5 Best Roof Top Tents in Australia (2021 Guide)

Last updated: August 6, 2021

A roof top tent is the perfect solution for those planning to do an extended road trip in Australia with a 4WD, an SUV, or a 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 a conventional tent) and as hard shell (with a hard casing). In this article, we are going to focus on soft shell roof top tents which are typically the most affordable.

We’ve done the research and have shortlisted 5 of the best roof top tents in Australia, based on space, comfort, ease of setup, materials, durability, price, ventilation, and more.

Top Pick:
Darche Intrepidor 1400
Second Choice:
23Zero Dakota 1400
Darche Intrepidor 1400 roof top tent 23Zero Dakota 1400 roof top tent
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Top 5 Roof Top Tents:
Roof Top Tent Price
1 Darche Intrepidor 1400 Roof Top Tent Price
2 23Zero Dakota 1400 Roof Top Tent Price
3 Darche Panorama 1400 Roof Top Tent Price
4 Dometic TRT140M 4WD Roof Top Tent Price
5 Darche Hi-View 2200 Roof Top Tent Price
The roof top tents recommended in this article are sold by Tentworld, Snowys 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 5 Roof Top Tents

Here are our five favourite (soft shell) roof top tents currently available in Australia, ranging in price from around 1,200 to 2,800 Australian dollars.

If you need more information on roof top tents in general, be sure to read our buying guide further below.

1. Darche Intrepidor 1400 Roof Top Tent

Darche Intrepidor 1400 roof top tent

Established in 1991, Darche is now one of the most trusted brands of camping gear in Australia. Their high quality Intrepidor 1400 roof top tent comes with a zippered sky window which is fantastic during those clear sky 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 incredible easy and quick, and is really just a matter of folding out the tent and dropping the adjustable ladder for support. The high density mattress is with 65 mm very 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 1400 to be the best choice when it comes to value for money. It’s a high quality tent, easy to set up, superb ventilation, and provides excellent comfort levels.

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Darche Intrepidor 1400
Sleeping area: 240 x 140 cm
Max head height: 125 cm
Mat thickness: 6.5 cm
Weight: 52 kg
Warranty: 3 years

2. 23Zero Dakota 1400 Roof Top Tent

23Zero Dakota 1400 roof top tent

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

The PVC coated polyester insect mesh and the full-width side windows and side vents provide the maximum level of 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 dark coating applied to the inner canvas walls which completely blocks sunlight and UV rays to enter the inner tent.

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

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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

3. Darche Panorama 1400 Roof Top Tent

Darche Panorama 1400 roof top tent

The second Darche model on this list of best roof top tents is the Panorama 1400 which has a more premium price tag. Made with 1500 mm PU waterproofed 320 gsm ripstop canvas, the Panorama is even more robust, and also heavier, than the Intrepidor. However, 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 the 180 degree side windows with insect mesh result in the most enjoyable and comfortable tent experience.

The HD compressed checker-plate base board 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 roof top 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

4. Dometic TRT140M 4WD Roof Top Tent

Dometic TRT140M 4WD roof top tent

The Dometic TRT140M 4WD roof top 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 in this list, the Dometic TRT140M is a spacious enough and well ventilated roof top 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 roof top tent suitable for all seasons.

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

5. Darche Hi-View 2200 Roof Top Tent

Darche Hi-View 2200 roof top tent

The third Darche roof top tent on this list is the Hi-View 2200, which is also the most expensive option. It’s also the largest roof top tent, and can accommodate up to four travellers on the 2.3 by 2.1 metres sleeping area. The Hi-View 2200 is designed to fit on 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 is for optimal sleeping comfort, while the two star gazing windows and the full-width side windows add an extra level of coziness.

Note that while this roof top tent is designed to sleep up to four people, it is also perfectly suitable for couples or young families who are looking for a bit more space to move around.

Check Price

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

Roof Top Tent Buying Guide

Camping can be a great adventure, as long as you have a reliable tent that allows you to rest well. 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.

There are many things to consider before purchasing a tent, which can certainly be quite overwhelming. To assist you, we’ve outlined a few things you need to consider before making that expensive purchase.

1. Hard Shell vs Soft Shell

Perhaps the most important choice for you to make is whether you’re going for a hard shell roof top 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 that they live on a car’s roof. Installing and taking down a soft shell tent is often slightly more labour intensive than with hard shell tents, but should still be easy enough to do.

Hard shell tents are essentially tents that have a hard casing, almost like a tiny house or a storage box. This casing, the shell, is typically made with fiberglass, plastic or aluminum. They are heavier due to the materials used, but they function much better as a shelter, with maximum protection against the elements. They are also surprisingly easy to set up because they essentially work like a popup tent.

Some manufacturers claim that their hardshell tents can be taken down in under 30 seconds and 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 also offer more flexibility in regards to accessories such as annexes and awnings. They are essentially much more customizable.

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’s going to 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 your mattress doesn’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, do 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’re going to be sleeping on, so you need to get that right.

Some mattresses also come with romavable or protective covers so that they can easily be washed. Extra sheets can also be a good idea, to further protect the mattress. Last but not least, some tents also 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 when looking for a new roof top tent. 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 just to make sure you have a good pair.

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

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

Setting up a tent once it’s installed should never be a major issue with any modern tents, but some tents are definitely a bit more challenging to set up than others.

As we mentioned above, a hard shell roof top tent is usually super easy to set up as they basically work like a popup tent. If you’re buying a soft shell roof top tent however, it’s crucial to do a bit of research into the process of setting up and taking down the tent.

Compact roof top tent

The reality is though that most modern roof top tents will always be designed in a way that anyone should be able to set it 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 trough the tent and also 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 look at materials used. Some fabric is a bit more breathable which can make quite the difference, especially during warmer nights.

7. Durability

Roof top tents aren’t the cheapest type of tents, and that’s why it’s critical to choose a good quality tent that is going to last. Generally speaking though, roof top tents are designed to be sturdy and can deal with frequent use.

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

Make sure to pay attention to UV and mold resistance when looking for a new roof top tent as that will have an impact on 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 right away, such as the cost of roof racks, additional 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 attachments points to cater for accessories such as bags and storage boxes.

Final Thoughts

Doing your research before making any big purchase can save you a lot of headaches in the future. This is especially true for roof top tents, because they’re not cheap and they’re not always easy to replace.

Hopefully the above list of tents and buying guide has provided some value for you you so that making the right choice has become a bit easier. Be sure to keep in mind the differences between hardshell versus softshell, and also consider any additional accessories you would need, space capacity, comfort, and the potential longevity of your new rooftop tent.

 

5 Best roof top tents in Australia

 
 
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