Hardshell vs. Soft Shell Rooftop Tents: Pros and Cons Part 2

More and more campers are turning to roof top tents, and for good reason. You can turn your car into a traveling tent, allowing you to camp wherever you can park your car — at music festivals, in the back country, or at the beach — you name it.

This is the second-part series in our product comparison of hard shell roof top tents vs. soft shell roof top tents. In part 1, we cover the basic pros and cons between each type of roof top tent.

Below, we take a deeper dive into the specific differences between a hard shell and a soft shell roof top tent, so you can have all the information you need to choose the tent style that best fits your camping needs.

Hard Shell Roof Top Tent Features


, Hardshell vs. Soft Shell Rooftop Tents: Pros and Cons Part 2

Hard shell roof top tents are a relatively newer and more improved-upon product than their soft shell roof top tent counterparts. One of the biggest draws to the hard shell model is the aerodynamic capability when traveling.

Soft shell roof top tents don’t collapse completely flat, which provides less stability among long, high-speed road trips and tight overlanding routes. Our Roofnest models are designed with an aerodynamic shape that allows you to drive without worrying about losing your tent, hindering your gas mileage, or being slowed down on the road to your destination.

Living Space

, Hardshell vs. Soft Shell Rooftop Tents: Pros and Cons Part 2

Most hard shell roof top tents tend raise up completely, almost always allowing four entirely vertical walls (unless you go with an “eye model, like our Sparrow Eye).

In comparison, many soft shell roof top tents have sloped walls inside the sleeping area due to the shape and design. Inside a hard shell roof top tent, every inch of livable space is optimized to provide as much room inside as possible for any sized camper to be able to sleep comfortably.

Setup and Takedown

Hard shell roof top tents provide a large advantage in the ease of setup and takedown. With a Roofnest, its as simple as four clasps and two handles for the actual set-up and take-down.

The built-in gas struts inside our tents make it incredibly easy to simply push up on the tent to open it, and a light pull down to close. One person is able to do it alone with ease and in minutes.

Soft Shell Roof Top Tents


, Hardshell vs. Soft Shell Rooftop Tents: Pros and Cons Part 2

Soft shell roof top tents are typically smaller in size for actual transport, but can open up and allow for extra quarters to be attached and essentially double in size. With this feature and depending on the specific model, you can often fit multiple people in the tent with ample room to move around.

Setup and Takedown

While they may be larger in living space size, this feature also adds some extra work for setup and takedown. These tents often require complex and multiple folds that can be somewhat difficult to get back into their outer casing for travel.

That being said, these tents do typically require less roof area when actually traveling. Additionally, if a soft shell roof top tent has an extended living quarter, it may require stakes to hold it up off the side of the vehicle, which creates added steps for setup and takedown as well.

Living Space

, Hardshell vs. Soft Shell Rooftop Tents: Pros and Cons Part 2

As we said, the soft shell model typically allows more space for living and can accommodate for more people. An added feature to these tents is the small awning created by the landing that is suspended off the side of the vehicle. This covering can provide a small shaded place for lounging or setting up a prep area for food and cooking cleanup away from the elements.

The Verdict

Both types of rooftop tents provide a comfortable way to camp off the ground with different attractive features. Whether you value more living space or a certain amount of roof space to give on your vehicle, there is an option for you.

But when it comes to versatility and user-friendliness, hard shell roof top tents are definitely the way to go. In minutes you can be set up or on the move, have the most utilized sleeping space, and be ready to hit the road with no impact on your gas mileage.

Ready to revolutionize your next camp experience? Check out our newest Roofnest models >

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