What's better, a Rooftop Tent or a Truck Camper?
Rooftop tents (RTT) and Truck Campers (TC) both have their own advantages and disadvantages depending on your needs, preferences, and budget. Having owned both adventure setups for Shower Pouch, here are some of the pros and cons of each:
Pros of a Rooftop Tent:
- Versatile: Rooftop tents can be used on a variety of vehicles, including SUVs, trucks, and vans.
- Affordable: Compared to campers, rooftop tents are typically more affordable, making them a great option for budget-conscious travelers.
- Compact: Rooftop tents take up minimal space on the vehicle, leaving more room for gear and other items.
- Easy to Set Up: Rooftop tents are typically easy to set up, with most taking less than 1 minute to open up. Closing can take a few minutes depending on your rooftop design and how much camping gear you leave inside the rooftop tent (e.g. pillows and sleeping bags).
Cons of a Rooftop Tent:
- Limited Space: Rooftop tents typically offer less space than campers, making them less comfortable for extended trips. When you are forced to retreat into our rooftop tent because of inclement weather conditions. Sometimes you may not want to lie down or sit up because of the height limits inside your rooftop tent.
- Limited Protection: While rooftop tents provide some protection from the elements, they may not be suitable for extreme weather conditions. Because of this some RTT manufacturers offer an added insulated material that either zips or buttons to the existing fabric material.
- Access Issues: Depending on the height of your vehicle, accessing the rooftop tent can be difficult, especially for shorter people. Most rooftop tents come with a telescoping ladder.
Pros of a Camper:
- More Space: Campers offer significantly more space than rooftop tents, making them more comfortable for extended trips. There have been several times when the outside elements forced me inside the camper. Having a setup that allows me to fully STAND UP is amazing.
- More Amenities: Many campers come equipped with amenities like kitchens, bathrooms, and even showers, providing a more comfortable camping experience.
- Better Protection: Campers provide better protection from the elements, making them more suitable for extreme weather conditions. It's common for Truck Camper manufacturers to share the R-value of the camper walls. R-value is a measure of insulation's ability to resist heat traveling through it. the higher the R-value the better the thermal performance of the insulation.
- Easier Access: Campers are typically easier to access than rooftop tents, with most having a built-in ladder or stairs.
Cons of a Camper:
- More Expensive: Campers are typically more expensive than rooftop tents, making them a less budget-friendly option.
- Less Versatile: Campers are typically designed for specific types of vehicles, limiting their versatility compared to rooftop tents. In particular, Trucks only!
- Bulkier: Campers take up more space on the vehicle, leaving less room for other gear and items.
- More Difficult to Maneuver: Depending on the size of the camper, it may be more difficult to maneuver in tight spaces or on narrow roads. You can kiss most "jeep" trails away.
Ultimately, the choice between a rooftop tent and a camper comes down to your personal preferences and needs. If you're looking for a budget-friendly, versatile option for short camping trips, a rooftop tent may be the way to go. However, if you're planning on extended trips or need more amenities and protection from the elements, a camper may be a better fit. As you evolve in your vehicle-based adventure lifestyle, it's not uncommon to adapt to a camp set up that reflects where you are and the type of amenities you want. Some may call you a "glamper" ... there is no shame in that. You'll catch me in a silk robe enjoying a fresh hot cup of Joe inside my insulated and heated camper haha! Happy trails from the Shower Pouch team.
Pictured is my Rooftop Tent from Roof Nest. I absolutely LOVE their tents and how they choose materials that are extremely strong and durable.
The truck camper I'm using today is from a Canadian company called Overland Explorer. In particular, the Camp-HBE model. I absolutely LOVE this camp setup for me and my family.
Mike Houston (co-founder)