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Are you planning a camping trip and unsure about which type of roof top tent to choose? Look no further, as we delve into the debate between hard shell and soft shell roof top tents. With countless options on the market, it can be overwhelming to make a decision but understanding the differences and benefits can help you find the perfect fit.

Key Takeaways:

  • When deciding between a hard shell and soft shell roof top tent, consider the ease of setup and take down, comfort level, and suitability for all seasons.
  • Hard shell tents are known for being easier to set up and having better customer support, while soft shell tents offer versatility with traditional style and attachable rooms.
  • Both hard shell and soft shell tents provide a comfortable sleeping space, elevated camping experience, and durability against various weather conditions.

What Are Roof Top Tents?

Roof top tents are portable shelters that can be attached to the roof of a vehicle, providing a comfortable and convenient camping experience. They come in two main types: hard shell and soft shell. The choice between the two depends on factors such as durability, ease of setup, and personal preference. Some people prefer the ruggedness of hard shell tents, while others appreciate the flexibility and lighter weight of soft shell tents. Understanding the pros and cons of each type can help in the decision-making process.

Roof top tents have been used by adventurers for decades. In the 1950s, Zack Sharpe designed and patented the first roof top tent, known as the “First Tent”. Since then, they have gained popularity among outdoor enthusiasts and have become a topic of an infamous debate, with camping enthusiasts discussing the pros and cons of different types of roof top tents.

What Are the Different Types of Roof Top Tents?

When it comes to roof top tents, there are several different types to choose from. Each type offers its own set of unique features and advantages. In this section, we will discuss the two main categories of roof top tents: hard shell and soft shell. From the ease of setup to the level of customer support, we will compare and contrast the different aspects of these two types. Whether you prefer the convenience of a hard shell tent like the Cascadia Vehicle Tent or the traditional style of a soft shell tent with an attachable room, we will cover everything you need to know before making a decision.

1. Hard Shell Roof Top Tents

Hard shell roof top tents are a popular option for camping enthusiasts due to their durability and ease of use. When considering a hard shell roof top tent, follow these steps:

  1. Research different brands, such as Cascadia Vehicle Tents and Mt. Shasta, to find the best quality and customer support.
  2. Determine the sleeping capacity you need, typically ranging from 2-3 Person, to ensure a comfortable camping experience.
  3. Consider the weight and size of the tent, as it will affect your vehicle’s load capacity.
  4. Check for features like built-in mattresses, storage pockets, and ventilation to enhance your camping experience.
  5. Compare prices and warranties to find the best value for your budget.

2. Soft Shell Roof Top Tents

Soft shell roof top tents offer convenience and versatility for camping enthusiasts. Here are the steps to consider when choosing a soft shell roof top tent:

  1. Ease of Use: Look for a tent that is easy to set up and take down, allowing for quick and hassle-free camping experiences.
  2. Customer Support: Research brands that offer reliable customer support services, ensuring assistance in case of any issues or concerns.
  3. Traditional Style: Consider the traditional design of the tent, ensuring it meets your aesthetic preferences and fits well with your camping gear.
  4. Attachable Room: Some soft shell tents offer attachable rooms, providing additional space for storage or sleeping.
  5. Set Up and Show Up: Finally, choose a tent that meets your specific camping needs, whether it’s a compact tent for solo adventures or a larger one for family camping trips.

What Are the Benefits of Roof Top Tents?

When it comes to camping, the right gear can make all the difference. Roof top tents have gained popularity for providing a comfortable sleeping space and an elevated camping experience. But which type of roof top tent is best for you? In this section, we will discuss the benefits of roof top tents, including easy setup and take down, a comfortable sleeping space, an elevated camping experience, and suitability for all seasons. By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of what each type of tent has to offer and which one may be the best fit for your camping needs.

1. Easy Setup and Take Down

Setting up and taking down a roof top tent can be a quick and easy process with these simple steps:

  1. Choose a flat and secure location to park your vehicle.
  2. Remove the cover or straps securing the tent.
  3. Unfold and extend the ladder until it reaches the ground.
  4. Climb up the ladder and release any velcro or buckles securing the tent.
  5. Open the tent by pushing it up or unfolding it, allowing it to fully extend.
  6. Attach any necessary poles or supports to stabilize the tent.
  7. Make any adjustments necessary to ensure the tent is level and secure.
  8. Add bedding and any other personal items for a comfortable night’s sleep.

With these easy steps, you can have your roof top tent set up and ready to go in just 5 minutes.

2. Comfortable Sleeping Space

When it comes to roof top tents, a comfortable sleeping space is essential for a good night’s rest while camping. Here are some steps to enhance the sleeping experience:

  1. Choose a roof top tent with ample space and a comfortable mattress.
  2. Add additional cushions or pillows to customize the sleeping area.
  3. Consider using mattress toppers for extra comfort and support.
  4. If the factory mattress is not to your liking, replace it with a more suitable option.

True story: A camping enthusiast named Sarah found that the factory mattress in her roof top tent was too firm for her liking. She decided to invest in a memory foam mattress topper, which transformed her sleeping experience into a cozy and comfortable one. Now, Sarah enjoys waking up refreshed and ready for her outdoor adventures.

3. Elevated Camping Experience

Elevate your camping experience with a roof top tent and enjoy a unique outdoor adventure. Here are steps to enhance your elevated camping experience:

  1. Choose a spacious tent with a larger profile for increased comfort and room to move.
  2. Opt for a tent with good insulation for cooler nights, ensuring a cozy sleep.
  3. Utilize the storage space underneath the mattress, known as “Under The Mattress,” to keep your gear organized and easily accessible.

Pro Tip: Maximize your elevated camping experience by adding string lights or a portable speaker for a cozy ambiance.

4. Suitable for All Seasons

Roof top tents are suitable for all seasons, but condensation can be a concern. Follow these steps to minimize condensation:

  1. Thoroughly dry out the tent before packing it away.
  2. Place condensation mats or a tarp under the tent to create an air gap.
  3. Use a tent with a well-ventilated design to allow airflow and reduce condensation.
  4. Consider adding a separate air gap between the tent floor and the vehicle roof to dramatically reduce condensation.

Pro-tip: To prevent condensation, strongly recommend using a tent that has proper ventilation and airflow, as well as using condensation mats or creating an air gap.

What Are the Differences Between Hard Shell and Soft Shell Roof Top Tents?

1. Construction and Materials

When comparing hard shell and soft shell roof top tents, there are several differences to consider in terms of construction and materials:

  1. Construction: Hard shell tents typically have a rigid aluminum subframe, providing stability and durability. Soft shell tents are made of flexible materials like ripstop fabric.
  2. Materials: Hard shell tents often have a hard exterior shell made of fiberglass or ABS plastic, while soft shell tents are usually made of fabric with weather sealed zippers.
  3. Features: Hard shell tents may have built-in windows or mesh screens, while soft shell tents often have zippered openings and mesh windows for ventilation. However, both types of tents can also be equipped with vinyl windows for added visibility.
  4. Weight: Hard shell tents tend to be heavier due to the solid construction, while soft shell tents are lighter and easier to transport.

2. Durability and Weather Resistance

Durability and weather resistance are crucial factors to consider when choosing between hard shell and soft shell roof top tents.

  • Hard shell tents are built with a sturdy aluminum subframe, providing excellent durability and protection against harsh weather conditions.
  • Soft shell tents are made with ripstop fabric, which offers durability and resistance to tears. However, they may not be as weather resistant as hard shell tents.
  • Both types typically feature weather-sealed zippers, mesh screens for ventilation, and vinyl windows for added protection against the elements.

Based on your camping needs and budget, compare the pros and cons of each type to determine which roof top tent is right for you. Consider factors such as convenience, setup/take down process, sleeping capacity, and overall comfort. Remember to prioritize durability and weather resistance when making your decision.

3. Setup and Take Down Process

Setting up and taking down a roof top tent involves a specific process that varies depending on the type of tent. Here is a step-by-step guide for both hard shell and soft shell roof top tents:

Hard Shell Roof Top Tents:

  1. Park the vehicle on a flat surface for stability during setup.
  2. Release the latches securing the hard shell and open it up.
  3. Extend the ladder and secure it in place.
  4. Unfold the tent fabric and attach it to the hard shell.
  5. Insert the support poles into their designated slots and secure them.
  6. Adjust the tension of the tent fabric to ensure it is taut.
  7. Arrange the bedding and other camping essentials inside the tent.

Soft Shell Roof Top Tents:

  1. Position the vehicle in a level area for stability during setup.
  2. Unlock and release the latches securing the tent.
  3. Unfold and extend the tent fabric until it reaches its full length.
  4. Insert the support poles into their designated locations and secure them.
  5. Tighten any straps or buckles to ensure the tent is properly secured.
  6. Set up the bedding and other camping supplies inside the tent.

Following these steps will ensure a smooth and efficient setup and take down process for your roof top tent, allowing you to fully enjoy your camping experience.

4. Sleeping Capacity and Comfort

When it comes to the sleeping capacity and comfort of roof top tents, there are several factors to consider for a restful camping experience:

  • Sleeping Capacity: Some roof top tents are specifically designed to accommodate 2-3 people, providing a comfortable sleeping space.
  • Comfort: To enhance comfort, additional cushions, mattress toppers, and even factory mattresses can be added to improve the sleeping surface.

5. Price and Affordability

When considering the price and affordability of roof top tents, it’s important to follow these steps:

  1. Set a budget: Determine how much you are willing to spend on a roof top tent.
  2. Research prices: Compare prices of different brands and types of roof top tents to find one that fits your budget.
  3. Weigh the features: Consider the features that are important to you and their impact on the price.
  4. Consider long-term use: Think about how often you will use the tent and whether it justifies the cost.
  5. Look for deals: Keep an eye out for sales, discounts, or promotions that may help lower the price.

By following these steps, you can find a roof top tent that offers the right balance of price and affordability for your needs.

FAQs about Hard Shell Vs. Soft Shell Roof Top Tents

What is the difference between a hard shell and soft shell roof top tent?

The main difference between a hard shell and soft shell roof top tent is the type of material used for the structure. Hard shell tents have a solid, fiberglass shell while soft shell tents have a fabric material. This affects factors such as durability, ease of setup, and comfort.

What final conclusions can be drawn from the debate between hard shell and soft shell roof top tents?

After extensive research and personal experience, the final conclusion is that the choice between hard shell and soft shell tents ultimately depends on personal preference and specific needs. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and it is important to carefully consider them before making a decision.

What factors should be considered in the decision making process for choosing the best tent?

Some important factors to consider when choosing the best tent include durability, ease of setup, comfort, and price. It is also important to consider the specific needs and preferences of the user, such as the number of people using the tent and the type of terrain it will be used on.

What are the benefits of a 2-3 person traditional style roof top tent with an annex?

A 2-3 person traditional style roof top tent with an annex offers more space and comfort compared to traditional tents. The annex can also serve as an additional room for storage or changing clothes, making it a convenient choice for longer trips or groups of people.

How can condensation buildup be reduced in roof top tents?

Condensation buildup can be reduced by using a condensation mat, which creates an air gap between the mattress and tent floor. It is also important to thoroughly dry out the tent after each use to prevent moisture buildup.

Why is the ease of setup and reduced setup times important in a roof top tent?

The ease of setup and reduced setup times in a roof top tent can greatly improve the overall user experience. It allows for quick and efficient setup, especially in situations where setting up at night or in adverse weather conditions.

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