Hi I’m mike, I’m an adventurer and a dad and this summer we converted from ground tent to Roof Top Tent (at least some of the time). A roof-top tent definitely has some compromises and downsides which I’ll get to in a future post. But there are a lot of reasons to like a roof top tent, particularly this Smittybuilt Overlander Gen2, so I’ve got ten ways a roof top tent is better than a ground tent.

#10 Out of the dirt

Deploying a Roof Top Tent on a Toyota Tacoma

Being out of the dirt is usually the number 1 reason for getting a RTT. If you’ve been a fan of this channel for a while, you know I have no problem with dirt. I don’t mind sleeping on the ground at all even without a tent. But many times if  you might not find a suitably flat or smooth place for a tent and the RTT can solve that problem. Also what happens a lot of times it you find a flat spot, but it’s a dirty loose turnout on a dirt road and you don’t really want to set up a tent there.

#9 Small footprint

Smittybilt Overlander Gen 2 on 3rd Gen Toyota 4Runner
Smittybilt Overlander Gen 2 on 3rd Gen Toyota 4Runner
A Roof Top Tent camp has a smaller overall footprint than a ground tent camp. Whatever tent you use whether it’s a big 6 person like ours or even if you’re using a small backpacker tent, your footprint includes the vehicle and the tent. If you’re sleeping in a RTT you’ll take up a lot less space, particularly if you have a big 6 person tent like ours. This can be good if you find a camp site without a lot of space for a tent, or if you’re in a group with limited space for everyone’s tent.

#8 Convenience

Overlanding generally means you’re staying some place new every night. As such, the Roof Top Tent’s quick setup and takedown makes it preferable to a ground tent, at least for a family of 4 like us. Unpacking sleeping bags, and pads for 4 every night and morning can be a real time sink.

#7 Moon Roof

I have two Roof Top Tents and both have integrated clear panel moon roofs. With those zipped open, you get starlight and moon light all night. It seemed like a gimmick at first, but it’s become one of our favorite features.

#6 Breeze and Ventilation

Smittybilt Overlander Gen 2 Roof Top Tent
Smittybilt Overlander Gen 2 Roof Top Tent

Regular ground tents, particularly technical mountaineering or backpacking tents, don’t have great ventilation. Roof Top Tents however usually have 4 mesh windows, and most also have an awning integrated in the design that provides shade from the sun and shelter from rain while the windows are open. This makes cool summer nights really comfortable in a Roof Top Tent.


Roof-Top Tents have amazing views
defaultRoof-Top Tents have amazing views
The best part of waking up in one of these tents is  the sunrise views. Because of the awnings integrated into the windows, and the fact that you’re 6 feet off the ground, the sage, or truck or other camps aren’t blocking the view and you can watch the sunrise coming up over the mountains.

#4 It’s FUN!

It’s a tree house! Honestly, if you don’t think that sleeping up high like this is at least a little bit fun then you should probably be sleeping in a pine box.

#3 Shade Included

A lot of overlanders add an awning to their setup, because having shade on the trail is a huge benefit in the summer. However, a Roof Top Tent casts a lot of shade when it’s set up all by itself. I try to park mine so that it casts afternoon shade on the kitchen side. That way I can get away without an awning because we don’t need shade in the morning. At mid day we can shelter under the tent’s overhang and in the afternoon the kitchen side has plenty of shade.

#2 Fully Contained

Most Roof Top Tents, particularly the cantilever type like these, will hold all your bedding including pillows. So you don’t have to devote any space inside the vehicle to sleeping bags, pads, pillows or the tent. And you don’t have to put anything away either. You just open it up, take off your pants and go to bed.

#1 Fast Setup

Because you basically only have to set up a tent and all your gear is already inside, you can be done setting up camp in 5 minutes.
Now, I don’t mind setting up camp necessarily, but if we’re driving and camping some place new every night, it’s nice to be able to get it done quick if we’re racing daylight, or dinner time, or just want to get out and explore after a few hours on the road.
What do you think? Is a RTT Better than a tent? My friend Harry sure thinks so, check out  his video on Driving Line about why he things a ground tent is the better option.
Have you been wanting to try a RTT before you buy one? Well this one is for rent. Check it out on Outdoorsy and if you’re planning a trip around Reno/Tahoe you can pick it up and take it on your own overland adventure.
Happy Trails

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