I’m going to be honest: I don’t think the best SUV tent exists.
Let me explain.
I’ve been driving around and car camping out of my RAV4, yeah? I’ve been using the Hasika SUV tent for the last few months and, well, I’ll explain how that went throughout this post. That’s how I came to understand exactly what to look for in an SUV tent. Then you’ll see that most SUV tents offer similar features, some of better quality than others.
That being said, I 100% need one to sustain this lifestyle. I have used it at every single campsite and use it as my living space that is protected from mosquitoes, the rain, and the sun. Without it, my car camping experience would be wildly different… literally.
So all of these car camping tents are solid options that will provide a much better experience than going without one. And depending on what kind of SUV camping you’re doing, you may not need certain features (like 3 season tents versus 2 season).
Alright, I’m going to go a lot deeper into this now. If you scroll down, you’ll get to my recommendations further down.
What to Look for in an SUV Tent
When it comes to selecting the perfect SUV tent for your solo road trips, there are several key factors to consider. These factors will help you choose a tent that not only fits your vehicle but also meets your specific camping needs.
The size of the tent is a sizeable factor to consider. 😉
If you’re planning to sleep in your SUV tent, the you want then you want enough sleeping space for you to comfortably stretch out. If you plan on storing gear in your tent or want extra space to move around, you might want to consider a larger tent. Remember, it’s not just about the floor space – peak height can also impact how roomy your tent feels.
I use the Hasika SUV tent and I quite like the size. I have enough space to store my Jackery solar generator, mini cooler, and foldable table comfortably. I can only comfortably add a smaller camp chair.. anything bigger and it gets a bit crowded.
Check out the ARB Awning Room Deluxe below (first on the list). That’s the size I’d recommend if you will truly be living in this space.
The material of the tent can greatly impact its durability and weather resistance. Most tents are made from polyester or nylon. Polyester is great for sun resistance, while nylon is lightweight and strong. The material’s denier (D) can also give you an idea of its durability – a higher denier indicates a thicker, more durable fabric.
Ease of Setup
As a solo traveler, you want a tent that you can set up and take down by yourself. Look for tents with features like color-coded poles or quick pop-up designs.
When it comes to weather resistance, you want to consider both the tent material and its design. Look for a tent with a high hydrostatic head rating – this indicates how much water pressure it can withstand before leaking. Tents with a rainfly provide an additional layer of protection against rain, while a strong frame can help withstand wind.
Not all SUV tents are designed to fit all SUV models. It’s important to check the tent’s compatibility with your specific vehicle model. Some tents are designed to attach to the SUV’s cargo area, while others might fit over the rooftop. Make sure the tent you choose can be securely attached to your vehicle.
Seasonality And Weatherproofing
When choosing an SUV tent, it’s important to consider the time of year you plan to go camping. Tents are often categorized by seasonality:
- 2-Season Tents: Suitable for late spring and summer weather. They typically have lots of mesh for ventilation but may not hold up well in heavy rain or wind.
- 3-Season Tents: Designed for spring, summer, and fall. They can withstand downpours but aren’t suitable for heavy snow.
- 4-Season Tents: Built to withstand heavy snow and strong winds, making them suitable for winter camping. However, they may be less comfortable in summer as they’re designed to retain heat.
Durability And Materials
The durability of your SUV tent is largely determined by the materials used. As mentioned earlier, look for tents made from high-denier fabric. Additionally, the poles’ material can impact durability – aluminum poles are generally more durable (and lighter) than fiberglass poles.
My Top Recommendations For The Best SUV Tent
The ARB Awning Room Deluxe is a versatile outdoor shelter designed to be attached to an existing ARB Awning. It provides a fully enclosed space, complete with a durable floor, two large mesh windows with roll-up blinds, and a zippered door with both solid and mesh panels. The awning room is made from high-quality, water-resistant material, ensuring a dry and comfortable space in various weather conditions. It also includes an integrated roof vent to reduce condensation and provide continuous airflow. The product comes with a handy carry bag for easy storage and transport.
Having lived in my current car camping setup, I’m attracted to something a little more like the ARB Awning Room Deluxe. It combines the two functions of an awning and an SUV tent. It’s also a better living space as a cube because the tent walls are upright, giving you a lot more space to stand upright.
I also like how it connects directly to the car so you can get in and out. I sleep in my car and get in through the rear driver’s side door. I don’t really mind doing it into the open air, but it’s nice when it’s raining or if mosquitoes are especially bad.
It requires an existing ARB Awning for installation, which may not be suitable for those who do not already own one or are not willing to make an additional purchase. It also needs to attach to a roof rack, which would be another expense if you don’t already have one.
The product is also not freestanding, meaning it needs to be attached to a vehicle or a similar structure, limiting its versatility. I had thought that I’d leave my tent a lot more often than I do, so I really wanted a freestanding tent for when I’m away exploring the trails.
It also may not work well in extremely windy conditions due to its attachment design. Turns out that the mountains are really windy, especially when you’re camping in open spaces so I can get Wi-Fi while camping. Because of this, I really want something that is sturdy enough to withstand windy conditions.
Reviewers on Amazon frequently mention the high quality of the materials and the overall durability of the product. They appreciate the spaciousness of the room and the inclusion of windows and vents for ventilation.
However, some users have expressed difficulties with the installation process, stating that the instructions are not clear enough. Others have mentioned that the product does not perform well in heavy wind conditions, with some instances of the awning room detaching from the awning.
- High-quality, durable materials ensure longevity and weather resistance.
- Spacious interior with large windows and vents for good ventilation.
- Comes with a carry bag for easy storage and transport.
- Connects directly to the car.
- Requires an existing ARB Awning and roof rack for installation, which may require an additional purchase.
- Not freestanding, limiting its versatility.
- Installation can be challenging due to unclear instructions.
- May not perform well in heavy wind conditions.
The REI Co-op Wonderland 4 Tent is a spacious and comfortable option for solo travelers who enjoy having extra room or for those who are making a work station like I am. This 4-person tent is designed to be a cozy, 3-season basecamp, providing 360° views and large doors for easy access and ventilation.
My favorite feature? It’s designed with a stable architecture that can handle stormy weather, making it a reliable choice for various weather conditions.
The tent is designed for camping and weighs 21 lbs. 11 oz., which is a bit on the heavier side for solo travelers but provides ample space and stability in return. The tent’s color is Glen Green, which blends well with nature.
The biggest drawback for me is that it’s not even an SUV tent… but it would work exceptionally well with SUV camping. So much so that I’m including it on this list even though I get 0 commission for it. It seems easy to setup and can withstand high winds. That eliminates two of my biggest pains when it comes to SUV tents 😉
- With a 4-person capacity, this tent provides plenty of room for solo travelers or small groups.
- The tent’s stable architecture is designed to withstand stormy weather, making it a reliable choice for 3-season camping.
- The large doors and windows provide panoramic views of your camping surroundings.
- Weighing 21 lbs. 11 oz., this tent might be a bit heavy for solo travelers to carry and set up.
- Priced at $499.00, it’s a bit on the expensive side compared to other 4-person tents.
- It doesn’t actually connect to the back of the SUV, if that’s really what you want.
The Napier Backroadz SUV Tent is a versatile camping solution that seamlessly connects to the cargo area of your vehicle.. Most SUV tents have a similar design and this one seems to have some of the most consistent reviews. This is probably the best SUV tent of this design.
This tent is designed to fit various SUV, CUV, and minivan models, providing a spacious 10′ x 10′ ground tent with over 7′ of headroom, accommodating up to five adults. The tent is made of high-quality polyester taffeta, providing a durable and weather-resistant structure. It also includes a full rainfly for extra protection against the elements.
However, this tent may not work well in extremely windy conditions or on uneven terrain, as stability could be compromised. It’s a similar design to the one I have (Hasika) so I imagine it handles the wind similarly: stays put, sure, but the tent walls flap wildly.
From the reviews on Amazon, the most commonly mentioned features include the tent’s spaciousness, the convenience of the vehicle sleeve, and the overall quality of the materials. However, some users have reported issues with the tent’s poles, stating that they can be difficult to set up and may not be as durable as expected. Some users also mentioned that the instructions could be clearer.
- Spacious interior with over 7′ of headroom, accommodating up to five adults.
- Vehicle sleeve allows for easy access to vehicle storage and additional sleeping spaces.
- High-quality polyester taffeta material provides durability and weather resistance.
- May not perform well in extremely windy conditions or uneven terrain.
- Dependence on vehicle for structure limits its use in traditional backpacking or distant parking scenarios.
- Some users reported issues with the durability and setup of the tent poles.
- Instructions for setup could be clearer, as reported by some users.
This is the SUV camping tent that I use, as I’ve mentioned, and I have a love-hate relationship with it. I LOVE the comfort it has brought to my SUV camping lifestyle. It held up in strong winds, it’s pretty easy to set up, it packs up easily, it’s a stand alone tent, and it’s a budget tent. It ticks lots of boxes.
One of the reasons I chose it is because it is made from high-quality, water-resistant fabric and features a bathtub-style floor for added protection against the elements. It’s designed to fit a variety of vehicle models, making it a flexible choice for car campers.
Lots of others have praised the SUV tent for its easy setup and spacious interior, which is one of my favorite things as well.
However, some users have reported difficulties in achieving a tight fit with certain car models, which could potentially allow rain or bugs to enter. I experienced this as well and, in fact, within the first couple of uses one of the straps that attaches the sleeve to the vehicle broke off. A few days later, another broke off. So while you can still slip the sleeve over your car, you can’t really keep it snug over your car.
The tent also does not perform well in heavy rain or high wind conditions, as there is noticeable water leakage and stability issues in such situations. Reviewers have mentioned this as well about this particular tent.
- The tent comfortably accommodates two adults, providing ample space for sleeping or storage.
- Many users have praised the tent’s easy and straightforward setup process.
- The tent is designed to fit a variety of vehicle models, making it a flexible choice for different types of car campers.
- Depending on the specific model and make of your vehicle, you may experience difficulties in achieving a tight fit, which could allow rain or bugs to enter.
- The tent may not perform well in heavy rain or high wind conditions, with instances of water leakage and stability issues.
- A few users have raised concerns about the tent’s durability, particularly the zippers and seams.
The KingCamp Melfi Plus SUV Car Tent is a 3-season, 5-person tent equipped with a screen room and a PE floor, providing a comfortable and spacious living area. The tent is designed to be attached to the back of an SUV, minivan, wagon, or pick-up truck with a cap, providing an additional sleeping or storage space. It is made from high-quality polyester with a waterproof rating of 3000mm, ensuring that you stay dry even in rainy conditions.
I like the size and shape. I also really like the KingCamp brand and had used a lot of KingCamp products on my setup in Australia. I didn’t go with it this time because it’s a bit too big for me. I’m moving every few days and I really didn’t want to set up such a large tent. But I really like the extra sleeping space… I think it could provide a lot of extra comfort for a longer camping trip.
However, some users have mentioned that the tent might not fit all types of SUVs perfectly, so it’s important to check the compatibility with your vehicle before purchasing.
The most commonly mentioned features in the reviews include the spaciousness of the tent, the convenience of the screen room, and the ease of setup. However, some users have raised concerns about the zipper quality and the lack of clear instructions for setup.
- The tent can comfortably accommodate up to 5 people, making it ideal for family camping trips.
- The screen room is a popular feature that allows for bug-free lounging and extra ventilation.
- Many users have praised the tent for its easy and straightforward setup process.
- Some users have reported issues with the zippers, stating that they can be difficult to use or may break easily.
- A few users have mentioned that the setup instructions are not very clear, which can make the initial setup a bit challenging.
- The tent may not fit perfectly with all types of SUVs, so it’s important to check the compatibility before purchasing.
The Napier Outdoors Family-Tents sportz SUV Tent is a spacious 10′ x 10′ ground tent with over 7 feet of headroom, and it can comfortably sleep up to 5 adults. Talk about living space! I love this one so much that I’m considering “upgrading” my Hasika to test it out.
The best part is that it can also be used as a standalone ground tent if needed. This means that you can drop your SUV tent and save your campsite while you head off to explore the area.
The tent features a full rainfly for protection against the elements, a 6′ x 6′ awning for shade, and a built-in storm flap in the door for privacy and protection.
The tent is designed for three-season use, meaning it’s suitable for spring, summer, and fall camping.
However, some users have reported issues with the tent’s durability and quality of materials. Some users have experienced problems with the tent poles breaking or the fabric tearing, particularly in harsh weather conditions. There are also complaints about the tent’s setup process, with some users finding the instructions unclear and the setup time-consuming.
- The tent is large enough to accommodate up to 5 adults comfortably and can be used either as a standalone ground tent or attached to a vehicle.
- The ability to connect the tent to the vehicle’s cargo area provides additional space and convenience.
- The tent includes a full rainfly, a 6′ x 6′ awning, and a built-in storm flap in the door for privacy and protection.
- Some users have reported issues with the tent poles breaking or the fabric tearing, particularly in harsh weather conditions.
- Some users find the instructions unclear and the setup time-consuming.
- The tent is designed for three-season use and may not provide sufficient protection in winter or extreme weather conditions.
Other Noteworthy SUV Tents
- Rightline Gear SUV Tent: This tent is designed to connect to the cargo area of your SUV, providing plenty of room for family and friends. It also converts into a ground tent by simply removing the vehicle sleeve. It features a rainfly with taped seams and 2 gear pockets, a lantern hanging hook, glow-in-the-dark zipper pulls, and a PE bathtub floor.
- Smittybilt Overlander Tent: While I don’t think rooftop tents belong on this list, I do think they are right up your alley and worth checking out. This rooftop tent is made from heavy-duty, waterproof top and rain fly; and features a sunroof with mosquito netting, anodized aluminum tent frame poles, and a telescopic ladder. It also comes with a high-density foam double/full mattress and 661 lb. max load.
Tips for SUV Tent Camping
If you want a smooth and safe camping trip, then you’ll want to pay attention to a few of these tips below. These car camping tips are based on my own experience of what works, what was a pain, and how I’ve adjusted my setup.
The first step to a successful SUV tent camping experience is choosing the right location. Look for a flat, level spot to set up your tent. Avoid areas with overhanging branches or steep slopes. Even the slightest slope will be noticeable when you’re trying to sleep 😉
That’s how I learned to get these bad boys so I can get myself level in a pinch. Tri-Lynx 00016 Lynx Levelers
Also, always consider proximity to amenities like water sources, restrooms, or hiking trails, but also consider privacy and noise levels. Remember, your vehicle will be part of your camping setup, so ensure the ground is firm enough to support it.
Take the time to set up your tent correctly. This includes attaching it securely to your vehicle, staking it out properly, and ensuring all guy lines are taut. A well-set-up tent will be more comfortable, more weather-resistant, and less likely to suffer damage. It’s a good idea to practice setting up your tent at home before you go camping to familiarize yourself with the process.
I’ve found something like this to help a lot with getting a really snug SUV tent setup: Heavy Duty Suction Cups 4 Pieces with Hooks Upgraded Car Camping Tie Down
Always check the weather forecast before you go camping. It helps to prepare for the right gear and getting there at the right time.
I use these two apps to follow weather patterns wherever I am:
If rain is expected, make sure your tent’s rainfly is secure and that you have a plan for getting in and out of your vehicle without letting rain into the tent. If wind is expected, consider how you will secure your tent and vehicle to withstand the wind. Your vehicle can act as a windbreak if positioned correctly. Forested land would be even better! Trust me, keeping the wind in mind as you set up will be well worth it.
Comfort is Key
One of the benefits of SUV tent camping is the ability to bring more comfort items than you could with traditional backpacking. Consider bringing along an inflatable mattress or camping cot, comfortable bedding, and even a portable camping chair to set up inside your tent.
I was originally sleeping on an inflatable sleeping pad in my car but it was god awful. I’ve since upgraded to this amazing memory foam camping mattress 🤤
With the extra space that an SUV tent provides, it can be tempting to bring a lot of items. However, keeping your space organized is crucial. Use storage bins to keep your gear organized and consider a hanging organizer for small items.
I use something like this so that I can move it around easily and also keep things organized inside of it: Kelty CAR-GO-Box
Remember to follow Leave No Trace principles. This includes disposing of waste properly, respecting wildlife, and minimizing the impact of your campfire. Your goal should be to leave your campsite as you found it, if not better.
Here’s my little kit for leaving no trace:
Always let someone know where you’re going and when you plan to return. Have a first aid kit on hand and know the location of the nearest hospital. If you’re camping in a remote location, consider bringing a satellite phone or a personal locator beacon.
Here’s what I use:
So which is the best SUV tent? Well, I think they’re all great SUV tents 😊 Some of the key feat that I recommend looking for are:
- freestanding tent
- includes a lantern holder
- fiberglass poles
- strong tent fabric
- tunnel frame if you plan to be in windy conditions
Based on my experience and time spent poring over these, I’d say these are the best SUV tents on the market.
Alternatively, rooftop tents are a lot of fun too and I had one in Australia. The difference between now and then is that now I’m camping above 7,000 feet most nights whereas in Australia I was camping on a tropical beach. So now I prefer to sleep in my car to stay warm and use the SUV tent for living. If you’re in a warm location, then rooftop tents are great!
Let me know which SUV tent you go with and if you have any questions!