3 Keys to Selecting an Overland Tent

A shelter on your vehicle's rooftop can keep you protected from the elements and make it easy to enjoy the outdoors almost anywhere, no matter what you drive

Overland lead image
Overland tents are easy to attach to vehicles and are a great alternative to sleeping on the ground.TEPUI

One of the major disadvantages of sleeping on the ground is, well, sleeping on the ground. A standard tent is vulnerable to moisture under the footprint, and the cold ground can suck warmth away from campers. An “overland” style tent solves those problems by moving quarters up to the rooftop of your vehicle. Virtually any rig capable of supporting a rack system can be outfitted with a rooftop tent, which is like having a treehouse on wheels. Overland tents set up and break down quickly and are available with separate awnings to create an enclosed ground-level annex. If you are tired of the bugs and the wet associated with sleeping on the ground, maybe it’s time to move upstairs.

Tent Size

Smittybilt Overlander Tent
An overland tent is ideal if you’re traveling in an SUV or large car and simply need a place for one or two people to sleep.Smittybilt

Most rooftop tents are meant for two adults and perhaps a small child. But there are options for larger tents that can accommodate up to four adults.

Built-in Mattress

DragonLi Rooftop Tents
Overland tents that include features like a built-in mattress mean you don’t have the added expense (or chore) associated with inflatable pads.DragonLi

A major advantage of a rooftop tent is some models incorporate a built-in high-density foam mattress. This increases comfort levels and reduces set-up time involved with furnishing a ground tent with self-inflating or blow-up mattresses.

Rack Requirements

Tepui Explorer Autana Rooftop Tent
Before you select a tent, make sure your vehicle can handle the dimensions and weight.TEPUI

Before investing in an expensive overland tent, be sure you have the right platform. Rooftop tents weigh in the neighborhood of 125 to 175 pounds, so a two-piece crossbar rack with an appropriate weight rating is required, and usually sold separately.