7 Top Rated Roof Top Tents in Australia (2024 Guide)

Reviews of seven of the best soft shell roof top tents in Australia, based on space, comfort, ease of setup, materials, durability, price, and more.

A roof top tent is perfect for those planning an extended road trip in Australia with a 4WD, SUV, or van. Modern roof top tents are surprisingly easy to set up and are designed to offer comfort, space, and protection from the elements, while sleeping on top of your vehicle.

Roof top tents come as soft shell (like conventional tents) and as hard shell (with a hard casing). In this article, we will focus on soft shell roof top tents, which are typically the most affordable type.

We’ve done the research and have tested and shortlisted 7 of the best roof top tents in Australia in various price categories.

Top Pick:
23Zero Dakota 1400 RTT
Best Affordable:
Adventure Kings Tourer RTT
23Zero Dakota 1400 Rooftop Tent Adventure Kings Tourer Roof Top Tent
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Top 7 Rooftop Tents:

Roof Top Tent Price
1 23Zero Dakota 1400 Rooftop Tent Price
2 Darche Panorama 1400 Roof Top Tent Price
3 Adventure Kings Tourer Roof Top Tent Price
4 Darche Intrepidor 3 1400 Roof Top Tent Price
5 Dometic TRT140M 4WD Rooftop Tent Price
6 Darche Basecamp 2200 Rooftop Tent Price
7 James Baroud Vision Horizon RTT Price
The roof top tents recommended in this article are sold by Snowys, Adventure Kings and Caravan RV. Please note that we may earn a small commission if you purchase via our website at no extra cost to you.

Top 7 Rooftop Tents

Here are our seven favourite (soft shell) rooftop tents currently available in Australia. They range in price from around 900 to 3,900 Australian dollars.

1. 23Zero Dakota 1400 Rooftop Tent

23Zero Dakota 1400 Rooftop Tent
23Zero Dakota 1400 Rooftop Tent

The 23Zero Dakota 1400 has similar specifications to the Darche Intrepidor below and is also similarly priced. The tent is made with durable 280 gsm polycotton canvas and has a nice, thick 65 mm mattress inside.

The PVC-coated polyester insect mesh and the full-width side windows and side vents provide maximum comfort. It includes a 2.3 m alloy ladder.

The Dakota range of roof top tents are constructed using 23Zero’s climate control Light Suppression Technology, referred to as LST. This is essentially a dark coating applied to the inner canvas walls, completely blocking sunlight and UV rays from entering the inner tent.

This also helps keep the tent’s inside nice and cool during the warmer summer months, which can make a huge difference.

Check Price

23Zero Dakota 1400
Sleeping area: 240 x 140 cm
Max head height: 120 cm
Mat thickness: 6.5 cm
Weight: 57.6 kg
Warranty: 2 years

2. Darche Panorama 1400 Roof Top Tent

Darche Panorama 1400 roof top tent
Darche Panorama 1400 Roof Top Tent

Established in 1991, Darche is one of Australia’s most trusted camping gear brands, and one of their best rooftop tent products is the Panorama 1400.

Made with 1500 mm PU waterproofed 320 gsm ripstop canvas, the Panorama is a robust product. It’s slightly heavier than the Intrepidor below, for example, but the internal sleeping area and the maximum head height are the same. It comes equipped with an alloy telescope 2.3 m extendable ladder.

The twin needle lock-stitched seams and reinforced bar tack stitching increase the overall quality and longevity of the tent, while the zippered sky window, built-in air vents, and 180-degree side windows with insect mesh result in the most enjoyable and comfortable tent experience.

The HD compressed checker-plate baseboard and PVC tonneau cover are for extra durability while on the road. While this product may be a bit pricier than the previous two, the quality standards are as high as they can get when it comes to soft shell rooftop tents.

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Darche Panorama 1400
Sleeping area: 240 x 140 cm
Max head height: 125 cm
Mat thickness: 5 cm
Weight: 63.6 kg
Warranty: 2 years

3. Adventure Kings Tourer Roof Top Tent

Adventure Kings Tourer roof top tent
Adventure Kings Tourer Roof Top Tent

Rooftop tents are expensive products, but if you’re looking for a more affordable option, the Adventure Kings Tourer model is worth considering. This soft shell rooftop tent offers a generously sized internal sleeping area (2.5m x 1.3m) and a 7.5 cm high-density foam mattress.

With a bit of practice, the tent can be set up within three minutes by one person, and with 57 kg, it’s also one of the lighter tents on the market. The 320 gsm rip-stop canvas is robust enough to last for years and keeps the tent dry and at the right temperature. The tent has three flyscreen mesh windows for ventilation while keeping unwanted bugs out. The integrated aluminium ladder extends to two metres, making it suitable for cars of all sizes.

The Adventure Kings Tourer fold-out roof top tent has proven to be a popular option as it is a product that represents excellent value for money, is easy to set up, and offers more than enough space and comfort.

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Adventure Kings Tourer
Sleeping area: 250 x 130 cm
Max head height: 130 cm
Mat thickness: 7.5 cm
Weight: 57 kg
Warranty: 1 year

4. Darche Intrepidor 3 1400 Roof Top Tent

Darche Intrepidor 3 1400 Roof Top Tent
Darche Intrepidor 3 1400 Roof Top Tent

The second Darche rooftop tent on this list is the Intrepidor 1400. It has a zippered sky window, which is fantastic during clear nights in the Australian outback.

The Intrepidor 1400 has a lightweight construction (it weighs only 52 kg), making it the ideal roof top tent for mid-size SUVs. The set-up is straightforward and quick, and is just a matter of folding out the tent and dropping the adjustable ladder for support. The high-density mattress is with 65 mm quite thick and comfortable, and comes with a removable cover and water-resistant base.

The large zippered mesh windows on both sides take care of the much-needed airflow, and the window awnings provide shade on warmer days. The Intrepidor is made with 260 gsm ripstop polycotton canvas for optimal robustness and includes a 2.1 m aluminium slide ladder.

Overall, we find the Darche Intrepidor 3 1400 to be the best choice when it comes to value for money. It’s a high-quality tent, easy to set up, has superb ventilation, and provides excellent comfort.

Check Price

Darche Intrepidor 3 1400
Sleeping area: 240 x 140 cm
Max head height: 125 cm
Mat thickness: 6.5 cm
Weight: 54 kg
Warranty: 3 years

5. Dometic TRT140M 4WD Rooftop Tent

Dometic TRT140M 4WD Rooftop Tent
Dometic TRT140M 4WD Rooftop Tent

The Dometic TRT140M 4WD rooftop tent has a somewhat premium price tag, mainly because it’s an electric tent that can be quickly assembled simply by using the remote control.

While certainly not the biggest option on this list, the Dometic TRT140M is a spacious enough and well-ventilated rooftop tent with lots of available storage options.

The 5 cm thick high-density foam mattress is big and comfortable enough for two people to sleep on, while the water-resistant and UPF 50+ two-layer construction makes this rooftop tent suitable for all seasons.

Check Price

Dometic TRT140M 4WD
Sleeping area: 200 x 140 cm
Max head height: 120 cm
Mat thickness: 5 cm
Weight: 56 kg
Warranty: 1 year

6. Darche Basecamp 2200 Rooftop Tent

Darche Basecamp 2200 Rooftop Tent
Darche Basecamp 2200 Rooftop Tent

The third Darche roof top tent on this list is the Basecamp 2200, which is also the most expensive option. It’s the largest roof top tent and can accommodate up to four travellers on the 2.3 by 2.1 metres sleeping area. The Basecamp 2200 is designed to fit larger vehicles.

The fully seam-sealed gsm ripstop polycotton canvas creates a durable roof top tent. It comes with two telescopic alloy ladders that connect with two separate entry points for easy, safe and comfortable access.

The 6.5 cm thick high-density open-cell foam mattress provides optimal sleeping comfort, while the two-star gazing windows and full-width side windows add extra coziness.

Note that while this rooftop tent is designed to accommodate up to four people, it is also perfectly suitable for couples or young families looking for more space to move around.

Check Price

Darche Basecamp 2200
Sleeping area: 230 x 210 cm
Max head height: 120 cm
Mat thickness: 6.5 cm
Weight: 87 kg
Warranty: 2 years

7. James Baroud Vision Horizon RTT

James Baroud Vision Horizon RTT
James Baroud Vision Horizon RTT

If you have a bigger budget, the James Baroud Vision Horizon will be an excellent choice. At 48 kg, it is by far the lightest model in this list of roof top tents while still offering more than enough internal sleeping space.

This tent stands out because of the heavy-duty aluminised synthetic fabric that is waterproof and UV-damage proof and reflects light, resulting in a pleasantly cooler interior. It’s an all-aluminium structure with no use of materials that degrade over time.

The James Baroud Vision Horizon is a roof top tent with the highest quality standards and is suitable for those looking for a comfortable soft shell model that will last for many years.

Check Price

James Baroud Vision Horizon
Sleeping area: 210 x 154 cm
Max head height: 120 cm
Weight: 48 kg

Buying Guide

Before investing in a roof top tent, take some time to research, especially if you are new to camping or if you have never bought a roof top tent before.

To assist you, we’ve outlined a few things you need to consider before making that expensive purchase:

  1. Hard Shell vs Soft Shell
  2. Space
  3. Comfort
  4. Installation
  5. Set Up
  6. Ventilation
  7. Durability
  8. Additional Costs

1. Hard Shell vs Soft Shell

Perhaps the most crucial choice is whether to buy a hard-shell rooftop tent or a soft-shell version. Let’s quickly compare the two.

Most beginner campers will opt for a soft shell roof top tent because they are significantly more affordable than hard shell ones. They are almost like regular tents, with the main difference being that they live on a car’s roof. Installing and taking down a soft shell tent is often slightly more labour-intensive than hard shell tents but should still be easy enough to do.

Hard shell tents are essentially tents with a hard casing, almost like a tiny house or a storage box. This casing, the shell, is typically made with fibreglass, plastic, or aluminium. They are heavier due to the materials used, but they function much better as shelters, with maximum protection against the elements. They are also surprisingly easy to set up because they essentially work like pop-up tents.

Some manufacturers claim that their hardshell tents can be taken down in under 30 seconds, go up just as effortlessly, and can be done by one person. They often have a built-in motor which helps with setting up and taking down. Hard shell tents can lie almost completely flat on your car when not in use.

Hardshell tents are durable, easy to clean, and seasonally versatile. It’s easy to hose off the shell of the tent quickly if it gets dirty, and most tents come with an easy-to-remove mesh that is machine washable.

Note that soft shell roof top tents typically offer a larger floor plan and more flexibility regarding accessories such as annexes and awnings. They are essentially much more customisable.

2. Space

Roof top tents come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and a lot of that will come down to how many people are going to need to sleep in the tent and how much personal space you need.

As mentioned, soft shell tents typically offer more space, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a hard shell tent that is spacious enough for your specific needs.

Large soft shell roof top tent with ladder

It’s important to check the correct measurements of the tent (inside and outside) you’re potentially going to purchase to make sure it will be as spacious as you need it to be.

Keep in mind that the mattress can take up quite a bit of space, plus a mattress doesn’t always cover the entire base of the tent, resulting in unused space.

Also note that the max height in most soft shell tents can only be enjoyed in the centre of the tent, whereas with most hard shell roof top tents, that max height can be enjoyed throughout.

3. Comfort

A camping trip can go from 100 to 0 extremely fast if your tent and/or mattress don’t provide the level of comfort you need. Lack of sleep, an achy back—a lot can go wrong when sleeping in a tent that isn’t the right fit.

We’ve touched on this in our hard and soft comparison, and a lot will depend on personal preferences, but for many, a soft shell may be considered more comfortable as the floor plan is typically larger.

Others might find a hard shell roof top tent more comfortable because it offers a more evenly distributed height and better protection against the elements.

When it comes to comfort, please pay attention to the integrated mattress, how big it is, how thick it is, what it’s made of, etc. The mattress is ultimately what you will be sleeping on, so you need to get that right.

Some mattresses also come with removable or protective covers so they can be easily washed. Extra sheets can also be a good idea to protect the mattress further. Lastly, some tents offer a mat to be placed underneath the mattress to help prevent moisture or mould growth.

4. Installation

Ease of installation is another important aspect to consider. First, you need to make sure the tent of your choice is compatible with your car and the rack you have. A tent and rack can also be purchased together to ensure you have a good pair.

Most roof-top tents include detailed instructions on how to install them on the car, and what may sound like a complicated task often turns out to be quite straightforward.

Also, pay attention to the weight of the entire tent and make sure your car is happy with that, not to mention the impact weight can have on fuel consumption.

5. Set Up

With modern tents, setting up a tent once installed should never be a significant issue, but some tents are a bit more challenging to set up than others.

As mentioned above, a hard shell rooftop tent is usually super easy to set up as it basically works like a pop-up tent. If you’re buying a soft shell roof top tent, however, it’s crucial to do some research into setting up and taking down the tent.

Compact roof top tent

The reality is that most modern rooftop tents are always designed so that anyone should be able to set them up. Plus, there will most likely be a YouTube video that can provide further assistance should you need it.

Also note that once you’ve had a good test run, it will simply be a matter of rinse and repeat each time you go camping.

6. Ventilation

Because roof top tents sit higher up than conventional ground tents, there will always be more wind going through and underneath the tent, so there’s a bit of an advantage in that regard.

Many roof top tents come with a good amount of mesh panels and windows that help with the necessary airflow while still keeping out those unwanted flies, mosquitos, and other bugs.

It’s also important to consider the materials used. Some fabrics are a bit more breathable, which can make quite a difference, especially on warmer nights.

7. Durability

Rooftop tents aren’t the cheapest, so it’s critical to choose a good-quality tent that will last. Generally speaking, rooftop tents are designed to be sturdy and can withstand frequent use.

Also, consider how durable a tent will be in different seasons and weather conditions, as not all tents are designed to be able to deal with all four seasons. Insulation and ventilation play a role here as well.

It’s best to store the tent in a dry location away from sunlight when the tent is not in use. UV rays can wear down materials of any kind, including tents. This also applies to moisture build-up, which is not always visible.

When looking for a new roof-top tent, pay attention to UV and mould resistance, as these will impact durability.

8. Additional Costs

Note that you may end up spending money on more than just the actual tent. There can be additional costs that aren’t obvious immediately, such as extra roof racks, awnings or annexes, etc.

Additional awnings and annexes can give you that extra space and extra level of privacy that you might need down the track, but for which you might not have budgeted in the initial tent purchasing phase.

There are also external storage options that you might need to purchase later on to allow for more sleeping space inside. Some roof top tents have attachment points to cater for accessories such as bags and storage boxes.

 

7 Best roof top tents in Australia

 

Published: August 6, 2021
Updated: July 2, 2024

Author:

AJ Mens

AJ Mens is a digital publisher based in Sydney, Australia, and the editor-in-chief of Sydney Uncovered and Blue Mountains Uncovered.

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2 Comments
    • Hi Peter, not in the short term, but hopefully in the longer term we will be able to publish an article focused on hard-top rooftop tents.

      Reply
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