durable & Extreme Camping:

With a camper trailer, they are built to endure a variety of conditions and are extremely durable.

You can use the trailer on rugged terrain and in cold climates.

3. Lightweight Towing:

You might think that camper trailers are inconvenient because they have to be towed.

This isn’t the case as they are lightweight and easier to tow than caravans and travel trailers because they are more compact.

4. Easy Camping & Storage:

Camping is easier as you can unhitch the trailer and leave it at your campgrounds whenever you need to use your vehicle for other excursions.

You will have more storage and be able to store gear, bedding, and clothes in your camper trailer.

Cons of A Camper Trailer:

As with many things, there are a few negatives involving a camper trailer.

Below we will look at the main cons associated with this form of camping accommodation:

  • Camping trailers will result in your vehicle using more fuel as it will need to pull the weight of the camper trailer.
  • Many camper trailer models are pricey and can cost you anywhere between $5000 and $30000 depending on the features and amenities it includes. Usually, a camper trailer is going to cost you more than a rooftop tent.
  • Maintenance can be costly, and it can be expensive if you require any custom modifications.
  • Camper trailers often have a longer set up time than rooftop tents, and this can be a hassle for some people who want a camping experience without much fuss.
  • Some camper trailers don’t do that well with rain or wind.

So Which Is Better A Rooftop Tent Or A Camper Trailer?

Deciding whether a camper trailer or rooftop tent is better will ultimately depend on your preferences and needs.

Both have their unique positives and advantages, while they both have negatives associated with them.

For families, a camper trailer might be better suited; however, there are rooftop tents that can accommodate up to a family of four.

It’s best to consider you and those you will be camping with and what amenities and features you need before deciding which is ultimately the best choice.

The Best Rooftop Tents To Buy:

We’re going to look at two of the best rooftop tents!

With the large variety available, we’ve whittled it down to two rooftop tent brands that are guaranteed to give you value for money.

1. Roofnest Sparrow

Should you be looking for a rooftop tent that can sleep two people and be utilized on most vehicles, then the Roofnest Sparrow might be worth considering.

This rooftop tent has a unique square design, which makes it stand out amongst the competition. It is also relatively affordable at a rough price of $2900.

The interior is fairly spacious, and the tent itself is lightweight at only 130 pounds. Inside, the tent is 83 inches long by 49 inches wide, and there is a 7.5 ft ladder that attaches to the side of your car so that you can easily access the rooftop tent.

Additionally, due to this tent’s pop-up style, you can easily set it up and collapse it within a few minutes.

Roofnest uses only the best materials in the construction of their rooftop tents, and as such, the Sparrow is durable and long-lasting.

It is made with an ABS fiberglass shell and has quilted fabric on the inside for adequate insulation. Moreover, the canvas of the tent is waterproof as well as mildew and UV resistant.

You will have a custom built-in mattress that is roughly 3 inches thick for that added comfort, and for breathability, there are 4 sides to allow air to flow throughout.

2. Ikamper Skycamp 2X

For those looking for a rooftop tent that can be set up quickly, the Skycamp 2X by brand Ikamper could be ideal for you.

This rooftop tent can sleep two adults or up to three children comfortably with the large interior space. You can look at paying roughly $3200 for the Skycamp 2X, but for the quality, you receive it’s well worth the money spent.

Some rooftop tents have an issue with causing a higher fuel consumption, but this is not the case with the Skycamp 2X.

This rooftop tent is designed specifically to be aerodynamic and lightweight so that you can travel without being too concerned with how much gas you are using.

The tent is also customizable and comes in a number of different colors. Additionally, you will find that there is also a built-in 1.8-inch high-density foam mattress, and the interior features an aesthetically pleasing world map graphic.

Inside the rooftop tent, you will see that the Skycamp 2X has been designed to last with the breathable 300gsm poly-cotton canvas, honeycomb aluminum panel flooring, and waterproof rainfly.

As an added benefit, the shell of the tent is double layered FRP with 1-inch air insulation.


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